Author Topic: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"  (Read 623 times)

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Offline daniel1948

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2019, 09:33:47 PM »
You've got to consider that our modern, science-literate perspective is very different from the basic worldview of the ancient peoples. All of the epistemology and philosophy of the Greek was still many hundreds of years in their future. Most technology was in their future. Even if you don't take Asperger's into account, it is very difficult for we modern people to understand the mind of someone from that time, and to call them stupid because they can't see the world from our modern perspective would be a mistake.

Our basic level of intelligence 10,000 years ago was essentially where it is today. They didn't have the knowledge that we do. They didn't have the mathematics, they hadn't made the observations, they were still at a very early stage of social and cultural development. It doesn't make them stupid, it makes them uneducated.

I was five years old when I decided (and told anybody who would listen) that there is no God and no Santa Claus, because both were just simply ridiculous ideas. I had no science education yet, and had never heard of Plato or Greek philosophy. I suppose I couldn't even do arithmetic yet, much less mathematics. God was just such an obviously stupid idea. And still is.

But really, I doubt that anyone actually believes it. People who claim to believe in God and heaven will say "He's in a better place now" when their child dies, but they still cry and demand retribution against whoever they feel was responsible. If they believed in God and heaven, they'd celebrate the death of a loved one. They don't. Because they don't honestly believe that crap any more than I do. They're just afraid to be the one to say the emperor has no clothes. Religion is bullshit and everybody knows it, but for some reason they play along.
Daniel
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Online arthwollipot

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2019, 12:32:15 AM »
You've got to consider that our modern, science-literate perspective is very different from the basic worldview of the ancient peoples. All of the epistemology and philosophy of the Greek was still many hundreds of years in their future. Most technology was in their future. Even if you don't take Asperger's into account, it is very difficult for we modern people to understand the mind of someone from that time, and to call them stupid because they can't see the world from our modern perspective would be a mistake.

Our basic level of intelligence 10,000 years ago was essentially where it is today. They didn't have the knowledge that we do. They didn't have the mathematics, they hadn't made the observations, they were still at a very early stage of social and cultural development. It doesn't make them stupid, it makes them uneducated.

I was five years old when I decided (and told anybody who would listen) that there is no God and no Santa Claus, because both were just simply ridiculous ideas. I had no science education yet, and had never heard of Plato or Greek philosophy. I suppose I couldn't even do arithmetic yet, much less mathematics. God was just such an obviously stupid idea. And still is.

Right but for those five years you were immersed in a scientifically literate, technological society. You had Sesame Street. At the time these stories were invented, there was no Sesame Street.

But really, I doubt that anyone actually believes it. People who claim to believe in God and heaven will say "He's in a better place now" when their child dies, but they still cry and demand retribution against whoever they feel was responsible. If they believed in God and heaven, they'd celebrate the death of a loved one. They don't. Because they don't honestly believe that crap any more than I do. They're just afraid to be the one to say the emperor has no clothes. Religion is bullshit and everybody knows it, but for some reason they play along.

Nope, you're absolutely wrong about that. Many people who profess belief in religion may indeed be bluffing, but there are many, many more who are sincere.
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2019, 11:11:15 AM »
(click to show/hide)
But really, I doubt that anyone actually believes it. People who claim to believe in God and heaven will say "He's in a better place now" when their child dies, but they still cry and demand retribution against whoever they feel was responsible. If they believed in God and heaven, they'd celebrate the death of a loved one. They don't. Because they don't honestly believe that crap any more than I do. They're just afraid to be the one to say the emperor has no clothes. Religion is bullshit and everybody knows it, but for some reason they play along.
Because if my best friend were leaving for another country because it offered a great opportunity where he would absolutely be better off, I wouldn't be said to see him go in the least.  Only, death really is permanent and there is no hope of seeing them until I die too. 

Offline daniel1948

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2019, 11:44:52 AM »
... You had Sesame Street. ...

Nope. Sesame Street did not exist. I was 18 years old (and didn't have a TV) when Sesame Street began. When I was 5 I would have been watching Howdy Doody and cartoons where animals ran straight off of cliffs and didn't begin to fall until they realized there was no ground under them. Then they came to a complete stop, looked down, expressed surprise and consternation, and then fell. Not really exposure to science.

