The development of "a god theory".
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14-05-2014, 01:20 PM
The development of "a god theory".
Not sure if this is a good place for this or not. I'm not using "theory" in the scientific sense for this thread.

I was pondering the beginnings of our "god theory". I have heard that it has been said that [roughly/loosely] "people came to the place in their development that they questioned their existence and not having an answer, thought that there might have been someone greater to fill that unknown".

I have to wonder how an animal could get to a point of even wondering if "there was some other higher being". I know that humans have an advanced form of conciousness, but I have to wonder if another species will eventually evolve to a point where they [too] ponder such things. What would that be like? What if it happens to dolphins? Would their god naturally be "a dolphin that created other dolphins in his image"?

It's an interesting topic to me because what would had happened if humans never pondered "something beyond"? I know we would be further along technologically. And humans wouldn't be killed in "religiously motivated deaths".
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15-05-2014, 06:41 AM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
This is an active area of study[1].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionar...f_religion

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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15-05-2014, 09:16 AM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
Hello DeavonReye, how are you? Yours is a very interesting question, I hope you don't mind me sharing my thoughts about an answer that might be possible, although it might not be possible, so if you read it, please take it critically.

There seems to be quite a difference between the time when our ancestors gained the ability to provide themselves with creative abstract explanations for different phenomena, and the time when the notion of a higher being creating humans in its image appeared. Prior to the adoption of monotheism by certain cultures in the Levant, people often worshipped the memory of their ancestors rather than gods, and some people saw themselves as gods, rather than thinking of gods as higher beings. If the origins of the idea lied in our ability to raise complex questions and our inability to answer them based on our initial lack of knowledge ("How come I exist? Some god must have created me"), then I would expect the typically monotheistic answer to be the oldest religious one.

The culture of indigenous Australians, for example, developed in relative isolation for millennia and, maybe due to the lack of necessity, it didn't seem to advance at a rate as fast as other human cultures until quite recently; it might be a useful indicator of what ancient religious thought may have been like. Apparently, their view of creation is that of the works of ancestral heroes who sang things into existence in an event sometimes called "The Dreaming", but that is not a past event; it still happens now in the minds of those who can "see". It is interesting how they seem to place the creative powers on some human beings rather than on higher abstract beings, which in a way is what pre-semitic cultures such as the ancient Egyptian did. In the land of the pharaohs, it was the pharaohs who were gods descendants from other gods.

So the earliest religious thought, at least in some people's minds, does not seem to be "an abstract god created me and everything else" but rather something along the lines of "I am a god with creative powers like my divine ancestors". How could that idea come about?

Based on our ancestors' use of technology, their ability to understand the related abstract notions as well as their ability to execute sequences of operations in order to transform some raw material into a useful tool seem to have appeared at least over two million years ago, when our living ancestors were similar to, if not of the kind that some people now call Homo habilis. The taxonomy of extinct species is debatable, of course, but these remains are often associated to stone tools of the Oldowan industry, suggesting that those individuals were, in fact, capable of producing such technology.

For most of the hominin evolution, anatomical changes appear to be more noticeable than technological and cultural advances. Despite the progressive increase in cranial capacity, the hominin way of life, as suggested by remains left today, changed little during the lower and middle paleolithic. Some key discoveries, such as the usability of fire, seem to have had their cultural impact on the lives of our ancestors, but technological innovation was rather slow, possibly fuelled by accidental discoveries rather than planned inventiveness. By the time the oldest anatomically modern humans known so far lived, some 195,000 years ago, they were still eating what they could find, using the tools they produced by hitting two or more stones together.

By contrast, in the last forty or fifty thousand years, anatomical features have changed very little in relation to cultural innovation. In that time, we have gone from producing rudimentary stone tools to nanotechnology and extra-terrestrial exploration. Accidental discoveries still play a part in our acquisition of knowledge, of course, but there is an obvious component of planned inventiveness. Is it possible that the human ability to produce abstract information in our own brains, as opposed to extracting it from our surroundings through our senses, dates back from about forty or fifty thousand years ago?

