Christian apologists will often point to the near universal belief in gods found in nearly every ancient culture that has existed on our planet as evidence for the existence of a Creator God. But is this fact really evidence for a Creator or is it evidence of something else? Think about this: The human mind is programmed to see “agency” everywhere in his (or her) environment. Why? Answer: To avoid being someone else’s lunch!
A rustle in the grass is most often due to the wind. Most of us today ignore rustling grass in our modern environments. But in the early days of human existence, rustling in the grass could be an ominous sign. Rustling grass could be a saber tooth tiger, lurking in the grass, ready to pounce on you and shred you to pieces with its massive teeth and claws!
Early humans would have been much more concerned about rustling grass than most modern humans are today, at least those of us who live in industrialized societies. Rustling grass could be a matter of life or death! Early humans who had a high threshold for alarm when they heard rustling grass were killed (and eaten) more often than the early humans who had a low threshold of alarm for rustling grass. While the latter ran, the former continued doing whatever it was they were doing…and were eaten. In that era, being very paranoid about things you saw or heard in your environment was a good thing! Not only did you live to see another day but you lived to pass on your DNA. Scientists refer to this phenomenon of seeing someone or something behind unexplained events in one’s environment as “agency”.
So isn’t it probable that since the people who saw and heard “agency” everywhere in their environment survived and passed on their DNA to their offspring, that this was the perfect setup for the belief in divine agency to develop in every culture of human beings? If rustling grass or visibly swaying grass was always perceived as a tiger until proven otherwise, then maybe lightening, floods, and droughts were also perceived as having agency. But since these “agents” were never seen, humans gave these invisible agents names, such as Thor, Zeus, Ra, and Yahweh.