The Dance of Equality, Technology and Spirituality

10 years ago someone said to me, “These days you may not even know your next door neighbor, but you exchange emails with your buddy in South Africa twice a week.”  I looked out the window at the house next to mine – barely knew the neighbors – and yes I was sitting there sending emails to someone in some far-off country.

Every week I get on conference calls and say hi to everyone and barely think twice about the fact that I’ve got 17 people from Texas, four from Perth, one from Amsterdam, one in Alaska, one in Lebanon.

Ever heard Thomas Friedman’s “McDonalds theory of world peace”? He observes that with only one exception, no two countries with a McDonalds have ever gone to war with each other.

Can you imagine, say, the US going to war with Australia? Think of all the emails the senators and congressmen would get: “Hey, stop trying to kill my customers! And by the way, here’s a list of 115 blogs from people who are trapped in the Siege of Sydney right now!”

The world is truly a strange and wonderful place. Just before I went on a trip, I loaded the first season of The Dukes of Hazzard on my video iPod so my 10 year old son would have something to watch while we trucked down Interstate 80.

That TV show ran in 1979 – the year that *I* was 10 years old. I said to Laura, “Who would’ve thought that 25 years later you’d be able to download an entire season of the Dukes of Hazzard onto a device that’s half the size of a pack of cigarettes, and our kids would watch it in the car with headphones and a 2″ screen?” We shake our heads in amazement.

OK, so what does all this have to do with spirituality?

Equality and technology… They have everything to do with spirituality.

Let’s start with equality.

The United States Declaration of Independence makes a world-shattering declaration that transformed the modern world:

“We hold these things to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In his book “Democracy in America” (1835) Alexis de Tocqueville carefully traces this statement and its idea of equality backward through history and lands at Galatians 3:28, the words of St. Paul:

“In Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. All are equal in Christ Jesus.”

Before Paul said this, no one had ever made such a bold and sweeping statement. No one. Not the Jews or Babylonians, not the Egyptians, not the Greeks, not the Chinese. The concept of equality came first from Paul.

This idea got planted in western civilization and began to grow and develop, little by little dismantling slave trade, sowing the seeds for democracy and spurring technological and political progress. Tocqueville says that from 1100 AD to the present, every major development led to more equality, not less. The Magna Carta. The invention of the horseshoe. The invention of the gun and the post office and the printing press and democracy.

If you live in a democracy and you’re thankful for the ability to vote, if you’re thankful that people generally consider you and themselves to be just as good as anybody else, then thank Paul. And his Rabbi, Jesus.

Because – despite what the Declaration says – equality really is NOT self evident. At least it wasn’t to any of the ancient world prior to 2000 years ago. On the surface, we’re all different. Some are stronger. Some are smarter. Some have more money. Some are politically connected. Some are more savvy.

And some people get the scraps.

You have no principle to guide you but winners and losers. Which, divorced from any overriding sense of equality or individual dignity, is a cruel master.

But when Paul said this, he was declaring that there is an underlying *spiritual* reality, that yours and my true identity doesn’t come from accomplishments or money or power but from our Heavenly Father. That once we know that true identity we’re no longer slaves to money and power and accomplishments and the ‘natural’ order of things.

If you’re thankful that Western Civilization today considers all people to be intrinsically equal, be thankful that a young couple in Bethlehem gave birth to a baby who was to become the most loved, most hated, most argued about, most written about, most influential person in the history of the world. One who taught that the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. One in whom there is no male or female, no Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free.

So then how about technology?

Science itself is, at its core, a presumption of discoverable underlying order. A belief, an assumption (which cannot be proven in advance, by the way) that when an apple falls from a tree it does so because of some law of nature that caused it to do so. That there was a string of cause and effect that can be traced back to explain why this happened.

The apple did not fall from the tree because, say, Zeus was having a snit with Apollo and that’s why there was the lightning storm which is why there was a wind that caused the apple to swing back and forth and fall from the tree…. no, it happened for rational discoverable reasons. That God made a world which could operate consistently on its own without Him constantly making corrections from the outside.

So far as I can tell, the inspiration for this belief first came from Wisdom of Solomon 11:21:

“Thou hast ordered all things in measure and number and weight.”

(The Protestants omitted that book, but our Catholic friends thankfully left it in.)

If a scientist does not presume that there is a rational reason for what he is about to investigate, there is nothing for him to investigate at all. Belief in rationality comes from belief in a rational God. A God who wants us to discover His universe. For whom such discovery is an act of worship.

If you read the history of science over the last 500 years, the only reason science succeeded in the West – after getting started but failing in Greece, Rome, China, Egypt and in the Arab world – is that Christian theology understood God to have created the universe to operate according to fixed discoverable laws.  Theology made that prediction, then people had a philosophical basis for having a scientific method.

In his fascinating book “The Victory of Reason” historian Rodney Stark further explains that the forward march of technology began after the fall of the Roman Empire and has marched steadily forward ever since. Equality implied that slavery was wrong, so people had to develop technology in order to free their slaves and still get the work done.

So… part of the inspiration for inventions like water wheels was a belief in dignity and freedom and the rights of the individual.
Technology is supposed to empower people, not enslave them. Because, as Paul said, in Christ, all are equal.

If you trace these ideas back through history, equality and technology and even iPods and Democracy have everything to do with our very beliefs about the universe and about God. And yes, even Jesus.

Case in point: it’s politically incorrect to say “Merry Christmas” cuz it’s too religious. Instead you get a tepid, watered down “Happy Holidays.”

It’s because Christ is offensive. When a guy smashes his thumb with a hammer, he doesn’t say “Krishna” or “Buddha,” he says Jesus Christ. Because that’s the most loaded, most powerful word in the English language.

