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LucidElement

Creating Gods (Origins)

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Posted (edited)

I am reading Dan Browns new book - Origin and he once again makes you "think". I am going to control copy a few things from the book that I would like to discuss. They are very interesting statements and it made me think.

From Book;

" “Early humans, had a relationship of wonder with their universe, especially with those phenomena they could not rationally understand. To solve these mysteries, they created a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses to explain anything that was beyond their understanding—thunder, tides, earthquakes, volcanoes, infertility, plagues, even love.”

“For the early Greeks, the ebb and flow of the ocean was attributed to the shifting moods of Poseidon.”

"For the Romans, volcanoes were believed to be the home of Vulcan—blacksmith to the gods—who worked in a giant forge beneath the mountain, causing flames to spew out of his chimney.”

“The ancients invented countless gods, to explain not only the mysteries of their planet, but also the mysteries of their own bodies.”

“Countless gods filled countless gaps, And yet, over the centuries, scientific knowledge increased.” “As the gaps in our understanding of the natural world gradually disappeared, our pantheon of gods began to shrink.” For example, when we learned that the tides were caused by lunar cycles, Poseidon was no longer necessary, and we banished him as a foolish myth of an unenlightened time.”

“Infertility was caused by falling out of favor with the goddess Juno. Love was the result of being targeted by Eros. Epidemics were explained as a punishment sent by Apollo.”

“Today, we no longer believe in stories like those about Zeus—a boy raised by a goat and given power by one-eyed creatures called Cyclopes. For us, with the benefit of modern thinking, these tales have all been classified as mythology—quaint fictional stories that give us an entertaining glimpse into our superstitious past.”

“We are an intellectually evolved and technologically skilled people. We do not believe in giant blacksmiths working under volcanoes or in gods that control the tides or seasons. We are nothing like our ancient ancestors.”

said, “let us imagine the reaction of humankind’s future historians and anthropologists. With the benefit of perspective, will they look back on our religious beliefs and categorize them as the mythologies of an unenlightened time? Will they look at our gods as we look at Zeus? Will they collect our sacred scriptures and banish them to that dusty bookshelf of history?”

“For the human brain, any answer is better than no answer. We feel enormous discomfort when faced with ‘insufficient data,’ and so our brains invent the data—offering us, at the very least, the illusion of order—creating myriad philosophies, mythologies, and religions to reassure us that there is indeed an order and structure to the unseen world.”

Brown, Dan. Origin: A Novel (Kindle Locations 1534-1537). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

So that being said, i think its interesting how people created numerous God's to fill the void with events things they could not explain. As science and technology evolve those God's were put by the wayside. For example, Poseidon was the God of water and now we look at those Ancient Gods as Mythology when ancient Greeks would swear to you that Poseidon truly dictated everything that happened in the seas. Illness was thought to be a plague brought on by Apollo. However, today we understand bacteria and germs exist and have a extremely better understanding of how they spread and how they form.

So what happens in yearsssss from now with our religious aspect? Will be of the future look at our era and laugh?

 

 

Edited by LucidElement
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Posted (edited)

I'll put the opposition views into the bidding. I don't know what the future will bring; there's enough trouble getting the past straight.

Quote

To solve these mysteries, they created a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses to explain anything that was beyond their understanding—thunder, tides, earthquakes, volcanoes, infertility, plagues, even love.

There is no evidence that ancient people were stupider than we are. There is no reason to think that they would not recognize a non-explanation when they saw one.

Further, it is a modern perspective that understanding leads to prediction and control - also known as life and death. It ain't necessarily so, and seems to be a threshhold phenomenon - success in prediction and control may depend on surpassing some level of understanding.

For example, in modern times, the phlogiston theory survived Lavoisier's demonstration of oxidation by maybe 20 years or so, because it offered a (false but useful) understanding of critical acid-base reactions, even if it was a total failure at explaining combustion. Similarly, the Ptolemaic model of the solar system survived the heliocentric model, at least for a while, because it offered a better fit to the observed data than its more insightful rival (until the data improved). Engineers continue to use Newton's physics, despite knowing that it "isn't even wrong."

The point of associating gods with natural features and forces, then, was to explain the gods, make natural phenomena sacred, and to offer the hope of control by petition. "Zeus throws thunderbolts" tells me nothing about thuderbolts except that a god shares my interest in them, but does say something about Zeus, and tells me where to bring a goat so that my house won't be hit by lightning. Of course, the priest of Zeus is telling me this as a public service; it's just a coincidence that he ends up with the goat.

There is also a second-order use: people remember stories better than loose facts, and so some myths incorporate facts about the natural world. I am especially fond of a Native American story about the spirits who make popcorn pop (that is, how to turn a type of animal feed into human food ... a handy thing to know).

Quote

For the human brain, any answer is better than no answer.

Ironic coming from Dan Brown. Lol.

---

I take hits from both sides for postings like above. Anti-theists like the "gaps" theory to be a more widespread phenomenon than someting found only among fundies with too many fingers. There's no evidence for the theory, because there can be no evidence for it, and it is suspiciously projective and ego-inflating - psychological phenomena for which there is tons of evidence. Ironically, the gaps rap sounds just like something people who identify as "modern thinkers" would make up to make themselves feel better.

--

Edited by eight bits
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Reminds me of this:

There are over 5,000 gods.jpg

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@eight bits - Brilliant response, I completely agree. :tu: Couldn't have said it better myself.