I don't know, but if that were the case, it would immediately carry an important implication. The genetic mutation underlying the change in the embryological development that yielded a neural structure capable of producing complex abstract notions must have occurred some forty or fifty thousand years ago, well into the lineage of H. sapiens.

The oldest human remains are almost two hundred thousand years old; the explosion of abstract culture seems about fifty thousand. If the ability to produce abstract information can be attributed to a genetic mutation, the first individual carrying the mutation must have been born within a group of individuals that did not carry it; people of the same biological species (i.e., genetically compatible), able to understand complex abstract notions but unable to invent them. And in such a context, the idea of a human being with creative abilities not displayed by his or her peers seems a logical conclusion. If I were the only imaginative person in a group of unimaginative people, and I knew nothing about how brains work, I might come up with the idea that I am special above those people.

Is it possible that those Australian ancestral heroes, as well as Egyptian pharaohs and other ancient living gods, were descendants from one mutant human being, able to invent things, who lived some forty or fifty thousand years ago? Is it possible that our traditional division between a ruling class and a working class derives from that genetically inheritable asymmetry between people capable of making up complex abstract instructions and people capable of understanding them and executing them? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were.

In summary, I guess the origins of our "god theory" might be a mistaken attempt to describe a biological difference. But then again, mine might be a mistaken attempt to describe some bollocks, so please don't take it too seriously.

Nevertheless, thanks for bringing up a very interesting question.

Have a good time!
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15-05-2014, 09:45 AM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
(14-05-2014 01:20 PM)DeavonReye Wrote:  I have to wonder how an animal could get to a point of even wondering if "there was some other higher being". I know that humans have an advanced form of conciousness, but I have to wonder if another species will eventually evolve to a point where they [too] ponder such things. What would that be like? What if it happens to dolphins? Would their god naturally be "a dolphin that created other dolphins in his image"?
Seriously? The dolphins thing?
Please do not compare human intelligence to dolphin intelligence. They may have a "bigger brain" but that doesn't mean they have the same type of understanding of their direct environment. Their brains are arranged differently, and have different types of brain areas. Sure, they can communicate, but they don't act like humans. Dolphins are most likely not super-intelligent (as in the human sense.) and, they do not act like humans. Their biology is not like humans. Their physiology is not like humans. Their Neurology is not like humans. You cannot compare the evolution of another species to humans when they're radically different. They probably are intelligent, but in a dolphin sense. See, we can't expect that creates a civilization to do it like we did.

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15-05-2014, 10:11 AM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
(15-05-2014 09:45 AM)Alex_Leonardo Wrote:  
(14-05-2014 01:20 PM)DeavonReye Wrote:  I have to wonder how an animal could get to a point of even wondering if "there was some other higher being". I know that humans have an advanced form of conciousness, but I have to wonder if another species will eventually evolve to a point where they [too] ponder such things. What would that be like? What if it happens to dolphins? Would their god naturally be "a dolphin that created other dolphins in his image"?
Seriously? The dolphins thing?
Please do not compare human intelligence to dolphin intelligence. They may have a "bigger brain" but that doesn't mean they have the same type of understanding of their direct environment. Their brains are arranged differently, and have different types of brain areas. Sure, they can communicate, but they don't act like humans. Dolphins are most likely not super-intelligent (as in the human sense.) and, they do not act like humans. Their biology is not like humans. Their physiology is not like humans. Their Neurology is not like humans. You cannot compare the evolution of another species to humans when they're radically different. They probably are intelligent, but in a dolphin sense. See, we can't expect that creates a civilization to do it like we did.

