How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
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09-10-2017, 11:12 AM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2017 11:18 AM by whateverist.)
How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
Quote:Because we separate faith and reason psychologically, thinking of them as epistemological opposites, we tend rather uncritically to assume that they must have separate historical origins as well. A moment’s reflection says “it ain’t necessarily so”—and is even unlikely to be so. It’s time for a new narrative about the origins of monotheistic faith, one that’s indebted to recent scholarship, but that puts it together in a coherent pattern consistent with both history and psychology.

Surprisingly, the pattern that fits best with the historical evidence locates the origins of faith in the rise of reason itself, and despite its novelty it does so in a way that I suspect will strike many readers as sensible and intuitive. This new synthesis in turn yields psychological insights into the issues of faith and reason that continue to bedevil us today—from public confrontations over evolution, abortion, and gay rights, to suicide bombings, West Bank settlements, and flying lessons in which students ominously disdain instruction in landing.

From "How Did God Get Started?", an essay by Colin Wells in the fall of 2010 journal of the humanities and classics called Arion, published by Boston University.

http://www.bu.edu/arion/archive/volume-1...t-started/


Monotheism is the belief in just one god and the author thinks that doesn't exist even among the jews until the rise of reason with the greeks.* Everyone is polytheistic until then and, of course, everyone uses reason in navigating the world.** When reason rose to the level where it could not only explain phenomenon but also explain to you the methods by which that explanation was obtained that led Thales to only credit explanations based on patterns observable in nature, essentially giving rise to science. Theists were pushed to argue that faith was a belief in things unseen, a supernatural world apart from the one revealed by science. Greek philosophers wrestled to maintain a place in the world for both the world of science and the gods:
From the article Wrote:Plato in his dialogue Timaeus described what he called the Demiurge, a divine Craftsman who shapes the material world after ideal Forms that exist on a perfect immaterial plane. And Plato’s student Aristotle put his own twist on the concept, conceiving of God as an Unmoved Mover—a conception that would later, like Plato’s Demiurge, profoundly influence Jewish and Christian theology.


But there was a split between those ready to freely follow reason wherever it led, putting their faith in the regularity inherent in the world and independent of any man's opinion on the one hand, and, on the other, those determined to maintain a place for the gods whose place in our understanding of the world was ancient. That spurred increased interest in the miraculous to give the believer's own reason a way to justify his faith in the unseen. The author thinks Judaism was influenced to become monotheistic by way of jewish philosophers living in the greek diaspora.***

Belief in god only becomes "faith" under monotheism, faith being the unyielding insistence on a particular belief. Under polytheism, the sense was the world was full of gods and one might do well to perform a ritual in the local manner when traveling. God belief under polytheism was practical and transactional, you go with what works. Only under monotheism do you keep fast to ones own tradition and beliefs disregarding all others as being in error. Polytheism was fluid where monotheism is fixed, and to remain fixed theologically it would have been advantageous for the clergy to instill psychological sticks and carrots. Interestingly though the Abrahamic religions are all monotheistic, they still maintain a place for the multitude of polytheism in the form of angels, demons, genies, Jinns and dybbuks.

So surprisingly it is reason which leads not only to science but also to monotheism. Not sure what to think about all this yet, still mulling it over. If anyone else is inspired to read it I'd be interested to discuss it.


*
From the same article Wrote:Modern research suggests that the religion of Abraham and his fellow Hebrews was not, strictly speaking, monotheistic at all, but “monolatrous.” In other words, during Abraham’s time and for many centuries afterward, the ancient Hebrews worshipped not a God whom they held to be the sole deity in existence, but simply one god among many, a god whom they conceived of as being more powerful than the jostling plethora of lesser gods worshipped by other peoples, but who nonetheless shared the stage with them.

**
From the same article Wrote:This is not to say that no one had ever thought rationally before, of course. All humans have the capacity for rational thought; clearly there exists something we might, for consistency, call the mental faculty of reason. It comprises an innate ability for symbolic logic, which we humans use in something akin to the way dolphins use sonar.

***
From the same article Wrote:Centuries would pass before the Jews assimilated Greek thought, and scholars suspect that it was Hellenized Jewish philosophers such as Philo of Alexandria who imported the Greek idea of a single unitary God into the Jewish tradition.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

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09-10-2017, 11:27 AM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
It all began a hundred-thousand years ago when a cro-magnon named Frog realized that the idiots around him would believe anything....

Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

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09-10-2017, 11:47 AM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
(09-10-2017 11:12 AM)whateverist Wrote:  Belief in god only becomes "faith" under monotheism, faith being the unyielding insistence on a particular belief. Under polytheism, the sense was the world was full of gods and one might do well to perform a ritual in the local manner when traveling. God belief under polytheism was practical and transactional, you go with what works. Only under monotheism do you keep fast to ones own tradition and beliefs disregarding all others as being in error. Polytheism was fluid where monotheism is fixed, and to remain fixed theologically it would have been advantageous for the clergy to instill psychological sticks and carrots. Interestingly though the Abrahamic religions are all monotheistic, they still maintain a place for the multitude of polytheism in the form of angels, demons, genies, Jinns and dybbuks.

I'm not sure I buy that. There are too many broad strokes:
  • If you believe in more than one god, can't see them or prove they are the cause of unknown effects, you're still operating on faith.
  • Monotheists have all sorts of dumb rituals that don't always yield the advertised results.
  • A lot of the Old Testament offered a much more straight-forward punishment/reward structure; it's just that it didn't actually line up with how things worked in real life. The New Testament pushed all of this to a nonfalsifiable afterlife. These are both monotheistic.
  • I wouldn't say monotheism is "fixed" or "rigid". The adherents might claim their god is steadfast and unchanging... yet look at how the beliefs of the followers of the same god have changed over the years.
I think the reason a single god won out over many has more than anything to do with the Romans (ruling over much of the world at the time) declaring Christianity to be the official religion, followed by around a thousand years of Christians and Muslims running roughshod over much of the world with conquests and forced conversions. "Convert or imma kill ya" is a pretty compelling argument.
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09-10-2017, 12:46 PM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2017 02:04 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
(09-10-2017 11:12 AM)whateverist Wrote:  
Quote:Because we separate faith and reason psychologically, thinking of them as epistemological opposites, we tend rather uncritically to assume that they must have separate historical origins as well. A moment’s reflection says “it ain’t necessarily so”—and is even unlikely to be so. It’s time for a new narrative about the origins of monotheistic faith, one that’s indebted to recent scholarship, but that puts it together in a coherent pattern consistent with both history and psychology.

Surprisingly, the pattern that fits best with the historical evidence locates the origins of faith in the rise of reason itself, and despite its novelty it does so in a way that I suspect will strike many readers as sensible and intuitive. This new synthesis in turn yields psychological insights into the issues of faith and reason that continue to bedevil us today—from public confrontations over evolution, abortion, and gay rights, to suicide bombings, West Bank settlements, and flying lessons in which students ominously disdain instruction in landing.

From "How Did God Get Started?", an essay by Colin Wells in the fall of 2010 journal of the humanities and classics called Arion, published by Boston University.

http://www.bu.edu/arion/archive/volume-1...t-started/


Monotheism is the belief in just one god and the author thinks that doesn't exist even among the jews until the rise of reason with the greeks.* Everyone is polytheistic until then and, of course, everyone uses reason in navigating the world.** When reason rose to the level where it could not only explain phenomenon but also explain to you the methods by which that explanation was obtained that led Thales to only credit explanations based on patterns observable in nature, essentially giving rise to science. Theists were pushed to argue that faith was a belief in things unseen, a supernatural world apart from the one revealed by science. Greek philosophers wrestled to maintain a place in the world for both the world of science and the gods:
From the article Wrote:Plato in his dialogue Timaeus described what he called the Demiurge, a divine Craftsman who shapes the material world after ideal Forms that exist on a perfect immaterial plane. And Plato’s student Aristotle put his own twist on the concept, conceiving of God as an Unmoved Mover—a conception that would later, like Plato’s Demiurge, profoundly influence Jewish and Christian theology.


But there was a split between those ready to freely follow reason wherever it led, putting their faith in the regularity inherent in the world and independent of any man's opinion on the one hand, and, on the other, those determined to maintain a place for the gods whose place in our understanding of the world was ancient. That spurred increased interest in the miraculous to give the believer's own reason a way to justify his faith in the unseen. The author thinks Judaism was influenced to become monotheistic by way of jewish philosophers living in the greek diaspora.***

Belief in god only becomes "faith" under monotheism, faith being the unyielding insistence on a particular belief. Under polytheism, the sense was the world was full of gods and one might do well to perform a ritual in the local manner when traveling. God belief under polytheism was practical and transactional, you go with what works. Only under monotheism do you keep fast to ones own tradition and beliefs disregarding all others as being in error. Polytheism was fluid where monotheism is fixed, and to remain fixed theologically it would have been advantageous for the clergy to instill psychological sticks and carrots. Interestingly though the Abrahamic religions are all monotheistic, they still maintain a place for the multitude of polytheism in the form of angels, demons, genies, Jinns and dybbuks.

