What creates Theism?

A_Nony_Mouse
atheist
A_Nony_Mouse's picture
Posts: 2880
Joined: 2008-04-23
User is offlineOffline
What creates Theism?

Yes, I am playing off of the title of another thread. And I am winging this so expect I may backtrack on some points when I think then through later.

What is theism? Consider it in the sense of why we are afflicted with it.

A reasonable basis is our tendency to anthropomorphize nature. That is only half true. There are two aspects to it. We do not anthropomorphize animals. We may given them some human attributes but we do expect them to be animals and no one gets upset when it is pointed out they act differently from us. Werewolf and other skinwalkers see this difference. We even see it in plants, not intent but patterned action.

The other is the weather, volcanoes, earthquakes, the seasons, the stars, plagues, drought, famine. They have no apparent motivation but they do things. They became the categories of gods.

But lets back up a bit. Clearly everything of day to day impartance to people before cities in the hunter/gatherer days could in fact be interperated in terms of motivation and intent. Plants chose to grow in places that could be learned and animals behaved in ways that could be learned. This is a good enough working hypothesis. When people settled down the spirit of the plants and animals had to be learned and apparently making them some kinds of gods was natural.

There is no particular problem with using an intention and motivation model for understanding the world in those days. Before modern times there was nothing more or better to learn by adopting any other model.

But here let me separate this understanding from putting food on the tables of priests. If our surviving primitives and their shamans were the model of the "priests" in early times their social function was mainly as doctors, counseling and other worthwhile duties with only the occasional entrail reading.

When we get to civilized times starting maybe 6000 years ago (up to 10 and even 12 thousand if you are following recent finds) we start to find arbitrary structures and rituals in cities. Before that we find things like Stonehenge which were likely associated with something magical like a spring when built. But once there were cities worship places had to be built in them. We look at them as all there was but in pre-Christian times sacred groves outside the cities were extremely common but didn't leave much of anything for arkies to find.

So here is a difference with the invention of civilization, i.e. sedentary lifestyles and cities. Whereas it started as little more than a specialization and was often in the local chief or a near co-equal like a chief and his brother-in-law, a temple in a city needed something different. A city is where it is and there is no guarantee of a magical spring in its walls. So right off there has to be something special invented for it. Orientation with the sun appears to have been the most obvious. Why? As the city ruled the surrounding lands the sun ruled the crops.

I am not suggesting this is something magical rather that they needed some sort of reason to say it was special and this is obvious. It also suggests it would never be built on the highest point but rather below natural markers for the seasons.

But let me not get bogged down in that. Here is a city where the local tin dictator lives and he builds a temple where an equally rich relative is the chief priest who rules the roost. He is going to be pushing things related to cities because that is his world. He does not have to go into the fields and sacrifice goats. The best of the country folk who sacrifice goats are going to be looking for jobs in the big city.

Extend that trend a few centuries and you have a model for religion as it existed up until a few centuries ago. Add upward mobility into the city and the city ideas of the gods and you see why cities ideas would be taught in the countryside, a demonstration of devotion in hopes of an appointment to Rome. It becomes a self organizing hierarchy. But under it is always the day to day activities when they are not holding worship ceremonies and performing rituals like baptism. The real day to day stuff is counseling, teaching, comforting just like it mostly was back in the shaman days.

It is a career path, a job. a profession to be a priest or minister or whatever and there were and are rich social institutions which want religions to continue.

Why is there their theism? Don't know. Bud we know for all the above reasons and more why there are organized religions. Rich people organized them.

Why today do people continue to be "religious"? They don't really.

We look at the TV evangelists and see they are doing the same healing tricks that were common thousands of years ago and which were attributed to Jesus. Everyone likes a good show. Why is this a good show is the question.

For that we are only beginning to scratch the surface. A few years ago the "god lobe" was discovered in the brain. If yours has ever been "excited" you know it feels good. It feels better than sex for most. Mother Theresa supposedly had it only once very young and spent her entire life trying to recreate the feeling and failed. (Would have been better if she has been laid as second best?)

Reportedly the real Sir Richard Burton was able to reproduce the conversion experience and enjoyed it very much and so did indulge in several religions including Islam.

A related experience does motivate scientists, suddenly knowing something no one else does. Cranks, as undisciplined scientists, appear to be able to believe all kinds of impossible new things quite regularly. From what I have read they all describe a near mystical breakthrough moment.

For the rest of us it appears to be similar to the satisfaction that comes from solving a difficult problem. Those of us who are honest will admit that the belief in finding a solution even if wrong engenders the same feeling. It is difficult to separate from the acid experience of "understanding" even though it does not make a lick of sense after coming down.

So theism and religion are separate issues. The peasants in the countryside and scientists have a feeling that is its own reward. There is the religion of the wealthy and of those who wish to emulate the wealthy.

Religion is a well funded social institution. Theism is a working paradigm for understanding the world and as such is on a par with science. In fact it is only institutional religion which interferes with science. As with the MD and the witchdoctor they happily compare notes as their interests are the same to understand the world and help people.

It is the organized religion of the rich and powerful that condemns both science and the witchdoctor for inventing abortifacents.

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Fear of the Unknown.

Fear of the Unknown.


ClockCat
ClockCat's picture
Posts: 2265
Joined: 2009-03-26
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:Fear of the

natural wrote:

Fear of the Unknown.


rdklep8
atheistScience FreakSuperfan
rdklep8's picture
Posts: 155
Joined: 2009-11-10
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:Fear of the

natural wrote:

Fear of the Unknown.

 

I definitely buy that.  I think that it is human nature to see yourself as being overly significant.  In having a couple conversations lately with some theist friends, I said that I believe that when you die, you go into the ground and that's the conclusion.  One responded with, "There is no way it can just end, there has to be something else for me" .  IMO, he added the "for me"unconsciously, but it speaks volumes.  It's hard to come to terms with the fact that you are one in a crowd of billions, and you are of little significance in the long run.  I feel theism, and afterlife, is just a cushion for people who do not want to accept their insignificance.


The Doomed Soul
atheist
The Doomed Soul's picture
Posts: 2148
Joined: 2007-08-31
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:Fear of the

natural wrote:

Fear of the Unknown.

I wouldnt even go that far... i'd just say "Fear" period

What Would Kharn Do?


Cpt_pineapple
atheist
Cpt_pineapple's picture
Posts: 5492
Joined: 2007-04-12
User is offlineOffline

butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3945
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:Fear of the

natural wrote:
Fear of the Unknown.

 

Fear. Laziness. Ignorance. Mostly fear.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


Anonymousosity (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
What I think

This comment has been moved here.


Vastet
atheistBloggerSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 13210
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
The Doomed Soul

The Doomed Soul wrote:

natural wrote:

Fear of the Unknown.

I wouldnt even go that far... i'd just say "Fear" period

Pretty much. I'd say fear of the unknown creates it, fear in general sustains it.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.