 

As for the OP's passage itself, I just want to add upon eight bits point that I find that this line of thinking makes a lot of assumptions based on so little facts. How do you know that ancient humans believed in the literal existence of such gods? Could they not be anthropomorphized metaphors of real physical (or even spiritual) phenomena? Could these gods possibly be spiritual entities that represent or reside within the physical phenomena themselves? I'm not saying they are, merely that it's a possibility. And given the very real possibility of it, it render this 'knowledge gap' hypothesis purely speculative, founded on no more facts than these other possibilities. Not only that but the speculation is also illogical in nature as well (as eight bits clearly demonstrated). This assumption that ancient gods were man-made explanations of natural phenomena that we made up to fill a knowledge gap is merely an atheistic assumption founded on nothing but blind speculation. It inflates the materialistic ego, nothing more.

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On 10/13/2017 at 7:32 PM, Aquila King said:

@eight bits - Brilliant response, I completely agree. :tu: Couldn't have said it better myself.

 

As for the OP's passage itself, I just want to add upon eight bits point that I find that this line of thinking makes a lot of assumptions based on so little facts. How do you know that ancient humans believed in the literal existence of such gods? Could they not be anthropomorphized metaphors of real physical (or even spiritual) phenomena? Could these gods possibly be spiritual entities that represent or reside within the physical phenomena themselves? I'm not saying they are, merely that it's a possibility. And given the very real possibility of it, it render this 'knowledge gap' hypothesis purely speculative, founded on no more facts than these other possibilities. Not only that but the speculation is also illogical in nature as well (as eight bits clearly demonstrated). This assumption that ancient gods were man-made explanations of natural phenomena that we made up to fill a knowledge gap is merely an atheistic assumption founded on nothing but blind speculation. It inflates the materialistic ego, nothing more.

Let me look into those questions a bit more tomorrow morning. I appreciate the response . Makes for some good insight 

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Of course future humans will look at our current religious traditions with scorn. The past is always full of idiots and savages. We're merely future people's idiots and savages. The religions of today, just like every religion ever invented by humanity to date, will eventually be the purview of the ignorant morons of the past, pushed aside to make room for other, equally-insane fictions.

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On 10/13/2017 at 4:15 PM, eight bits said:

I'll put the opposition views into the bidding. 

I'm not sure I'm opposing some of these opposition views but there are some thought-provoking points in your post.  Yea, Brown does like his embellishment, some of this statements quoted in the OP do seem simplistic.  He does make 2 points though that I think are valid:  our brains don't like not having an answer and the disappearance of the worship of these pantheons of gods representing various natural forces coincided with our increase in understanding of their natural causes.  The connection of deities to physical phenomena sure is prevalent crossing many cultures, and although I'm sure there are other reasons, there seem to be a lot of instances of sacrifices and offerings to appease gods in some way connected to the world (drought, plague), something I don't think was done solely within the framework of 'people knew that gods were merely metaphors'.

On 10/13/2017 at 4:15 PM, eight bits said:

There is no evidence that ancient people were stupider than we are. There is no reason to think that they would not recognize a non-explanation when they saw one.

I disagree with how Brown phrased his line about our being more 'intellectually evolved'; the truth of that depends on what you mean.  There is overwhelming evidence not that ancient people were stupider than we are, but that they were more ignorant than we are.  Despite the lack of knowledge Aristotle had, I've never heard him referred to as 'stupid', and you can have very sophisticated and solid reasoning powers but there's no way around the truth that anyone who has coded software or even used a spreadsheet knows:  'garbage in, garbage out'.

I've been mulling over your second sentence there and I'm not sure of the truth of it mainly because of how to approach 'explanation' in this context, and maybe it depends on what a specific deity is a god 'of'.  It might not be the best example but I'll use creationism, I'll assume that is also considered a 'non-explanation' at least in its most basic form.  Sure there are more detailed philosophical objections to ancients believing in creationism just because of the problems with the argument from design/intelligence, in spite of how compelling and in some cases valid those can be, and of course the need for positive evidence for a claim.  But nothing destroys creationism like evolution, the large number of creationist attempts to point out flaws in the science of it attest to that.

The logical corollary of that is that creationists, and ancient believers of gods 'of' things to some extent, are arguing that a non-explanation is what you should expect.  It's not stupid, their recognition of a non-explanation is no longer an issue intelligence-wise, it's apparently what somewhat logically follows from their premises.  Complicating it also is that most people today don't really have any deeper of an explanation for many physical phenomena than the ancients did, the most important thing they are right about is that it is not magic.  Most people's understanding of the scientific explanation for lightning and why you shouldn't stand on your roof pointing a metal golf club in the air is not much deeper than, 'being out in the open makes it easier for Zeus to see you and hit you with his lightning bolts'.

Quote

There's no evidence for the theory, because there can be no evidence for it,

Well of course there's evidence, it's just not very conclusive.  Simply look at any listing of the gods of Greeks, Norse, Aztec, Chinese and note how many 'gods of' there are.  There are indeed other explanations for that, but it wasn't by necessity, there's no reason gods need be interested in ever intervening in this world at all.  Yahweh could have just been the god of heaven where our souls go but who doesn't intervene in this world, so there's no point in making offerings to him so he doesn't throw another disease your way. 

And to ask the question I ask a lot mainly out of my own ignorance of evidence, let's say that gods were created to explain unknown phenomena; what in the historical record conflicts with that?  If the ancients created the gods to explain unknown phenomena, that conflicts with what that we know about the ancients?

Quote

and it is suspiciously projective and ego-inflating - psychological phenomena for which there is tons of evidence

Just as there is a ton of evidence for the idea that brains like explanations and that our overactive pattern recognition software can lead us to the wrong conclusions.

Quote

Ironically, the gaps rap sounds just like something people who identify as "modern thinkers" would make up to make themselves feel better.