So surprisingly it is reason which leads not only to science but also to monotheism. Not sure what to think about all this yet, still mulling it over. If anyone else is inspired to read it I'd be interested to discuss it.


*
From the same article Wrote:Modern research suggests that the religion of Abraham and his fellow Hebrews was not, strictly speaking, monotheistic at all, but “monolatrous.” In other words, during Abraham’s time and for many centuries afterward, the ancient Hebrews worshipped not a God whom they held to be the sole deity in existence, but simply one god among many, a god whom they conceived of as being more powerful than the jostling plethora of lesser gods worshipped by other peoples, but who nonetheless shared the stage with them.

**
From the same article Wrote:This is not to say that no one had ever thought rationally before, of course. All humans have the capacity for rational thought; clearly there exists something we might, for consistency, call the mental faculty of reason. It comprises an innate ability for symbolic logic, which we humans use in something akin to the way dolphins use sonar.

***
From the same article Wrote:Centuries would pass before the Jews assimilated Greek thought, and scholars suspect that it was Hellenized Jewish philosophers such as Philo of Alexandria who imported the Greek idea of a single unitary God into the Jewish tradition.

Nice try, but actually he's totally wrong. He missed the point entirely. Obviously he doesn't know much about ancient Israel, or ancient cultural historical timelines.
There was no Abraham. He was a myth. He had no religion. There is no evidence (archaeologically) of any Abraham.
Monotheism was tried a few times, (not first by the Hebrews), and it had nothing to do with the rise of "reason", (or the Greeks would have had one god). They never did.
It was attempted and failed in Egypt, (long before it was insisted on, in Israel). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten
We know Yahweh had a wife/consort, (Ashera) who was worshipped in Israel by the Israelites. The "covenant" was that the Hebrews (although knowing there were many deities, agreed to worship one, as Yahweh would help them in their battles). He was the 40th son of the Babylonian chief deity, (El Elyon), and the "Lord of Hosts", (a "host" was an army in battle formation), and they wanted help in battle.

What the rise of monotheism is about, is the rise of *individualism*.
In tribal cultures, individualism is unknown, and/or simply absent. Individualism (in humans and their gods) was unknown in tribal societies.
In the West the push to monotheism arose in Israel after the Exile (in Babylon). The authors of Isaiah came to insist on it. "Scholars" (as stated above with no references, say no such thing).
The Hebrews were proven capable of "symbolic" thought as early as the rise of the Northern Kingdom, when the Golden Bulls were established as the Northern representation of the (symbolic) *presence* of Yahweh, (represented in the South by the sphinxes above the arc). http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...ble-Bull-s


We are so accustomed to viewing ourselves and the human position in human society as an *individual* we are almost unable to grasp what it means to have one's entire identity solely and completely defined by membership in a family/tribal group. Individualism does not exist, and the only thing that is important is the survival of the (group) tribe-family, and one's role and position IN the tribe. The TRIBE (group) is the central organizing factor of life. That is no longer true.

"Classical liberal individualism did not exist in the ancient world"
http://mises.org/library/how-west-invent...ividualism

Before the Exile, the Hebrews were organized in tribal (family) units, (the Bible did not exist) and the most important thing was to have male children to carry on the family line. After the Exile, the family units and ties were disrupted, the society was reconstituted, and slowly in the decades (and centuries after) the rise of individualism in Israel was reflected in the (totally congruent and , in retrospect, .. expected) rise of an individual god. Gods and religions are a reflection of a culture and it's ideals and values, (which BTW was NOT "reason" by ANY stretch, but Apocalypticism, and trying to maintain their "special identity" in the face of the invaders (Greeks) who by no means were accepted, or their ideas embraced). The Hellenization (importation, wide acceptance and integration of Greek ideas and thinking) of the Near East came later. He's a few hundred years off ... so yeah, no cigar. The Hebrew "heavenly host" was FULL of *divine beings* which were not even necessarily gods. The author of this article knows very very little about what he's talking about.

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10...chapter-11

Christianity, (although claiming the contrary) is hardly "monotheistic". So much for that theory.

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09-10-2017, 12:53 PM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
The original origin was a lack of entertainment, other than singing, dancing, and story telling.

And so it began - charismatic story tellers wove tales of beings with powers heretofore unseen, singers and dancers embellished the stories.

Voila, you have a church service.