(click to show/hide)
But really, I doubt that anyone actually believes it. People who claim to believe in God and heaven will say "He's in a better place now" when their child dies, but they still cry and demand retribution against whoever they feel was responsible. If they believed in God and heaven, they'd celebrate the death of a loved one. They don't. Because they don't honestly believe that crap any more than I do. They're just afraid to be the one to say the emperor has no clothes. Religion is bullshit and everybody knows it, but for some reason they play along.
Because if my best friend were leaving for another country because it offered a great opportunity where he would absolutely be better off, I wouldn't be said to see him go in the least.  Only, death really is permanent and there is no hope of seeing them until I die too. 

I would miss my friend, but I would be happy for him and I would not call for the execution of the person who offered him a better job in another country. Old-time Gospel music expresses how Christians think they should feel when someone dies. In the song Wayfaring Stranger it's life that's sad and lonely and filled with hardship; death is going home to "that bright land" where there's no sickness or toil and you're reunited with your loved ones. But when it actually happens, that's not how they do feel. If they believed their own religion, they'd miss the dead person, but they'd celebrate that they'd gone to a better life. They would be happy for the murdered child who would never have to experience the cruel hardships of this life; who God had taken directly to an eternal life without hardship. They don't feel that way because they don't truly believe their professed religion. They use the words. "Good took him or her." But they don't really believe it because they immediately call for breaking the very first Commandment by killing the murderer.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
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Offline John Albert

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2019, 02:14:15 PM »
By "you" I mean people centuries ago when these stories came out. People today see millions in the past believing something so they figure it must be true since believing something makes it true.

That mode of thinking—which rejects the very notion of objectivity—is enjoying a resurgence in some quarters of academia today. The idea that "believing something makes it true" (a.k.a. "subjective truth") is practically a central theme of poststructuralist philosophy.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 08:48:56 AM by John Albert »

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2019, 03:59:41 PM »
I do not believe in free will so when I look at religion and why people believe it I have a real hard time saying that they do because of stupidity. I think at the core people born into certain environments have a completely different ontological view than someone that is an empirical skeptic.
common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2019, 08:50:53 PM »
Nope. Sesame Street did not exist.

Equivalent children's television, then. My argument does not hinge on the specific example.
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Online bachfiend

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2019, 11:16:19 PM »

By historical coincidence, the myths, legends, and lore of a Canaanite tribe became the myths, legends, and lore of a large part of the world's population (Jews, Christians, Muslims, and various off-shots). As this has been a strong influence in our history, I do think that it is important to know the historical and archaeological facts surrounding it, and I wish that this knowledge was more widespread in the world than it is. Even lots of non-religious people who don't believe in the miracles (like turning sticks into snakes) often think that there is more of a historical base to the stories than there actually is.

Sure. There is probably little or nothing that is strictly or even closely historical in any of the texts that comprise the various Abrahamic "Bibles". The Koran probably has the best chance of containing some historicity but probably not much. Forget about the Pentateuch.

‘The Koran probably has the best chance of containing some historicity but probably not much.’  With emphasis on the ‘not much.’  I’ve never read it, but I understand it’s more like a collection of prayers.  It’s not a history of Mohammed (if he existed).  Nor of early Islam.  The earliest biography of Mohammed was written around 150 years after he supposedly lived.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2019, 11:28:57 PM »
Nope. Sesame Street did not exist.

Equivalent children's television, then. My argument does not hinge on the specific example.

There was no "equivalent" children's TV back then. Children's TV was cartoons. Roadrunner killing Wile E. Coyote over and over again. Parakeets outsmarting cats. Bugs Bunny. The Mouse. There was nothing educational, unless maybe the Army McCarthy hearings, which I did not watch. I knew that my step-father could not get a job, but I don't think I understood why. (He was blacklisted.) Carl Sagan's Cosmos didn't come on until I was in my 30's, living in rural North Dakota without a TV.
Daniel
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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2019, 11:36:06 PM »
Nope. Sesame Street did not exist.

Equivalent children's television, then. My argument does not hinge on the specific example.

There was no "equivalent" children's TV back then. Children's TV was cartoons. Roadrunner killing Wile E. Coyote over and over again. Parakeets outsmarting cats. Bugs Bunny. The Mouse. There was nothing educational, unless maybe the Army McCarthy hearings, which I did not watch. I knew that my step-father could not get a job, but I don't think I understood why. (He was blacklisted.) Carl Sagan's Cosmos didn't come on until I was in my 30's, living in rural North Dakota without a TV.