Ha, and why would that make them feel better?  Because the other non-gap arguments for god are so much stronger?  Because the other, indeed valid, arguments for the origin of gods make theism more intelligent?  Is there some deeper argument that 'modern thinker' self-identifiers are struggling with and that troubles them and they are avoiding so they can pick on this 'low hanging fruit'? 

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Posted (edited)

LG

Quote

our brains don't like not having an answer and the disappearance of the worship of these pantheons of gods representing various natural forces coincided with our increase in understanding of their natural causes.

As to the first, our brains don't like a lot of things. It doesn't follow that we act like cartoon stooges as a result. In almost any way that matters biologically, our ancestors for at least the last 30K years have been us. If I can figure out that "Godidit" explains God, not it, then my thousand-times great grandmothers could, too.

As to the second, it also coincides with the development of new media to express archetypal contents of the unconscious, which is an important function of 'primitive' religion. Furthermore, in Western Europe, the traditionally dominant religion has made fundamental marketing mistakes which tend to hasten its decline there.

Quote

there seem to be a lot of instances of sacrifices and offerings to appease gods in some way connected to the world (drought, plague), something I don't think was done solely within the framework of 'people knew that gods were merely metaphors'.

I don't profess what's in the single quotes. Ancients sacrificed for prediction (omens in bird guts, for instance) and control (YHWH likes roast lamb, with a dash of salt, and YHWH belches blessings). That's the connection. I'd think it's obvious that somebody pouring beer on the ground to lift a drought isn't expressing "understanding."

And at least some of the late ancients (= people whose thoughts we can read in their own words) did understand gods as personifications (i.e., figures of speech). Some of them went on to recommend sarcifice to the gods anyway.

Quote

and you can have very sophisticated and solid reasoning powers

VS&SRP is insufficient for understanding and predicting coastal tides (Galileo's model had one high tide a day). VS&SRP does suffice to distinguish a prediction-or-control heuristic (successive high tides in the same place are separated by about 12 1/2 hours) from an explanation.

Resemblance between ancients and us cuts both ways. If we can be misled in evaluating the value of a heuristic (confirmation bias and all the other cognitive illusions), then so could the venerables (and obviously they were, a lot).

Quote

It might not be the best example but I'll use creationism,

BUG REPORT: In my casual recitation of what god tales explain, I left out a big one: social institutions. That's huge in the Jewish Bible, which can be read as a real estate lease between YHWH, who holds good title to the land because he made it, and the various tenant nations, who must comply with the lease terms to maintain their leasehold.

Quote

Most people's understanding of the scientific explanation for lightning and why you shouldn't stand on your roof pointing a metal golf club in the air is not much deeper than, 'being out in the open makes it easier for Zeus to see you and hit you with his lightning bolts'.

What the universe rewards is doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong thing. You get no extra points for "understanding" why something is a good or bad course of action. As long as whatever you believe about lightning counsels you NEVER to stand in the open holding pointy metal objects up toward the stormy sky, everything else is detail. (As my lawyer friends say, NTK - nice to know).

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Well of course there's evidence,

and for those things, there's no dispute. My position isn't that ancients didn't associate supernatural beings with natural phenomena (duh), but I am concerned about what the nature of the association was.

Quote

Ha, and why would that make them feel better?

Well, I don't know. I indulge in different vices.

---

Edited by eight bits
formatting glitch
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I think we're forgetting 'context' here, lumping it all into categories and distinctive differences of significance based on Modern or Post Aristotle Scientific treatises is somewhat premature if not outright futile.

Reminds me of the argument between the spanner and the nut over which of them played the more important part in getting the screwing done ...

~

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3ye

Quote

I think we're forgetting 'context' here

Speaking for myself, I think I'm remembering context. Trying to, anyway.

"Science" as we use the term today scarcely existed more than about 500 years ago. I know no particular reason to think that an "explanation" in a scientific sense was recognized as something special before then. There is every reason to think that back then few assertions about the natural world were explanations in current scientific senses.

In our time, we observe competition and quasi-debate between scientific explanations and their denial by some religiously motivated people. Clearly, living people didn't make up their fact-claims which, if true, would defeat science's explanations. The religious people's fact-claims are their interpretation of what they read in a book.

That book wasn't written in order to defeat scientific explanations, which effectively didn't exist when it was written. The book arrived millennia later than religious expression as a human pastime, even containing overt references to older religious practices (all three of the Jewish Bible, New Testament and Koran). The book cannot be assumed to be representative of the attitudes that led to religious expression in the first place.

The hypothesis I question is that there was some void that cried out to be filled back when the book was written (or before then, but the living advocates of religion as a guide to nature aren't representatives of anything before then). That is, even though there were few or no scientific explanations, wayback people somehow foresaw that warm feeling that we moderns get while watching a Carl Sagan video, and so they behaved like many Westerners think that Cargo Cults work (which are themselves post-Reformation phenomena in reaction to older religious practices) in order to achieve that Saganic glow.

I call BS on that.

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On 10/21/2017 at 5:15 PM, eight bits said:

3ye

Speaking for myself, I think I'm remembering context. Trying to, anyway.

"Science" as we use the term today scarcely existed more than about 500 years ago. I know no particular reason to think that an "explanation" in a scientific sense was recognized as something special before then. There is every reason to think that back then few assertions about the natural world were explanations in current scientific senses.

Apologies ole chap, was not addressing any particular post or poster but more in general as in regards of some that purveys and analyze with the wrong set of 'tools' , be they Scientific or Theological. Its that time machine conundrum that plays into the sequence of logic here, if one were to go back in time and done off one's own ancestor, one is to expect some form of repercussion, whatever that may be I have no idea and I won't digress into it here but I do expect the same relative bolts of invalidation that applies to ideas or proposed revelations that attempts the same.