There’s no name you can invoke that’s more powerful than the Son of God.

~~~

Do you know what the most important invention in the history of the world was?

It wasn’t the computer.  And it sure wasn’t the light bulb or the telephone.  (Or even the electronic voting machine.)
It was the printing press.

In 1445, Johannes Gutenberg invented the world’s first movable type printing press.  He didn’t know it, but he was unleashing a revolution that continues to this day.  Even the mighty Internet in the 21st century is just an extension of Gutenberg’s original, revolutionary machine.

The first book he printed was the Bible.  And that led to controversy, too, because Luther translated it into German, the people’s language, instead of Latin, the lingo of the religious elite.

Suddenly, ordinary folks could not only afford a copy, but they could read it for themselves instead of getting some guy’s slanted interpretation.  Soon the cat was out of the bag–there were copies scattered all over Europe.

It’s no coincidence that the scientific enlightenment and industrial revolution began in earnest within 50 years of this.  Not that it wasn’t already underway (it had already gathered considerable momentum) but now that ordinary folks had access to knowledge and the freedom to pursue it, the possibilities were limitless.

The printing press took the handcuffs off of knowledge and spirituality, and the world has never been the same.  Equal access to knowledge empowered people everywhere, and it was only natural that the Renaissance, and in time, democracy too would follow.

Every year at Christmas we celebrate the person who inspired these revolutions. Jesus’ teachings were radical and scandalous. He claimed to be the Son of God. He said he would rise from the dead, and according to the historical accounts, he did. He stepped into the world and split time in half: BC and AD. And his words still resonate throughout the earth today.

Still rolls the stone from the grave.

In the spirit of what Jesus taught us, I hope that you’ll use our 21st century printing press, the Internet, to not enslave but empower individuals. To bring more equality, to make the world a better place for your fellow man.

Thanks for reading.

Perry Marshall

305 Responses to “The Dance of Equality, Technology and Spirituality”

  1. Johnny Morales says:

    Wonderful article, enlighning. Forwarding it.

    Many thanks, gracias,

    Johnny Morales

  2. gene upton says:

    Please Mr. Perry, what everyou do do not quit writing to me .I
    no you make what would be a bleak day for an ole man,into a
    beautiful thing. thank you an God Bless you…gene

  3. James Buels says:

    Dear Mr. Marshall,

    Thank you for your email. I haven’t heard from you in more than a year, so it was nice to receive it.

    I don’t have a particular question, but I do have comments. With regard to the “McDonalds’ theory of world peace,” I think that two countries that have McDonalds’ restaurants are likely to be controlled by the United States, and therefore would fight a war only at the behest of our country. They would also likely have many people whose brains were fried in fat and food additives that promote passivity, obesity and difficulty in reasoning, and would thus find mustering the passion and conviction necessary to launch a war difficult.

    I was 32 years old in 1979, and was not much impressed by the Dukes of Hazzard, though I did like to look at the female star (I’ve forgotten her name).

    I think it’s unarguable that Christianity was responsible for the modern concept of political equality, and by extension, democracy. However, I think it is arguable whether modern democracy is what we think it is: “rule by the many.” No modern democracy is ruled by “the people,” including the United States. Modern democracy is a scam whereby “the people” are duped into voting for one or another member of the social, economic and political elite. The elite, in other words, ALWAYS rules. The people merely have the “privilege” of voting for the elite candidate of their choice. The “founding fathers” were actually terrified of democracy, and their Constitution was an attempt to assure that the political and economic elite of the country would always be in power.

    The elite candidates, though they almost always pretend to be “men of the people,” are usually quite wealthy and well-connected. They are also typically people of low moral and ethical standards. That is not an accident. Candidates that have the most “skeletons in their closets” are often promoted for the highest offices, because their former sins and crimes make them controllable. They know that the moment they even think of rebelling against the financial and military elite who have, more often than not, gained their offices for them, their former crimes will be trumpeted to the heavens, and they will never again be able to hold so much as an office of dog-catcher. If even this fear fails to keep them under the elite’s control, the elite always has what I call the “Kennedy option.”

    Now though, this time-honored power structure has given way to overt tyranny. The elite no longer even pretends to conform to the Constitution and has practically abolished it, as well as the lofty ideals of the Declaration of Independence. The people, however, have mostly not noticed, dumbed-down and dulled by poisonous food additives and environmental toxins, brainwashed by the worst educational system in the Western world, and lulled to perpetual sleep by a corporate-owned mass media. Soon, any criticism of the elite or the government will be either punishable by death, imprisonment in the new American Gulag, or lengthy commitment to “mental institutions,” as in the former Soviet regime.

    Alexis de Tocqueville predicted that the “American Republic” would eventually become a tyranny. In the last chapter of his book “Democracy in America,” he describes perfectly a future American totalitarianism, though without naming it, because the term didn’t yet exist.

    • Anthony Waters says:

      James, I really appreciate your explanation of modern democracy in North America. I decided two years ago to quit voting. I feel great because I do not have to tow any line that get’s someone elected nor do I have to worry about saying something that is sensitive to the ruling elite. I am just myself and try to rely on no one anymore. This way there is no let down nor payment to be made. Live simply and inexpensively and don’t worry too much about being democratic. Protect your family and be loyal to your freinds, the rest is just a badly staged play anyway. Regards and Thanks again, CanadaNorth

    • Jay says:

      To James Buels.
      I agree 100% my thoughts more articulately denoted. Thanks for your input on the issue.

  4. Mark Cryan says:

    You write:

    “In Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. All are equal in Christ Jesus.”

    Before Paul said this, no one had ever made such a bold and sweeping statement. No one. Not the Jews or Babylonians, not the Egyptians, not the Greeks, not the Chinese. The concept of equality came first from Paul.

    This idea got planted in western civilization and began to grow and develop, little by little dismantling slave trade, sowing the seeds for democracy and spurring technological and political progress. Tocqueville says that from 1100 AD to the present, every major development led to more equality, not less. The Magna Carta. The invention of the horseshoe. The invention of the gun and the post office and the printing press and democracy.

    Really? There were many Native American Tribes who were matriarchal. If there is equality in the early church, why did they forbid women to be priests?(even today)

    “The concept of equality came first from Paul.” That truly is a bold statement. It is also bullshit. That second paragraph is filled to the brim with bullshit. The invention of the gun brought equality? The church is responsible for the ending of slavery? Uh, I don’t think so. It says right there in your “good book” how much a slave is worth. 30 sheckles. That is straight from god. Your vision of god DID NOT want people to be free. He wants people to be subservient.

    “If you live in a democracy and you’re thankful for the ability to vote, if you’re thankful that people generally consider you and themselves to be just as good as anybody else, then thank Paul. And his Rabbi, Jesus.”

    What utter crap, the invention of democracy is from the ancient greeks. That is, before christ, remember? How do you live with yourself spreading such nonsense to people who probably don’t know any better?

    Everything Paul said was to gain power over people, to LEAD them. If you believe in Christ only his words matter, not those written decades after he rose.

    “Suddenly, ordinary folks could not only afford a copy, but they could read it for themselves instead of getting some guy’s slanted interpretation. Soon the cat was out of the bag-there were copies scattered all over Europe”

    This is also why we had the age of enlightenment, when people were able to break through the walls put up by the church that suppressed and confined them. Ordinary people could finally read Jesus’ words themselves, and not be held to accounting by some church elders. You do know that most of of founding fathers were diests, they did NOT believe in the divinity of Jesus, right? That Thomas Jefferson made his own bible (known as the Jefferson bible), which was made up of ONLY the quotes of Jesus, and not the ramblings of a power hungry group of priests and dictators?

