Popular Theories of Religion

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by BiologyOfReligion, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

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    I mean, he's not entirely off. If humans have instincts, they're very mild. We have some ingrained responses and reactions, but that's different from an instinct. We have drives and tendencies, though that too is differentiated. The development of language is the key; it is what allowed us to elucidate abstract thoughts and create a culture, and develop technology. And it is technology that has allowed us to largely separate ourselves from the natural world and natural selection. Our last major adaptations were around two hundred thousand years ago; that's where anatomical modernity sets in, and we've been essentially the same ever since. The major changes have been in psychology and language-- cultural and social dimensions.

    Mind, I don't agree really with his hypothesis vis-a-vis religion. Parts of it seem right, but parts of it don't. Modern anthropological theories shed much more light on the changes that allowed the formation of religion and spirituality. And a lot of them are rather more material than you'd expect, such as food availability and settlement geography.
     
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  3. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think it is correct to say humans need religion to improve their socialization. It is probably more correct to say we use ritual behavior, and this is equivalent to behavioral patterns in "lower" animals. So, for example, washing regularly is conducive to socialization, except in societies where water is too scarce to permit it.

    The question of how and why humans began to acquire religious ideas, probably long after the earliest cultures arose, seems more connected to primitive beliefs that the natural world exists in a state of balance, which humans tend to upset. That is, before "theism" came animism, the belief in god-like powers in the fundamental forces of nature. Animism may have had a lot to do with socialization of humans, but it seems more connected to the basic need to understand the world around us, as primitive and superstitious as it was.

    Indeed, primitive people must have wondered why humans must die, but they were more likely concerned with more mundane problems -- like how to avoid disease and injury, esp. the fatal kinds -- and mostly: how to ensure an adequate supply of food, water and shelter, etc. Until they had some science or technology (such as chipping flint) they were stuck with superstition to answer the mail.
     
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  5. wellwisher

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    With the development of human willpower and choice, came a departure from nature and natural instinct, since choice and will power allows one to choose paths that are natural or unnatural. However, since natural human instinct evolved over eons and s connected to the DNA, these nevertheless remained highly conservative. The result is in spite of choice, even bad choice, natural instinct remained chemically and unconsciously conserved.

    Will power and choice, by creating the potential for one to become unnatural, can lead to repression; loss of soul, with the unconscious becoming active to help restore balance. The gods became projections of the natural parts of the brain, connected to the DNA, attempting to lead the humans back in the direction of no repression. From these inspirations and compulsions systems will appear called religion.

    We have two centers of consciousness, with the ego the center of the conscious mind which has willpower and choice. This is new in terms of evolution. The unconscious center, which is as old, is called the inner self. It is connected to the DNA and is more by the book.

    The inner self would be projected as a lead character like Zeus; top god, with the personality firmware the sub-gods. Mythology projected a map of the unconscious psyche, with religious making sure the inner center is heard. If it was not heard and the collect culture became repressed due to choices, and the unconscious took over, with them having no understanding, chaos and collapse can appear. To restore the soul; balance, they needed to appease the gods of the unconscious; ritual therapy.
     
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  7. Kumar Registered Senior Member

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    One religion define religion as:

     
  8. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    A religion is a collection of speculative concepts (fantasies), designed to encourage people to believe it is possible to survive death. From that basic position several essential building blocks persist. The concept of a supernatural realm, and that humans are partly supernatural, e.g. soul, spirit, duality, etc. All discussions on religion assume those basics as tenets and expand them into further speculations. In the quote given, it first assumes there is such a thing as a soul to then create an additional extrapolation.
     
  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Yes they were because of the psychological process of "Transferrence."

    It all starts in the first week after birth. The hungry baby cries and mother feeds it. From his POV, she is all powerful - the granter of all that is good and needed. The totler soon learns that the male in the house seems to be at least as powerful, if not more so. Hence the characterist of ominpotance is transfered to the present male, at least to a large extent. At least at child's first school, there is some conflict: "My dad is more powerful than yours."

    Eventually the child learns that all humans are limited and if local religion encourage it, as is the normal case an unseen father of all gets the "all powerful"characteristic transfered to him/her. It is more comforting to believe in a "heavenly father" who can be called upon to help out when you are in need.

    By midlife, if not before, the adult begins to become at least slightly concerned with his mortal nature. Most religions tell that in some way he can continue to exist after the death of his body - that too is comforting so is widely believed by many.
     
  10. Spellbound Banned Valued Senior Member

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    I am not and I am. A square becomes circle because of the point-by-point singularity and infinity rolled up into Planck diameter.

    Cannibalism is an example of what is meant when man has not God in their hearts. (not-"God" and "God" is God, this is what is meant by non-conception is pre-existent within and without conception and the universal fight is only in one reality, "reality" by the way is a self-defining predicate) it is an dynamic self-defining set which resolves the ever non-static self-inclusion paradox...topological containment and descriptive containment is how the self-perception arises in the universe. Self-perception is why your quantum mind perceives individually from others as though they are actually contained in a separate body (this extremity of separation occurs in such true evils as cannibalism, which is why and how evil is blind. One justifiable punishment (according to the popular online encyclopedia ,"Wikipedia") is 'the punishment for the envious is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire, because they have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low. Thomas Aquinas described Envy as "sorrow for another's good". I wish for forgiveness for this.
     