 

On 10/21/2017 at 5:15 PM, eight bits said:

In our time, we observe competition and quasi-debate between scientific explanations and their denial by some religiously motivated people. Clearly, living people didn't make up their fact-claims which, if true, would defeat science's explanations. The religious people's fact-claims are their interpretation of what they read in a book.

Motivation and the motivated does not equate in the same direction, I don't think so, of course one can and should disagree when it applies. Overall though and across the various topics and subjects here on the Forums, it is quite undeniable that at times, when it comes to the critical grey areas, one can hardly discern the nons from the no nons ... just a moment of lighthearted banter there, I'd hate that someone that took the time to read this gets all bored and reading fatigue.

 

On 10/21/2017 at 5:15 PM, eight bits said:

That book wasn't written in order to defeat scientific explanations, which effectively didn't exist when it was written. The book arrived millennia later than religious expression as a human pastime, even containing overt references to older religious practices (all three of the Jewish Bible, New Testament and Koran). The book cannot be assumed to be representative of the attitudes that led to religious expression in the first place.

Yup, as I can't stress it often enough, not only were the World / Planet a different place back then, Reality itself was different. My own personal take on it all is that even God ( or the concept of it ) is different, before Organized Religion / High Civilization ( as defined by current 'common' knowledge ) the concept and meaning of such Divine entities, be it idea or superstition is undeniably different, we may have some idea and knowledge of it but it is inevitably shrouded by clouds of ideas of those who documented them, be it as one end of a polarizing extreme to and from the other end. Whatever the motivation, I hardly constitutes that as definitive. authoritative or at times, accurate to anything near a high degree of accuracy.

I am quaintly intimate to the glaring differences from my background as a Chinese living in a traditional (well as close to anything left today that is considered as such ) environment. Maybe a poor example but I found that many of the 'beliefs' or 'quirky' customs are poorly presented, even from the Asians themselves who claims to be speaking from an 'inside' point of view, no offense to others but most Chinese today aren't even that informed about the 'old' ways anymore.

What I am leading up to here is that unless the experience is 'immersive' in totality, at best one can take it as another one's point of view, even if one has walked the miles in the shoe of the other, it is merely an experience of those 'miles'

The Reality of the circumstances is so so much more ...

 

On 10/21/2017 at 5:15 PM, eight bits said:

The hypothesis I question is that there was some void that cried out to be filled back when the book was written (or before then, but the living advocates of religion as a guide to nature aren't representatives of anything before then). That is, even though there were few or no scientific explanations, wayback people somehow foresaw that warm feeling that we moderns get while watching a Carl Sagan video, and so they behaved like many Westerners think that Cargo Cults work (which are themselves post-Reformation phenomena in reaction to older religious practices) in order to achieve that Saganic glow.

Frankly, for myself and I mean personally,  I think a Sagan read is much much more satisfying than a Sagan related viewing ... whatever the media or topic

 

On 10/21/2017 at 5:15 PM, eight bits said:

I call BS on that.

Ditto ... and quite a bit more than eight bits but I ain't about to get us both or more into trouble ...

:lol:

~

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On 10/13/2017 at 9:25 AM, LucidElement said:

I am reading Dan Browns new book - Origin and he once again makes you "think". I am going to control copy a few things from the book that I would like to discuss. They are very interesting statements and it made me think.

From Book;

" “Early humans, had a relationship of wonder with their universe, especially with those phenomena they could not rationally understand. To solve these mysteries, they created a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses to explain anything that was beyond their understanding—thunder, tides, earthquakes, volcanoes, infertility, plagues, even love.”

“For the early Greeks, the ebb and flow of the ocean was attributed to the shifting moods of Poseidon.”

"For the Romans, volcanoes were believed to be the home of Vulcan—blacksmith to the gods—who worked in a giant forge beneath the mountain, causing flames to spew out of his chimney.”

“The ancients invented countless gods, to explain not only the mysteries of their planet, but also the mysteries of their own bodies.”

“Countless gods filled countless gaps, And yet, over the centuries, scientific knowledge increased.” “As the gaps in our understanding of the natural world gradually disappeared, our pantheon of gods began to shrink.” For example, when we learned that the tides were caused by lunar cycles, Poseidon was no longer necessary, and we banished him as a foolish myth of an unenlightened time.”

“Infertility was caused by falling out of favor with the goddess Juno. Love was the result of being targeted by Eros. Epidemics were explained as a punishment sent by Apollo.”

“Today, we no longer believe in stories like those about Zeus—a boy raised by a goat and given power by one-eyed creatures called Cyclopes. For us, with the benefit of modern thinking, these tales have all been classified as mythology—quaint fictional stories that give us an entertaining glimpse into our superstitious past.”

“We are an intellectually evolved and technologically skilled people. We do not believe in giant blacksmiths working under volcanoes or in gods that control the tides or seasons. We are nothing like our ancient ancestors.”

said, “let us imagine the reaction of humankind’s future historians and anthropologists. With the benefit of perspective, will they look back on our religious beliefs and categorize them as the mythologies of an unenlightened time? Will they look at our gods as we look at Zeus? Will they collect our sacred scriptures and banish them to that dusty bookshelf of history?”

“For the human brain, any answer is better than no answer. We feel enormous discomfort when faced with ‘insufficient data,’ and so our brains invent the data—offering us, at the very least, the illusion of order—creating myriad philosophies, mythologies, and religions to reassure us that there is indeed an order and structure to the unseen world.”

