Among the beautiful buildings and the verdant gardens of the new city, Akhenaton, a man of about twenty-two, turned his thoughts completely to the development of his religion. It is necessary, therefore, for us to take a look at the essential characteristics of this most enlightened doctrine of the ancient world and, to some extent, to let us know the creed that the king himself was evolving from that cult of Ra-Horakhti Aton in which he had been polite.
Originally the Aton was the true solar disk; but, as has been said, the god was now called “Heat-that-is-in-Aton”, and Akhenaton, focusing his attention on this aspect of divinity, drew the eyes of his followers to a much more intangible force and distant from the dazzling globe to which they bowed.
Nowadays the scientist will tell you that God is the ultimate source of life, where natural explanation fails, God must be discovered: He is, in a word, the author of energy, the main driving force of all things known.
Akhenaton, centuries and centuries before the birth of the scientist, defined God in this way. At a time when men believed, as some still do, that a deity was only an exaggerated creature of this earth, having a form, built on material lines, this young pharaoh proclaimed God as the shapeless essence, the ” intelligent germ, the strength of love, which permeated time and space.
It is clear that the Aton conceived by the young Pharaoh was in no sense one of those old gods that our God eventually replaced in Egypt. Aton is God almost as we conceive it. There is no quality attributed by the king to the Aton that we do not attribute to our God. Like a flash of blinding light in the night, the Aton stands out for a moment amid the black Egyptian darkness, and once again the first signal disappears to this world of the future religion of the West.
No man whose mind is free from prejudice will not see a resemblance much closer to the teachings of Christ in the religion of Akhenaten than in that of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The faith of the patriarchs is the linear ancestor of the Christian faith; but Akhenaton’s creed is his isolated prototype. One could believe that the almighty God had for a moment revealed himself in Egypt, and had been there more clearly interpreted, even if for a moment, than in Syria or Palestine before the time of Christ.