Sunday, March 19, 2017

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Where Is Your God-Shaped Hole?


Dresden Codak

The general belief is that because humans were created by God, they want to know and serve God, even if they don't realize that's what they want. This belief is often used to explain everything from drug abuse to food addiction to depression. Humans long to know God and if they aren't fully serving and loving God, they attempt to "fill the God-shaped hole" with other things or other people.

We know that this isn't true. But if humans don't actually have a "God-shaped hole," where did god come from? How did religions form and why do they continue?

We asked some of our members for their thoughts, and to see what they have learned on the subject. Here, Saahil offers some of his insights.

How did religions come into being, and how did they survive? The answers to these questions are being answered by evolutionary biologists, and unlike those offered by the holy books, these make a lot of sense.

Scientists agree on a few key physiological and behavioral requirements for the evolution of religious belief. The most obvious requirement is a brain with a neocortex developed enough to give rise to complex religious and philosophical ideas. The ability to reason, and to associate cause and effect would have been essential in the evolution of supernatural belief. Language, or a method of symbolic communication, is also widely accepted to be an essential factor in the advancement of religion. It is quite possible though, that early human societies, dating back to our ancestral hunter-gatherers, possessed complex religions that have vanished without a trace.

Most evolutionary biologists, though, aren't content with just the evolutionary requirements. To explain the existence of a trait or behavior, one must explain how it survived from the time of its inception. This is where the water gets a little murky. On the one hand, many scientists assert that religious beliefs exist as a by-product of an advanced brain capable of imagining and rationalizing, which are considered higher order brain functions with many selective advantages.

On the other hand, many others think that religions offered, and perhaps even continue to offer, a selective advantage. I am personally inclined towards the latter. The selective advantage of religion would reside in its ability to alter the behavior of individuals in a group. Early humans lived in large groups, and as with all social animals, altruism is beneficial, if not essential, for the survival of large groups. Religion may have served to shape and reinforce the morals of a tribe, increasing the cohesiveness of such groups and conferring such tribes an advantage over those that were less cohesive. As early human tribes grew, so their morality evolved into religions, which used the fear of ever-watchful ancestors or gods to inhibit selfishness and increase cooperation.

It is quite possible and indeed likely, that religions which emerged later evolved to include elements of racism and violence to make the tribe more aggressive, helping them to conquer foreigners - a classical selective advantage. The question of the evolution of monotheism, however, is open to debate. Since even today a large number of polytheistic and pagan religions exist, it may be argued that monotheism may have flourished simply because the major monotheistic religions happened to grow out of each other.

Why do you think belief in god(s) or some sort of religion is so common? Do you have a different theory or understanding of the evolution of god(s)? We'd like to hear it.


17 comments :

Henry JoY said...

Simplified allegorical explanations of complex fundamental human concerns which are excessively taxing to, or beyond, either the individual's or the collective's understanding will in all likelihood afford advantage ... more time to carry water, chop wood and more time for other more productively beneficial and advantageous pursuits.

To the degree that simplified explanations absolve the individual, and particularly so untrained or unsupported individuals, from excessive rumination it will, in all probability, afford greater propensity for good emotional and mental health allowing for better outcomes when dealing with the more mundane challenges that life invariably throws up.

At both the individual and collective level religious thought and practice brought evolutionary advantage.

DaithiD said...

I bet you say that to all the girls...

Henry JoY said...

Up them stairs and down with them tights! (^_^)

Wolfsbane said...

Interesting article! But do any of you atheists follow through with its logic?

I mean, if religion initiated and survived because its delusion had evolutionary advantages in inhibiting destructive behaviour (hence enhancing survival of the species); and later morphed to include tribal aggression to foreigners (selecting the more fit tribes) - then what is its value now, now that we have advanced so far as to reflect on ourselves and to discover there is no God/gods, just evolution in motion?

Is it of value in keeping the masses inhibited, until they are required to become aggressive, at the prompting of the wise elite who know there is no God/gods? The opiate of the masses? Ought we to expose the delusion and free the masses from it? Or continue to use it as a tool of control (of course, all for the best possible motives)?

Whatever the answer to that, if there is no God/gods, then there can be no logical 'ought'. Now that we know there is no God/gods, we are free to do as we please, or rather do what we can get away with. Morality can only be what we feel comfortable doing, and will change with our age and experience. No individual or society can have a better morality than another - it is only a matter of our feelings.