Brown, Dan. Origin: A Novel (Kindle Locations 1534-1537). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

So that being said, i think its interesting how people created numerous God's to fill the void with events things they could not explain. As science and technology evolve those God's were put by the wayside. For example, Poseidon was the God of water and now we look at those Ancient Gods as Mythology when ancient Greeks would swear to you that Poseidon truly dictated everything that happened in the seas. Illness was thought to be a plague brought on by Apollo. However, today we understand bacteria and germs exist and have a extremely better understanding of how they spread and how they form.

So what happens in yearsssss from now with our religious aspect? Will be of the future look at our era and laugh?

I need to get back to reading the Dan Brown books!!! Origin is selling LIKE CRAZY!!!  :o 

Anyways, I always wondered on how the situation is, for god/goddess/gods and goddesses are created. And I wonder, are they knowingly being created, or/and assumed and labeled? Sometimes, when I hear or read about the 'need' or the thought of creating new gods or goddesses, I often have the mental picture of someone or a group somewhere in the past going, let's create this god, and then hide their giggles behind a hand slightly over the mouth, like they're guilty or something. *shrugs* 

It makes me wonder, because I feel, there's an assumption going on, and then somehow they find some reason to create names for them. Like, if I remember correctly, (if not, correct me) how some things I have read on Native American beliefs, it's the Sun God, and the Moon Goddess, or the wolf god or something. I could be wrong. 

Even in the main religions, (I know it has gone down to various names in text, I think) but when referring to the mainstream god, it's just God. Granted, then came Jesus Christ, and that's more specific, but so, it makes me wonder of the actually existence of him, because of the specific names. (and yes, that's a whole other thread topic) 

Anyways, how does one label a god or goddess, if they believed they exist? There was no encyclopedia of high deity names laying around somewhere? 

 

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On 10/19/2017 at 7:05 PM, Liquid Gardens said:
On 10/13/2017 at 4:15 PM, eight bits said:

I'll put the opposition views into the bidding. 

I'm not sure I'm opposing some of these opposition views but there are some thought-provoking points in your post.  Yea, Brown does like his embellishment, some of this statements quoted in the OP do seem simplistic.  He does make 2 points though that I think are valid:  our brains don't like not having an answer and the disappearance of the worship of these pantheons of gods representing various natural forces coincided with our increase in understanding of their natural causes.  The connection of deities to physical phenomena sure is prevalent crossing many cultures, and although I'm sure there are other reasons, there seem to be a lot of instances of sacrifices and offerings to appease gods in some way connected to the world (drought, plague), something I don't think was done solely within the framework of 'people knew that gods were merely metaphors'.

I wonder about how, 'our brains don't like not having an answer'. Well, I feel, yes, that is the case. But, all of us? I ask, because sometimes I like that it stays a mystery. Well, for now. ;)  Would that account for something? And, maybe there are those, (probably a few, like me) that finds the next best description to see it until the mystery is solved. 

I'm just throwing that out there, because I feel, there are different aspects of believing and worshipping, and probably why, there are many different deities today, because of the different perspectives on it. *shrugs* 

 

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On 13. 10. 2017 at 11:42 PM, Scudbuster said:

Reminds me of this:

There are over 5,000 gods.jpg

It's a bit tangled. For example Buddha is not a God. 

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On 10/21/2017 at 5:15 AM, eight bits said:

"Science" as we use the term today scarcely existed more than about 500 years ago. I know no particular reason to think that an "explanation" in a scientific sense was recognized as something special before then. There is every reason to think that back then few assertions about the natural world were explanations in current scientific senses.

Exactly, which is why I'm not sure if I'm following past references to 'explanations', such as 'there is no reason to think that they would not recognize a non-explanation when they saw one' and 'if I can figure out that "Godidit" explains God, not it, then my thousand-times great grandmothers could, too'.  I'm not so sure of this, I've been mulling over what qualifies as 'an explanation' if it's not akin to the scientific sense, especially in an age that I'm not sure even has established such a thing as 'natural forces' as a reference point.  I don't know that my ancestor grandmothers would at all have the knowledge of the world that seems to me somewhat required to differentiate explanations.  "Godidit" does indeed explain things about God but not only God, it does also 'explain' things about the it God did, albeit not much.  Is, 'lightning comes from impersonal electromagnetic forces' an explanation?  Does it say something about lightning, or just electromagnetic forces?  Do your statements about 'explanations' require that the explanation be true; if Zeus is actually throwing thunderbolts, is 'Zeus did it' still a non-explanation?

Even today I've been under a layman's impression that most scientific explanations are only few 'why/how' questions away, as far as the causes for a phenomenon, from something unanswerable at least for now; 'that's just the way it is' seems even less of an explanation than 'Goddidit'.  Absolutely, what we've been able to do within our range of explanation is amazing, it brings control and understanding.  But if the Greek pantheon existed, then it sure seems that knowing Zeus is responsible for lightning is somewhat of an explanation and also provides theoretically some control and understanding.

On 10/21/2017 at 5:15 AM, eight bits said:

The hypothesis I question is that there was some void that cried out to be filled back when the book was written (or before then, but the living advocates of religion as a guide to nature aren't representatives of anything before then). That is, even though there were few or no scientific explanations, wayback people somehow foresaw that warm feeling that we moderns get while watching a Carl Sagan video,

I think wayback people are working on something a little different from the topics that generate the Sagan warm fuzzies effect though, at least based on my Sagan experience.  I don't get warm fuzzies primarily from the fact that Sagan offers explanations, I get warm fuzzies because the content of the explanations is usually mind-blowing and significantly different from our immediate experience.  As good as he was, I'm just not going to get a similar warm feeling if Sagan explained the Teapot Dome scandal.

