Oldest recorded "God"?
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20-01-2013, 02:39 PM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2013 11:57 PM by LadyJane.)
Question Oldest recorded "God"?
1. The forum needs a history section.

2. What is the oldest recorded reference to a "God"? By record, I mean a sculpture, or painting/hieroglyph, or written down account. And by "God" I mean some sort of embodiment of nature, or immortal being.

I'm guessing it's one of those fertility statues - a fertility god.
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20-01-2013, 02:54 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
You might want to start with "deity" in your search.

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20-01-2013, 03:05 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
Any cave drawing of the sun, stone carvings of wavey lines to show water. A charcoal etching in a cave to represent fire.

I really don't think you're going to find what you are looking for, but you might start with the Epic of Gilgamesh and go from there.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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20-01-2013, 04:34 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
Hey, Pool.

The written record is only about 5 000 years old. So in terms of being an exhaustive source of human activity, it sucks. We did plenty of stuff before that. Like 100 000 years worth. Or 2 million, depending how far back you wanna go Cool

I've always known that Animism used to be a universal religion among humans (prior to the advent of civilisation; although it's still extant today). It is essentially the first human religion.

I did some quick snooping on the Intertubes and from what I've found, there is archeological evidence that it's 70 000 years old (evidence is from the Tsodilo Hills in the Kalahari) and may be as old as 200 000 years old. That makes sense to me. I'd buy that for a dollar. Although I would bet that while it may stretch back even further than that, it couldn't really be called Animism prior to the advent of syntactical language, and that's only about 100, maybe 120 000 years ago. So I'd say that Animism is as old as syntactical language.

So yeah, if you're looking for evidence, you won't find it in the written record. But you may find some archeological evidence.

Here's some Wiki links:
Timeline of Religion
Prehistoric Religion

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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20-01-2013, 05:28 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
(20-01-2013 04:34 PM)Ghost Wrote:  I did some quick snooping on the Intertubes and from what I've found, there is archeological evidence that it's 70 000 years old (evidence is from the Tsodilo Hills in the Kalahari) and may be as old as 200 000 years old. That makes sense to me. I'd buy that for a dollar. Although I would bet that while it may stretch back even further than that, it couldn't really be called Animism prior to the advent of syntactical language, and that's only about 100, maybe 120 000 years ago. So I'd say that Animism is as old as syntactical language.

Some people contest the claims made for Tsodilo Hills because new methods have shown the evidence is actually much, much younger than 70,000 year old. I agree that animism was most likely the first form of religion. The Chauvet cave in France has a 32,000 year old painting of a half-woman-half-bull chimera. I can sort of see why they did this. Women are the givers of life, while bulls are the sustainers of life through their meat.


[Image: woman.jpg]
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20-01-2013, 05:35 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
One of the most prevalent ancient gods I have seen is known as the "Lord of Animals." The reoccuring motif is of a horned god controlling beasts. I've seen depictions of him from Ancient India, Central Asia, and Ireland (I'm sure there are examples from other countries I haven't seen). The god' power over animals calls to mind animism.

Here are some interesting depictions of him. Notice the similarities:

Ancient Ireland

[Image: 6010803_f520.jpg]

Ancient India

[Image: Shiva_Pashupati.jpg]

There is actually an entire book on the subject, but it is very pricey. I'll have to save up for it.
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20-01-2013, 05:54 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
In terms of the more organized stuff and synthesis,post Godesses, Zarathustra might be worth a Google..... Angel
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20-01-2013, 09:55 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
Considering that Neanderthal man had essentially the same brain as we modern apes and knowing that we're still given to superstition... I would say that humans first started personifying/deifying natural objects as soon as we got this nifty new gray matter.
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20-01-2013, 10:57 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
Hey, jefe.

I'm not too familiar with the development of grey matter, but my snooping informs me that even Australopithecus sediba had grey matter. Fascinating.

Now, as a memeticist, I've been very interested in the origins of human language. Unfortunately there's exactly zero consensus on the matter.

The theory I prefer is the meme-gene co-evolution theory (with some of my own take peppered in). We began using gestural language around the time Homo habilus started flint-knapping. The process of making stone tools was communicated, suggesting some sort of language and suggesting the beginnings of cultural transmission. But the human vocal chords were nothing like they are now in habilus. So the bulk of communication was gestural (which makes sense for a species called Handy man). Well, it just so happens:
Quote:…there are two main cortical areas that are critical for language, Broca’s area which is responsible for speech production, and Wernicke’s area which is responsible for language understanding. Interestingly, these two areas seem to have evolved from the motor cortex and auditory cortex, respectively.
-Blackmore, “The Meme Machine,” page 72.
Makes perfect sense to me that if language began gesturally, controlled by the motor cortex, it stands to reason that the same cortex would control speech; through Broca's area. But the vocal chords are useless to the human body because we can choke to death because of them. But it was of tremendous use to the memes. The more specific sound we can create, the greater our "vocabulary" because gestural language is rather limited. The greater the vocabulary, the more complex the memes and the easier it is to transmit them. Thus, the vocal chords evolved due to meme-gene co-evolution. This went on for a few million years until syntactical language arrived about 100 000 years ago; as an emergent property of all the talking and pointing.

Now, during that two million year period (give or take a few hundred thousand years) we don't know much, if anything, about the complexity of human language. We do know that it wasn't syntactical. So the question for me is, was language, prior to syntax, complex enough to allow for the cultural transmission of rituals and shared beliefs, or was that only possible with the advent of syntax? If it only came with syntax, then religion is only about 100 000 years old. If it came with pre-syntactical language, then it might stretch back to Homo habilus. If you are right, and it's a property of grey matter, then it could stretch back 4 million years; all the way into the Australopithecines. But I gotta say, I think it requires at least some rudimentary form of language. So I could be convinced of it stretching back to habilus (and if that was ever proven, it would be an astonishing discovery for memeticists), but I'm more comfortable saying it originated 100 000 years ago.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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20-01-2013, 11:29 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
That's interesting, thanks for sharing. My hypothesis is based on the fact that we have always (and still do) resort to the supernatural when we can't find an explanation for things in our environment. That and the understanding psychohistorians have extracted from human societies of all times leads to the conclusion that even if there wasn't a form of organized religion that far back it's still very likely that there were internal superstitions... for lack of a better descriptive. Another thing to consider is that animals have the ability to organize and cooperate for simple tasks (lions taking down prey, etc.) so I can't help but think that even if there was no verbal language, superstitions were innately shared among people and thus, communicated in some manner. And to clarify, we know humans arrive at the same superstitions even in vastly different geographical areas.
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