Indeed, the most rational individual will be able to free themselves from all moral considerations, recognizing that they are merely self-reflective, thinking animals, and are now free to break the chains of evolutionary conditioning that the lesser animals are guided by.

Such enlightened ones will feel free to leave morality for the little people, and associate with other enlightened ones purely on the basis of mutual self-interest. Ideal Capitalist or Marxist elites.


The author asks:
'Why do you think belief in god(s) or some sort of religion is so common?'

Because it IS in the heart of everyman.

'Do you have a different theory or understanding of the evolution of god(s)? We'd like to hear it.'

Sure. God made the universe and all in it - the angelic realm, man and beasts and whole biosphere. Some of the angels rebelled and later led the parents of mankind to rebel also. Some of mankind God kept fully aware of Himself; the rest did not want to remember God and turned to their own ways. God gave them over to worship of bits of the creation - idols made of stone and wood. But those idols represented the 'gods' fallen man feared, the spiritual beings they sensed were there. They tried to fill the'God-shaped hole' with their own choice of gods. The idols represented these demons/fallen angels.

How do I know this? I read it in the Bible, which the God whom I encountered assures me is His word.

Henry JoY said...

Wolfie,

come down from that cross ... I could put that timber and them nails to far better use!

Are there no moral humanists and no moral atheists?
Aren't there gangs of frauds in every church including those who illicitly plant their seed during the week and then on the sabbath go on bended knee only to pray for crop failure.

There are many reasons that the hole exists. I have covered how people use ideology and religion to fill those holes on here ad infinitum.

Go away and say your prayers and give me head peace.

Wolfsbane said...

Henry, I don't want to give you a headache, but please understand what I am saying.

I'm not saying all religionists are moral people - many are the frauds you mention. I merely say that the reality exists - some do have a proper relationship with God.

Nor do deny that many humanists and atheists are moral people. I merely say they have no logical reason for holding that anything is more or less moral than another; that is, there can be no objective moral code for a humanist or atheist. They can only invent one for themselves, or adopt one they have found. But it is just a code, not the description of an actual good/evil.

Steve R said...

Wolfsbane,

"I mean, if religion initiated and survived because its delusion had evolutionary advantages in inhibiting destructive behaviour (hence enhancing survival of the species); and later morphed to include tribal aggression to foreigners (selecting the more fit tribes) - then what is its value now, now that we have advanced so far as to reflect on ourselves and to discover there is no God/gods, just evolution in motion?"

Very little save being a mental crutch for those who need it. The World is realising 'science' (and by that word I mean the method) has far more coherent and plausible answers to the majority of their questions.

"s it of value in keeping the masses inhibited, until they are required to become aggressive, at the prompting of the wise elite who know there is no God/gods? The opiate of the masses? Ought we to expose the delusion and free the masses from it? Or continue to use it as a tool of control (of course, all for the best possible motives)?"

Mixing Marx serves no purpose here, are you really implying the 'elite' have any sort of benevolent attitude toward the people?

"Whatever the answer to that, if there is no God/gods, then there can be no logical 'ought'. Now that we know there is no God/gods, we are free to do as we please, or rather do what we can get away with. Morality can only be what we feel comfortable doing, and will change with our age and experience. No individual or society can have a better morality than another - it is only a matter of our feelings."

Typical Religious waffle. By trying to suggest that being an Atheist means we have no moral compass and are 'free to do what we like' you display utter ignorance. 'Morality' does not come from a fictitious divine, if you lack empathy it's because you are a c*nt and there are plenty of religious c*nts out there!

"Indeed, the most rational individual will be able to free themselves from all moral considerations, recognizing that they are merely self-reflective, thinking animals, and are now free to break the chains of evolutionary conditioning that the lesser animals are guided by.

Such enlightened ones will feel free to leave morality for the little people, and associate with other enlightened ones purely on the basis of mutual self-interest. Ideal Capitalist or Marxist elites."

Why would a rational individual free themselves from compassion and empathy? Your statement makes no sense.

"Because it IS in the heart of everyman.

'Do you have a different theory or understanding of the evolution of god(s)? We'd like to hear it.'

