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I agree that parts of various religious texts (or oral lore) did intend to organise their society's behaviour (like the Code of Hammurabi). That has nothing to do with the origin of what started out as primitive superstitions and over time developed into organised religions though. It also does not imply that religion was a prerequisite for morality or ethics, if that is what you were suggesting. There are examples of ancient ethical codes dating back before the dawn of religions (http://genealogyreligion.net/the-earliest-moral-ethical-laws-were-not-religious). Today there are many peaceful and contended secular societies.

 

I wonder whether such moral codes and religion in general had a common root: as if they evolved from a common ancestor

 

 

 

They started out as primitive superstitions, at the tribal level (a god of trees is very useful for a tribe that depends on trees) but as the tribes got bigger and more sophisticated there comes a separation point; a point where a complex society creates more, and more, dependences/gods, each with an IRQ and that just creates even more complexity, so religions flipped to a one god system; that may seem like a natural evolution, until one adds the wildcard that is ‘enlightenment’ and the general timing of the flips.

 

 

Can i ask for clarification. I take your mention of enlightenment to mean a path of 'self-realisation' (let's put aside just how nebulous that concept is for now), rather than the 18 century movement. The former makes sense to me as it does not require belief in god nor religion.

 

I am in full agreement that certain cultural paradigm shifts had profound influences on the gene/environment interplay and as such also on the way our forefathers perceived these matters. The example of the era of enlightenment is very relevant. Descendants of pre-enlightenment generations (those that were never exposed to that paradigm shift) seem to find it much harder to adapt, or change. A lot of them got stuck; not through their own unwillingness or blissful ignorance, but by virtue of their inherited gene/environment make-up.

 

As for the transition to monotheism, that is dealt with- and explained in the book that I previously referenced (The Evolution Of God). I don't really want to expand on that too much at this point in time as I don't consider it to be implicitly relevant to the topic. Maybe a discussion for another day..?

 

The discussion so far has proceeded with the assumption that the idea of god is inevitable in religion/spirituality. The ideas of god(s) in other religions are so different so as not to be directly comparable. Gods in Confucianism, say, are nothing like the western concept of gods being far closer to ancestor worship .Monotheism seems to only have emerged once and the interesting question to me is why has this one 'phenotype' dominated. My hunch is that its inherent hierarchical structure (one god: king of kings) is rather more flexible with it's moral codes, allowing for the violent spreading of the religions.

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The mods here sound like they might be theists.   LOL Or at least the mod who posted the above warning about the YouTube video disproving God. I mean, hey, I'm new here but is not deciding the val

Science can't prove or disprove God. 100% proof does not exist in science.

I find this constant harping on the Miller-Urey experiment to be frustrating, distracting and misguided. I do not refer to you specifically Rob, but to almost everyone who quotes it in fora such as th

I wonder whether such moral codes and religion in general had a common root: as if they evolved from a common ancestor

We should be careful in addressing such a (potential) premise. The idea that our species acquired morality is to some extent contentious, if not outright flawed. Morality, as we understand it, implies free will to make "conscious" decisions (not so?) and both free will and our ability to act "consciously" are increasingly regarded by numerous fields of science as somewhat illusionary. Individual human behaviour is seen as a result of an interaction between a specific genetic make-up and a specific set of environmental dynamics. That implies that if you rewind any individual's life and all other things are kept constant, he/she will act exactly in the same manner again. Keep in mind that we are merely evolved animals and as such no different to the rest of the animal kingdom i.t.o. morality. The act of committing sins, for example, is therefore somewhat of a misnomer.

 

The moral codes and religion (or structured superstitions) that you referred to, were merely tools in acquiring better social interaction and coherence at a time when our earlier ancestors started forming larger social groups (when clans grew and merged into tribes that later grew into societies). The origins of primitive superstition(s) are widely regarded as a by-product of evolution, that part is true.

 

The discussion so far has proceeded with the assumption that the idea of god is inevitable in religion/spirituality. The ideas of god(s) in other religions are so different so as not to be directly comparable. Gods in Confucianism, say, are nothing like the western concept of gods being far closer to ancestor worship .Monotheism seems to only have emerged once and the interesting question to me is why has this one 'phenotype' dominated. My hunch is that its inherent hierarchical structure (one god: king of kings) is rather more flexible with it's moral codes, allowing for the violent spreading of the religions.

I agree with what you posted ^. Referring to the perceived dominance of monotheism, again we should be careful to generalize. Is it accurate to describe it as "dominant"? Polytheistic religions (and Buddhism) still have a huge following and are not necessarily being dominated by monotheism within their own cultural domains. I think it is important that we also acknowledge other sociocultural factors that played their roles in furthering certain religions. The role of the Roman Empire (and the Roman Catholic Church) in establishing Christianity as a world-wide religion comes to mind...in line with your reference to "the violent spreading of the religions".

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We should be careful in addressing such a (potential) premise. The idea that our species acquired morality is to some extent contentious, if not outright flawed. Morality, as we understand it, implies free will to make "conscious" decisions (not so?) and both free will and our ability to act "consciously" are increasingly regarded by numerous fields of science as somewhat illusionary

 

... we should be careful to generalize...