Soon someone discovered that people could be manipulated and controlled with this, and the rest followed naturally.

(Hence god, like Trump, started as a reality show figure Tongue)

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09-10-2017, 02:03 PM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
(09-10-2017 12:46 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(09-10-2017 11:12 AM)whateverist Wrote:  From "How Did God Get Started?", an essay by Colin Wells in the fall of 2010 journal of the humanities and classics called Arion, published by Boston University.

http://www.bu.edu/arion/archive/volume-1...t-started/


Monotheism is the belief in just one god and the author thinks that doesn't exist even among the jews until the rise of reason with the greeks.* Everyone is polytheistic until then and, of course, everyone uses reason in navigating the world.** When reason rose to the level where it could not only explain phenomenon but also explain to you the methods by which that explanation was obtained that led Thales to only credit explanations based on patterns observable in nature, essentially giving rise to science. Theists were pushed to argue that faith was a belief in things unseen, a supernatural world apart from the one revealed by science. Greek philosophers wrestled to maintain a place in the world for both the world of science and the gods:

But there was a split between those ready to freely follow reason wherever it led, putting their faith in the regularity inherent in the world and independent of any man's opinion on the one hand, and, on the other, those determined to maintain a place for the gods whose place in our understanding of the world was ancient. That spurred increased interest in the miraculous to give the believer's own reason a way to justify his faith in the unseen. The author thinks Judaism was influenced to become monotheistic by way of jewish philosophers living in the greek diaspora.***

Belief in god only becomes "faith" under monotheism, faith being the unyielding insistence on a particular belief. Under polytheism, the sense was the world was full of gods and one might do well to perform a ritual in the local manner when traveling. God belief under polytheism was practical and transactional, you go with what works. Only under monotheism do you keep fast to ones own tradition and beliefs disregarding all others as being in error. Polytheism was fluid where monotheism is fixed, and to remain fixed theologically it would have been advantageous for the clergy to instill psychological sticks and carrots. Interestingly though the Abrahamic religions are all monotheistic, they still maintain a place for the multitude of polytheism in the form of angels, demons, genies, Jinns and dybbuks.

So surprisingly it is reason which leads not only to science but also to monotheism. Not sure what to think about all this yet, still mulling it over. If anyone else is inspired to read it I'd be interested to discuss it.


*

**

***

Nice try, but actually he's totally wrong. He missed the point entirely. Obviously he doesn't know much about ancient Israel, or ancient cultural historical timelines.
There was no Abraham. He was a myth. He had no religion. There is no evidence (archaeologically) of any Abraham.
Monotheism was tried a few times, (not first by the Hebrews), and it had nothing to do with the rise of "reason", (or the Greeks would have had one god). They never did.
It was attempted and failed in Egypt, (long before it was insisted on, in Israel). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten
We know Yahweh had a wife/consort, (Ashera) who was worshipped in Israel by the Israelites. The "covenant" was that the Hebrews (although knowing there were many deities, agreed to worship one, as Yahweh would help them in their battles). He was the 40th son of the Babylonian chief deity, (El Elyon), and the "Lord of Hosts", (a "host" was an army in battle formation), and they wanted help in battle.

What the rise of monotheism is about, is the rise of *individualism*.
In tribal cultures, individualism is unknown, and/or simply absent. Individualism (in humans and their gods) was unknown in tribal societies.
In the West the push to monotheism arose in Israel after the Exile (in Babylon). The authors of Isaiah came to insist on it. "Scholars" (as stated above with no references, say no such thing).
The Hebrews were proven capable of "symbolic" thought as early as the rise of the Northern Kingdom, when the Golden Bulls were established as the Northern representation of Yahweh, (represented in the South by the sphinxes above the arc. http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...ble-Bull-s


We are so accustomed to viewing ourselves and the human position in human society as an *individual* we are almost unable to grasp what it means to have one's entire identity solely and completely defined by membership in a family/tribal group. Individualism does not exist, and the only thing that is important is the survival of the (group) tribe-family, and one's role and position IN the tribe. The TRIBE (group) is the central organizing factor of life. That is no longer true.