Even with the warm feeling scenario, I don't know why we think that originated with modern people and would be something they needed to 'foresee', and I don't know how naturally agnosticism occurred to them.  Maybe it's just a modern phenomenon but seems like most parents get bombarded with 'why' questions about everything from their younger kids; I don't think that's got anything to do with warm fuzzies, but maybe the modern equation 'explanation=control' has already taken hold and it's not just a more natural curiosity and a desire for answers.

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LG

You raise a large number of meaty issues about the nature of explanation. In contrast, I think the on-topic issue is straightforward and narrow.

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I deny that the first gods were "invented" (although in historical time, we know that new gods can be invented from pre-existing gods: Serapis, for instance and let's face it, Trinitarian Jesus).

I never reach the question of the inventors' purpose, because I see no evidence for the existence of the inventors. In other words, I reject the proposition for the same reason Richard Dawkins rejects God as an ontological hypothesis. To which I add skepticism that the alleged purpose for the invention exists, to satisfy some void that can be filled by coherent explanation or total BS equally well.

I do not deny that apart from prediction and control, coherent and grounded explanations are also nice to know. However, it is less clear that if somebody doesn't know an explanation, then they would be moved to make one up from whole cloth - not even whole cloth, but from an entirely new ontological category (if the first gods were invented, then there must have been no gods before then).

Finally, there is the amazing coincidence that the hypothesis is so falttering to the people proposing it, and so disparaging of their intellectual foes.

No evidence, no first principles attractiveness, and self-serving to boot. I'll pass on this hypothesis.

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24 minutes ago, eight bits said:

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I deny that the first gods were "invented"

Fair enough and that is indeed the point from the OP, 'gods were created "to solve" mysteries of the universe'.  With the talk of 'explanations' I had drifted to a vaguer, 'people believed gods existed partly because they 'solved the mystery' of the natural world'.

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However, it is less clear that if somebody doesn't know an explanation, then they would be moved to make one up from whole cloth - not even whole cloth, but from an entirely new ontological category (if the first gods were invented, then there must have been no gods before then).

Technically I don't see where Brown suggested the idea of a god/super being being created, just pantheons of gods.

37 minutes ago, eight bits said:

Finally, there is the amazing coincidence that the hypothesis is so falttering to the people proposing it, and so disparaging of their intellectual foes

Yea, I'm still not getting this 'flattering' and 'disparaging' part.  What explanation, outside of proposing actual instances of divine demonstration, for the origin of gods is not disparaging to their intellectual foes, by which I assume you mean theists?  How is 'gods explain gaps in understanding of the universe' any more disparaging than your earlier bug report, 'god tales explain social institutions'/'the bible can be read as a real estate transaction'?  Gods serve very human purposes in both statements, how does one disparage theists any more than the other?  

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LG

Quote

Technically I don't see where Brown suggested the idea of a god/super being being created, just pantheons of gods.

My point was if there was no such thing before this invention appeared, then whether one or many were invented at that time, a new ontological category was summoned into being. It's also probably good to say again that I don't believe there was any such invention.

A leading competing hypothesis stems from observing the prevalence of ancestor worship-or-veneration, even today (even in very modernized form, like Mormonism). The ancestors know things and have powers that we mortals lack, although someday we'll be ancestors, too, and then we'll have that knowledge and power.

Meanwhile, if I worry about lightning strikes, then poor dead Uncle Monty must now know something about that, so if I ask him nicely, maybe leave a bowl of Fruit Loops (his favorite) at the family memorial, then he'll take care of that for me.

Under that view, when Zeus comes along (maybe because of political developments, wherein King Donald decrees that his court is the earthly image of the Cosmic Order, and just as Donald is the ultimate power among his many barons, there is something called a "god," a kind of supernatural baron, and among them, one particular god trumps all the others, so to speak), Zeus steps into a role long since already being filled by Uncle Monty (control of lightning), plus other roles besides.

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Yea, I'm still not getting this 'flattering' and 'disparaging' part.

The speaker fancies herself freed from the silly superstitions of her remote ancestors, which compares favorably with her opponents, who are still struggling under the burden of literally primitive and far less enlightened views. This no mere difference of opinion among persons about a matter of personal opinion.

The speaker is measurably better than the mass of humanity that preceded her, while whoever now disagrees with her is just one more inferior and flawed being, the latest in a long line of flawed inferiors.

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by which I assume you mean theists?

Why would you assume that? I'm not a theist, but I am an intellectual foe, and often treated as such.

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How is 'gods explain gaps in understanding of the universe' any more disparaging than your earlier bug report, 'god tales explain social institutions'/'the bible can be read as a real estate transaction'?

Let's not move the goal posts. The hypothesis under inquiry is NOT "an already existing ontological category, god(s), assumed the role of  (fill in the blank)." Chances are fair that I will agree with that, unless what ends up in the blank is visibly false (Zeus' interest in lightning explains lightning).

The hypothesis under inquiry is that the ontological category "god" came into being by human invention for the purpose of filling the role of explaining the natural universe.

There is no reason why, once in play as an ontological category (or even just as a literary stock character), god(s) could not find their way into any kind of story, explicative, mnemonic, constitutional or simply entertaining.

I have already said that the Bible is too late to represent the thinking that prevailed when the idea of gods occurred.

The reason for differences between explanations of social phenomena as opposed to natural phenomena is that "why we do things" is a different kind of uncertainty than "why the inanimate universe is the way it is." Somebody really did invent the offices of Queen of England and President of the United States. Arthurian and Washingtonian myths may help us to understand those offices.

