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J. K.

A question for the non-religious

51 posts in this topic

Mankind has a great imagination, but it always builds on existing concepts, no matter how small or different those concepts were from the imagined "thing". We can't create something out of nothing.

Thank you; you phrased the concept far more elegantly than I was able.

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I think far too much credit is given to imagination.

It is nearly impossible to create something completely new.

So much for thinking outside the box, eh? I see your key word here is "NEARLY". In my humble opinion, you are either being too cynical, or too humble to your own imagination when it comes to your own creativity.

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So much for thinking outside the box, eh? I see your key word here is "NEARLY". In my humble opinion, you are either being too cynical, or too humble to your own imagination when it comes to your own creativity.

I specified "nearly" because I try not to think in absolutes :) It may be possible to come up with something utterly new but it is uncommon (and I can't say I've ever seen it or done so myself)

I'm not trying to downplay my imagination or anyone elses, but imagination and creation come from combining existing experience... the combination is new, but there is one or more sources that feed into that creation. I don't think that imagination is a good explanation for where the concept of spiritual things came from, though it can explain why spiritual things are described the way that they are.

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I fear that I did not phrase my original question correctly.

From the secular viewpoint (please correct me if I'm wrong), there are no higher intelligences with which man interacts.  Man on earth has no other source than the planet's own evolution process.  There are no spiritual entities, gods, or unseen forces which guide and shape our lives.

With no spiritual elements existing, man should not even be capable of thinking of the existence of of spiritual forces.  

The best analogy I can consider: if humans were all physically blind, we could not conceive of the concept of color, much less the concept of sight.

Consider the case of the much oft-discussed flying spaghetti monster.  It does not exist, yet we are able to discuss the concept.  However, please note that 1) we are aware of existing creatures that do fly; 2) spaghetti itself exists, and 3) monster is a noun we use to refer to certain types of beings.  The point here is that, although the FSM doesn't truly exist, we recognize the elements of its construction, and therefore are able to discuss its attributes in the face of its non-existence.  

However, if there are no spiritual aspects of life at all, then there is nothing to extrapolate on to even posit the existence of the supernatural.

In an attempt not to repeat the points others have already made (an attempt I'm sure I'll fail at. LOL). I'll just throw in my opinion. 

I don't think religion as we know it today stemmed from one event or idea. Like everything, it evolved into what it is today for reasons many of you have already touched on.  But there's one reason that comes to mind for me that I don't see mentioned yet. 

Think about any animal that live in a group. Be it a pack, flock, pod, etc...  In every case that I know of there is always a dominant member. The head dog, the dominant gorilla, etc … They look to this "leader" to provide certain functions of the Unit. To keep the pack fed, protection, guidance. Keeping members in check (resolving disputes/fights). 

We humans are social animals too. I think some people forget that sometimes. It's easy to forget how much we are dependent on instilled instincts. We still need to have a leader in some areas of life. It's an instinct just like so many other areas of life are based on our instincts. There's a reason sex feels good, there's a reason child birth hurts. There's a reason woman tend to fall for bad guys. These are things we generally make jokes about but if you look deeper they all have legitimate reasons behind them. 

The thing with us humans though is that we've evolved to the point that our lives aren't lived simply with the goal of survival anymore. Most of us don't have to live in a clan and depend on the leader of that clam to survive anymore. We've branched out and our social network has become very divided. I can be a leader in one field and a follower in another. 

This is where I think our ability to "discuss religion" or "discuss what we've never witnessed" comes from. 

We have an instinct to have a leader or our pack so to speak. We also have an instinct to challenge that leadership at times. It's one of the reasons we have politics and such debates during election times. We are challenging and fighting for our best outcome in the survival of our culture, pack, country, state, etc… 

But if we continuously challenge that leadership we've evolved to the point where well never be satisfied. One leader is good at one aspect and terrible at the other. We want perfection and well never rest until we have it. Our minds are such that have evolved to the point where we can always image something or someone better. So, we'll never reach that perfection we desire. 