    You said to a commenter above: “I have no idea what technology existed pre-babel. That’s a matter of speculation.” It is NOT a matter of speculation! Good grief, have you ever even LOOKED at an archeological book, magazine, or website? Please do some more research, it is obvious you are in dire need of more history lessons.

    • perrymarshall says:

      Mark,

      My quote came from Alexis de Tocqueville, the noted French historian. If you think that someone before Paul had made a more sweeping statement than Paul’s, then cite the source.

      I suggest you read Tocqueville.

      Yessir, if you have a gun you are more equal to any opponent than if you only have a sword.

      Slavery in the Old Testament was NOT what most Americans think of when someone says “Slavery.” It was much closer to an employee and it was often a way of discharging debt. Slaves had human rights and they were also supposed to, by law, be set free every 7 years and they were also allowed to stay with their masters if they so desired. Many did. You are grossly misrepresenting ancient Jewish practice.

      The Greeks did NOT believe that all people were equal. In Greece, Democracy only belonged to the good ol’ boys club.

      In regards to pre-babel technology, I’m referring to communication technology, not metal-making.

      If you wish to post again, you WILL be more polite than you were this time, otherwise I will delete it. I insist on courtesy.

  5. Ester says:

    I read the wonderful article. And I think I will get time to comment it. At this moment I have something that it bothered me. I am just arriving from a meeting with youth. One among the member lost in this days eight of his members in car accident. We al togher we encourage him by sharing our experience, but deep in my heart there is a question “where is God in this tragedy?”

    • perrymarshall says:

      Ester,

      About 12 years ago I met a couple named Scott and Janet Willis. They lost six of their nine children when their van caught fire. It happened because a piece of metal fell from a truck driven by a driver who’d got his license through bribery was on the road. There was then a coverup and it turns out George Ryan the governor of Illinois was profiting from the operation.

      The Willises told the story of their grief and their efforts to recover from the loss. They have written a couple of books:

      http://www.crossway.org/product/663575724360
      and
      http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/Scott.Willis.Janet.2.329232.html?detectflash=false

      I’m sure you could find more of their story with an online search.

      I recall a story, I think Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel tells it. Jews are being fed into the ovens and someone says, “Where is God?” Elie replies, “He is in the ovens with those people, suffering with them.” Perhaps someone can supply a link to the correct version of this story.

      My own best response to this situation is here. http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/evil-and-suffering/

      Hope this helps….

      Perry

  6. roger dowty says:

    Perry,

    Nice job. I learned a couple of things you quoted one of my fav sources ie “Democracy in America” (1835) Alexis de Tocqueville”.

    Its refreshing to see a less political force out there. I am just plain fed up with the America’s religious right and Christianity as a whole. Its still about power and control. Just like we forgot about the temptation and Christs complete rejection of political power. America’s Christianity is becoming an evil force and thats really sad.

    Like folks here arguing for their version of the scripture by quoting verse but completely missing the point that theres only 3 main goals and they all revolve around love. But we were given the most destructive political force in our history through the likes of gingritch and bush and his crew.
    15 years of lying, manipulating, thrash tactics and a complete lack of integrity.

  7. Thank you very much. Long time, no talk. I hope you are doing well, it’s been almost 3 years or so? Quite a while. Thanks for the article and send me more stuff if you want to.

    If you’d like you can check out my blog I’ve just started:

    http://www.dylandeleskie.blogspot.com

    Dylan D

  8. Vernie Taylor says:

    Thanks for the article. Looks like a lot of material which came to mind after reading the Perry’s article has already been put into comments. Yes, although Paul talked of spiritual equality in Christ, he did not extend that equality into the real world. Paul was both a misogynist and an anti-semite. There was no equality in the Roman world or that of Judaism. Yes the Buddha expressed equality before the time of Jesus and even opened his teaching equally to women adding that this would unfortunately shorten the dharma by at least 10,000 years as well as the fact that all nuns, no matter what their seniority, be subservient to to all male monks.

    Religion and science has and will always be at odds. This has been especially true in the West with Christianity. Science represents an ever changing set of hypothesis in the face of new discoveries and experiment, religion represents a frozen set of doctrines and dogmas not amenable to the process of change and new discovery.As Freud said, “Religion is the enemy of science.”

    thanks

    • perrymarshall says:

      Vernie,

      I could not disagree more. Paul wasn’t an anti-semite, he was a Jew. Please submit the anti-semitic statements made by Paul. As for misogyny: Paul said, “In Christ there is neither male nor female, jew nor greek, slave nor free.” I fail to see the misogyny in that verse. I see Paul’s command for women to not speak in church as specific to a very particular situation.

      Please provide an exact quotation of Buddha’s statement of equality.

      Religion and science are only at odds in the minds of atheists and Young Earth Creationists. Augustine said God wrote two books – the bible and the book of nature. He said God could be understood through both. Solomon’s statement “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure” became a cornerstone of scientific thought.

      If you have ever spent any time in any seminary or spiritual community you know that religion is anything BUT a frozen set of doctrines and dogmas. Everything must be investigated and nothing is taken for granted. That’s how I was raised. Christianity has evolved considerably in the last 100 years, not to mention 1000.

      I would invite you to spend time with spiritual people rather than reading about them in derogatory books.

  9. Lindsey Walker says:

    The McDonald’s Theory of World Peace by Thomas Freidman, is a terrible neoliberal construct. Democracy and Capitalism are ideologies and why would two countries with the same ideology fight each other? Saying having a McDonald’s, a 100 year old chain restaurant based on a “fast food” serving process with a drive through window for another 100 year old invention, the automobile, is akin to possessing technology is awful. Technology is better solar panels and smaller faster computers, not McDonald’s. The truth is the beef industry drives up the price of grain world wide causing the poor to suffer. It requires running the poor off their land, taking it from them and forcing them into cities where they live in shanty’s. McDonald’s is hardly a symbol of equality. Perry, I hope you think about this next time you bite into a Big Mac.

    If anyone is interested in spirituality and equality I would recommend the book “Small is Beautiful” by E.F. Schumacher.

    Last comment. The truth is where people have accepted Americanism we haven’t attacked them, but where they have not accepted Americanism we have bombed them and sold arms to their enemies to attack them.

    This is the truth, not the McDonald’s theory. The fact that Perry uses the bible to justify people’s American nationalism, calls his own faith into question.

  10. John Carter says:

    On Dec 19, 2009, at 11:52 AM, Perry Marshall wrote:

    “That God made a world which could operate consistently on its own without Him constantly making corrections from the outside.”

    Consider that everything, all material things both animate and inanimate, solid, liquid, and gas, all the way down to the smallest particle of matter within an atom, is composed of energy at different rates of vibration. All that energy is God in different states of expression. Each expression of individualized energy exists under a natural law, and those laws are established and governed by the very existence of that which we call God. This is the omnipotent and omnipresent nature of God.

    One can argue that God is self-aware. One can argue that God is creative. How else could energy be converted into matter, and how else could the destruction (or decay) of matter only be returned to its source as energy? This is the omniscient nature of God. Any part anywhere that decays from matter to energy can give rise to another part anywhere else that pops into existence. This is not religious rhetoric, but science fact.