 

If you want to move to just talking about things for which we have good evidence, i am happy to do so, but that applies to you too. Therefore we should leave the freewill issue out of this debate (i agree that freewill is unlikely to exist, but the evidence is currently insufficient, and should be debated elsewhere - there are plenty of existing threads on this forum already).

 

The moral codes and religion (or structured superstitions) that you referred to, were merely tools in acquiring better social interaction and coherence at a time when our earlier ancestors started forming larger social groups (when clans grew and merged into tribes that later grew into societies). The origins of primitive superstition(s) are widely regarded as a by-product of evolution, that part is true.

 

Again, we need some evidence to support this. It's very likely that we will never have sufficient evidence to make such bold assertions.

 

 

I agree with what you posted ^. Referring to the perceived dominance of monotheism, again we should be careful to generalize. Is it accurate to describe it as "dominant"? Polytheistic religions (and Buddhism) still have a huge following and are not necessarily being dominated by monotheism within their own cultural domains. I think it is important that we also acknowledge other sociocultural factors that played their roles in furthering certain religions. The role of the Roman Empire (and the Roman Catholic Church) in establishing Christianity as a world-wide religion comes to mind...in line with your reference to "the violent spreading of the religions".

 

By dominant I meant that about 54.13% of the worlds population follow a monotheistic faith - this seems disproportionate given it has only occurred once in human development (unless other monotheistic faiths developed independently then disappeared without trace).

 

I'm sure there are many nuanced factors that contribute to the rise and fall of various religions, but again finding evidence of these, particularly in early development, is going to be difficult. My guess is that violence was the key tool to monotheism spreading (both Christianity and Islam ). But its just my guess. History is not science.

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Can i ask for clarification. I take your mention of enlightenment to mean a path of 'self-realisation' (let's put aside just how nebulous that concept is for now), rather than the 18 century movement. The former makes sense to me as it does not require belief in god nor religion.

 

 

 

My point is enlightenment, for me, equals contentment and being content is much easier to maintain when the malcontent's, that want to rip you off, believe, or are paranoid enough, to think, they’ll always be caught ( a magic trick later and they’re convinced); at the right time and place religions have there uses.

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If you want to move to just talking about things for which we have good evidence, i am happy to do so, but that applies to you too. Therefore we should leave the freewill issue out of this debate (i agree that freewill is unlikely to exist, but the evidence is currently insufficient, and should be debated elsewhere - there are plenty of existing threads on this forum already).

But we know and agree that our species is part of the animal kingdom, right? So why would our species have special attributes other than those that can be explained by virtue of evolutionary mechanisms?

 

Again, we need some evidence to support this. It's very likely that we will never have sufficient evidence to make such bold assertions.

Why do you refer to it as "bold assertions"? I did not state anything controversially revolutionary that has not been speculated about in very much the same manner by others? My opinion in this regard was very much in line with the existing reasoning among those involved with what is coined as sociocultural evolution.

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My opinion in this regard was very much in line with the existing reasoning among those involved with what is coined as sociocultural evolution.

 

 

 

If you really want to learn don’t assume your teachers are infallible.

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But we know and agree that our species is part of the animal kingdom, right? So why would our species have special attributes other than those that can be explained by virtue of evolutionary mechanisms?

 

By that definition absolutely everything in humanity is the result of evolution. That's fine, but its so broad as to be meaningless. The pertinent question is why certain phenotypes evolved. We can all make 'just so' arguments: 'such and such evolved because it was advantageous' - well yes, but what have you added to our understanding?

 

 

Why do you refer to it as "bold assertions"? I did not state anything controversially revolutionary that has not been speculated about in very much the same manner by others? My opinion in this regard was very much in line with the existing reasoning among those involved with what is coined as sociocultural evolution.

 

You state your opinion as fact. You may have good reason to believe what you believe, but cultural evolution is a nascent science - and one not easily tested due to the nature of the phenomenon, as ideas are not so easily preserved as fossils. I'd just like more links to studies to satisfy people like myself who have not had a chance to see the evidence: at the moment i only have my own speculations.

 

 

My point is enlightenment, for me, equals contentment and being content is much easier to maintain when the malcontent's, that want to rip you off, believe, or are paranoid enough, to think, they’ll always be caught ( a magic trick later and they’re convinced); at the right time and place religions have there uses.

 

Are you saying the idea of a brimstone and fire 'peeping tom' god was invented by contented people to help stop malcontents spoiling it all?

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Science can't prove or disprove God.

100% proof does not exist in science.

 

 

I guess science or "literature wisdom" can come up with better suggestions (DEFINITIONS) for "God".

Is not enough of using its "mean-value meaning" in the real time society? "God likes this, god hates that"...

Is not that enough of speaking on behalf of god?

 

Moreover, religious language has its own grounding problems In all religions. And a mess, that often clouds facts, truth, that might even exist beyond/behind a metaphor (that widely accepted as a nonsense).