But, what if we focus all that on something perfect, even if imaginary, we've created this perfect leader. A leader that knows all, creates all and controls all. It never makes a mistake. In short, a god. The idea means instant security and answers to any question. 

This I feel is the heart of the creation of god. All other reasons we have discussed here stem from this desire to have the security of the perfect leader IMO. 

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Thank you all for your insightful comments. A hypothesis of mine has been confirmed.

So that's it? All that effort to discuss/debate the 'concepts' you raised gets summarily dismissed with a single sentence that tells us nothing? (except perhaps that you did not wish to discuss anything and your mind was completely made up before you posted)..

Thanks. Gee, I'll be keen to respond to your next one..

Or perhaps not.

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So that's it? All that effort to discuss/debate the 'concepts' you raised gets summarily dismissed with a single sentence that tells us nothing? (except perhaps that you did not wish to discuss anything and your mind was completely made up before you posted)..

Thanks. Gee, I'll be keen to respond to your next one..

Or perhaps not.

I said nothing about wishing to debate the topic; I simply wanted to hear others' impressions of the idea that occurred to me. The idea was that the ability to posit things of a spiritual implies that man has a spiritual component. My hypothesis was that informational bias would cause skeptics to creatively deny the idea and that few would truly comprehend what I was truly asking. However, if I had stated that, it would have resulted in skewed posts.

People are certainly welcome to continue discussing/debating the topic as they choose. I find these discussions to be very enlightening. The best way to understand one's own belief is to compare and contrast with others' beliefs. If you prefer, I can "throw out the gauntlet":

I think that the reason we can imagine a spiritual deity is that it exists in the first place. As another post stated, how can we invent something that is totally unique and has nothing in common with anything that already exists?

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I said nothing about wishing to debate the topic

Perhaps you should look up the word 'forum'.

I think that the reason we can imagine a spiritual deity is that it exists in the first place. As another post stated, how can we invent something that is totally unique and has nothing in common with anything that already exists?

And I and others explained the answer to that question above, all of which you have ignored.. and yet you now ask the question again and expect us to re-answer it?

Bye. And never again...

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I think that the reason we can imagine a spiritual deity is that it exists in the first place. As another post stated, how can we invent something that is totally unique and has nothing in common with anything that already exists?

Yeah, totally unique. Nothing to do with deities essentially being glorified humans.

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The best analogy I can consider: if humans were all physically blind, we could not conceive of the concept of color, much less the concept of sight.

I understand the concept.

I think the idea of gods came from simple observation of cause and effect. Early man see that his kind are able to manipulate the surroundings. They can make changes and one can watch them do so. If someone takes Urk's best stick, Urk gets mad and throws a rock at the perpetrator. Everyone can see Urk throw the rock and they can see the blood on his foe's head.

Now let's say that one day, Urk is sitting around the cave and an earth tremor comes along, Urk is squashed by a boulder. Everyone looks around to see who threw the boulder at Urk. Wow, he must have been really big, none of them can move the boulder. So now they have concept of a great big something, maybe like themselves who can get mad and throw really big rocks. I think it is a pretty simple leap from there to fabricating large unknown "somethings" like them who are responsible for all of the really big nature stuff that happens. What they eventually decide to call the "something" is anyone's guess.

So, time goes by and over many generations of Urk's people different stories arise about the big something that no one can see, that has the power to throw big rocks, flood the rivers, send down bolts of light and heaantingkill anyting they touch. The stories grow and multiply. Eventually there is a concept of "other". They are not like the simple people that live on the land, they are bigger, stronger, different, invisible and apparently pretty easy to p*** off. So then Urk's people decide these "other's" must be respected and placated; eh voila...religion.

Just my take on the process, but it is one that came from observation of the human condition, just like when that first rock hit Urk on the head.

Edited by jaguarsky

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For Chrlz, who won't be returning - have a good day, sir.

A forum, according to definition, is a place for discussion. Discussion is not synonymous with debate, which tends to revert to name-calling on UM. I prefer a calm exchange of ideas. And yes, my question was answered, although relatively few answers were posted. However, I did rephrase the question with a stronger challenge, which is what I thought you were implying.