  11. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Animals make choices too. We aren't that different from most mammals.
     
  12. BiologyOfReligion Registered Member

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    I agree that transference is an important psychological process involved in both religion and the Theory of Mind, but it requires a deeper dive. Do we think other apes a capable of transference? If not, what changed for humans that led to this capacity? One of the best articles that describes the essence of the human condition that leads to our exceptional human cognition is by evolutionary psychologists Cosmides and Tooby. It's a heavy-duty article, but I can't recommend it enough.
    http://www.cep.ucsb.edu/metarep.html

    The biggest problem with these discussion forums is that we get everybody's opinions but not enough actual science behind those opinions. Any Cosmides and Tooby fans?
     
  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for link. Too busy to read now, but will try to remember your post when I have some time.

    I would think apes with hierarchical social structure have transference as new born ape , like human, gets its needs from mother, and she is for a while at least his "god." Then he learns she is not all powerful - just like human transference, but don't know if that is the end of the transference chain or not. Apes can not tell us what if anything they believe happens when they die.
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,528
    Mammals can be roughly divided into three categories according to their social instincts.

    The first category is the non-social mammals. (These are my own labels; I've never seen a biologist talk about this.) They care nothing about others of their species except for mating and rearing their young (the latter by the females only). Tigers are a good example.

    The second category is herd-social. These animals tend to live in large groups and do not form strong relationships with each other except, again, for mating and rearing the young. However, they have a loyalty to the herd because a larger group can more easily fend off predators. Most herd-social mammals will also protect all the young, to the extent of forming a ring around them if predators attack. The herd has no real "leader," although many grazers have a "lead cow" who seems to be very good at finding water, so most of them will follow her. Cows are a good example.

    The third category is pack-social. These animals live in smaller groups with a leader, enjoy each other's company and protect each other. Wolves are a good example.

    Stone Age evidence suggests that humans lived in packs with a leader, and there might have been as much fighting for dominance as there is in a wolf pack. Nonetheless, many camps indicate that as many as 100 people lived together. It seems kinda tough for one guy to keep the peace among 100 people. The leadership must have been hierarchical--a phenomenon that I don't think occurs with any other mammalian species.
     
  15. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Most traditional forms of cannibalism were based on religious ritual. It persists today in the form of the Catholic sacrament.
     
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  16. BiologyOfReligion Registered Member

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    What about all the behaviors of religion like religious rituals? All these mental apparitions you cite don't require ritual behaviors. Why are there ubiquitous behaviors if religion is just concepts, fantasies, and beliefs?
     
  17. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    If religion is "real", why are there so many variations?
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    That is very likely a modern phenomenon.

    In the Bronze Age, when writing was invented, there was great similarity among the religions of the various civilizations. They were polytheistic, and in fact they tended to have the same number of gods/goddesses, and even the same ones: the healer, the soldier, the king, the reveler, the parent, etc. (Compare the Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Germanic pantheons.) Jung tells us that these correlate with aspects of our personality that we can tap when needed, although in each of us one or two may be dominant--which is why some of us grow up to be doctors and others to be chefs.

    It wasn't until Abraham came down the mountain with his counterintuitive model of monotheism, that people began to feel cramped in this pathetic one-dimensional paradigm in which everything falls somewhere between "good" or "evil."

    A poor model is always likely to be embellished in order to increase its utility, and different communities will embellish it in different ways.
     
  19. brucep Valued Senior Member

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    4,098
    Have you reviewed this. Makes sense for me. The God part of the brain by Matthew Alper.
    https://psv4.vk.me/c538204/u2207593...XnCPYp91v_Jvwbiu6rYHTCYV_bOt-mKA7sCDpbQMWr8xg
     
  20. BiologyOfReligion Registered Member

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    Yes, I've seen this before. Alper is on the right track, but he falls short of a complete answer. "Spiritual consciousness constitutes 'nature’s white lie,' a coping mechanism selected into our species to help alleviate the debilitating anxiety caused by our unique awareness of death" (p. 230) He pushes the question to a different question: why do humans have a unique awareness of death when no other animal does? Besides, he (and you) don't address my question here about why humans have universal religious rituals. He discusses rituals to support his thesis about the spiritual brain, but not the reasons for the rituals themselves. Alper takes an evolutionary approach (that's good), but there's far more biology in ritual behaviors than in human beliefs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
  21. BiologyOfReligion Registered Member

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    Not sure why variation matters. Religion is like language: there are many variations, but there is an innate basis to both of them. Real variation (if there wasn't an innate basis and it was simply a cultural choice) would be the observation that many cultures don't have religion and religious ritual at all--not the case. And specifically in terms of religious rituals, these rituals persist as strong as ever despite changes in people's beliefs. Note: not all religious rituals and beliefs are theistic.
     
  22. brucep Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for your comment. This isn't something I've researched or even thought much about so my analysis would be based on my experience as a young acolyte in the Episcopalian church. Worshiping and socializing with folks which have the same spiritual beliefs as you do. Making new friends. Possibly getting an opportunity to serve in a formal way. I enjoyed that part of it. I couldn't hang with the dogma and left Christianity as soon as I left our families abode.
     
  23. BiologyOfReligion Registered Member

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    If you want to see an explanation for religion that goes beyond Alper and includes the rationale for ritual, see darwinsapple.com/0bookIntro.html.
     

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