# Religion when it had real power!

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It tickles me how profoundly unreasonable you're being all while arguing about superior reasoning capabilities in humans.

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Who here is a mod? Who do I need to contact to have my account deleted or banned? Please ban/delete my account if you read this.

Edited by Tampitump
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A bit like you're doing here?

Hmmm. Actually who called whose writing "bullshit." But yes, perhaps if the tone of a forum is dragged low enough with insults and name calling it would indeed appear that there is not much difference between humans and other hominids.

But yes, pointing to a few bright animals (e.g., elephants that can move a brush around a canvas a bit) hardly provides evidence that humans stand head and shoulders over other animals when it comes to curbing their instincts in normal day to day activities and when it comes to general intelligence:

All in all, it is no contest. I would concede that the biggest advantage is our ability to construct languages and pass on culture:

"The cultural-intelligence hypothesis... says that humans have specific areas of intelligence where we excel; our brains are not just bigger, but also better than those of our nearest evolutionary relatives. The fact that the children excelled in specific areas suggest it's the other theory that's right — that our ability to cooperate and share expertise has allowed us to build complex societies, collaborate and learn from each other at a high level, and use symbolic representation (writing, numerals, imagery) to communicate ideas." http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1659611,00.html

"a chimpanzee, although self-aware, cannot come close to what we recognize as human intelligence. It seems that a complexity value of 70 or above is essential, that is, 11 billion neurons, each with 1000 connections to other neurons, and an EQ of 7.6." http://www.science20.com/stars_planets_life/calculating_animal_intelligence

And it is here that it is relevant that humans are far smarter socially. They can construct elaborate legal and physical systems that enable humans to control and modify their aggressive impulses within society, religion itself being one of those systems. So my stance is that there is a huge difference in social, ethical, and emotional intelligence, but that, again, it is anyone's opinion and guess just how great a role religion plays in controlling, modifying, and repressing internecine/infra communal aggression.

I do agree that people would still be civil and obey the law for the most part were religion to vanish. But the conflict that arises over religion's general failure to more with the times (e.g., its intransigent attitude towards birth control in overcrowded and impoverished areas of the world) would greatly decrease. Similarly, wars over religious identity and supremacy would also greatly decrease were religion to vanish.

But yes, there is a huge difference in the complexity of frontal cortex, for example:

Edited by disarray
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FYI: ape $\ne$ monkey

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FYI: ape not equal monkey

Ok, let's be more specific then:

"The size of the human association cortex is only part of what makes this region unusual in humans. In addition to having more neurons in the association cortex, brain imaging studies comparing the brains of humans to other primates show humans have a greater number of fibers connecting the brain regions involved in such human-specialized functions as language, tool making, reasoning, and social cognition."

Graphs illustrating the ratio of cortical surface area of granular prefrontal cortex:

So, no contest as far as I can tell, despite homologous structures. Not in the same ball park. Again, I have stated the relevance of this issue, but not sure how you find it relevant to the OP.

I don't think that humans are necessarily all that much less aggressive than the average hominid, but I do think that there ability to use language and develop and pass on culture has indeed allowed them to create civilizations whereby reason, religion, laws, mores, morays, customs, rituals, etc. etc. have enabled them to suppress/modify/control aggressive instincts. Just how big a piece of the pie religion plays in this is hard to determine, particularly given that it virtually stamps every aspect of culture with its ability to validate and sanctify mundane beliefs and values on a grand scale.

And then there are comparative IQ tests. We consider dogs smarter than many other mammals in that it can see food on the other side of a fence and then go around it, whereas many other mammals would continue to bang into the fence.

We consider chimps smarter than many other mammals because they can take a broom that's on the floor and use to to knock down some bananas hanging from the ceiling, whilst standing on an apple crate.

The average human can understand the basics of calculus.....But speaking of exceptions, we have eight year olds playing chopin etudes and speaking 8 languages. So no, in particular, when it comes to use of language to modify aggression, chimps (a particularly nasty and aggressive ape) aren't in the same league as humans....not by a mile.

Indeed a chimp can't even make a sentence: "Projects devoted to teaching chimpanzees and gorillas to use language have shown that these apes can learn vocabularies of visual symbols. There is no evidence, however, that apes can combine such symbols in orderto create new meanings." Terrace, Herbert S., et al. "Can an ape create a sentence." Science 206.4421 (1979): 891-902.

Edited by disarray
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How does our technology and societies not demonstrate our superior reasoning skills over chimps and all other animals? Did chimps invent internal combustion engines, airplanes, telescopes, rocket ships, cell phones, televisions, or research universities to study science, philosophy, and mathematics?

Neither did you, yes you know about these things but it's all too easy for us to assume intellectual superiority whilst not understanding any of it. For instance I know how to use a computer and I know the underlying principles of how it works but I don't understand it well enough to build one from scratch, knowledge doesn't automatically result in understanding.

All of the trappings and trinkets of our modern world doesn't make us smarter than the humans of, say, 2,000 years ago and just because we don't understand what they wrote down in a book doesn't mean they didn't nor does it mean we can't.

Edited by dimreepr
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Neither did you, yes you know about these things but it's all too easy for us to assume intellectual superiority whilst not understanding any of it. For instance I know how to use a computer and I know the underlying principles of how it works but I don't understand it well enough to build one from scratch, knowledge doesn't automatically result in understanding.

All of the trappings and trinkets of our modern world doesn't make us smarter than the humans of, say, 2,000 years ago and just because we don't understand what they wrote down in a book doesn't mean they didn't nor does it mean we can't.

If I may comment, I agree that my android, complete with Google search engine, is not the product of one person. I agree that humans pretty much looked like and had similar native intelligence to some herdsman 3000 years or ago, or 50,000 or more for that matter.

But the point is that a group of humans literally went from killing animals with a bone (as 2000 Space Odyssey so dramatically portrays) to mass producing iphones in a couple of thousand years. Indeed, a group of humans went from riding on horseback and floating in wooden boats to flying in a Concord in less than a century. What is really amazing is that we can raise the average newborn baby, who knows about as much about the world as a newborn chimp, and have him/her speaking and arguing about issues in several languages, as well as understanding the importance of following hundreds of complex rules of polite social behavior in a half dozen years. We can't do anything remotely like that with a newborn chimp or any other animal.

Chimps have been having tribal wars for thousands of years and still use the same ole tactics of, for instance, routinely stabbing baby chimps with knives made with tree branches sharpened by their teeth. And again, no animal other than humans can string together a bunch of words to make a single sentence (though rumor has it that if you put a bunch of chimps in a room with typewriters and leave them there long enough, that they will eventually type Shakespeare's Play Hamlet!!).........My point being that, despite this issue not being frequently anchored to the OP, the question of chimps or gorillas having the same intelligence, or, more specifically, moral and linguistic capability to repress or modify their aggressive instincts in anything remotely resembling what humans are obviously capable of is not defensible.

Edited by disarray
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more specifically, moral and linguistic capability to repress or modify their aggressive instincts in anything remotely resembling what humans are obviously capable of is not defensible.

The great apes have been shown to have a similar sense of fairness/reciprocity (morals) to humans and whilst they can't talk, they do communicate (body language) in order repress their aggressive instincts.

the question of chimps or gorillas having the same intelligence,

When has this been suggested?

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The great apes have been shown to have a similar sense of fairness/reciprocity (morals) to humans and whilst they can't talk, they do communicate (body language) in order repress their aggressive instincts.

Um, depends what you mean by "similar." Apes have been known to eat similar food, experience jealousy, etc. Indeed, there are fish who can have a wingman serve as lookout while they move in on some other fishes mate.

IBut again, my own claim is that other apes don't have anything that is even in the same ballpark with regards to humans and the degree of complexity that they have with regards to ethics and the modification and repression of behavior. I might point out the intricacies of passing the bar exam, or refer you to any State's extensive Laws and Bylaws, but okay, what have you got in the way of evidence regarding an apes sense of fairness or the repression of their aggressive instincts, except, perhaps to flex their muscles and bare their teeth.

And, if you don't mind, please explain how their having rudimentary body language, etc. is relevant to the OP.

When has this been suggested?

Even in your recent post you bring up the issue: "it's all too easy for us to assume intellectual superiority"

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Well I did try to relate this tangent to the OP in my post #231, perhaps you could take a stab.

Edited by dimreepr
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Well I did try to relate this tangent to the OP in my post #231, perhaps you could take a stab.

The OP seems to be little more than a list of the horrors and superstitions that accompanied, or rather, was an integral part of a certain religion in the not too distant past. More recently, the thread veered off into a discussion as to whether the world would or would not be much more peaceful if religion vanished. Then the claim was made that it would not because religion is not a cause or a significant cause of aggression (particularly with reference to between-group aggression, since people have quite similar aggressive instincts as other apes, and perhaps similar means to repress and control said instincts, so that the disappearance of religion would not reduce world conflict significantly. Somehow the discussion further veered off into a discussion as to how much smarter humans were than apes.

I have argued that there is a great difference between humans and apes in this regard, and that religion has played both a significant role as a catalyst to acts of control and/or violence as well as a significant role in repressing/modifying/controlling human aggression (though I would clarify that its main focus is on controlling and repression sexual expression...which it hasn't been very successful at in the long run anyway).

While agreeing that religion is a main problem in that it tends to give a great deal of validation to acts of between-group violence, I have, on the other hand, agreed that human instincts (jealousy and greed in particular) are so strong that aggression and conflict would diminish somewhat, but not greatly. Nevertheless, i disagree with those trying to suggest that the ability of others apes to understand the issue of aggression and repression is anything near the level found in humans, and I think that continuing to contest this point is rather irrelevant.

I've already responded to your post #231, and I fail to see how it relates your remarks to the OP or any sub issue, so don't see the point in mentioning it again.

I am not in the habit of responding to bare links, that is, ones not accompanied by at least some explanation from the poster. In this case you have given me a link that takes me to 13,700 links, so I have no idea what your point is, nor how it relates to the OP or recent discussion, and have no intention of reading all these links and taking a guess at what your point is.

Edited by disarray
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I am not in the habit of responding to bare links, that is, ones not accompanied by at least some explanation from the poster. In this case you have given me a link that takes me to 13,700 links, so I have no idea what your point is, nor how it relates to the OP or recent discussion, and have no intention of reading all these links and taking a guess at what your point is.

Since you obviously did click the link, with a search title "great ape sense of fairness", I don't understand why you need further explanation.

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Since you obviously did click the link, with a search title "great ape sense of fairness", I don't understand why you need further explanation.

Ummm.. How is one defining fairness? Can one say that an ape's sense of fairness is in the same ball park as that of humans? In any case, what does an apes sense of fairness have to do with the OP or with sub-issues within this thread. In short, what is your point other than to say that apes can be described as having a rudimentary sense of fairness? So yes, as far as I am concerned, you do need to give some explanation, particularly as I don't recall myself claiming that apes had no sense of fairness, or no intelligence, or no means of restraining aggression, etc.

Most commonly, the ape most frequently used in this discussion (almost exclusively) has been the chimp. Now if you look at chimps and their behavior, they are among the most unrulish, unrepressed, uncivilized, unpeaceful animals on the face of the earth when it comes to aggression and sex (pretty much 24/7) in the wild. So again, what is your point?

Edited by disarray
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Ummm.. How is one defining fairness? Can one say that an ape's sense of fairness is in the same ball park as that of humans? In any case, what does an apes sense of fairness have to do with the OP or with sub-issues within this thread. In short, what is your point other than to say that apes can be described as having a rudimentary sense of fairness? So yes, as far as I am concerned, you do need to give some explanation, particularly as I don't recall myself claiming that apes had no sense of fairness, or no intelligence, or no means of restraining aggression, etc.

But you did assert this, "more specifically, moral and linguistic capability to repress or modify their aggressive instincts in anything remotely resembling what humans are obviously capable of is not defensible." and we both know I was providing evidence that suggests you're wrong.

Most commonly, the ape most frequently used in this discussion (almost exclusively) has been the chimp. Now if you look at chimps and their behavior, they are among the most unrulish, unrepressed, uncivilized, unpeaceful animals on the face of the earth when it comes to aggression and sex (pretty much 24/7) in the wild.

Now it's your turn to provide some evidence, to defend this and the above assertion, rather than just move the goal posts, again.

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Ok, let's be more specific then

Let me remind you that this is all peripheral to my actual point and that you (yet again) are failing to accurately comprehend what is being written by others.
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But you did assert this, "more specifically, moral and linguistic capability to repress or modify their aggressive instincts in anything remotely resembling what humans are obviously capable of is not defensible." and we both know I was providing evidence that suggests you're wrong.

I have provided concrete evidence in the form of charts and quotes, key phrase being "remotely resembling." But again, what point are you trying to make that is germane to the OP or some sub issue thereof? I am surprised the moderator has stepped in, because this discussion seems like a whole new topic.

Now it's your turn to provide some evidence, to defend this and the above assertion, rather than just move the goal posts, again.

I have no idea what goal posts you are referring to. That chimps are notoriously and egregiously aggressive needs little support:

Chimpanzees are inherently violent, reports a study spanning five decades that included observations of apes such as this one in the Goualougo Triangle in the Republic of Congo. http://www.livescience.com/47885-chimpanzee-aggression-evolution.html

And again, what point are you trying to make about times when religion had real power?

Let me remind you that this is all peripheral to my actual point and that you (yet again) are failing to accurately comprehend what is being written by others.

As a one time retort: I agree with Tampitump that you are unnecessarily aggressive, not to mention insulting. Rather than dropping out also, I am choosing not to respond to any remarks other than those with content relevant to the thread. However, please refrain from your continued insults, both here and in other threads. Thank you.

Edited by disarray
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I feel more in the wrong than iNow. I'm sorry. I usually get caught up in the moment when arguing. I'm working on it.

Edited by Tampitump
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this is all peripheral to my actual point and you (yet again) are failing to accurately comprehend what is being written by others.

This was an observation, not an insult.

Interestingly, your response offers further evidence supporting my core assertion regarding your seeming challenges with comprehension.

[mp][/mp]

I'm sorry. I usually get caught up in the moment when arguing. I'm working on it.

No worries. We all are. Out of curiosity, did you happen to check out those videos on animal intelligence? Edited by iNow
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No worries. We all are. Out of curiosity, did you happen to check out those videos on animal intelligence?

I looked at one of them for like 5 seconds. The first words of the video were "Something is up in the forests of Africa," and I thought "well, I guess my argument bears out". Hahahahaha..... No just kidding. My second semester of community college started today and I had to go to bed. I've definitely got it on my list to check them out. I have to admit that I'm not excited to learn how much I'm not more intelligent than a chimpanzee. Lol

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Understand. I know how it feels to have a lot on the plate. Responsibilities and deliverables and hard adulting aren't all they're cracked up to be.

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Chimpanzees are inherently violent, reports a study spanning five decades that included observations of apes such as this one in the Goualougo Triangle in the Republic of Congo. http://www.livescien...-evolution.html

And again, what point are you trying to make about times when religion had real power?

Firstly, please learn to use the quote function correctly so I can directly respond.

All you have achieved with this study is to show that chimps, are very similar to humans, as in they are aggressive for similar reasons.

The other great apes, which you were so keen to dismiss, don't.

Religions real power is tied up with understanding, as I've suggested in this and other threads; when understood by most, religions power is a contented populace that fears only what is needed, such as a tiger or a similar threat. When understood by a few then religions power is in the hands of politicians, who creates fear, not of an actual threat but of an imagined threat, and manipulates a fearful populace for their own advantage.

Edited by dimreepr
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I understand the uses of things like an omniscient, omnipotent, and vindictive god, and the notions of Heaven and Hell in maintaining power and control over credulous fools but why would the authors of the Bible see the need to write a saga of 66+ lengthy, allegorical stories to go along with it? Wouldn't it be enough to just use the the concepts without going through the trouble of writing the longest, most convoluted novel narrative and plot in history?

Then again, you have to give the people the illusion of something real, by asserting certain "historical" manifestations of this deity. feeding this to people long enough will make it true to them. Hence, the majority of the country folk in my neck of the woods talk about the resurrection and the flood as if they're actual, demonstrated history. It kills me.

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I understand the uses of things like an omniscient, omnipotent, and vindictive god, and the notions of Heaven and Hell in maintaining power and control over credulous fools but why would the authors of the Bible see the need to write a saga of 66+ lengthy, allegorical stories to go along with it? Wouldn't it be enough to just use the the concepts without going through the trouble of writing the longest, most convoluted novel narrative and plot in history?

The sagas are the only good bits. Try reading (or maybe watching) the story of Jesus - forget for a while that people believe it really happened and you'll find a fantastic story. (OK, the old testament is a little dry, especially in their original form).

Or try Paradise Lost after reading Genesis - who would have thought you could gain such a perspective of the human condition by considering the story from Satan's perspective. I'd also recommend Frankenstein after looking up the Promethean story - adds another nuance

Stories are the perfect medium to explore morality and the human condition.

I know things like not killing babies seems obvious to us now, but that's only because people have explored these ideas through various (often, though not necessarily, religious) narratives, and handed them down. Kind of like how scientific ideas had to be conceived and refined and passed down, so too has our exploration of morality and of ourselves. Without it, we would be simple apes.

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The sagas are the only good bits. Try reading (or maybe watching) the story of Jesus - forget for a while that people believe it really happened and you'll find a fantastic story. (OK, the old testament is a little dry, especially in their original form).

The story of Jesus is one that I find appalling. The only thing it tells you is that in Bible 2.0, this vindictive God didn't change one bit. He basically just says he won't torture you in life anymore, but will simply wait until after you're dead and torture you for eternity. This God still cannot get over what happened with Adam and Eve, and still insists on placing the burden of their "sin" upon you and blaming you for things you've never done. What kind of god does this? He comes down in human form and pretends to sacrifice himself so he can give you a reason to worship him. So for him, its a win win. Ether you spend an eternity stroking his ego, or he gets to torture you in for eternity. As Hitchens says, its a sadomasochistic belief.

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^ Interestingly enough and as far as I can tell, that was not even Jesus' idea. Jesus made no reference to the notion that he had to die for humanity's original sin...that was part of Paul's narrative. Jesus (again, as far as I can tell) was simply an Essene preacher (or teacher). Refer to what the Essene sect practised and preached and consider their fierce difference of opinion with the other prevailing Jewish sects of that time...Prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Jews of the Roman province of Judaea were divided into several movements, sometimes warring among themselves: Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots. Many historic sources such as Flavius Josephus, the (Christian) New Testament and the recovered fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, attest to the divisions among Jews at this time. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_religious_movements#Jewish_sects_in_the_Second_Temple_period)

Edited by Memammal

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