Sure. God made the universe and all in it - the angelic realm, man and beasts and whole biosphere. Some of the angels rebelled and later led the parents of mankind to rebel also. Some of mankind God kept fully aware of Himself; the rest did not want to remember God and turned to their own ways. God gave them over to worship of bits of the creation - idols made of stone and wood. But those idols represented the 'gods' fallen man feared, the spiritual beings they sensed were there. They tried to fill the'God-shaped hole' with their own choice of gods. The idols represented these demons/fallen angels.

How do I know this? I read it in the Bible, which the God whom I encountered assures me is His word. "

So....you are believing what a book said that was written, re-written, edited, and translated from many different languages many, MANY times, from stories told second hand to people who weren't there, from a bunch of illiterate goat herders who were b*stardizing earlier desert myths?

And while we are on that can you explain the startling similarities between the Jesus story and Dionysus, Mithra, Osiris up to and including the resurrection myth?

That kind of nonsense may convince you but it certainly does NOT convince me.





DaithiD said...

wolfsbane, the first ever rebel in the Bible sucessfully became ruler of his own dominion (Lucifer). Given God in the old testament admitted to massacring whole villages, and murdered innocents. Maybe Lucifer and other fallen angels have been given a bad rap, maybe they just objected to Gods whims, and have been trying to save us all along?

Henry JoY said...

Wolfsbane,

I can freely acknowledge that there are some people of faith who "do have a proper relationship with God".
As a rule those who have a proper relationship with their god are decent folk. They're neighbourly and civic minded to boot.
One can, you know, be atheist and yet not doggedly anti-religion. As far as I'm concerned the theists can practise any religion they want, as long as they restrict their practice to themselves and don't impose it on me or strive for privileged recognition within the civil affairs of state.

In the same way that objectively there's no colour in the universe there are no moral events. Cones and rods colour our universe. Similarly conditioned-in perceptions and moral evaluations, in service of herd cohesion and advantage, colour our experiences and behaviour. That some people create a narrative about burning bushes and handed down tablets of stone around that is OK by me, and yet not for me.




Wolfsbane said...

Steve R said:
'Mixing Marx serves no purpose here, are you really implying the 'elite' have any sort of benevolent attitude toward the people?'

Far from it!

'By trying to suggest that being an Atheist means we have no moral compass and are 'free to do what we like' you display utter ignorance. 'Morality' does not come from a fictitious divine, if you lack empathy it's because you are a c*nt and there are plenty of religious c*nts out there!'

You are here making a moral judgment of those who lack your moral code. That's understandable - you are biologically conditioned by evolution to think that way. A natural instinct. But now that you can reflect on your instinct, you should be able to recognize that there is no actual moral good or evil, just your biology at work. You should see that you are free to ignore those instincts, as you are not an unreasoning animal. Yet here you speak as if your gut feelings identified real good and evil!

'Why would a rational individual free themselves from compassion and empathy? Your statement makes no sense.'

It should make sense to those who know compassion and empathy are mere biological conditioning caused by evolution, not items of a real morality, a morality that exists outside of ourselves and to which mankind is subject to.

'So....you are believing what a book said that was written, re-written, edited, and translated from many different languages many, MANY times, from stories told second hand to people who weren't there, from a bunch of illiterate goat herders who were b*stardizing earlier desert myths?'

God was there - and He told the writers what to record. They weren't bastardizing any myths - those myths arose alongside the reality, from fallen men who wanted their own gods.

'And while we are on that can you explain the startling similarities between the Jesus story and Dionysus, Mithra, Osiris up to and including the resurrection myth?'

You have been reading too many atheist conspiracy sites. Check out the real scholarly ones - secular as well as religious - before you repeat those myths.

Here's a popular site to get you started:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-myth.html

Wolfsbane said...

DaithiD said...
'wolfsbane, the first ever rebel in the Bible sucessfully became ruler of his own dominion (Lucifer).'

Correct.

'Given God in the old testament admitted to massacring whole villages, and murdered innocents. Maybe Lucifer and other fallen angels have been given a bad rap, maybe they just objected to Gods whims, and have been trying to save us all along?'

There were no innocents after the Fall. All were spiritually dead sinners, even infants. Obviously, the adults had amassed greater sins in greater numbers than the infants. But all were also God's creation, and He has the right to call them home any time He chooses. The destruction of sinners en masse (as at the Flood) or in limited but substantial numbers (the Conquest of Canaan) is His right as the righteous Judge and Creator.

More importantly, God had mercy on some when He could justly have destroyed all. And even among the killed, I have every reason to believe that all infants are redeemed by Him and enter eternal life when they die.