Please do not misunderstand. The "dolphin" thing was just used as an example only, not to be taken as "when will dolphins contemplate a god".
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15-05-2014, 10:15 AM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
(15-05-2014 10:11 AM)DeavonReye Wrote:  
(15-05-2014 09:45 AM)Alex_Leonardo Wrote:  Seriously? The dolphins thing?
Please do not compare human intelligence to dolphin intelligence. They may have a "bigger brain" but that doesn't mean they have the same type of understanding of their direct environment. Their brains are arranged differently, and have different types of brain areas. Sure, they can communicate, but they don't act like humans. Dolphins are most likely not super-intelligent (as in the human sense.) and, they do not act like humans. Their biology is not like humans. Their physiology is not like humans. Their Neurology is not like humans. You cannot compare the evolution of another species to humans when they're radically different. They probably are intelligent, but in a dolphin sense. See, we can't expect that creates a civilization to do it like we did.

Please do not misunderstand. The "dolphin" thing was just used as an example only, not to be taken as "when will dolphins contemplate a god".
oh.. Sorry! Okay. It's just that example really bugs me. But, I still dont think that other species will create a civilization like us.

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15-05-2014, 01:58 PM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
Probably not. And in a way, that kinda bugs me, in an odd way. But if they did, I'm sure we'd fight against them. Yes
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18-05-2014, 06:18 PM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
Animals and other beings residing on this planet need not ponder such questions, as they are already entirely present and exist within "divinity" (meaning presentness and oneness with nature). Humans however, have ultimately been corrupted by their own minds, and, thus, most cannot achieve absolute oneness within the machine of nature (even those who study such things cannot, as I have never felt one).

Even with a predator's calculation he is devoid of thought, and entirely within the moment, for he must be in order to survive. Once the need for survival is relieved, and focus/oneness is unnecessary, a being will return to the recesses of his own mind, which is why humans are in a perpetual state of thought, whether they be good thoughts or bad (or, even neutral).
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19-05-2014, 05:19 AM
RE: The development of "a god theory".
Hello UndercoverAtheist, how are you?

(18-05-2014 06:18 PM)UndercoverAtheist Wrote:  Animals and other beings residing on this planet need not ponder such questions, as they are already entirely present and exist within "divinity" (meaning presentness and oneness with nature). Humans however, have ultimately been corrupted by their own minds, and, thus, most cannot achieve absolute oneness within the machine of nature (even those who study such things cannot, as I have never felt one).
I am not sure I can agree with you; I'm not too keen on viewing nature as a deity and I don't really understand what "oneness with nature" means. We're natural beings too; how come we are not already present and exist within "divinity"? Is it because of our ability to produce artificial things?

If nature can be seen as a being, then I think nature gains an amazing ability through our power to invent stuff. But I don't really view nature as a being; if anything, it is a set of beings. It is the set of things that do not appear in space or time after being an abstract idea in something's mind; the set of entities that would occur even if there weren't things with brains capable of making stuff up. By contrast, things that appear in space or time after being an abstract idea in someone's mind are artificial entities. For example, a natural real thing is the planet; a natural virtual entity is the sound of rain. An artificial real entity can be a mobile phone, and an artificial virtual entity might be its ringing tone. Please note how our so-called "laws of nature" are artificial entities.

I don't think it is our ability to think what corrupts human beings, I would say it is our reckless greed, our obsession with taking and taking and taking, as if we needed all that stuff after our deaths, without thinking about the consequences of our greed. If anything, we don't seem to think enough.

May I ask you a question? Do you view biological evolution as driven by needs? In other words, would you say that our ability to sequentially link abstract notions in our minds, producing thoughts, is a result of some australopithecine's need to think? I ask this because I would say biological evolution is driven by luck as much as it is driven by needs. Every living organism has certain needs in order to remain alive, of course, and those that aren't able to satisfy the most critical ones die off; needs put a large selective pressure on the ability to solve them. However, abilities are gained by luck; if evolution is a story about learning, mutations are accidental discoveries. Maybe the reason why many animals and other beings residing on this planet do not ponder such questions is not that they don't need to, but that they aren't able to.

What do you think?

Cheers!
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