My argument does not hinge on a specific example. You and I were immersed in a technologically sophisticated environment from the moment we were born. Our entire development was embedded in a technological society, with all the assumptions and defaults that go along with it. Those people who first considered whether there was an active agency behind seemingly random events developed embedded in nothing but nature. From our modern perspective, we cannot imagine how those people viewed the world.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2019, 11:14:10 AM »
Before Christianity, belief had nothing to do with religion. Religious authorities didn't care whether you believed or not. They cared whether you performed the rituals. Obviously, I can't know what it was really like way back when religion got started, but I'm quite confident that it had nothing to do with belief and everything to do with politics, control, and paying taxes to the authorities, who ran both the civil and the religious institutions. Before Luther, Christians didn't even believe most of the stuff in the Bible. Most of it was seen as allegory. The conflicting accounts of Genesis didn't matter because they were not regarded as history. They were stories. God himself might well have been an allegory rather than a person. Then one doofus comes along who gets pissed about the corruption of the Church, and decides that you're supposed to believe all that crap literally, and people who want to be accepted as part of the group have to pretend that they believe stuff that anybody with two brain cells to rub together can see is nonsense.
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Offline Shibboleth

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2019, 03:10:30 PM »
I have never thought about it before that Christianity was one of the first religions where faith was at its very core.
common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2019, 09:06:29 PM »
Before Christianity, belief had nothing to do with religion. Religious authorities didn't care whether you believed or not. They cared whether you performed the rituals. Obviously, I can't know what it was really like way back when religion got started, but I'm quite confident that it had nothing to do with belief and everything to do with politics, control, and paying taxes to the authorities, who ran both the civil and the religious institutions. Before Luther, Christians didn't even believe most of the stuff in the Bible. Most of it was seen as allegory. The conflicting accounts of Genesis didn't matter because they were not regarded as history. They were stories. God himself might well have been an allegory rather than a person. Then one doofus comes along who gets pissed about the corruption of the Church, and decides that you're supposed to believe all that crap literally, and people who want to be accepted as part of the group have to pretend that they believe stuff that anybody with two brain cells to rub together can see is nonsense.

Well, as you say, we can't know. But I don't think so. I think that's a maximally cynical approach to the subject. But *shrug* I'm not going to argue about it.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2019, 04:52:55 AM »
Before Christianity, belief had nothing to do with religion. Religious authorities didn't care whether you believed or not. They cared whether you performed the rituals. Obviously, I can't know what it was really like way back when religion got started, but I'm quite confident that it had nothing to do with belief and everything to do with politics, control, and paying taxes to the authorities, who ran both the civil and the religious institutions.

Do you have any evidence for this claim?

I've read some material that suggests what you describe was pretty much the case in the pre-Constantine Roman Empire, but I don't think it's fair to extrapolate that view to every pre-Christian religion in the world.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: "The Humble Origins of the Abrahamic Religions"
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2019, 09:10:36 AM »
Before Christianity, belief had nothing to do with religion. Religious authorities didn't care whether you believed or not. They cared whether you performed the rituals. Obviously, I can't know what it was really like way back when religion got started, but I'm quite confident that it had nothing to do with belief and everything to do with politics, control, and paying taxes to the authorities, who ran both the civil and the religious institutions.

Do you have any evidence for this claim?

I've read some material that suggests what you describe was pretty much the case in the pre-Constantine Roman Empire, but I don't think it's fair to extrapolate that view to every pre-Christian religion in the world.

The first two sentences were stuff I picked up from a Teaching Company course. The rest is opinion. You are correct that I cannot know what it was like for every religion. But that was my impression from the course. And (obviously opinion here again) it makes sense to me that it applied in general. Paul seems to have invented out of whole cloth the idea that belief was the thing that mattered. Animistic religions personified aspects of nature, and you solicited their favor with ritual gifts or actions. They may have assumed that you believed, but what mattered were the gifts. Christianity, for the first time (presumably) substituted belief that Christ was the sacrifice, for an actual sacrifice. That is, instead of a gift or sacrifice to God, we appeased the wrath of the divine being by murdering his own son in the most drawn-out and painful way the Roman state could invent. (Yeah, that makes no sense, but neither does anything else about Christianity.)

In Christianity's immediate predecessor, Judaism, what mattered was that you followed an arcane set of idiotic laws.

I'm pretty confident that Christianity is, at the very least, the first religion we know about, where belief rather than ritual actions was what mattered.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck