Why are we religious, if there is nothing there?

juantoo3

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That sounds like she is saying...like art...the gods were also manmade.
Ah! That's the 64 thousand dollar question!

However, the other two articles, and when I have time to dig up more, should present some interesting tidbits.

Think "sympathetic magic."

Most interesting to me, is where the caves showed footprints, there were plenty in the living space as would be expected, but few footprints that led deep into the trance inducing sensory depriving recesses where the cave art was typically found.
 

Thomas

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Seems more to me prehistoric humans were further in depth in understanding the Divine than we are today.
A theologian I follow once said something along the lines of the veil between the divine and human were more transparent, the membrane not so exclusive ... I rather thing it's to do with cognitive development and an increase, exponential over the last century or so, of the tendency to 'explain' or 'rationalise' experience — I'm loathe to say 'left brain', but as a generalisation, that's what I'm talking about.

So I don't think they understood the Divine, rather they saw their place in nature and felt more in tune with the Divine, or at least with the rhythms of nature — we've successfully removed ourselves from it, 'the rhythms of the real' and replaced them with fantasies and social constructs. Cave paintings today would be of a new car or a better cellphone.

... so much that "bread" is considered a staple. But a large percentage of humans still have strong ill reactions biologically from grain even to this day, because humans did not "evolve" to consume grain. (And then you have the whole psychedelic Ergot spoiled grain story that causes LSD-like hallucinatory trips...that would carry off on yet another long winded tangent)
I'll join you! I'm on a no/low sugar diet, and the first villains are carbs, so no bread, no pasta (nor rice, nor spuds) ... they're OK for high physicality living when you need the sugars and use them, but the obesity explosion is a product of high sugar diets and sedentary lifestyles.

Obesity is a huge problem. Diabetes is epedemic. You try finding low sugar foods among the 'healthy' options in your supermarket! There's the grounds for a conspiracy theory if ever I saw one.
 

juantoo3

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A theologian I follow once said something along the lines of the veil between the divine and human were more transparent, the membrane not so exclusive ... I rather thin(k) it's to do with cognitive development and an increase, exponential over the last century or so, of the tendency to 'explain' or 'rationalise' experience — I'm loathe to say 'left brain', but as a generalisation, that's what I'm talking about.

So I don't think they understood the Divine, rather they saw their place in nature and felt more in tune with the Divine, or at least with the rhythms of nature — we've successfully removed ourselves from it, 'the rhythms of the real' and replaced them with fantasies and social constructs.

Yes, I can agree with this correction. I didn't mean to imply that prehistoric humanity understood the Divine in a conceptual way, but was more "in tune" with the Divine in a participatory, active way.

That doesn't mean they could ask for a new Cadillac and expect to get it, but that they lived their lives in accord with how "it was intended," or more "in tune with nature" if that phraseology works better.
 

wil

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In tune with nature is an obvious requirement for living in it... We have separated ourcellves from it with houses, cars,heating, air-conditioning, grocery stores, radios, TVs selfones etc.
 

juantoo3

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In tune with nature is an obvious requirement for living in it... We have separated ourcellves from it with houses, cars,heating, air-conditioning, grocery stores, radios, TVs selfones etc.
OK, but then we are back at humans never fully ridding themselves of their animal nature.

I've asked in the past here at CR whether it was appropriate to look to nature for our morality. I don't think we really came to a definitive conclusion, other than some aspects are clearly not compatible with modern, city dwelling tribal communities. But there are some other connections that are more difficult to shed, and I think point vigorously in the direction we are looking at here...
 

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OK, but then we are back at humans never fully ridding themselves of their animal nature.
No we never do, and I don't think we ever can, and I think we're in agreement on that?

For me, our cells follow cellular nature — they do what cells do. Bacteria and biological flora, ditto. I think the distinction between animal and human is largely a construct, or a critique of the human condition. Sure evolution plays its part, and there is a distinction between 'human' and 'animal', but I think we're kidding ourselves if we think we can migrate away from one nature to another. Ridding oneself of one's animal nature is like cutting off a limb or poking out my eyes because they lead me to temptation ...

I've asked in the past here at CR whether it was appropriate to look to nature for our morality.
A good question, and one that needs reviewing (by me, anyway) as the old assumptions about 'brute' animal nature no longer stand. I think it's safe to say our moral values evolve, and the old assumption that we invented morality is questionable, as the animal kingdom seems to indicate a set of pragmatic moral values among some species?
 

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We are where we are, and we cannot get away from that.

Urban living is a viable solution to ecology/enviro issues, scale up the counter-culture 'commune' patterns and they're all more expensive to maintain. There are more contemporary low-impact urban models which seem the way to go.

Urban living with access to green space, early education in ecological/environmental values ... in the UK we have nursery schools with kitchen gardens, and kids are learning what vegetables are and where they come from!

The 'problem' is the removal from a sensitivity to natural rhythms and our place within them ...
 

juantoo3

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The 'problem' is the removal from a sensitivity to natural rhythms and our place within them ...

Which makes this a double edged sword. Either we seek the confines of communal life (I want to say "city," but this applies equally in a rural town / village / hamlet / bump in the road where people live) and lose the intimate connection to nature, or we seek that intimate connection to nature by shedding any association with communal life. To demonstrate, look at folks who go out camping in the woods, who climb a mountain just to view the stars for a night, who go fishing in a remote stream away from civilization. Even with the intrinsic danger that nature offers (snakes, falls, poison ivy as examples), most people generally feel comfortable, at least until their belly starts grumbling or their cell phone rings. But it is in moments such as these where we can catch a faint glimpse of our innate tie to nature. But to do so as a way of life, would get you locked up in an asylum...if they ever caught you. About the closest one can get and still be deemed sane is in a garden, cultivating a garden does much to reconnect one to nature.
 

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Which makes this a double edged sword.
Hmmm ...

Either we seek the confines of communal life (I want to say "city," but this applies equally in a rural town / village / hamlet / bump in the road where people live) and lose the intimate connection to nature, or we seek that intimate connection to nature by shedding any association with communal life.
Is that not a matter of scale? Ancient communities were communal?

I think urbanisation has definitely had an impact, I'd like to think that medieval man wasn't so far removed from our ancestors with regard to the 'permeability' of the veil, but that might be romance on my part.

And even going back as far as we can, the shaman/oracle/whoever seems to have been around from the get-go, so perhaps we're almost equally in error thinking ancient man walked with the Gods as a matter of course. Some might baulk at the ways in which ancient man, or indeed non-intellectual contemporary man, might describe his deities, but really I think the distance between the most 'ignorant' and 'naive' impression on the one hand, and our most sophisticated notions on the other, are infinitesimal compared to the actuality (and a new degree has been added when we 'illumined' bandy about glib phrases we've picked up from Zen or the Tao, from Rumi or Eckhart or whoever and think we own them because we can repeat them), are equally as naive and sentimental.

To demonstrate, look at folks who go out camping in the woods, who climb a mountain just to view the stars for a night, who go fishing in a remote stream away from civilization... most people generally feel comfortable ... But it is in moments such as these where we can catch a faint glimpse of our innate tie to nature.
Oh I think so! My late father-in-law lived out in the country (a relative term in the UK), but whenever we went up to stay, on the first night at least you'd find me out in the garden gazing into the sky.

Part of that innate tie is 'wonder' — we've lost the ability to wonder ... well modern life robs us of it because we surround ourselves with the man-made — buildings, tech, entertainments, etc. Delight in things is not the same.

Wonder is something else, in fact what is it might make a thread. I'd say 'awe' is intrinsic to wonder, and a sense of the sublime... but then those emotions induce the idea that there's something bigger out there ...
 

juantoo3

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I would only say that the jury is out regarding when the Shaman entered the picture. There was a grave find that included an animal pelt of a big cat (I want to say leopard, but it's been awhile), which was pretty clearly used as a cape or some form of garment as the only bones were the skull and the very tips of the paws, all other bones of this cat were nowhere to be found in this grave. This is surmised to be a Shaman, and if so the first and to my knowledge only one so confirmed, and as I recall dated pretty late in the game, towards the end of the Ice Age around 10-12 thousand years ago.

Where this gets tricky is the Sorcerer images, such as the ones I posted earlier, in that there are some researchers that suggest these are either hallucinogenic interpretations of a Shaman, or possibly in ritual dress, and even those who suggest some form of lycanthropy. Disregarding lycanthropy for the moment and staying just with the Shaman in ritual dress or hallucinogenic interpretation...if either of these are valid interpretations it would move the "office" of the Shaman back about 30 thousand years, considering the dates ascribed to some of the Sorcerer images and carvings.

Wonder is something else, in fact what (it is) might make a thread. I'd say 'awe' is intrinsic to wonder, and a sense of the sublime... but then those emotions induce the idea that there's something bigger out there ...

Another key ingredient to add to the mix?

Is that not a matter of scale? Ancient communities were communal?

In the literal sense, yes, but I am pressed to think of a better word to use. I agree, it is a matter of degree. If that community is housed within one single cave, not even dividers for privacy per se, everyone knows everything about everyone and all are exposed in the rawest sense to nature...it is certainly a different level of communal living. In a similar sense one could point to the lone cabin in the woods...there is certainly a higher degree of intimacy with nature, but once you close the door to the outside that degree changes considerably. Back to the double edged sword...we need the protection from the elements (we lost our fur coat somewhere along the evolutionary line), but in so doing we put a wall, literally, between us and nature.
 
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Have you read "The Master and His Emissary"? Iain McGilchrist? He covers a lot of ground on this.
 

juantoo3

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3569545/The-founding-fathers-Europe-DNA-reveals-Europeans-related-group-lived-Belgium-35-000-years-ago.html

quote:

DNA reveals all Europeans are related to a group that lived around Belgium 35,000 years ago

Experts analysed data from humans who lived 45,000 to 7,000 years ago


Genetic data shows all Europeans come from a single founding population

This population occupied northwest Europe 35,000 years ago before being displaced when another group of early humans arrived 33,000 years ago

The original group then re-expanded across the continent 19,000 years ago
 

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Just throwing this out there, I've read that the neanderthals would bury their dead. The idea that there is something bigger "out there" is both an emotional tie that's why it still exists, and also survival, a lot of people need to have that hope that things will be alright. I have also heard of a past society (sorry can't remember their name) who predicted their Gods would return by a certain date, and when they didn't, the people perished.
 

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This book argues that the division of the brain into two hemispheres is essential to human existence, making possible incompatible versions of the world, with quite different priorities and values.

Most scientists long ago abandoned the attempt to understand why nature has so carefully segregated the hemispheres, or how to make coherent the large, and expanding, body of evidence about their differences. In fact to talk about the topic is to invite dismissal. Yet no one who knows anything about the area would dispute for an instant that there are significant differences: it’s just that no-one seems to know why. And we now know that every type of function – including reason, emotion, language and imagery – is subserved not by one hemisphere alone, but by both.

This book argues that the differences lie not, as has been supposed, in the ‘what’ – which skills each hemisphere possesses – but in the ‘how’, the way in which each uses them, and to what end. But, like the brain itself, the relationship between the hemispheres is not symmetrical. The left hemisphere, though unaware of its dependence, could be thought of as an ’emissary’ of the right hemisphere, valuable for taking on a role that the right hemisphere – the ‘Master’ – cannot itself afford to undertake. However it turns out that the emissary has his own will, and secretly believes himself to be superior to the Master. And he has the means to betray him. What he doesn’t realize is that in doing so he will also betray himself.

The book begins by looking at the structure and function of the brain, and at the differences between the hemispheres, not only in attention and flexibility, but in attitudes to the implicit, the unique, and the personal, as well as the body, time, depth, music, metaphor, empathy, morality, certainty and the self. It suggests that the drive to language was not principally to do with communication or thought, but manipulation, the main aim of the left hemisphere, which manipulates the right hand. It shows the hemispheres as no mere machines with functions, but underwriting whole, self-consistent, versions of the world. Through an examination of Western philosophy, art and literature, it reveals the uneasy relationship of the hemispheres being played out in the history of ideas, from ancient times until the present. It ends by suggesting that we may be about to witness the final triumph of the left hemisphere – at the expense of us all. (iainmcgilchrist.com)
 

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Excellent! I just read the Intro available at his site. While it was necessarily vague (he is afterall trying to sell his book), he does open several lines of consideration. A couple of thoughts occurred while reading, the first being how Chimp and Bonobo brains compare in relation to human brains? We don't have any prehistoric human brains to analyze, so a lot of the reasoning power assigned to them is educated conjecture. I'm also not understanding at this point if the author is saying the seismic shift occurred at Greece specifically, of if the philosophical arts and theatre that grew out of the Grecian tradition is simply emblematic of what he is saying? The final question relates to his comments on the "unconventional" atypical divisions being behind such as Bipolar type behaviors, in that I have heard of having the two hemispheres completely severed surgically in an effort to relieve some medical condition (epilepsy?), but I don't recall the outcome or how the patient fared psychologically after? This last I could probably find elsewhere, but may serve to confirm or refute some of his assertions.