Rlyeh:

Not every deity is a glorified human. The god of the Old/New Testament is primarily a spiritual entity. Regardless of whether or not the Bible is considered to be a factual document, its internal truth states directly that God is a Spirit.

This is what I was trying to explain: the spiritual dimension is invisible and intangible. There was nothing in early man's experiences to even indicate it existed; words did not exist for the concept, for even the concept did not exist.

However, the idea of religion and deities did come into existence. My theory is that only through interaction with the spirit realm did man learn of its existence.

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I think it's because of mans inherent need to look to something larger then themselves. Somewhere to dump their problems. To feel needed and understood. Children do this with their parents. Adults do it with gods.

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Rlyeh:

Not every deity is a glorified human.

I'd be interested in which ones aren't.
The god of the Old/New Testament is primarily a spiritual entity. Regardless of whether or not the Bible is considered to be a factual document, its internal truth states directly that God is a Spirit.
From the very beginning in Genesis he is given human attributes, emotions, even sometimes limits.

A long with the Greek and Roman pantheons, God is perhaps one of the best examples of a humanized deity.

This is what I was trying to explain: the spiritual dimension is invisible and intangible. There was nothing in early man's experiences to even indicate it existed; words did not exist for the concept, for even the concept did not exist.

However, the idea of religion and deities did come into existence. My theory is that only through interaction with the spirit realm did man learn of its existence.

I believe people tend give human characteristics to forces, events, experiences. Edited by Rlyeh

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I said nothing about wishing to debate the topic; I simply wanted to hear others' impressions of the idea that occurred to me. The idea was that the ability to posit things of a spiritual implies that man has a spiritual component. My hypothesis was that informational bias would cause skeptics to creatively deny the idea and that few would truly comprehend what I was truly asking. However, if I had stated that, it would have resulted in skewed posts.

People are certainly welcome to continue discussing/debating the topic as they choose. I find these discussions to be very enlightening. The best way to understand one's own belief is to compare and contrast with others' beliefs. If you prefer, I can "throw out the gauntlet":

I think that the reason we can imagine a spiritual deity is that it exists in the first place. As another post stated, how can we invent something that is totally unique and has nothing in common with anything that already exists?

It isn't at all unique because all deities have very human characteristics. Not to mention we absolutely can imagine things that are unique.

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For Chrlz, who won't be returning - have a good day, sir.

A forum, according to definition, is a place for discussion. Discussion is not synonymous with debate, which tends to revert to name-calling on UM. I prefer a calm exchange of ideas. And yes, my question was answered, although relatively few answers were posted. However, I did rephrase the question with a stronger challenge, which is what I thought you were implying.

Rlyeh:

Not every deity is a glorified human. The god of the Old/New Testament is primarily a spiritual entity. Regardless of whether or not the Bible is considered to be a factual document, its internal truth states directly that God is a Spirit.

This is what I was trying to explain: the spiritual dimension is invisible and intangible. There was nothing in early man's experiences to even indicate it existed; words did not exist for the concept, for even the concept did not exist.

However, the idea of religion and deities did come into existence. My theory is that only through interaction with the spirit realm did man learn of its existence.

The god of the old testament is among one of the most human-like of any, though I can understand you are too bias to see it.

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Rlyeh and FurtherBB:

Please realize that I'm not asking you to agree with Christianity, but only to be able to see it within its own context. Christianity believes that God came first and made man in His image, so there is no anthropomorphism involved.

We are all biased toward our own belief system.

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Rlyeh and FurtherBB:

Please realize that I'm not asking you to agree with Christianity, but only to be able to see it within its own context. Christianity believes that God came first and made man in His image, so there is no anthropomorphism involved.

We are all biased toward our own belief system.

I understand this. But to say this concept is unique and nothing similar exists, is false.

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I understand this. But to say this concept is unique and nothing similar exists, is false.

