This is just a brief note for those interested in my thoughts on Tim Widowfield’s article “What Is Euhemerism?” about what he thinks are confusions regarding the terminology of “Euhemerization.” For the context, see my article “Euhemerization Means Doing What Euhemerus Did.”
Widowfield is confusing what Euhemerus did, with why he did it. This is a basic mistake of Aristotelian categorization. The efficient cause is the act itself that brings about the effect. The final cause is the reason why, the goal being sought, by doing that. Those are two different things.
Aaron Adair, the astronomer who wrote the best book ever on the Star of Bethlehem (seriously, I highly recommend it, for all who want the definitive take-down of that miracle claim), will be presenting an equally well-written paper at the upcoming national meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature on this point that documents what I’m saying extensively, but it will be awhile before that will be available to cite.
TL;DR, Euhemerization is doing what Euhemerus did: convert a non-historical deity into a deified historical man (in contrast to deification, which is when an actual historical man is converted into a deity). Why he did that is actually widely debated. We don’t actually have the text in question, only hostile reactions to it, which quote selectively from it or paraphrase it (how accurately we can’t tell). But whatever his reasons for doing it, his reasons for doing it are not what he did, but why. And as Adair shows (and as do I, though less directly, in OHJ, e.g. in my discussions of Romulus and Osiris), many people did the same thing (used the same process) to accomplish different things. Some wanted to rationalize cosmic myths. Some wanted to hide them from the uninitiated. Some wanted to polemicize against them. But what they all did in common, is the same one thing: convert a non-historical deity into a deified historical man. A trend begun by Euhemerus. And thus so called.
This is the problem with trying, as Widowfield does, to create an analogy between Darwinism, which is by definition not teleological, with an actual goal-oriented human activity. The latter differentiates between the act itself and its purpose. And as such, the same act (smelting steel, say) can be turned to many more purposes than its originators intended or imagined (you can smelt steel to make swords, plowshares, or literal flying machines). What you create is different from how you use it. Euhemerus did not invent his idea, but he popularized it. How people thus inspired then used that idea varied, as each user had their own goals, which his idea could be turned to accomplishing.
And this is demonstrated in the historical record.