    There is no “inside” or “outside” to Reality. God is not “out there”. We humans are not separate from God in any way. We are as much a part of God as any one molecule of hydrogen is to the entire universe. And we are as much involved in the creation of the Universe as God is simply because of our nature to be self-aware. And that nature of being self-aware exists in every particle of matter and energy in the Universe. Thinking, therefore, is nothing more than a complex arrangement of self-awareness, and consciousness is the activity of being self-aware.

    • Kara Cavanaugh says:

      A metaphysical approach is definately a breath of fresh air in this forum. Thank you for stating what I would have tried to and probably failed at 🙂

  11. John Carter says:

    On Dec 19, 2009, at 11:52 AM, Perry Marshall wrote:

    “So… part of the inspiration for inventions like water wheels was a belief in dignity and freedom and the rights of the individual.”

    “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”

    Slavery came out of, “How can I get someone else to do this work for me?”

    Technology came out of, “How can I get something else to do this work for me?” but only as a result of not having a slave around.

    Social ethics (human rights) is another word for the slave rebelling against the master or the sensitivity of a compassionate nature wishing no harm or disgrace upon another. Tossing in words like dignity and freedom are aspects of the ego and have nothing to do with the nature of God.

  12. John Carter says:

    On Dec 19, 2009, at 11:52 AM, Perry Marshall wrote:

    “There’s no name you can invoke that’s more powerful than the Son of God.”

    And what is hardly ever recognized is that all Life is the Son of God (the child of God, the creation of God, the essence of God, the activity of self-awareness).

  13. David says:

    Wow you draw a long bow on this article. IS seems a bit presumptious to say that all of human developement to this point is due to the Bible and Christianity. People in fact develop morally in independence to any religion. The Bible does in fact contain universal truthes but you have said in the article that Paul was the first to talk about equality. Did you forget or have you not read the exact same words from Buddha 500 years earlier?
    I would also recomend you study the words of Ken Wilber on the subject..
    Thanks

  14. Otmar Graml says:

    Thank you Perry,

    Really true and inspiering and fitting for this season.

    A Merry Christmas to you and to everyone who reads your mail

    Otmar

  15. Anthony Waters says:

    Hello again Perry. Long time since my last response of approximately 2 years ago. The last time we discussed Jesus, he was a person knowingly breaking the law by his teachings. You agreed to that, so here we go. After reading your response to Dan Brown’s DaVinci code I admit I have not seen the movie nor read the book. Could it be, regarding Mary Magdelaine, that Jesus and Mary were not married but were good friends and working partners? Read John 20:. In it Mary stands weeping at the tomb. Mary was no stranger to Jesus and was emotionally tied to him. Nothing wrong here. What does the Gardener say to Mary in 20:17? Jesus himself says he is not dead yet! “For I have not yet ascended to the Father”. Perry, this is noted in the first person, Jesus is saying these things, this is not being said by any one else, ie, heresay or the second or third person. Also this is not being said many years down the road when memories get dimmer and facts get reinterpreted. Is anyone sure that Mary was not Jesus’ most favoured disciple? What would be wrong if Mary was Jesus’ favorite anyway? Look at the age of both of them, this seems natural, I call it biology. There is no sin in having a female friend, matter of a fact I would think it was actually proper. Now, could it be that what happened later on, regarding the importance of “Christianity” is that it was turned upside down? Accordingly if we look at Roman Catholicism this is sometimes so. Most people do not connect that Jesus knew absolutley nothing about Christianity. I would suggest that, when Jesus was walking on this earth and if he had been questioned if Christianity was something that he would approve of, he most certainly would have rejected it. Jesus was a genius, not of scientific data or mechanical things, but of sorting out the truth and of being able to reply to authority with powerful answers. Jesus knew foremost Jewish Law as he belonged to the Church of Jerusalem. What Jesus saw was what we see today within government, if a group is in power long enough it will become corrupt. Jesus was a Jew pointing out not flaws in Jewish Law or culture, but what he saw as failings from the leadership. Best Regards, CanadaNorth

  16. Pradip Sapkota says:

    When a guy smashes his thumb with a hammer he say’s mother not Jesus Christ

  17. Hal Friedman says:

    While Paul’s atatement about equality was sweeping, it was still limited in scope to only those who were in “Christ Jesus”, that is, Christians. Accordingly, I don’t see it as being more sweeping than the OT Jews who were quite willing to accept “strangers”, that is, non-Jews, as equal as long as they wanted to fit into Jewish society. And it is not as sweeping as what Jefferson, a Deist, not a Christian, wrote as he did not limit his statement of equality to only those who hold common religious beliefs.

    Nevertheless, I want to thank you for sending me this interesting post. It was good food for good thought.

    Merry Christmas to you, from a non-Christian.

  18. Paul Jones says:

    Perry,
    Thanks for this article. While I understand the grounds for some of the comments you’ve received, its essential thrust of thankfulness for equality being rooted in Christ is spot on.
    Warm regards,
    Paul Jones

  19. James Wheless says:

    What is the overall point of this essay? Use technology to promote Christianity? Ok, fine. Keep in mind though, that the printing press is a design of man, built by man and religion, for better or worse, had nothing to do with it? In fact, I would venture to say, that like many inventions requiring design and thought, the printing press would never have come to be if religion or religious leaders were the ones in charge of deciding what can and should be created? I cant think of a single tangible thing ever invented as a result of “religion” or Christianity? Oh, and we, America that is, are not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic, with democratic institutions. You have no dout heard of what a democracy really is, and that is 2 wolves ans sheep deciding on whats for dinner? Therefore, the framers of the Constitution were careful to make that distinction. I for one prefer living in our kind of democracy rather than the pure kind?

    • perrymarshall says:

      James,

      The point of this essay is:

      Christianity played a critical role in bringing us technology and equality.

      I fully understand, such a statement is anathema to anyone who’s had a thoroughly secular education.

      But I go back to my statements in the article: That Wisdom of Solomon 11:21 was the first scientific statement ever made in the ancient world, and it was made 3000 years ago.

      And that Paul’s statement in Galatians was the boldest statement of equality ever in the ancient world, and that the idea evolved.

      If you disagree, then show me ancient documents making more definitive statements about science or equality than the two I just cited. You will notice that none of the people who are arguing with me on this page have successfully done that. These are two of the most powerful ideas in the history of the world and they appeared in Christianity first. Those who sneer at religion fail to appreciate how much of what we have today originated in a religious context. The “all men are created equal” statement in the Declaration is an explicitly religious statement.

      My purpose is not to debate the current state of the US political system. I have my disagreements with it too, believe me. I would just like to point out that regardless of how poorly run you think modern western governments are, the vast majority of us get 3 square meals a day, we enjoy human rights unheard of even 500 years ago, and we have the wonder of science – which is possible because someone believed what Solomon said: “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.”

  20. anupam says:

    Mr. perry, you are a total christian fundamentalist. your very very irrational arguments n one sided thougts that bible n christianity espouse the ultimate truth are preventing you from growing.Its people like you who have made jesus into a commodity.What to talk about taliban, its so called christian europeans who had unleased the greatest terror known to human history, on all continents of our planet, to spread christianity.
    your cunning style of marketing christianity is not going to work with me, ok. and you dont dare tell indians what this world is all about. we are a civilization moulded by discussion n debate to understand existence. we have not inherited, like you christians, to forcefully convert people or claim religious superiority. did god tell you jesus is his son?