Sounds like quite an interesting read!
 

juantoo3

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Just throwing this out there, I've read that the neanderthals would bury their dead. The idea that there is something bigger "out there" is both an emotional tie that's why it still exists, and also survival, a lot of people need to have that hope that things will be alright. I have also heard of a past society (sorry can't remember their name) who predicted their Gods would return by a certain date, and when they didn't, the people perished.
Welcome aboard, Zimcat!

I'm wondering if the past society you mention is the Anasazi Pueblo Native Americans? Their entire tribe simply disappeared overnight. Other local tribes (Navajo, Pueblo) still hold the tradition that a vehicle from the sky came down and carried everyone away. I have also heard of tribes high in the Peruvian Andes mountains that have a rich tradition that speaks of offworld visitors. Be that as it may, this quickly heads off into tinfoil hat territory, and the subject here of pre-historic humanity creating religion out of nothing is difficult enough to keep on a level that maintains some semblance of intellectual scholarship without inviting extraneous subjects that at best would raise eyebrows.

There are a number of finds of Neanderthal burials. I've lost count, but I seem to recall they have now decoded the DNA of at least six individuals. At one time not many years ago more was known about Neanderthal DNA than about contemporary Cro Magnon. If the article above is to be believed, that seems to have been corrected.

Thomas did mention the sense of "wonder." I'm intrigued, but not sure how it would play a role. These were pre-literate people, and while I am sure they communicated (taking down a Mammoth is a team sport that requires coordination), I don't believe their communication abilities were sufficient at that time to warrant such introspection. "Wonder" has some relation to imagination, and while clearly there is some evidence pointing to that (the painting and portable art, music), I'm not convinced they were at a point where wonder alone is sufficient to imagine creating a god to explain situations and circumstances. I'm certainly open to being shown incorrect in my current position.

As for "people need to have that hope that things will be alright," I think on a surface level I need to disagree. It sounds nice, and has application to us today, but back ten thousand years folks were more concerned about raw survival. Safety is the foundation of Maslow's hierarchy, yes, I can grant. But elemental safety can be achieved with rudimentary shelter (such as a cave), fire (for warmth and to cook, and to scare away competing animals), tools and weapons (stone blades and arrows/spears/atlatls or similar are sufficient), and arguably clothing and footwear. That would be sufficient to satisfy Maslow's foundational need for safety and the next level on Maslow's hierarchy is food / water...and I think our representative cave people had that covered as well. Most of the rest of Maslow's hierarchy, especially the uppermost self-actualization, I don't believe would have any significant application among more prehistoric persons, although it is possible there were rare instances...but there is no way to demonstrate, no "proof," and nothing really to point to that suggests that level was ever attained - or necessary.
 
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Namaste Jesus

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I'm wondering if the past society you mention is the Anasazi Pueblo Native Americans? Their entire tribe simply disappeared overnight. Other local tribes (Navajo, Pueblo) still hold the tradition that a vehicle from the sky came down and carried everyone away. I have also heard of tribes high in the Peruvian Andes mountains that have a rich tradition that speaks of offworld visitors.
For some reason as I'm reading this, Ezekiel 1 comes to mind. Especially verses 4, 5 and 6

4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
 

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Excellent!
Glad you liked it.

I'm also not understanding at this point if the author is saying the seismic shift occurred at Greece specifically, of if the philosophical arts and theatre that grew out of the Grecian tradition is simply emblematic of what he is saying?
I'll check, but I think the latter.

A tutor on my theology course said the Christian Tradition is a shift from mythos to logos.

The final question relates to his comments on the "unconventional" atypical divisions being behind such as Bipolar type behaviors...
I'll check it out for you. I'm sure he does talk of that.

Interesting snippet on the news this am, straight out of his field:
Living in cities 'puts teens at greater risk of psychotic experiences'

Whilst the occurrence of such episodes is proportionally greater in urban-dwellers, other factors come into play including those who live in deprived areas, but one point I thought worth noticing was the contribution of 'low levels of social cohesion', and poor relations within family and neighbourhood groups. I only bang on about that because it's an inevitable result of consumerism, and effects the country-dweller as much as the urbanite ...

... then again, I know rural communities that have suffered really badly. It's interesting how the first wave of 'help' to areas suffering rapid economic decline are drug dealers. I know people who live close to the coast who have seen the fishing industry collapse and the the dealers arriving en masse to offer their 'solutions' to a generation without prospect ...
 
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