It's not the "God-first" concept that I referred to as unique. My question concerned the creation by man of something truly unique when there no frame of reference, no pattern, no source by which to judge. Since the spiritual realm is invisible and intangible, what made man even think of it in the first place? How do you discuss something for which no concept exists? Even abstract thoughts have an existence.

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It's not the "God-first" concept that I referred to as unique. My question concerned the creation by man of something truly unique when there no frame of reference, no pattern, no source by which to judge. Since the spiritual realm is invisible and intangible, what made man even think of it in the first place? How do you discuss something for which no concept exists? Even abstract thoughts have an existence.

I like how you ignored every explanation given for this for this except the ones that agree with your beliefs.

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It's not the "God-first" concept that I referred to as unique.

Nor was I, it was the concept of gods I was refering to.
My question concerned the creation by man of something truly unique when there no frame of reference, no pattern, no source by which to judge. Since the spiritual realm is invisible and intangible, what made man even think of it in the first place? How do you discuss something for which no concept exists? Even abstract thoughts have an existence.

So what are these truly unique concepts?

Spirituality is the concept of a non-physical reality. I fail to see how it is unique when its very definition relies on the concept of the physical world.

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Imaginarynumber1: I'm not ignoring the answers; I just don't think they answer the question that I am asking.

Rlyeh: What I am labeling as unique is "a concept which doesn't yet exist". Think of early man. Were they born with a spiritual sense? Did they automatically receive a spiritual awareness at some certain age? I understand about looking beyond, finding higher meaning, seeking guidance, and all those sort of things. But what made them deduce that it was something that existed in a non-physical capacity? What led them to believe that there was anything non-physical?

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It's not the "God-first" concept that I referred to as unique. My question concerned the creation by man of something truly unique when there no frame of reference, no pattern, no source by which to judge. Since the spiritual realm is invisible and intangible, what made man even think of it in the first place? How do you discuss something for which no concept exists? Even abstract thoughts have an existence.

The sun and the fact it is real inspired god a deity to explaine it.

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Imaginarynumber1: I'm not ignoring the answers; I just don't think they answer the question that I am asking.

Rlyeh: What I am labeling as unique is "a concept which doesn't yet exist". Think of early man. Were they born with a spiritual sense? Did they automatically receive a spiritual awareness at some certain age? I understand about looking beyond, finding higher meaning, seeking guidance, and all those sort of things. But what made them deduce that it was something that existed in a non-physical capacity? What led them to believe that there was anything non-physical?

Events that happen that they don't understand -

Wind, thunder, lightning, earthquakes, fire, whirlpools, riptides, dreams, nightmares, noise with no immediate explanation, sickness, etc.

Spiritual awareness or imagination, whichever...they try to explain events with no immediate benign explanations.

Quite simple actually.

Nibs

ETA - I would venture to say that the imagination started the whole thing. People imagine some powerful "thing" is causing these events. LATER some people would "make" these "things" "god/s".

Edited by HerNibs

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Imaginarynumber1: I'm not ignoring the answers; I just don't think they answer the question that I am asking.

Rlyeh: What I am labeling as unique is "a concept which doesn't yet exist". Think of early man. Were they born with a spiritual sense? Did they automatically receive a spiritual awareness at some certain age? I understand about looking beyond, finding higher meaning, seeking guidance, and all those sort of things. But what made them deduce that it was something that existed in a non-physical capacity? What led them to believe that there was anything non-physical?

Most of the responses very well did answer the question you asked.

The thought of the non-physical does not prove the existence of the non-physical, no matter your own admitted bias toward the idea.

Edited for poor verb usage. I need to word better.

Edited by Imaginarynumber1

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The whole idea of being able to discuss or imagine something that doesn't exist suggests the "something" had to have come first really doesn't make any sense to me. Every single man made object or personality in the world comes from a concept that didn't exist until someone imagined it. And they are not always out of nessesity. To believe that something must exist before we can comprehend it would be equal to saying Beavis and Butthead, Pokemon and toasters came before humans did.

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In that case, I will humbly accept the label "idiot-who-knows-not-what-he-says." Carry on.

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