    perry you are practicing a borrowed religion. preach something that you experience.You are a white racist man n your ilk n ancestors have forcefully converted so many africans who are still treated as slaves by american and european systems. caste system of india has been portrayed by british colonialists in a bad light to spread christianity in india. i dont need to debate with hoodless people like you. period.

    • perrymarshall says:

      Anupam,

      I apologize to you for whoever is forcefully converting people.

      I am not forcefully converting you.

      My opinion on the oppressive caste system that has 7 year old children breaking rocks for 10 cents a day and not getting an education because they’re a “Dalit” does not come from British colonialists. It comes from being there. http://www.perrymarshall.com/wp-content/uploads/travelogue/india/boybreakingrocks1.jpg

      I am preaching what I have experienced, Anupam. Again I am sorry for what you perceive as the greatest terror known to human history. I do not endorse everything that Christians have done. I am not personally involved in any form of slavery whatsoever and I give money to organizations that fight it. You are defending the Caste system and for all practical purposes, it is a form of slavery. I challenge you to reconsider your defense of the Caste system.

      What caste do you belong to?

      • Dylan De Leskie says:

        Since when was it racist to realize truth is by nature objective?

      • GyanP says:

        Do you want to justify the endorsement of Slavery by Jesus by saying this?

        For all practical purposes the Caste system was used to divide and rule the country by Britishers. Before they came Caste system was never a central or even a dominant discourse in the country’s social structure. Caste system is not meant to demean any class of people.

        Read “castes of Mind” by Nicholas Dirsk to understand how Britishers made it a dominant discourse in the Indian social system, if you are really serious about the topic.

        Caste system is never meant to propagate the slavery or anything akin to slavery.

        According to Indian Constitution everybody stands equal before the Law – caste, religion, color does not matter. As far as social evils are concerned Western countries have got their own bunch of problems. Better get occupied with solving them , rather than interfering in our society.

        Caste does not stop anyone from rising in India. The poverty has everything to do with the British Raj. Before Britishers came, there was absolutely no poverty in India. Its trade was flourishing. WE had our own education system. Britishers destroyed that too!

        • Tony Francis says:

          Indians should at least thank the British for teaching them English so they can debate in this forum, and for educating them so that they would today know what is “Freedom” and what it means to be one united India instead of a bunch of fighting kingdoms.

    • Tony Francis says:

      Thomas the Apostle of India
      Born on1st century AD, Galilee
      Died on AD 72 , Mylapore, India

      The holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle Thomas is included in the number of the holy Twelve Apostles of the Savior. He was ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem, but is best remembered for doubting the Resurrection until allowed to touch Christs wounds. Preached in Parthia, Persia and India, though he was so reluctant to start the mission that he had to be taken into slavery by a merchant headed that way. He eventually gave in to Gods will, was freed, and planted the new Church over a wide area. He formed many parishes and built many churches along the way. An old tradition says that Thomas baptised the wise men from the Nativity into Christianity.
      His symbol is the builders square; there are several stories that explain it.
      He built a palace for King Guduphara in India
      He built the first church in India with his own hands
      It is representative building a strong spiritual foundation as he had complete faith in Christ (though initially less in the Resurrection)
      He offered to build a palace for an Indian king that would last forever; the king gave him money, which Thomas promptly gave away to the poor; he explained that the palace he was building was in heaven, not on earth
      Death
      stabbed with a spear c.72 in while in prayer on a hill in Mylapur, India and buried near the site of his death. His relics later moved to Edessa, Mesopotamia.His relics moved to Ortona, Italy in the 13th century

      The Apostle Thomas was born in the Galileian city of Pansada and was a fisherman. Hearing the good tidings of Jesus Christ, he left all and followed after him. Saint Thomas was one of the fisherman on the Lake of Galilee whom Our Lord called to be His Apostles. By nature slow to believe, too apt to see difficulties and to look at the dark side of things, he had nonetheless a very sympathetic, loving, and courageous heart.When Jesus spoke to His apostles of His forthcoming departure, and told His faithful disciples that they already knew the Way to follow Him, Saint Thomas, in his simplicity, asked: Lord, we know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?
      When the Master during a journey turned back to go toward Bethany, near Jerusalem, to the grave of Lazarus, the apostle Thomas, knowing of the malevolent intentions of the Jerusalem religious authorities, at once feared the worst for his beloved Lord. Yet he cried out bravely: Let us go then and die with Him!
      After the Resurrection his doubts prevailed, and while the wounds of the crucifixion remained vividly imprinted in his affectionate memory, he could not credit the report that Christ had risen. But at the actual sight of the pierced hands and side, and the gentle rebuke of his Saviour, his unbelief vanished forever. His faith and ours have always triumphed in his joyous utterance: My Lord and my God!
      That Saint Thomas, after the dispersion of the Apostles, went to India, where he labored and died at Meliapour, is a certain fact of history. The Roman Breviary states that he preached in Ethiopia and Abyssinia, as well as in Persia and Media. Surely his was a remarkable history, reserved for the inhabitants of Christs glory to see in its fullness some day.
      Before he died in Meliapour, he erected a very large cross and predicted to the people that when the sea would advance to the very foot of that cross, God would send them, from a far-distant land, white men who would preach to them the same doctrine he had taught them. This prophecy was verified when the Portuguese arrived in the region, and found that the ocean had advanced so far as to be truly at the foot of the cross. At the foot of this cross was a rock where Saint Thomas, while praying fervently, suffered his martyrdom by a blow from the lance of a pagan priest. This happened, according to the Roman Breviary, at Calamine, which is in fact Meliapour, for in the language of the people the word Calurmine means on the rock (mina). The name was given the site in memory of the Apostles martyrdom.
      According to Holy Scripture, the holy Apostle Thomas did not believe the reports of the other disciples about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
      On the eighth day after the Resurrection, the Lord appeared to the Apostle Thomas and showed him His wounds. “My Lord and my God,” the Apostle cried out (John 20:28). “Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles,” says St John Chrysostom, “toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, so that he went preaching over nearly all the earth, not fearing to proclaim the Word of God to savage nations.”
      Some icons depicting this event are inscribed “The Doubting Thomas.” This is incorrect. In Greek, the inscription reads, “The Touching of Thomas.” In Slavonic, it says, “The Belief of Thomas.” When St Thomas touched the Life-giving side of the Lord, he no longer had any doubts. According to Church Tradition, the holy Apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India. Church Traditon also indicates that Apostle Thomas baptized the Magicitation needed. Preaching the Gospel earned him a martyr’s death. For having converted the wife and son of the prefect of the Indian city of Meliapur (Melipur), the holy apostle was locked up in prison, suffered torture, and finally, pierced with five spears, he departed to the Lord. Part of the relics of the holy Apostle Thomas are in India, in Hungary and on Mt. Athos. The name of the Apostle Thomas is associated with the Arabian (or Arapet) Icon of the Mother of God (September 6).
      Little is recorded of St.Thomas the Apostle, nevertheless thanks to the fourth Gospel his personality is clearer to us than that of some others of the Twelve. His name occurs in all the lists of the Synoptists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6, cf. Acts 1:13), but in St.John he plays a distinctive part.
      First, when Jesus announced His intention of returning to Judea to visit Lazarus, “Thomas” who is called Didymus [the twin], said to his fellow disciples:
      “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Again it was St. Thomas who during the discourse before the Last Supper raised an objection:” Thomas saith to him : Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). But more especially St. Thomas is remembered for his incredulity when the other Apostles announced Christ’s Resurrection to him: ” Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29).
      This exhausts all our certain knowledge regarding the Apostle but his name is the starting point of a considerable apocryphal literature, and there are also certain historical data which suggest that some of this apocryphal material may contains germs of truth. The principal document concerning him is the “Acta Thomae”, preserved to us with some variations both in Greek and in Syriac, and bearing unmistakeable signs of its Gnostic origin. It may indeed be the work of Bardesanes himself. The story in many of its particulars is utterly extravagant, but it is the early date, being assigned by Harnack (Chronologie, ii, 172) to the beginning of the third century, before A. D. 220. If the place of its origin is really Edessa, as Harnack and others for sound reasons supposed (ibid., p. 176), this would lend considerable probability to the statement, explicitly made in “Acta” (Bonnet, cap. 170, p.286), that the relics of Apostle Thomas, which we know to have been venerated at Edessa, had really come from the East. The extravagance of the legend may be judged from the fact that in more than one place (cap. 31, p. 148) it represents Thomas (Judas Thomas, as he is called here and elsewhere in Syriac tradition) as the twin brother of Jesus. The Thomas in Syriac is equivalant to XXXXX in Greek, and means twin. Rendel Harris who exaggerates very much the cult of the Dioscuri, wishes to regards this as a transformation of a pagan worship of Edessa but the point is at best problematical. The story itself runs briefly as follows: At the division of the Apostles, India fell to the lot of Thomas, but he declared his inability to go, whereupon his Master Jesus appeared in a supernatural way to Abban, the envoy of Gundafor, an Indian king, and sold Thomas to him to be his slave and serve Gundafor as a carpender. Then Abban and Thomas sailed away until they came to Andrapolis, where they landed and attended the marriage feast of the ruler’s daughter. Strange occurences followed and Christ under the appearence of Thomas exhorted the bride to remain a Virgin. Coming to India Thomas undertook to build a palace for Gundafor, but spend the money entrusted to him on the poor. Gundafor imprisoned him; but the Apostle escaped miraculously and Gundafor was converted. Going about the country to preach, Thomas met with strange adventures from dragons and wild asses. Then he came to the city of King Misdai (Syriac Mazdai), where he converted Tertia the wife of Misdai and Vazan his son. After this he was condemed to death, led out of city to a hill, and pierced through with spears by four soldiers. He was buried in the tomb of the ancient kings but his remains were afterwards removed to the West.
      Now it is certainly a remarkable fact that about the year A.D. 46 a king was reigning over that part of Asia south of Himalayas now represented by Afghanistan, Baluchistan, the Punjab, and Sind, who bore the name Gondophernes or Guduphara. This we know both from the discovery of coins, some of the Parthian type with Greek legends, others of the Indian types with the legends in an Indian dialect in Kharoshthi characters. Despite sundry minor variations the identity of the name with the Gundafor of the “Acta Thomae” is unmistakable and is hardly disputed. Further we have the evidence of the Takht-i-Bahi inscription, which is dated and which the best specialists accept as establishing the King Gunduphara probably began to reign about A.D. 20 and was still reigning in 46. Again there are excellent reasons for believing that Misdai or Mazdai may well be transformation of a Hindu name made on the Iranian soil. In this case it will probably represent a certain King Vasudeva of Mathura, a successor of Kanishka. No doubt it can be urged that the Gnostic romancer who wrote the “Acta Thomae” may have adopted a few historical Indian names to lend verisimilitude to his fabrication, but as Mr. Fleet urges in his severely critical paper “the names put forward here in connection with St.Thomas are distinctly not such as have lived in Indian story and tradition” (Joul. of R. Asiatic Soc.,1905, p.235).
      On the other hand, though the tradition that St. Thomas preached in “India” was widely spread in both East and West and is to be found in such writers as Ephraem Syrus, Ambrose, Paulinus, Jerome, and, later Gregory of Tours and others, still it is difficult to discover any adequate support for the long-accepted belief that St. Thomas pushed his missionary journeys as far south as Mylapore, not far from Madras, and there suffered martyrdom. In that region is still to be found a granite bas-relief cross with a Pahlavi (ancient Persian) inscription dating from the seventh century, and the tradition that it was here that St. Thomas laid down his life is locally very strong. Certain it is also that on the Malabar or west coast of southern India a body of Christians still exists using a form of Syriac for its liturgical language. Whether this Church dates from the time of St. Thomas the Apostle (there was a Syro-Chaldean bishop John “from India and Persia” who assisted at the Council of Nicea in 325) or whether the Gospel was first preached there in 345 owing to the Persian persecution under Shapur (or Sapor), or whether the Syrian missionaries who accompanied a certain Thomas Cana penetrated to the Malabar coast about the year 745 seems difficult to determine. We know only that in the sixth century Cosmas Indicopleustes speaks of the existence of Christians at Male (?Malabar) under a bishop who had been consecrated in Persia. King Alfred the Great is stated in the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” to have sent an expedition to establish relations with these Christians of the Far East. On the other hand the reputed relics of St. Thomas were certainly at Edessa in the fourth century, and there they remained until they were translated to Chios in 1258 and towards to Ortona. The improbable suggestion that St. Thomas preached in America (American Eccles. Rev., 1899, pp.1-18) is based upon a misunderstanding of the text of the Acts of Apostles (i, 8; cf. Berchet “Fonte italiane per la storia della scoperta del Nuovo Mondo”, II, 236, and I, 44).
      Besides the “Acta Thomae” of which a different and notably shorter redaction exists in Ethiopic and Latin, we have an abbreviated form of a so-called “Gospel of Thomas” originally Gnostic, as we know it now merely a fantastical history of the childhood of Jesus, without any notably heretical colouring. There is also a “Revelatio Thomae”, condemned as apocryphal in the Degree of Pope Gelasius, which has recently been recovered from various sources in a fragmentary condition (see the full text in the Revue benedictine, 1911, pp. 359-374).
      Little is recorded of St. Thomas the Apostle, nevertheless thanks to the fourth Gospel his personality is clearer to us than that of some others of the Twelve. His name occurs in all the lists of the Synoptists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6, cf. Acts 1:13), but in St. John he plays a distinctive part. First, when Jesus announced His intention of returning to Judea to visit Lazarus, “Thomas” who is called Didymus [the twin], said to his fellow disciples: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Again it was St. Thomas who during the discourse before the Last Supper raised an objection: “Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). But more especially St. Thomas is remembered for his incredulity when the other Apostles announced Christ’s Resurrection to him: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29).
      Acts, chapter 1 drew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of A
      John, chapter 11 .” Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciple
      John, chapter 14 g.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you
      John, chapter 20 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not
      John, chapter 20 the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus
      John, chapter 20 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; an
      John, chapter 20 .” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
      John, chapter 21 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan’a-el of Cana in Galilee
      Luke, chapter 6 d Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who
      Mark, chapter 3 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus
      Matthew, chapter 10 and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son
      During Jesus public ministry they repeatedly fail to get it. In fact Jesus wears himself out trying to hammer the truth through their thick skulls. After witnessing three years of miracles, one of them betrays Jesus and the leader of the group denies him. All but one run away when hes crucified, and no one believes Mary Magdalene when she brings them the news of his resurrection. But the episode recounted in John 20:19-31 takes the cake. The Risen Christ appears to the twelve on Easter Sunday evening. Or rather, I should say he appeared to the ten. Judas, the traitor, had taken his own life. And Thomas, the twin, missed the occasion. When Thomas returns to the group, he refuses to believe them. He demands empirical proof submitted personally to his lordship: Unless I put my finger in the nail marks in his hands and place my hand in his side, I will not believe. This sounds more like a pouting of a child than the words of an apostle.
