Oldest recorded "God"?
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21-01-2013, 12:12 AM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
What an interesting question !!
Thanks for the links you guys. Thumbsup

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21-01-2013, 08:18 AM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
Hey, Jefe.

I think that it's wider in scope than just needing to plug in the supernatural into unexplained things. Human beings require, as an absolute, a relationship with the world. Animism was primarily a way to have a relationship with the world. I don't know if that's clear, but having a relationship with the world is different than explaining how the world works. If a tree is your brother, you have a relationship with it. If a tree is a autotrophic member of family Araucariaceae who's fibres can be used as a renewable construction material, you don't really have much of a relationship with it. Or you do, but it's economic or scientific rather than sacred and familial.

Anyhoo, I can't imagine any of this occurring before language because human cognition and cultural transmission both rely on language. So people wouldn't really have internal superstitions unless they had language because they'd be incapable of cognition. They might have Skinnerian operant conditioning, but not a formal understanding.

Sharing is the real key here. Many primates have learned English. They can sign, point to pictograms, form rudimentary sentences, make pretty profound linguistic connections (one primate knew bracelet and finger and when it saw a ring, he called it a finger bracelet). Lots of stuff. But what they cannot do is teach another primate English. Without the ability to transmit culture, culture is not shared. Religion, I would say, is not religion unless it's shared. That requires both language and cognition.

But I just picked up on something you said, it absolutely could be done with non-verbal language. I'm confident that gestural language predated speech by several hundred thousand years. As long as the language is shared, it could work. Culture is nothing more than a series of agreements. I think my bigger concern is, can you share religion without syntax?

What I don't know is where the threshold lies. I know it's all possible with syntax. But prior to that, I don't know exactly when cultural transmission began.

As for the similar religions in different places, I figure there's five possibilities:
1 - Universal consciousness: that we're all tapped into some cloud of knowledge that we can pull things from as soon as someone adds an idea.
2 - 100th monkey theory: That once a group knows something, other groups on the other side of the planet learn it too; like the famous potato washing incident.
3 - Cultural transmission: Remember, 100 000 years ago, there weren't a lot of humans and we all lived in the same place. Perhaps the reason Animism was universal was because there is a common cultural ancestor. When we migrated out of Africa, memetic drift would account for the accumulation of differences. Also (or perhaps alternately), nomadic tribes would have encountered one another, which would have led to memetic flow. Theoretically it could have begun in one small corner and spread to all corners.
4 - The nature of our brains means we naturally come to similar conclusions given similar circumstances.
5 - They're all right.

Incidentally, these possibilities also apply to the independent development of both agriculture and civilisation in different parts of the world as well as on different continents.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-01-2013, 01:28 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
I'm gonna have to respectively throw number one out of consideration on my part but I'd like to examine number four more closely.

And to clarify, I'm thinking more about superstitions that don't include formal religions or gods, because I think those are the genesis of formal religion. One thing in particular is the irrational fear of women that can be seen throughout history both within formal religions and without, and is still evidenced today in modern primitive cultures. Obvously, that fear didn't exist before cognition but I think it must have existed preverbally because we see it expressed in cave paintings.

In any event, superstition is a psychological dysfunction, so it most certainly arrived in concert with cognition. At least, that's my uneducated guess.
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21-01-2013, 05:48 PM (This post was last modified: 21-01-2013 05:52 PM by mawil1013.)
Re: Oldest recorded "God"?
This from wiki answers and I agree from other research I've performed.

''Hinduism is the oldest known spiritual tradition in the world and there is evidence that it flourished long before recorded history in ancient India. The ancient Vedic civilization practiced Hinduism."

But as long as humankind has been able to communicate, stories of God's and Goddess's along with evil spirits and what happens to grandma when she dies topics have been bantered about the group of isolated people's.
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21-01-2013, 05:50 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
Hey, Jefe.

There's no dysfunction in superstition. That's a value judgment not a fact.

But even superstitions require cognition, otherwise it's just operant conditioning. So if we're thinking, we're using language, which means we're transmitting memes. So both superstition and religion have the same linguo-cognitive requirements.

As for the irrational woman fear thing, I wanted to run and hide, but I appear to lack the skills.




As for cave paintings, they come tens of thousands of years after verbal communication. Also, in terms of memetic theory, they'd be impossible without verbal syntactical communication.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-01-2013, 05:57 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
(21-01-2013 05:50 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Jefe.

There's no dysfunction in superstition. That's a value judgment not a fact.

Saying there is no dysfunction in superstition is a value judgement, not a fact.

Quote:But even superstitions require cognition, otherwise it's just operant conditioning. So if we're thinking, we're using language, which means we're transmitting memes. So both superstition and religion have the same linguo-cognitive requirements.

As for the irrational woman fear thing, I wanted to run and hide, but I appear to lack the skills.

Did you misunderstand him? Irrational fear and hatred for women seems to be part and parcel of the patriarchal religions.



I liked the video. Thumbsup

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21-01-2013, 06:38 PM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
There's no dysfunction in superstition?

Men in modern tribal societies still believe that a woman's breast milk and menstrual blood are poisonous and that the only way to cleanse a young man of said poisons it through any number of very brutal and dangerous rituals. These rituals often include flaying open the boy's penis and allowing multiple men to penetrate and ejaculate into the wound in order to rid them of the poisin. And, as late as the 19th century in the west it was commonly believed that having sex with a virgin child was a successful means by which to rid ones self of sexually transmitted diseases.

I don't know what your level of tolerance is but to me, there is a huge amount of dysfunction in those superstitions. Likewise, something as presumably benign as telling a child that an invisible man watches their every move is actually a quite destructive lie that is based wholly on superstition.
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21-01-2013, 07:07 PM (This post was last modified: 21-01-2013 07:30 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
*whistles* I think I'm going to have to watch this.

While you guys fight...




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22-01-2013, 02:25 AM (This post was last modified: 22-01-2013 07:16 AM by DLJ.)
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
(20-01-2013 02:39 PM)poolboyg88 Wrote:  1. The forum needs a history section.
...

I suggest you do a PM to Near http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/User-Near who is the Forum's self-appointed Resource Librarian and he can probably make your wish come true.

('Librarian' definition... a usually under-appreciated role that deserves loads of Rep points and if I had a vote on it would be recognised in the Forum Team list)

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22-01-2013, 03:50 AM
RE: Oldest recorded "God"?
(20-01-2013 02:39 PM)poolboyg88 Wrote:  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.
Those fertility statues, like the Venus of Willendorf, are no longer classified as such because there is simply no evidence that they were any such thing. They might simply have been children's toys, ancestor worship, whatever. They might have been religious but that is pure conjecture. So I think we should stick to something demonstrable.

So figurines, sun worship, burial practices, wall paintings and such might all be proof of some sort of religion - they do not provide evidence of any supreme being/s.

Even Çatalhöyük provides no definitive evidence.
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[font=sans-serif]It should be clear that gods predate human ability to record them in writing but m[/font]y understanding is that the pyramid texts are the oldest extant unambiguous examples, whilst the Enuma Elish might have an earlier origin.

Would love someone to push those dates back.

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