However, nobody invented the category "leader of the pack." Our cousins among the other apes manage that form of organization quite nicely without our storytellers' help. QoE and POTUS are instances of an already existing category.

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is it possible that numerous centuries down the road individuals will look back at our Gods and chalk them up to Lore? As we did with Greek Mythology? If Greeks were here today they would argue their case that Zeus really existed. Same with Norse mythology and Odin. There are so many different Gods out there among so many different religions. Its always interesting to discredit someone elses God. But the theory of "filling the gaps" i think was interested because individuals in the past created Gods for every single issue they could not explain. I liked the example how Poseidon was to blame for disruptive in the Ocean until Science/Technology showed what causes rough oceans and hurricanes etc.

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23 hours ago, Stubbly_Dooright said:

I need to get back to reading the Dan Brown books!!! Origin is selling LIKE CRAZY!!!  :o 

Anyways, I always wondered on how the situation is, for god/goddess/gods and goddesses are created. And I wonder, are they knowingly being created, or/and assumed and labeled? Sometimes, when I hear or read about the 'need' or the thought of creating new gods or goddesses, I often have the mental picture of someone or a group somewhere in the past going, let's create this god, and then hide their giggles behind a hand slightly over the mouth, like they're guilty or something. *shrugs* 

It makes me wonder, because I feel, there's an assumption going on, and then somehow they find some reason to create names for them. Like, if I remember correctly, (if not, correct me) how some things I have read on Native American beliefs, it's the Sun God, and the Moon Goddess, or the wolf god or something. I could be wrong. 

Even in the main religions, (I know it has gone down to various names in text, I think) but when referring to the mainstream god, it's just God. Granted, then came Jesus Christ, and that's more specific, but so, it makes me wonder of the actually existence of him, because of the specific names. (and yes, that's a whole other thread topic) 

Anyways, how does one label a god or goddess, if they believed they exist? There was no encyclopedia of high deity names laying around somewhere? 

 

Or even more interesting to think about is back when all sorts of civilizations named/created their own Sun Gods. There wasn't just ONE Sun God, but numerous that different civilazations believed in. Again, who is to tell the Africans that the Egytian Sun God was not real. Or that Helio/Titan that their Sun/Moon God were not real. It seems that everyone has a God for every issue. But as time has gone on, our current population downsized all their Gods to "Mythology." Will we be in the same boat centuries down the road? Espically when the Technology/Science booms even more. As Stubbly said we just have ONE GOD, im not sure where in the chain the ideal of numerous Gods for every situation diminished. "The God of Rain, Sun, Winter, Summer, Fall, Plague, Destruction, even a God of Wine!"  - Sorry NAPA VALLEY, but your OUT - Dionysus is the God of Wine.

Sun Gods Sun Gods
Civilization Sun God
   
African: Liza
Chinese: Ten Suns
Egyptian: Ra or Re

 

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On 10/24/2017 at 0:14 AM, third_eye said:

My own personal take on it all is that even God ( or the concept of it ) is different, before Organized Religion / High Civilization ( as defined by current 'common' knowledge ) the concept and meaning of such Divine entities, be it idea or superstition is undeniably different, we may have some idea and knowledge of it but it is inevitably shrouded by clouds of ideas of those who documented them, be it as one end of a polarizing extreme to and from the other end. Whatever the motivation, I hardly constitutes that as definitive. authoritative or at times, accurate to anything near a high degree of accuracy.

I find this an interesting thought. That something, that I have read, heard, and such of God and of God being 'the truth', and that yeah, it does seem God appears in understanding different now for some, than before. Can 'the truth' be altered? I think, that is something to reflect on. 

 

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3 minutes ago, LucidElement said:
23 hours ago, Stubbly_Dooright said:

I need to get back to reading the Dan Brown books!!! Origin is selling LIKE CRAZY!!!  :o 

Anyways, I always wondered on how the situation is, for god/goddess/gods and goddesses are created. And I wonder, are they knowingly being created, or/and assumed and labeled? Sometimes, when I hear or read about the 'need' or the thought of creating new gods or goddesses, I often have the mental picture of someone or a group somewhere in the past going, let's create this god, and then hide their giggles behind a hand slightly over the mouth, like they're guilty or something. *shrugs* 

It makes me wonder, because I feel, there's an assumption going on, and then somehow they find some reason to create names for them. Like, if I remember correctly, (if not, correct me) how some things I have read on Native American beliefs, it's the Sun God, and the Moon Goddess, or the wolf god or something. I could be wrong. 

Even in the main religions, (I know it has gone down to various names in text, I think) but when referring to the mainstream god, it's just God. Granted, then came Jesus Christ, and that's more specific, but so, it makes me wonder of the actually existence of him, because of the specific names. (and yes, that's a whole other thread topic) 

Anyways, how does one label a god or goddess, if they believed they exist? There was no encyclopedia of high deity names laying around somewhere? 

 

Or even more interesting to think about is back when all sorts of civilizations named/created their own Sun Gods. There wasn't just ONE Sun God, but numerous that different civilazations believed in. Again, who is to tell the Africans that the Egytian Sun God was not real. Or that Helio/Titan that their Sun/Moon God were not real. It seems that everyone has a God for every issue. But as time has gone on, our current population downsized all their Gods to "Mythology." Will we be in the same boat centuries down the road? Espically when the Technology/Science booms even more. As Stubbly said we just have ONE GOD, im not sure where in the chain the ideal of numerous Gods for every situation diminished. "The God of Rain, Sun, Winter, Summer, Fall, Plague, Destruction, even a God of Wine!"  - Sorry NAPA VALLEY, but your OUT - Dionysus is the God of Wine.