      In justice, Jesus could have just said enough. Thomas had already seen so much. Acts 1 tells us that Judas was replaced by Matthias. This ungrateful skeptic could easily have been replaced as well. But Jesus does not deal with us by virtue of strict justice. God forbid! No, he comes to us in mercy, giving us what we do not deserve. And that’s how he dealt with this doubter. A week later, he gives him what he asked for. Imagine how badly Thomas yearned to eat his words as he put his hand into the sacred side of the New Adam.
      Thomas can’t be said to come to true faith in the resurrection through all this. Because faith is about believing what you can’t see. Walking by faith means NOT walking by sight. In heaven, well see God face to face, so faith will be no more. Blessed, says Jesus, are those who have not seen, and yet believe. But Thomas does come to faith in something else that he can’t quite see. He saw Lazarus, the son of the widow of Nain plus the daughter of Jairus, all raised from the dead. Thomas now looks at yet another risen human being before him and says what he did not say to the prior three: My Lord and My God. Thomas here professes what can only be seen by the eye of faith. The resurrection of Jesus is not just a marvel for Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Jesus is not just some first century Houdini. No, his resurrection is a sign that he is the Messiah, the King, even the Eternal God, come in the flesh. So this man, humbled by Christs mercy, is content to be known for all generations as Doubting Thomas. He and the other apostles spread a story in which they look real bad. And for it they receive not privilege but persecution and death. So why do they spread the story? Because it�s the truth. And because its a proclamation of the Divine Mercy of God who does not reject the thick-headed, the weak, and the doubting but instead gives them the power to become strong, loving, and wise.Behold, says Jesus, I make all things new. (Rev 21:5)
      St. Thomas the Apostle (First Century)
      The Apostle St Thomas (also called Didymus, ‘twin’) is the subject of a masterly character sketch in St John’s Gospel. It is important because he is not unlike many well-meaning people of today who have received a technical education and nothing else, and believe only what they can see and touch. He comes to notice when, against the protests of the frightened disciples, Jesus insists on returning to Judea to raise Lazarus from the dead. Thomas, loyal and pessimistic, enlists the others to go too, ‘that we may die with him’ (John 11:7-16). Then, at the Last Supper, when Jesus tells his disciples that he is about to leave them and that they know the way where he is going, this same common-sense Thomas, evidently under great strain, cries, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going; and how can we know the way?’ Jesus treats him to the sublime answer: ‘I am the – way . . . No one goes to the Father save through me.’
      The shattering blow of the crucifixion was followed by ‘women’s tales’ of a resurrection. Poor Thomas, who had not died with him after all, was away, perhaps hiding his head in sullen bitterness, when Jesus appeared to the rest. He met their enthusiastic testimony with obstinate disbelief which became neurotically brutal: ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ A sad, lonely week must have followed for him, with the others so happy. Then he rejoined them in his loyal way, although the doors were still shut for fear of the Jews. Only Jesus could convince him, and he came specially to give him the proof he demanded: ‘Bring your finger here and see my hands; and put forth your hand and place it in my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas needed no more and burst into the great cry which is the climax of St John’s Gospel and Christianity’s age-long confession: ‘My Lord and my God.’ Peter and Thomas are the first two disciples mentioned as present when Jesus manifested himself at the sea of Galilee. Thomas would not be left out again.Jesus said to Thomas: ‘Have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe.’ Here is encouragement to those who receive God’s gift of faith with the simplicity of a child. But Jesus never said men should shut their eyes, and St Gregory remarks that Thomas’s doubt helps us more than the faith of others. Faith is above reason, but reason leads to faith, for the things men see and touch point beyond themselves. To deny this brings neurotic conflict. St Thomas’s feast on December 21st is fittingly near the day when we celebrate the Incarnation. A strong, early tradition makes him the Apostle of India.
      Acts of Judas Thomas
      Acta Thomae, the apocryphal book is historically dated around end of first century soon after the martyrdom of St. Thomas. There are several ancients texts in existence in various languages such as Syriac, Greek, Latin, Armenian and Ethiopic. The original manuscripts are found in the British Museum. This book gives a detailed account of Apostle Thomas labors in nine parts. The gist of the book is as follows: After the ascension of Jesus Christ, the Apostles met in Jerusalem and portioned all the countries of the world among themselves. India which at that time included all Middle East to the present India fell to the lot of St. Thomas. A certain merchant by name Habban – the Raja Vaidehika of Indian King Gundnaphor came to Jerusalem looking for a carpenter to take home to the King. Christ appeared to Habban and asked him whether he was there for a carpenter. He said yes. Jesus introduced himself as Jesus the Carpenter from Nazareth and sold his slave Thomas to Habban for twenty pieces of silver and pointed Thomas to him. Habban asked Thomas whether Jesus was his master. Thomas answered Yes, he is my Lord. Habban told Thomas,He has sold you to me outright. Thomas was dumb founded. In the morning, Thomas prayed, Lord, Let thy will be done and went with Habban. He took with him nothing except the twenty pieces of silver which Jesus gave him. They took the sea route to India and landed in a port called Sandruk Mahosa . Here Habban was received by the local King. They attended the wedding of the Kings daughter and St. Thomas demonstrated his ability of miracle healing on the troubled daughter of the King by the laying on of hands. There after they continued their journey in India. They reached the Kingdom of Gundaphorus and Thomas was commissioned to build a palace for the King in the shores of the River. However St. Thomas out of his pity gave away the money to the poor and could not build the palace. He was put in the prison. However that night the King’s brother Gad died and he was told the beautiful palace beside the river in the heavens was his brothers. He came back from the dead and told the story to the King. They were later converted to the Christian way.
      After ordaining one Xantippus (Xenophon) as deacon to the churches in North India St. Thomas traveled throughout India and converted many to Christianity . Among them are the names of: King of Mazdai, a noble lady by name Mygdonia, Tertia the queen of Mazdai. He was martyred outside the cities on a mountain at the hands of four soldiers.
      Local Tradition
      In almost complete support to the book there is a time honored tradition in Malabar which is handed down to us from generation to generation in the form of the songs of the Nazranis as Margom Kali. The other tradition comes from Veeradian pattu which is performed by a Hindu Caste on Christian festivals and is their heritage. Another written document is the Thomma Parvam written by Thomas Ramban in 1601 for use in the Niranam church. This Thomas Ramban is a descendant of one of the first Brahmin convert to Christianity christened as Ramban Thomas during St. Thomas’ visit. The story is handed down through generations until it was written down in 1601. Apostle Thomas landed in Cranganoor (Kodungallur, Muziris) and took part in the wedding of Cheraman Perumal and proceeded to the courts of Gondophorus in North India. By the discovery of Trade winds, the sea route most favored from Yemen boarder to India was to Kerala. Trade winds were discovered in A.D. 45 by Hippalus and the merchant route to Kerala went directly to Yemeni Ports and then proceeded to the Spice route over Palestine.
      According to Thomma Parvom the visit of St. Thomas in Kerala lasted only eight days in the first instant. During this period the main converts were Jews who were settled in Malabar. (There was a large Jewish community in Cochin at that time) . During his second visit over three thousand became Christians. The first convert was a Brahmin from Maliyakal who became Thomas Maliyakal the Ramban. Among them were 75 Brahmin families along with Jews, Kshatriyas, Nairs and Chettiars. One Jewish prince by name Kepha (Peter) was later ordained as bishop when St. Thomas left for the rest of Kerala and India. The seven original churches established by St. Thomas were located at Malayankara (Malayattur), Palayur (near Chavakkad), Koovakayal (near North Paravur), Kokkamangalam (South Pallipuram), Kollam, Niranam and Nilackel (Chayal). Each local parish was self-administered, guided by a group of presbyters and presided over by the elder priest or episcopa (bishop).
