The Bible teaches that all humans have descended from Noah. All of the world's great civilizations arose after people migrated in diffferent directions following the Tower of Babel fiasco. If this is indeed the case, we can expect similar themes in all the ancient religions. This article lists such ubiquitous themes. Some themes developed from the rebellion at Babel. The only major ancient religion surviving today is Hinduism. All other ancient religions associated with particular civilizations have either died out by themselves or been replaced by Buddhism, Islam or Roman Catholicism. Of course, these two religions are not “new and original”. They have elements of the earlier religions that they replaced.
Ancient people all over the world worshipped the forces of nature. Even today, Hindus perform “Surya namaskar” – a reverential greeting of the sun in the morning (see image). The following is a list of various gods based on the forces of nature.
Since the top of the Tower of Babel was meant to be "in the heavens" (Genesis 11:4), it is apparent that Babel religion included the worship of the stars and planets. As people dispersed from Babel, they carried this practice with them. The evolutionary explanation that primitive man everywhere began worshipping the sun because it provided the means for life is simplistic. This is evident when we recognize that the similarities in ancient religions go much beyond sun worship.
The Bible says that Satan appeared in the form of a serpent and deceived Eve. If this is true, humans should be fascinated (and terrified) by snakes. This is indeed the case!
The prime deity in Pergamum, a city in what is now Turkey, was Asclepis, the serpent god of healing. The Hindu god Shiva is often depicted as being accompanied by snakes. Even today, Hindus in India celebrate a festival called Nag Panchami, in which snakes are venerated (see image). No such festival exists for venerating earthworms, donkeys, bears, or any other creature. Snakes were also an important part of Egyptian religion. The Mayans worshiped the feathered serpent god known as Kukulcan. The Incas worshiped their creator god, Viracocha in the form of a serpent. The Chinese worshiped Nuguawas,the serpent goddess of creation. Although some animals do get special treatment (cows in India), no one can deny the dominance of the snake in ancient religions.
“The ancient Babylonians, just as the modern Roman Catholics, recognised in words the unity of the Godhead; and, while worshipping innumerable minor deities, as possessed of certain influence on human affairs, they distinctly acknowledged that there was ONE infinite and almighty Creator, supreme over all. Most other nations did the same. "In the early ages of mankind," says Wilkinson in his "Ancient Egyptians," "The existence of a sole and omnipotent Deity, who created all things, seems to have been the universal belief; and tradition taught men the same notions on this subject, which, in later times, have been adopted by all civilised nations." "The Gothic religion," says Mallet, "taught the being of a supreme God, Master of the Universe, to whom all things were submissive and obedient." (Tacti. de Morib. Germ.) The ancient Icelandic mythology calls him "the Author of every thing that existeth, the eternal, the living, and awful Being; the searcher into concealed things, the Being that never changeth." It attributeth to this deity "an infinite power, a boundless knowledge, and incorruptible justice." We have evidence of the same having been the faith of ancient Hindostan. Though modern Hinduism recognises millions of gods, yet the Indian sacred books show that originally it had been far otherwise. Major Moor, speaking of Brahm, the supreme God of the Hindus, says: "Of Him whose Glory is so great, there is no image" (Veda). He "illumines all, delights all, whence all proceeded; that by which they live when born, and that to which all must return" (Veda). In the "Institutes of Manu," he is characterised as "He whom the mind alone can perceive; whose essence eludes the external organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from eternity...the soul of all beings, whom no being can comprehend." In these passages, there is a trace of the existence of Pantheism; but the very language employed bears testimony to the existence among the Hindoos at one period of a far purer faith.” (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons)
Here’s another ancient Hindu hymn, titled: “To the Unknown God” from the Rig Veda
"He the primal one, begetter of the universe, begotten in mystery, Lord of created things, Lord of heaven and earth. He whose word is eternal, giver of breath and life and power, sole ruler of the universe, swelling alone in his grandeur, to whom the gods bow. Lord of Death, whose path is life immortal! Thou alone canst fathom thy mystery, there is none beside thee. …Who is He? How shall we name Him, when we offer sacrifice?”
Dear reader, (especially if you are an Indian Hindu reading this) do you get the picture? One group of people migrated from the tower of Babel to India. They wrote the Vedas. It’s evident they still had memories of the great God that their ancestor Noah worshiped. Being a Christian living in India and used to seeing idols in all shapes, sizes and colors, I could barely believe my eyes when I first came across the above line from the Vedas: “Of Him whose Glory is so great, there is no image”.