"Classical liberal individualism did not exist in the ancient world"
http://mises.org/library/how-west-invent...ividualism

Before the Exile, the Hebrews were organized in tribal (family) units, (the Bible did not exist) and the most important thing was to have male children to carry on the family line. After the Exile, the family units and ties were disrupted, the society was reconstituted, and slowly in the decades (and centuries after) the rise of individualism in Israel was reflected in the (totally congruent and , in retrospect, .. expected) rise of an individual god. Gods and religions are a reflection of a culture and it's ideals and values, (which BTW was NOT "reason" by ANY stretch, but Apocalypticism, and trying to maintain their "special identity" in the face of the invaders (Greeks) who by no means were accepted, or their ideas embraced). The Hellenization (importation, wide acceptance and integration of Greek ideas and thinking) of the Near East came later. He's a few hundred years off ... so yeah, no cigar. The Hebrew "heavenly host" was FULL of *divine beings* which were not even necessarily gods. The author of this article knows very very little about what he's talking about.

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10...chapter-11

Christianity, (although claiming the contrary) is hardly "monotheistic". So much for that theory.


Very interesting. I believe the author actually agrees with you on several but certainly not all the points you raise. You've obviously looked into this quite a bit. The article was not my usual read but I found it interesting. I wonder from what background you come to this.

My own background as an undergrad was in philosophy. But I've been more interested to read on my own time things in developmental and evolutionary psychology. You've got to wade through some history though.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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09-10-2017, 02:06 PM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
(09-10-2017 02:03 PM)whateverist Wrote:  
(09-10-2017 12:46 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Nice try, but actually he's totally wrong. He missed the point entirely. Obviously he doesn't know much about ancient Israel, or ancient cultural historical timelines.
There was no Abraham. He was a myth. He had no religion. There is no evidence (archaeologically) of any Abraham.
Monotheism was tried a few times, (not first by the Hebrews), and it had nothing to do with the rise of "reason", (or the Greeks would have had one god). They never did.
It was attempted and failed in Egypt, (long before it was insisted on, in Israel). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten
We know Yahweh had a wife/consort, (Ashera) who was worshipped in Israel by the Israelites. The "covenant" was that the Hebrews (although knowing there were many deities, agreed to worship one, as Yahweh would help them in their battles). He was the 40th son of the Babylonian chief deity, (El Elyon), and the "Lord of Hosts", (a "host" was an army in battle formation), and they wanted help in battle.

What the rise of monotheism is about, is the rise of *individualism*.
In tribal cultures, individualism is unknown, and/or simply absent. Individualism (in humans and their gods) was unknown in tribal societies.
In the West the push to monotheism arose in Israel after the Exile (in Babylon). The authors of Isaiah came to insist on it. "Scholars" (as stated above with no references, say no such thing).
The Hebrews were proven capable of "symbolic" thought as early as the rise of the Northern Kingdom, when the Golden Bulls were established as the Northern representation of Yahweh, (represented in the South by the sphinxes above the arc. http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...ble-Bull-s


We are so accustomed to viewing ourselves and the human position in human society as an *individual* we are almost unable to grasp what it means to have one's entire identity solely and completely defined by membership in a family/tribal group. Individualism does not exist, and the only thing that is important is the survival of the (group) tribe-family, and one's role and position IN the tribe. The TRIBE (group) is the central organizing factor of life. That is no longer true.

"Classical liberal individualism did not exist in the ancient world"
http://mises.org/library/how-west-invent...ividualism

Before the Exile, the Hebrews were organized in tribal (family) units, (the Bible did not exist) and the most important thing was to have male children to carry on the family line. After the Exile, the family units and ties were disrupted, the society was reconstituted, and slowly in the decades (and centuries after) the rise of individualism in Israel was reflected in the (totally congruent and , in retrospect, .. expected) rise of an individual god. Gods and religions are a reflection of a culture and it's ideals and values, (which BTW was NOT "reason" by ANY stretch, but Apocalypticism, and trying to maintain their "special identity" in the face of the invaders (Greeks) who by no means were accepted, or their ideas embraced). The Hellenization (importation, wide acceptance and integration of Greek ideas and thinking) of the Near East came later. He's a few hundred years off ... so yeah, no cigar. The Hebrew "heavenly host" was FULL of *divine beings* which were not even necessarily gods. The author of this article knows very very little about what he's talking about.

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10...chapter-11

Christianity, (although claiming the contrary) is hardly "monotheistic". So much for that theory.

The article was not my usual read but I found it interesting. I wonder from what background you come to this.

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10-10-2017, 04:42 AM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
Hey Bucky. I just read your profile.

All good except for the music. I know very bored classical musicians.

Cover bands suck. Wink

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10-10-2017, 06:03 AM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
“Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.”
― Voltaire

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10-10-2017, 06:15 AM
RE: How did God get started? The role of reason in creating monotheism.
(10-10-2017 06:03 AM)BikerDude Wrote:  “Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.”
― Voltaire

That sucks sinks. Smartass
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