      The King Gondophorus
      This King was a mystery figure until recently. No one knew of a King by that name or a Kingdom corresponding to the description given in the tradition. However excavations in both east and west of Indus has unearthed coins and inscriptions which made it clear that Gundaphorus was indeed a historical figure and that he belonged to the Parthian Dynasty from Takshasila (Taxila). On the obverse of the coin is the figure of King Gondophorus with his name inscribed clearly. On the reverse is the figure of Shiva with his trident and with the clear inscription in Greek Maharaja- rajaraja-samahata- dramia-devavrata- Gundaphorasa. The date of his reign is clearly marked in the Takth-i-Bahi stones kept in Lahore museum which is 17 inches long and 14 1/2 inches wide and states: In the twenty-sixth year of the great King Gudaphoara, in the year three and one hundred, in the month of Vaishakh, on the fifth day This places his ascension to the Kingdom as AD 19 and the year 103 corresponds to AD 46. Further evidence indicates that this King had a brother named Gad.
      Soon after, this kingdom was over ran by several invasions and the churches established in the Northern India vanished with the Parthian Empire without a trace. The Christian community seems to have gone underground with a strong vow of silence in the face of massacre and severe persecutions. Even today there is an underground Christian Sanyasi group who surfaces whenever there is a need to help the missions. Sadhu Sunder Singh reports that he had been taken care of by these secret sects on one of his Himalayan journeys.
      After leaving Taxila St. Thomas evangelized various parts of India and finally arrived in Madras where he was martyred by a tribal chief. His tomb can still be seen in Mylapore.
      Malankara Syrian Christians
      Malankara Syrian Christians today traces their heritage from the Apostle Thomas. Today they belong to various denominations such as the Orthodox Church, Mar Thoma church, St.Thomas Evangelical Church, Church of South India, Roman Catholic and other independent evangelicals.
      St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. He was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. When Jesus said He was returning to Judea to visit His sick friend Lazarus, Thomas immediately exhorted the other Apostles to accompany Him on the trip which involved certain danger and possible death because of the mounting hostility of the authorities. At the Last Supper, when Christ told His Apostles that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way, Thomas pleaded that they did not understand and received the beautiful assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But St. Thomas is best known for his role in verifying the Resurrection of his Master. Thomas’ unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen their risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday merited for him the title of “doubting Thomas.” Eight days later, on Christ’s second apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his scepticism and furnished with the evidence he had demanded – seeing in Christ’s hands the point of the nails and putting his fingers in the place of the nails and his hand into His side. At this, St. Thomas became convinced of the truth of the Resurrection and exclaimed: “My Lord and My God,” thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus. St. Thomas is also mentioned as being present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus – at Lake Tiberias when a miraculous catch of fish occurred. This is all that we know about St. Thomas from the New Testament. Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this saint was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” He capped his left by shedding his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine. His feast day is July 3rd and he is the patron of architects.
      Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this Saint was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” He capped his life by shedding his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine.
      St. Thomas is a patron of architects. His feast day is July 3rd.
      Thomas Sunday (the 1st Sunday after Easter, October 6, and June 30 Synaxis of the Apostles) (Eastern Orthodox Churches)
      December 21 (on local calendars and among Traditional Roman Catholics)
      Thomas in the Gospel of John
      Thomas appears in a few passages in the Gospel of John. In John 11:16, when Lazarus has just died, the disciples are resisting Jesus’ decision to return to Judea, where the Jews had previously tried to stone Jesus. Jesus is determined, and Thomas says bravely: “Let us also go, that we might die with him” (NIV) He also speaks at The Last Supper.[Jn. 14:5] Jesus assures his disciples that they know where he is going but Thomas protests that they don’t know at all. Jesus replies to this and to Philip’s requests with a detailed exposition of his relationship to God the Father.
      In Thomas’ best known appearance in the New Testament, [Jn. 20:24-29] he doubts the Death and resurrection of Jesus and demands to touch Jesus’ wounds before being convinced. Caravaggio’s painting, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (illustration above), depicts this scene. This story is the origin of the term Doubting Thomas. After seeing Jesus alive (the Bible never states whether Thomas actually touched Christ’s wounds), Thomas professed his faith in Jesus, exclaiming “My Lord and my God!” On this account he is also called Thomas the Believer.
      Name and identity
      There is disagreement and uncertainty as to the identity of Saint Thomas. One recent theory is presented in the book The Jesus Family Tomb. The authors, Simcha Jacobovici and Pellegrino, identify him with two of those who were interred in the Talpiot Tomb, “Yehuda son of Yeshua.”

      The Greek Didymus: in the Gospel of John.[11:16] [20:24] Thomas is more specifically identified as “Thomas, also called the Twin (Didymus)”. The Aramaic Tau’ma: the name “Thomas” itself comes from the Aramaic word for twin: T’oma (תאומא). Thus the name convention Didymus Thomas thrice repeated in the Gospel of John is in fact a tautology that could potentially be interpreted as omitting the Twin’s actual name.

      Other names
      The Nag Hammadi “sayings” Gospel of Thomas begins: “These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.” Syrian tradition also states that the apostle’s full name was Judas Thomas, or Jude Thomas. Some have seen in the Acts of Thomas (written in east Syria in the early 3rd century, or perhaps as early as the first half of the 2nd century) an identification of Saint Thomas with the apostle Judas brother of James, better known in English as Jude. However, the first sentence of the Acts follows the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in distinguishing the apostle Thomas and the apostle Judas son of James. Few texts identify Thomas’ other twin, though in the Book of Thomas the Contender, part of the Nag Hammadi library, it is said to be Jesus himself: “Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself”
      Veneration as a Saint

      Thomas is revered as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion. In the Roman Catholic Church, his traditional feast day is December 21. In 1970, in order that it would no longer interfere with the major ferial days of Advent, his feast was moved to July 3, the day on which his relics were translated from Mylapore, a place along the coast of the Marina Beach, Chennai in India to the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. Roman Catholics who follow the traditional calendar, as well as Anglicans who worship according to one of the classical Books of Common Prayer (e.g. 1662 English or 1928 American), continue to celebrate his feast day on December 21.
      For the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Coptic Orthodox Church he is remembered each year on Saint Thomas Sunday, which falls on the Sunday after Easter. In addition, the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches celebrate his feast day on October 6 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, October 6 currently falls on October 19 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is also commemorated in common with all of the other apostles on June 30 (July 13), in a feast called the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles. He is also associated with the “Arabian” (or “Arapet”) Icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God), which is commemorated on September 6 (September 19).

      • GyanP says:

        My last reply —

        St. Thomas NEVER came to India.

        Lots of words do not make the lie a truth.

        Endless repetition of a lien doesn’t make it truth.

        • Tony Francis says:

          My last reply for your reply:

          If I was as impolite as you, I could very well say that Ramayana and Maha Bharatha are just stories like Aesop’s Fables.

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