Sun Gods Sun Gods
Civilization Sun God
   
African: Liza
Chinese: Ten Suns
Egyptian: Ra or Re

Wow! I think you made a good point there. That upon noticing, years ago, many gods, today, for most mainstream religions, just one. And if one reflects on the distant tomorrow, then what? Negative 50? :o  

;)  :tu:  

And how is that, for numerous gods to be born, in the past, but now, narrowed down to one? I even had to reflect with my belief, (Do I have just one higher power, or many?) And felt, no................ just one. :o  :w00t:  

I never really reflected on that before. 

 

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11 hours ago, eight bits said:

The speaker fancies herself freed from the silly superstitions of her remote ancestors, which compares favorably with her opponents, who are still struggling under the burden of literally primitive and far less enlightened views. This no mere difference of opinion among persons about a matter of personal opinion.

This seems to be adding to what is not there.  The speaker doesn't fancy 'herself', she fancies 'us', as in 'Today, we no longer believe in stories like those about Zeus'.  If her theory of god origins is correct, then yes, she has freed herself from silly superstitions, just like almost everyone else today.  The flaw that I agree with you on is her theory of origins, not the limited conclusions she makes from it if it was true.  I'm missing where she even disparages people who did employ gap reasoning in the past, she notes that it occurred and that gods started disappearing when we found natural explanations.  

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Why would you assume that? I'm not a theist, but I am an intellectual foe, and often treated as such

Because your first post refers to 'anti-theists' having psychological motives for wanting the gap theory to be true and also refers to 'fundies with too many fingers'.  I'm having trouble enough finding that much that is really that directly disparaging to theists, I don't see anything at all that would be disparaging to you or your views?

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Let's not move the goal posts.

It's not moving the goal posts, it is asking you for clarification on this 'disparagement' that you are seeing.  I'm sorry man but this isn't helped when you claim this position makes some modern thinkers feel better, but when I then ask what about it would make them feel better, you say you don't know and you have other vices.  So do I, but it's obviously odd to simultaneously say it will make them feel better but you don't know why it would.

This is all confusing too as there are two ideas in play, gods originating as an explanation of 'gaps', and people believing in gods based on gap reasoning.  I don't see any disparagement at all of people who disagree with the gaps origin theory, at best, people whose religious beliefs are partly based on gap reasoning are being disparaged, which wouldn't include you.  The worst implication to be taken from her writing is 'all theists today believe in gods based on gap reasoning and thus are silly and 'primitive' intellectually'.  Sure, we can certainly retort with 'not all theists employ gap reasoning', but we're then just back to my first questions, namely, what is the better flavor of reasoning being employed by theists that is more high-falutin and intellectual than the gap reasoning?  

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Posted (edited)

LG

OK, then we disagree about the motives, psychology and tactics of anti-theists. I am not surprised, are you?

It seems to me that "us" includes the speaker. What flatters us flatters her. I don't see any way around that.

Similarly, if she asserts that all opposition to her position, the very idea that she could be wrong and that some god exists, stems from a specified type of superstition, and I oppose her position, then I am failing to reject superstition. I don't see any way around that, either.

Given that she presents little or no evidence in favor of her theory, nor is it self-evident or even attractive from first principles, then I think "presenting a self-serving speculative theory as if it were a fact, to portray somebody else as a defender of primitive superstition" can reasonably be characterized as disparaging that somebody, especially somebody who actually does vigorously reject superstition.

What she does present is evidence that divine explanations are lousy. Great. Unburdened by her theory, we could go on to the next step and say they aren't explanations of nature at all, and explore what their actual purposes are. But OK, they are kind-of explanations of nature, just lousy ones. That's evidence against her position, since she must explain (= her theory purports to explain, but fails to do so) why anybody would go to such trouble to make up such lousy explanations.

And so we arrive back again at the Brown view, as expressed in the OP, that any explanation is supposedly better than no explanation. Which even if it were true doesn't explain why an expensive explanation (I have to sacrifice resources to support a class of religious lay-abouts who "serve" this "god" somebody just invented) is preferred to a cheap one (another poster mentioned a fondness for mystery - so why not this? Life is one big game, and part of the game is that there are puzzles, and riddles and mysteries for us to deal with - if we can't solve 'em, maybe we can hack 'em instead*), if any explanation will do.

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what is the better flavor of reasoning being employed by theists that is more high-falutin and intellectual than the gap reasoning? 

With respect to divine origins? My best guess, mostly founded on psychology and the admitted assumption that some psychology is species-wide (and so applies to the long, long ago people we'd need to look at for the origins of the divine concept) : direct personal experience of powerful supernatural beings originally, paving the way for self-interested people to flesh out the idea (the king is god incarnate, or the priest becomes Christ when he dons the magic vestments, or ...) into the highly developed forms we are all familiar with today.

-

* ETA: Although Alexander the Great is far too recent to illustrate the original thinking about gods, the myth of him cutting the Gordian Knot is an archetypal image, in my view. It is possible, says the myth, to accept a mystery (how is this tangle constructed?) and proceed directly to dealing with whatever challenge the mystery presents (just cut the damn thing).

If the species really were paralyzed every time we confronted something we don't readily understand, would you and I really be here having this conversation? And not just ancients. Look at smart phones. How many people who have one can explain its operation? To hell with how it works, how do I use this thing?

Edited by eight bits
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Somehow I have that difficulty and a hard time believing that some distant far off ancestor of the species just sat down one day and had that thought of what makes a god ... God ... how gods have names and speaks to men or with women, that these divine entities has that proclivity to be appeased and a desire to be worshiped , and on some fine momentous day when the opportunity arose, someone did strike eternal deal with them ...

~

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