This is exactly what we should expect if the Bible is true in its claim that there is one supreme God who revealed Himself to the first few humans.
Tragically, the knowledge of the great God of the Bible (who detests idols) was discarded in favor of idolatry.
Again, to quote from Alexander Hislop:-
In the unity of that one Only God of the Babylonians, there were three persons, and to symbolise that doctrine of the Trinity, they employed, as the discoveries of Layard [Layard’s Babylon and Nineveh] prove, the equilateral triangle, just as it is well known the Romish Church does at this day. The Egyptians also used the triangle as a symbol of their "triform divinity." The image shows the Assyrian trinity (on the left) and the trinity worshipped by the ancient Serbians. In the Assyrian trinity, note the bird. In the Bible, the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22). Also note the circle: zero, the Seed.
In India, the supreme divinity, in like manner, in one of the most ancient cave-temples, is represented with three heads on one body, under the name of "Eko Deva Trimurtti," "One God, three forms." [See image on the right - also notice the huge snake over the central person]
In Japan, the Buddhists worship their great divinity, Buddha, with three heads, in the very same form, under the name of "San Pao Fuh."
The Chinese worship the trinity in the form of "Three Pure Ones" i.e Yuan-shi-tian-zong, Ling-bao-tian-song and Lao-Jun.
Again, this is exactly what we expect from the Bible; since the Bible teaches that there is one triune God who revealed Himself to the first few humans.
Nimrod started his apostate religion at a time when memories of Noah, the flood and the true God that Noah had worshipped were still alive. In all likelihood, Shem, the righteous son of Noah was still alive. In such a climate, Nimrod would not have been able to promote his idolatry in the open. It would have to be in secret – those who wanted to follow him would have to be initiated into his confidence in secret. Needless to say, everything cannot be revealed at the start, but is in the nature of “mystery”. The concept continues in Hinduism and other Eastern religions today. The belief exists that spiritual enlightenment can be obtained by going to a secluded place in the forest, indulging in psychic meditation and so on.
Shortly after Adam and Eve sinned, God promised a savior: the Seed of the woman. So the concept of God coming as man, being born of a woman was etched in the minds of the ancients. As mentioned earlier, Nimrod was an illustrious person who blatantly rebelled against God and set up his own idolatrous religion. Ancient history suggests that Nimrod may have had a violent death. After his death, his mother, Semiramis propagated the notion that he was the one whom God would send. She also assumed for herself a special role in the whole process. As various people groups migrated away from Babel, the idea of a goddess with a baby boy god with her developed. The following are examples of such mother and child pairs from various civilizations:-
HENG-O, MA TSOOPO
This table has been taken from http://www.babylonmysteryreligion.com/motherandchild.htm.
Even today, Indian Hindus believe that they can be purified of their sins by taking a dip in the Ganges River. Such a belief is common to ancient religions. Where did such a belief come from? The Bible suggests the answer: The great patriarch Noah survived the great flood and had began life anew. Since then, passing through water became symbolic of getting new life.
Of course, this is what everyone takes for granted. To get a good deal after you die, you need to do good deeds on earth, or do penance for all the bad things you’ve done. This is a universal teaching in all religions, but is in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches. Also see: Can we compensate for our sins by doing good deeds?
Sex was considered an act of worship or appeasement to the gods. In Greece and Rome there were vestal virgins and temple prostitutes. In the Middle East, the worship of the goddess Ashtoreth was accompanied by sexual rituals. The Canaanites in ancient Israel believed that rain is the semen of the god Baal. Therefore, to get rain, one needed to arouse him with wild sexual activity. In Indian Hinduism, there still are temple prostitutes and sexually explicit temple sculptures. This fits in perfectly well with the Biblical narrative: Nimrod's Babel religion was characterized by sexual immorality, and this theme was carried along by the dispersing tribes who developed the various ancient religions of the world.
An examination of the various ancient religions (and even their modern counterparts, to some extent) shows considerable similarity in their themes. According to evolution theory, monkeys became man in Africa and then this man moved to various parts of the world, and religion developed independently. The correlation we observe in various religions fits better with the Biblical account - the entire human population was civilized and adopted a prototype religion, rejecting the true faith of their fathers, as the Bible narrates in Genesis 11:1-9. This population split into clans and spread all over the world, taking (and modifying) this prototype religion. The fact that none of the ancient cultural religions (including Hinduism) has any known founder fits perfectly well with this Biblical picture.