The Chachapoya were a people that flourished in the Peruvian Andes for well over a thousand years until they eventually succumbed to the changing times and (most likely) were assimilated into the Incas around 500 years ago. They certainly never met a contemporary European or Asian. In fact, there are no indications of any outside influences on their culture for the majority of their history. All of the archeological data indicates that they were a peaceful people who managed to build a compassionate and cooperative society that lasted for nearly two thousand years.
Consider that Chachapoya never had access to the Judeo laws and morals as handed down by Moses. They had never heard of Vishnu, Brahma, or Maheshawara (Hindu), nor did the angel Moroni bestow revelations to anyone in their culture as far as we know. How, then, did they manage to manage for so long? Was there a “built-in” moral code from God that kept them from raping and pillaging each other? If so, why didn’t they show homage to this intimate influence in the many artifacts they left behind? If not, then why didn’t an “evil presence” succeed in filling their perspective on life with despair and wretchedness? Is the fact that this didn’t happen evidence in itself that someone was “looking out” for them? Perhaps, I suppose, but that seems a little too convenient (if not disingenuous), especially when you acknowledge the many atrocities committed by cultures that did (and still do) claim a divine moral guidance.
The prevailing religious influence on our current western society emphasizes the belief that no person can be “saved” unless he is somehow redeemed through an acceptance of their unique path to salvation. Under such constraints, then, the Chachapoyans didn’t have a chance. According to this ecclesiastical doctrine they were doomed without even knowing it–by a God they never had an opportunity to comprehend. Can such an oversight really be attributed to God? Or does logic and reason tell us that such a discrepancy is not really a discrepancy at all?
We are often asked to ponder how meaningless our existence would be to simply consider ourselves as nothing more than a progression of the impersonal laws of nature to which we have always been subject. Yet, if it’s true, are we something less than what we are now? Wouldn’t we continue to love our children just as much under such circumstances? We are implored to reflect on how lost we would be without a gospel to guide our collective redemption and personal salvation. Well, I think of the Chachapoyans and wonder how they managed to endure without such assistance. My suspicion is that how they did it differed little from the multitudes who came before and after them.
The Chachapoya are an example for all of us, but especially to the many that place their faith in the rules written by men who claim to be guided by the inspiration of God, Himself. These same men would no doubt have little difficulty in dismissing the Chachapoya with such platitudes as “God’s way is mysterious,” or “Man can’t fully comprehend the divine plan.” Really? I wonder if such comforting explanations are revealed to all, or just to those who are “chosen” to lead the way. The evidence shows that the Chachapoya did just fine–and that alone should tell us just how “inspired” such claims truly are.
I guess I still need help, then, in understanding why it would be beneficial for me (or anyone else) to surrender to any belief that, when you get down to the essence of it, tells me that I should be grateful for not being born a Chachapoyan. Such a belief most surely diminishes us all–including any God that may be out there paying attention.