1. Belief in worshiping the gods in the Egyptian religion
In ancient Egypt, religion infiltrated all areas of society. In Egypt’s class society, religion held by the ruling class was not only an instrument of domination by the tyrannical government of the pharaohs, but also a trick of the dominant corporations, slaves used to fight for power. Egyptian society developed very slowly, so that Egypt for a long time still kept a lot of primitive religious beliefs.
Throughout the history of ancient Egypt, the cult of animals was very prevalent. It can be said that many animals: birds, animals, are considered gods, because according to the ancient Egyptians, each animal worshiped in the temple is an incarnation of the soul of a certain god. . There are god falcons, god cranes, god wolf, god wolf, god goat, god sheep, god cat, etc. Some animals like Apis cow are worshiped by religion throughout the country.
In addition to worshiping real animals, the Egyptians also worshiped imaginary animals such as the phoenix, and the sphinx (an animal with the head of a man, the body of a lion). The sphinx often lives in the neighboring deserts, has great power, can resist all ferocious forces. The statue of this animal is often placed in front of the temple or tomb of the king.
In the ancient Egyptian religion , the cult of nature occupied an important place. The angel Nut, the earth god Geb, and the water god Osiris mean the tsunami. But in the worship of nature, the worship of the sun god Ra is the most sacred and popular. The center of the worship of Ra is the city of Heliopolis. In the process of forming a centralized state, the god Ra of Heliopolis gradually became the supreme god of the whole country. The ruling class of slave owners took advantage of the religion of Ra to strengthen the autocratic government of the Pharaoh. God Ra is the lord of the gods as well as the Pharaoh who is the supreme ruler of the country.
During the Middle Kingdom, the supreme god was the sun god Amun of Thebes, the new capital of Egypt, Amun also commonly called Amun Ra.
2. Ancient Egyptian mummification practices
According to the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians, the person is dead, but the soul is immortal. They believe that in each person’s body, there is a “ka” soul that follows the human body like a figure with a shadow. When a person dies, the ka comes out of the body and begins an independent life. Only when the body is completely destroyed will the ka die, but if the corpse is kept, the ka will one day return to the body, the person will come back to life.
Because of this belief, the Egyptians had a custom of mummifying a dead body (mummy) to keep it for thousands of years without rotting. There are people who specialize in embalming dead bodies. They took out all the intestines and livers from the dead person’s stomach, then put the corpse in salt water for about 70 days. Then they removed the corpse, put sawdust and antiseptic spices in the abdomen, wrapped it tightly in cloth, and placed the corpse, in a wooden or stone coffin.
In order for the “ka” to receive his mummy, people often carve the image of the dead person on the lid of the coffin, and also carve a stone or wooden statue of the dead person placed in the grave. Embalming is often very expensive, only aristocrats and rich people have the ability to embalm dead bodies; Ordinary people could not find the money to pay, often very high, for embalmers.
The emergence of philosophical thought is associated with the need to solve the pressing problems of life. From the second millennium BC, in Egyptian society, there were many fierce class struggles that often led to revolts of slaves and poor people against the government of the pharaohs and the ruling aristocracy. no. It was on that basis that atheistic and materialistic ideas began to arise and develop. On the other hand, the development of the first scientific knowledge created conditions for atheistic materialistic ideas to arise and develop.
The first blows of progressive thought against the traditional worldview of the slave-owner aristocracy were directed against the very religious teachings about life in the “afterlife”: For example, in a work Ancient Egyptian literature titled “Song of the harpist” the author affirmed that in the past, among the dead, no one had returned to the world to tell people about the “afterlife”. “. Then the author exhorted, “It is imperative to settle everything in this world.”
That thought is even more evident in the work entitled “Conversation of a disappointed man with his soul”. Through that work, the author expressed an ordinary citizen’s doubt about the justice of contemporary society, doubt about the “afterlife”. The document reads: “There are thieves and robbers everywhere”, “the heart is cruel, brothers also steal from each other”, “violence is ingrained in everyone’s heart”, … ” Another passage says: “He who dies and his body turns to ashes”, “who wants his name to live forever, should not believe in vain dreams in the afterlife, but should rely only on the deeds of myself on earth”.
To these atheist ideas, the slave-owner aristocrats reacted strongly: “The people must be subdued. Their enthusiasm must be destroyed.” Those were the screams of the ruling class of slave owners recorded in the “Teachings” of the contemporary aristocracy. Those volumes of “Teachings” declare that the social order and the political system are the continuation of the divine order in nature. God created rulers, He also created the plants and animals that feed humans.
Thus, the ideological struggle in philosophy has quite faithfully reflected the increasingly fierce class struggle in the Egyptian slave-owning society.
The seeds of spontaneous atheist and materialistic conceptions of the Ancient Egyptians had a good influence on the development of science and materialistic thought in the ancient world.
In summary, over the 3000 years of ancient Egyptian history, the Egyptians have gradually accumulated rich experiences in perceiving the surrounding world and the laws of nature. Although at that time the idealistic and mystical worldview in general still dominated human thought activities, the ancient Egyptians still knew how to rely on the natural laws that they were aware of to build the basis of a true science.