 

On the other hand, It has always been seemed to me that religion or god is always to do with "god is my side" "no hes in my side" sort of rivalry. In other words, a matter of claiming strength, claiming to have such strong alliances…Weren't Most atheists (not a coincidence) motivated by opposing religious establishments (people, not the buildings), instead of literally opposing the "ultimate being beyond beings"? Where the religious institutions had become a way of 'earning life' for a certain class; instead of (being able for) illuminating people.

 

The truth, a right, a struggle made NOT in vain at all, by time, usually becomes a legend; then time passes, it becomes myth; (by a lot of reductions and automated extensions in every generation: looks like distasteful, 'untruthful motley collection') then what do you have as a last form of that message from history? If you call it teachings of a religion, or a way of understanding, good luck living a rational live-able life without focusing on todays alive world.!

 

WE people come to life almost to witness it, explore it, rather than to vibrate the same vibration that we 'took' from past. It does not refer to or support the "truth changes", however. It’s healthier to explore real time life to retain the core, the soul, the meaning, if there was once, beyond the language... Maybe with the help of "correct actions' langauge along with correct language"... Words can’t protect meanings throughout history and generations. Written literature is not assuring that all the way. (Though, set of words, clear definitions might protect the useable-useful meaning to a point)

 

Who could, should make those DEFINITIONS? As an occupational case? I think some 'illuminated' "religious" and "scientist" people already do it. However there is usually a promotional issue spreading and having acceptances in common sense...

 

Maybe everybody knows but since the frequencies(way and attitude of expressing and acting) matter than the titles of right or wrong, it clouds judges and further "better results"

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Referring to the last post above ^ and with respect to TransientResponse, it was rather difficult to extract anything meaningful from it. Perhaps it is due to language-related factors, but I did not understand the essence of what you were trying to convey..?

 

 

By that definition absolutely everything in humanity is the result of evolution. That's fine, but its so broad as to be meaningless. The pertinent question is why certain phenotypes evolved. We can all make 'just so' arguments: 'such and such evolved because it was advantageous' - well yes, but what have you added to our understanding?

 

You state your opinion as fact. You may have good reason to believe what you believe, but cultural evolution is a nascent science - and one not easily tested due to the nature of the phenomenon, as ideas are not so easily preserved as fossils. I'd just like more links to studies to satisfy people like myself who have not had a chance to see the evidence: at the moment i only have my own speculations.

I apologise beforehand for having to refer to "old & trusted" Wikipedia, but these two articles sum it up very nicely:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_origin_of_religions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality (this link keeps jumping to a sub-section; I intended to link the entire main article)

 

I added morality to the mix as morality and to some extent, ethics & altruism, are often cited as uniquely human (and god-given), a presumption that seems false. I previously provided a link to substantiate the fact that the origins of moral/ethical codes could not have been linked to divine intervention (http://genealogyreligion.net/the-earliest-moral-ethical-laws-were-not-religious). In the mean time the search for- and the existence of the so-called god-gene as well as the soul (as an entity separate from mind/body) that are allegedly also human-specific, remain contentious and unresolved. Robert Wright raised some valid points in his book The Evolution Of God in this regard (www.evolutionofgod.net/excerpts_appendix; pls note that I don't agree with all his conclusions though). He also discussed the history/origins of the various religions in the same book (links to extracts thereof are provided in the before-mentioned article).

 

Here is a similar opinion along the same lines: "Supernatural thinking arises naturally from the normal operations of the evolved human brain-mind. Any attempt to explain religion that does not begin with these aspects of mind will fall short because the many functions of supernatural thinking and religious belief are proximate rather than ultimate causes." (http://genealogyreligion.net/the-many-functions-of-religions, which is definitely worth reading).

 

And lastly, another insightful article re this subject that has reference to some of the opinions that have been raised earlier: http://genealogyreligion.net/whitehouse-on-ers

 

If we are merely evolved animals without any unique god-given purpose or attributes, we can surely deduce that the various personified, personal and supernatural gods as depicted in contemporary organised religions and in particular monotheism, do not (never) exist(ed), that they were all man-made. That raises the question as to whether the same logic can be applied to so-called impersonal, natural or abstract "gods"? In the case of Animism or Pantheism, for example, it does not necessarily apply. Will it be appropriate to use the word "god" for such beliefs though? It boils down to semantics. It also becomes a bit blurry and less relevant, doesn't it? If one wants to have a spiritual relationship with an abstract realm without getting spooky or supernatural, why not?

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Following on from my last paragraph above. First of all, I regard the holistically inclined eastern religions like Taoism and Confucianism in very much the same light as Pantheism where a personified and personal god-like figure (and by implication the term "god" or "deity") has no significance. Referring to Hinduism, it appears to be divided along the lines of the dualistic schools (where "Brahman is different from Atman (soul) in each being, and therein it shares conceptual framework of the god in major world religions") and non-dual schools of Hinduism ("Brahman is identical to the Atman, Brahman is everywhere and inside each living being, and there is connected spiritual oneness in all existence"). In Hinduism Brahman is regarded as the "cause of all changes", a "metaphysical concept which is the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe".

 

There was one glaringly obvious omission in my last post though, that of Deism. Broadly speaking Deism implies an impersonal god, removed from- and no longer tinkers with the natural world that said god initially created. There are various interpretations like this one "Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation" and this "Deism is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation". OK, so we obviously cannot discard the Deistic god in the same manner than before. However, the notions that said god is "supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe" and "that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God" can be disputed. Deism furthermore implies Intelligent Design. There is little to no scientific support for either of these assumptions, in fact this so-called god of gaps has been reduced to the initial singularity and/or the first living cell; and there exist perfectly reasonable scientific explanations for both of these.

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...

 

If we are merely evolved animals without any unique god-given purpose or attributes, we can surely deduce that the various personified, personal and supernatural gods as depicted in contemporary organised religions and in particular monotheism, do not (never) exist(ed), that they were all man-made. That raises the question as to whether the same logic can be applied to so-called impersonal, natural or abstract "gods"? In the case of Animism or Pantheism, for example, it does not necessarily apply. Will it be appropriate to use the word "god" for such beliefs though? It boils down to semantics. It also becomes a bit blurry and less relevant, doesn't it?

 

 

I generally agree with your points: without a supernatural agent morality is very likely an evolved trait. My point is that this in itself does not add anything to the topic.

 

Why do we have ten digits on our hands - evolution.

Why do we have under arm hair - evolution.

Why are there paedophiles in the population - evolution.

Why do people believe in god - evolution.

 

The interesting question is why these phenotypes evolved (or better, under what circumstances do these phenotypes evolve). With regard to why the idea of god evolves - i just don't think sufficient evidence will ever be available, although there might be some good guesses.

 

For instance could we determine why animism took root in Japan and monotheism in the Levant?

 

 

 

If one wants to have a spiritual relationship with an abstract realm without getting spooky or supernatural, why not?

 

I agree, i didn't mean to give the impression otherwise.

 

 

 

 

On a side-note: why is it always that we are merely evolved animals. I find evolution a far more powerful narrative than being merely created by some king-of-kings being.

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Are you saying the idea of a brimstone and fire 'peeping tom' god was invented by contented people to help stop malcontents spoiling it all?

 

 

Not at all, my point is, forgiveness is a path to being content, whereas, revenge is a path to the antipode.

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Science in it's entirety and in itself is merely one component of the landscape of existence created by God.

 

That is why Science has not been provided with the capability to prove or disprove His existence.

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Not at all, my point is, forgiveness is a path to being content, whereas, revenge is a path to the antipode.

Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

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Science in it's entirety and in itself is merely one component of the landscape of existence created by God.

 

That is why Science has not been provided with the capability to prove or disprove His existence.

 

God created science so science cannot prove god, therefore god exists? That's the weakest argument for theism i've ever heard, and there is stiff competition.

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The interesting question is why these phenotypes evolved (or better, under what circumstances do these phenotypes evolve). With regard to why the idea of god evolves - i just don't think sufficient evidence will ever be available, although there might be some good guesses.

I like to think that the first half of the appendix to Robert Wright's book The Evolution Of God that I referenced earlier provides a very eloquent explanation.

 

 

On a side-note: why is it always that we are merely evolved animals. I find evolution a far more powerful narrative than being merely created by some king-of-kings being.

I agree with you 100%. I was trying to emphasise the fact that we should be mindful to not think of ourselves as different to the rest of our planet's wildlife apart from our NATURALLY evolved traits. I did so in order to be critical of any notions that we are in some SPECIAL ways different (or divinely created) that enable us to have extraordinary attributes like the ability to sin, or to have an immortal soul, while the rest of the wildlife species on our planet supposedly do not have such features.

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I like to think that the first half of the appendix to Robert Wright's book The Evolution Of God that I referenced earlier provides a very eloquent explanation.

 

Well, that's the crux of the issue: you have supplied some evidence but i just don't have the time to examine it. I remain sceptical that the evidence is convincing but will have to defer any further discussion until i get a chance to read the book.

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^ You don't need to read the entire book, more or less half of the referenced appendix (to which I already provided the link to) should suffice. It should not take more than 15 minutes to read. Is it convincing scientific evidence? If you are overly sceptical, I doubt if you will see it as such. On that point, don't you think that it will be a rather fruitless and wasteful use of resources to conduct a proper scientific research project on what is BELIEVED to be any one, three or more possible supernatural deities (depending on who you speak to) and for which there is not a shred of evidence except "holy" scriptures that were written millennia ago.

 

Did science conclusively rule out the existence of Ra, Odin & Zeus (among others)? Was it ever really necessary? Or was it a case of concluding, with hindsight, that they were all just mythical (and, where applicable, to narrow down the likely cultural history behind these imaginary gods just for good measure)? We all agree that they were imaginary, right? Yet they were once regarded as the indisputable heavenly rulers of their respective earthly empires. Surely there is no need for scientists to waste time on fiction and/or superstition. Given the lack of evidence for supernatural deities vs the mountain of evidence for the unlikelihood thereof, the conclusion should be obvious.

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Science in it's entirety and in itself is merely one component of the landscape of existence created by God.

 

That is why Science has not been provided with the capability to prove or disprove His existence.

It would be better to say that if something created the Universe, it's existence would not be provable due to the fact that we would have to use whatever was created to prove the existence of the creator, which is something that can't be done.

^ You don't need to read the entire book, more or less half of the referenced appendix (to which I already provided the link to) should suffice. It should not take more than 15 minutes to read.

I think the issue, which is a valid point, is he is saying he needs some reference frame to see what your argument is addressing in regards to cited readings or articles that back up your argument. I don't think it's an unreasonable request for a particular set of quotes/data points/graphs/etc. that are intended to back up your argument. I would assume you would request the same if he did the same thing.

Did science conclusively rule out the existence of Ra, Odin & Zeus (among others)? Was it ever really necessary? Or was it a case of concluding, with hindsight, that they were all just mythical (and, where applicable, to narrow down the likely cultural history behind these imaginary gods just for good measure)? We all agree that they were imaginary, right? Yet they were once regarded as the indisputable heavenly rulers of their respective earthly empires.

Disproving the existence of man-made mythical beings does not rule out the existence of a creator. In fact, it shouldn't be considered disproving since they couldn't be proven in the first place, scientifically.

 

 

 

Surely there is no need for scientists to waste time on fiction and/or superstition

There is no reason for scientists to scientifically investigate the existence of what can't be observed, that is true. It is best left to the study of philosophy. Though, the argument you present uses semantics to demean the argument of the existence of a creator. Fiction is not what is in concern, though the state of fiction or non-fiction suits better.

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It would be better to say that if something created the Universe, it's existence would not be provable due to the fact that we would have to use whatever was created to prove the existence of the creator, which is something that can't be done.

Science has repeatedly concluded that there is no reason- or need to insert (de novo) creation and therefore an external or supernatural creator in order to explain the existence of our universe.

 

I think the issue, which is a valid point, is he is saying he needs some reference frame to see what your argument is addressing in regards to cited readings or articles that back up your argument. I don't think it's an unreasonable request for a particular set of quotes/data points/graphs/etc. that are intended to back up your argument. I would assume you would request the same if he did the same thing.

I have...earlier in the thread in posts #64 & #84.

 

Disproving the existence of man-made mythical beings does not rule out the existence of a creator. In fact, it shouldn't be considered disproving since they couldn't be proven in the first place, scientifically.

The subject under discussion actually deals with God, but refer to my first comment. Your second sentence should then be equally applicable to the subject of this thread in reference to the (proven?) existence of any god (or creator).

 

Though, the argument you present uses semantics to demean the argument of the existence of a creator. Fiction is not what is in concern, though the state of fiction or non-fiction suits better.

Please explain.

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Science has repeatedly concluded that there is no reason- or need to insert (de novo) creation and therefore an external or supernatural creator in order to explain the existence of our universe.

While we do have many stable and evidence-rich theories about the beginnings of the Universe, there yet remains mystery. That mystery keeps alive the belief in a creator in many. I would argue, however, that the discussion of God should be left in philosophy rather than science since the existence of what is not tangible has no place in science.

 

 

I have...earlier in the thread in posts #64 & #84.

All I see are links to pages that address the topic, but don't address your arguments or back them up directly. You will have to quote the sources so that we understand what evidence you have presented for scholarly sources instead of just blatantly accepting articles that you link.

 

 

The subject under discussion actually deals with God, but refer to my first comment. Your second sentence should then be equally applicable to the subject of this thread in reference to the (proven?) existence of any god (or creator).

I usually associated "proving God" to be a general subject of a Supreme being, but I may be wrong. Addressing the thread title, I think it's quite irrational. It shouldn't even be up for discussion, whether it being proving or disproving.

 

 

Please explain

You state that scientists shouldn't waste their time on fiction and/or superstition. This is true, but I am assuming you imply the existence of a creator. It is a semantic argument and implies that the creation of a creator is fiction and/or superstition. I would agree scientists shouldn't spend their time trying to prove/disprove the existence of one, but the reasoning is somewhat demeaning in such an investigation of something that should be explored, whether or not you consider it a topic for science.

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While we do have many stable and evidence-rich theories about the beginnings of the Universe, there yet remains mystery. That mystery keeps alive the belief in a creator in many. I would argue, however, that the discussion of God should be left in philosophy rather than science since the existence of what is not tangible has no place in science.

Personally I find the notion - that, because there are some things that still have to be scientifically concluded, it justifies a belief in a supernatural creator/god - irrational and myopic. I have already addressed this so called god-of-gaps in my posts #85 as well as in the part that you quoted above. There have been countless debates on this subject, both in the fields of science and philosophy, but to me it is unambiguously clear. It does substantiate my original point of departure though, which was that our species acquired a belief in the supernatural as an unintended by-product of evolution. As such the before-mentioned (absurd) reaction to the so-called mysterious is akin to an "instinctive" reaction to anything unknown.

 

All I see are links to pages that address the topic, but don't address your arguments or back them up directly. You will have to quote the sources so that we understand what evidence you have presented for scholarly sources instead of just blatantly accepting articles that you link.

In post #64 I raised the above argument (that our species acquired a belief in the supernatural/gods as an unintended by-product of evolution) and made a reference to the appendix to Robert Wright's book The Evolution Of God. I provided the link again (in post #84) in relation to the so-called God-gene. He presented a perfectly good case that he conveyed in a reasonably short essay, which is why I never considered it necessary to quote him. In it he concluded among other things the following:

 

"we can trace religion to specific parts of human nature that are emphatically in the genes. It’s just that those parts of human nature seem to have evolved for some reason other than to sustain religion."

"that doesn’t mean religion is an adaptation, even though religion may involve love, awe, joy, and fear and thus involve the genes underlying these things."

"A spandrel is an incidental by-product of the organic “design” process, whereas an adaptation is a direct product. Religion seems to be a spandrel."

"...biological evolution isn’t the only great “designer” at work on this planet. There is also cultural evolution: the selective transmission of “memes”—beliefs, habits, rituals, songs, technologies, theories, and so forth—from person to person." (here he made reference to Richard Dawkins)

"...what are called “primitive” religions are bodies of belief and practice that have been evolving—culturally—over tens or even hundreds of millennia. Generation after generation, human minds have been accepting some beliefs, rejecting others, shaping and reshaping religion along the way."

"Before religion appeared and started evolving by cultural evolution, how had genetic evolution shaped the environment in which it would evolve—that is, the human brain? To put the question another way: What kinds of beliefs was the human mind “designed” by natural selection to harbor? For starters, not true ones."

"...in situations where accurate perception and judgment impede survival and reproduction, you would expect natural selection to militate against accuracy."

"...evolutionary psychology suggests that a much more natural way to explain anything is to attribute it to a humanlike agent. This is the way we’re “designed” by natural selection to explain things. Our brain’s capacity to think about causality—to ask why something happened and come up with theories that help us predict what will happen in the future—evolved in a specific context: other brains."

"That’s a somewhat speculative (and, yes, hard-to-test!) claim."

"For starters, we can observe our nearest nonhuman relatives, chimpanzees."

"As the primatologist Frans de Waal has shown, chimpanzee society shows some clear parallels with human society."

"Natural selection has equipped chimps with emotional and cognitive tools for playing this political game. One such tool is anticipation of a given chimp’s future behaviour based on past behaviour."

"If you imagine their politics getting more complex (more like, say, human politics), and them getting smarter (more like humans), you’re imagining an organism evolving toward conscious thought about causality. And the causal agents about which these organisms will think are other such organisms, because the arena of causality is the social arena. In this realm, when a bad thing happens or a good thing happens, it is another organism that is making the bad or good thing happen."

"So it’s no surprise that when people first started expanding their curiosity, started talking about why bad and good things emanate from beyond the social universe, they came up with the kinds of answers that had made sense within their social universe."

"More than one hundred years ago Edward Tylor wrote that “spirits are simply personified causes,” but he probably didn’t appreciate, back then, how deeply natural personification is."

"As the anthropologist Pascal Boyer has observed, “the only feature of humans that is always projected onto supernatural beings is the mind.”

 

I can go on, but I am sure you get the gist of it. In post #84 when replying in context to a comment raised by Prometheus, I also cited the Wikipedia article "Evolutionary origins of religions" that not only echoes the above sentiments, but goes even further in explaining the evolutionary roots of religions. It is pretty much self-explanatory and well-referenced. In said post I also argued that something like morality is not exclusively human, nor is ethics exclusively religious. I concluded in said post and in the one following it, that these various beliefs and/or their associated gods were (and still are) all just in the mind.

 

You state that scientists shouldn't waste their time on fiction and/or superstition. This is true, but I am assuming you imply the existence of a creator. It is a semantic argument and implies that the creation of a creator is fiction and/or superstition. I would agree scientists shouldn't spend their time trying to prove/disprove the existence of one, but the reasoning is somewhat demeaning in such an investigation of something that should be explored, whether or not you consider it a topic for science.

Creator and god(s) are not necessarily one and the same and there are quite a few variations on the theme. Refer to the Wikipedia article "Creator deity" here.

 

You extracted a part of my statement and i.m.o. you reacted to it out of context. Please read the entire paragraph and specifically the sentence that followed what you extracted. And lastly I would like to quote from the sub-forum sticky that I referred to in my opening post #64: "Science seems to work rather well. So any concept of God or any religious tenets that directly contradict science as buttressed by experimental evidence is clearly indistinguishable from superstition. Superstition is, essentially by definition, wrong."

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"Science seems to work rather well. So any concept of God or any religious tenets that directly contradict science as buttressed by experimental evidence is clearly indistinguishable from superstition. Superstition is, essentially by definition, wrong."

Just because it is not explainable about science does not mean it contradicts science.

 

Personally I find the notion - that, because there are some things that still have to be scientifically concluded, it justifies a belief in a supernatural creator/god - irrational and myopic. I have already addressed this so called god-of-gaps in my posts #85 as well as in the part that you quoted above. There have been countless debates on this subject, both in the fields of science and philosophy, but to me it is unambiguously clear. It does substantiate my original point of departure though, which was that our species acquired a belief in the supernatural as an unintended by-product of evolution. As such the before-mentioned (absurd) reaction to the so-called mysterious is akin to an "instinctive" reaction to anything unknown.

Thank you for presenting an opinion.

 

 

He presented a perfectly good case that he conveyed in a reasonably short essay, which is why I never considered it necessary to quote him. In it he concluded among other things the following:

Whether it is short or not, it must be quotes for your argument. You can't use that excuse in a debate.

 

"we can trace religion to specific parts of human nature that are emphatically in the genes. It’s just that those parts of human nature seem to have evolved for some reason other than to sustain religion."

"that doesn’t mean religion is an adaptation, even though religion may involve love, awe, joy, and fear and thus involve the genes underlying these things."

What peer-reviewed mass of articles show that religion can be traced to genes?

 

 

 

"A spandrel is an incidental by-product of the organic “design” process, whereas an adaptation is a direct product. Religion seems to be a spandrel."

It seems that he implies that religion is merely there as something that came with rather than something useful for the evolution of humanity. I would disagree on his point of it being a by-product.

 

I remember a paper about the Panopticon and read a book about it in regards to surveillance, and it seems to relate to the argument that religion is merely a way to stabilize society. While I agree this is true that a religion would be associated with a creator, this does not mean the creator itself is a result of this religion/Panopticon rather it being separate, but the creator of such a system.

 

 

 

"Before religion appeared and started evolving by cultural evolution, how had genetic evolution shaped the environment in which it would evolve—that is, the human brain? To put the question another way: What kinds of beliefs was the human mind “designed” by natural selection to harbor? For starters, not true ones."

We evolved to believe in fallacies? Seems a bit far-fetched to me. It seems to be a target rather than an analysis of what the goal was when such evolution came about.

 

 

 

"...in situations where accurate perception and judgment impede survival and reproduction, you would expect natural selection to militate against accuracy."

I do not see how accurate perception would lead to loss of life. The only case this would be the result is sacrifice, but even that requires accuracy/analysis of the situation at hand.

 

 

"That’s a somewhat speculative (and, yes, hard-to-test!) claim."

Case and point.

 

At this point, his argument defeats itself at this particular point. It is merely speculation and cannot be proven because if the mind is to believe in fallacy as a result of natural selection, what we know could, as a result, be based on fallacies as well.

 

 

Creator and god(s) are not necessarily one and the same and there are quite a few variations on the theme. Refer to the Wikipedia article "Creator deity" here.

The creator of matter and the creator of the Universe is a god by definition. Being a creator of a Universe should also mean the power to destroy as well. The only argument is what type of creator it is.

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Just because it is not explainable about science does not mean it contradicts science.

I hate to burst your bubble, but there exist perfectly plausible scientific explanations for the "origin" of the universe that are far more rational than god-did-it. The urge to opt for the latter, i.e. a supernatural creator, actually complicates matters as is evident from the endless scientific and philosophical debates surrounding this topic from the watchmaker analogy, the cosmological argument, intelligent design to various others. I trust that science will eventually resolve it once and for all, hence the reason why I regard such a notion to be short-sighted. I am already satisfied that there are sufficient grounds upon which to dismiss the far-fetched idea of a supernatural creator, which is why I (personally) perceive it as superstitious.

 

 

Whether it is short or not, it must be quotes for your argument. You can't use that excuse in a debate.

The problem with that has just been illustrated in the way you reacted to my quotes. I attempted to pick highlights from Wright's essay in order to create some sort of summarised narrative, but by doing so I exposed the argument to being nit-picked out of context.

 

 

What peer-reviewed mass of articles show that religion can be traced to genes?

You interpreted that out of context. Let me quote a larger part of that paragraph:

"When something appears in every known society, as religion does, the question of whether it is “in the genes” naturally arises. Did religion confer such benefits on our distant ancestors that genes favoring it spread by natural selection? There are scientists who believe the answer is yes—enough of them, in fact, to give rise to headlines like this one, in a Canadian newspaper: “Search continues for ‘God gene.’”

Expect to see that headline again, for the search is unlikely to reach a successful conclusion. And that isn’t just because, obviously, no single gene could undergird something as complex as religion. Things don’t look good even for the more nuanced version of the “God gene” idea—that a whole bunch of genes were preserved by natural selection because they inclined people toward religion.

Oddly, this verdict—that religion isn’t in any straightforward sense “in the genes”—emerges from evolutionary psychology, a field that has been known to emphasize genetic influences on thought and emotion. Though some evolutionary psychologists think religion is a direct product of natural selection, many—and probably most—don’t.

This doesn’t mean religion isn’t in any sense “natural,” and it doesn’t mean religion isn’t in some sense “in the genes.” Everything people do is in some sense in the genes. (Try doing something without using any genes.) What’s more, we can trace religion to specific parts of human nature that are emphatically in the genes. It’s just that those parts of human nature seem to have evolved for some reason other than to sustain religion."

Note how I only copied the last part of the above as an introduction to the intended summarised narrative.

 

It seems that he implies that religion is merely there as something that came with rather than something useful for the evolution of humanity. I would disagree on his point of it being a by-product.

 

I remember a paper about the Panopticon and read a book about it in regards to surveillance, and it seems to relate to the argument that religion is merely a way to stabilize society. While I agree this is true that a religion would be associated with a creator, this does not mean the creator itself is a result of this religion/Panopticon rather it being separate, but the creator of such a system.

Let me again quote another extended portion of said essay:

"And yet, you might say, religion does have the hallmarks of design. It is a complex, integrated system that seems to serve specific functions. For example, religions almost always handle some key “rites of passage”—getting married, getting buried, and so on—whose ritualized handling is probably good for the society. How do you explain the coherence and functionality of religion without appealing to a designer—or, at least, a “designer”?

You don’t. But biological evolution isn’t the only great “designer” at work on this planet. There is also cultural evolution: the selective transmission of “memes”—beliefs, habits, rituals, songs, technologies, theories, and so forth—from person to person. And one criterion that shapes cultural evolution is social utility; memes that are conducive to smooth functioning at the group level often have an advantage over memes that aren’t. Cultural evolution is what gave us modern corporations, modern government, and modern religion.

For that matter, it gave us nonmodern religion. Whenever we look at a “primitive” religion, we are looking at a religion that has been evolving culturally for a long time. Though observed hunter-gatherer religions give clues about what the average religion was like 12,000 years ago, before the invention of agriculture, none of them much resembles religion in its literally primitive phase, the time (whenever that was) when religious beliefs and practices emerged. Rather, what are called “primitive” religions are bodies of belief and practice that have been evolving—culturally—over tens or even hundreds of millennia. Generation after generation, human minds have been accepting some beliefs, rejecting others, shaping and reshaping religion along the way.

So to explain the existence of “primitive” religion—or for that matter any other kind of religion—we have to first understand what kinds of beliefs and practices the human mind is amenable to. What kinds of information does the mind naturally filter out, and what kinds naturally penetrate it? Before religion appeared and started evolving by cultural evolution, how had genetic evolution shaped the environment in which it would evolve—that is, the human brain?"

 

We evolved to believe in fallacies? Seems a bit far-fetched to me. It seems to be a target rather than an analysis of what the goal was when such evolution came about.

 

I do not see how accurate perception would lead to loss of life. The only case this would be the result is sacrifice, but even that requires accuracy/analysis of the situation at hand.

Our beliefs in fallacies came about as an unintended by-product of evolution (a spandrel)...that is the argument. And many believers do believe in fallacies, don't they? They believe that that they will be protected or cured by supernatural intervention, they believe in an internal life for their souls and you can easily see why they want to believe that. That is survival instinct at its best...only in reality there is no proof that something like that can, or will happen...it is just a belief, a hope. So, do you see how our species invented ways to avoid accurate perception in order to "stay alive"? And it is fallacious because it assumes that humanity here on planet earth is somehow unique or different to the rest of our vast eco system (admittedly not all religions assume this) whereas evolution has taught us that we are not.

 

Case and point.

It would appear that at this point in time your eyes lit up as you perceived this as an acknowledgment that it was speculative and a hard-to-test claim, but in fact he then went on to introduce the by-now famous chimpanzee observations of Frans de Waal. As a side note that Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_origin_of_religions) that I referenced also deals with De Waal's work together with an abundance of support for the idea that religion has an evolutionary origin. I will be happy to quote relevant parts thereof if needed.

 

I WOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE REST OF THIS RESPONSE SEPARATELY AS THE REPLY-FUNCTION HAS SEEMINGLY CEASE TO OPERATE IN A NORMAL FASHION. LET ME RATHER POST THIS BEFORE IT GETS LOST. TO BE CONTINUED.

At this point, his argument defeats itself at this particular point. It is merely speculation and cannot be proven because if the mind is to believe in fallacy as a result of natural selection, what we know could, as a result, be based on fallacies as well.

Fortunately, for some of us, we can thank the age of enlightenment and science for our ability to be able to think more critically about certain matters...or let me be more scientific in saying that the dynamic interactions between our ever-changing genes and our ever-changing environments have brought us to a better insight (and will continue to do so). You erred in your assumption that the collective of everything that we have learned through the ages and that we know today would remain constant and unfiltered. Scientific facts and theories, for example, are hardly fallacies.

 

The creator of matter and the creator of the Universe is a god by definition. Being a creator of a Universe should also mean the power to destroy as well. The only argument is what type of creator it is.

You keep on drumming up the idea of a "creator" so by your logic there must be a supernatural start and a supernatural end, right? Science is, however, unmoved by assumptions such as "creation", "start" and/or "end", but allow me to throw in the idea of nature being its own designer, creator, sustainer and/or destroyer..?

 

To conclude: Essentially it does not matter what our respective biases are in relation to this topic. Subconsciously each of us arrive at some sort of comfort zone via our unique interactive genetic/environmental make-up. It may be by virtue of organised religion, personal spirituality, agnosticism or atheism. If we understand the narrative behind the likely origins of our spirituality and we acknowledge the deeply rooted psychological need that many humans have to believe in something (rather than in someone..?), it should assist us in forming a better understanding of- and mutual respect for each other's religious or spiritual niche.

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