Wolfsbane said...

Henry JoY said...
'as long as they restrict their practice to themselves and don't impose it on me or strive for privileged recognition within the civil affairs of state.'

I'm with you on that. Much evil has resulted from those who think they are called to impose on others.

'In the same way that objectively there's no colour in the universe there are no moral events. Cones and rods colour our universe. Similarly conditioned-in perceptions and moral evaluations, in service of herd cohesion and advantage, colour our experiences and behaviour.'

Yes, that's what I'm saying about the evolutionary logic. I'm therefore pointing out that you, as a rational person, are able to see that such 'conditioned-in perceptions' are not real moral truths and that you are free to reject any you feel like. You may then be a ruthless dictator, if you have the wit and courage to reach for it, or you may play along with the moral code and be a nice guy, except when it suits.

It is your insistence that some things are actually good or evil that is illogical (for a non-theist).

Steve R said...

Wolfsbane,

" You should see that you are free to ignore those instincts, as you are not an unreasoning animal. Yet here you speak as if your gut feelings identified real good and evil!"

Good and Evil are human conceptions, nothing more. Hitler the Christian thought he was doing 'Good', as did many other leaders. One only needs look at the US and the self proclaimed evangelical Protestants doing unspeakable ill to their fellow men in far off countries by bombing the sh*te out of them. US soldiers spoke of being 'on a crusade' in Iraq, presumably they thought they were doing 'Good'?


'God was there - and He told the writers what to record. They weren't bastardizing any myths - those myths arose alongside the reality, from fallen men who wanted their own gods.'

That's a bold claim. Prove 'God' was there. The burden of claim is ALWAYS on the one who claims something by the way.

"And while we are on that can you explain the startling similarities between the Jesus story and Dionysus, Mithra, Osiris up to and including the resurrection myth?'

You have been reading too many atheist conspiracy sites. Check out the real scholarly ones - secular as well as religious - before you repeat those myths."

Erm, no it's really not. I suggest you check out scholar works regarding Jesus in comparative mythology. You will be amazed to find your 'Son of God'..is in fact nothing more than 'Solar Diety' worship. I understand you may hold deep convictions but without wanting to rock your boat too much...it's all bollocks. I've read many scholarly works and they make very convincing cases for their position. The only ones that don't stand up to scrutiny are those with vested interests like the laughable 'Got questions' site you linked too. Why don't you just post a link to the utterly ludicrous and outright lying site 'Answers in Genesis' and have done with it?



AM said...

If it is god's right to murder the innocent then fuck god. That religious derangement is something in need of treatment not discussion.

Henry JoY said...

Wolfsbane,

Your opinion that I insist that some things are good or evil is off the mark.
Rather than evaluation along a good/bad axis or a right/wrong axis I prefer to evaluate along a useful/not useful one. Nothing illogical to that.

As you might say yourself, you have faith. I on the other hand prefer the realm of reason.
I doubt, even with AM's feedback above, that you can begin to fathom how unreasonable and whacky some of your utterances come across to some of us.

Yet at some level I am grateful to you also; the obsessive ideations presented by yourself (and indeed those of a certain other contributor on here) at times evokes a deeply felt-sense of relief in me ... a deeply felt-sense of relief which serves as a salutary reminder of how fcuked-up I once was too!!!

Sometimes the gaps between positions are unbridgeable in the immediacy. And I guess that's where we're at Wolfsbane. Of course I'll afford right of reply yet I feel I'm done on this one.

Wolfsbane said...

Steve R said...

'Good and Evil are human conceptions, nothing more.'

Yes, that is what I'm saying atheism must hold. One human has this view of morality, another has that. But neither can logically say there is a real good or evil, just that this is what they feel about each event. The theist has his/her morality revealed( or imagined), and can logically say that all conflicting claims to morality are false. So unless you make yourself to be a god, you cannot say conflicting moralities are false. You can only say they are different from yours.

'Hitler the Christian'

He wasn't. He was a politician who used the term for his audience, but his 'Tabletalk' reveals the pagan nature of his worldview, and his SS ceremonies confirm it.

'thought he was doing 'Good', as did many other leaders. One only needs look at the US and the self proclaimed evangelical Protestants doing unspeakable ill to their fellow men in far off countries by bombing the sh*te out of them. US soldiers spoke of being 'on a crusade' in Iraq, presumably they thought they were doing 'Good'?'

I agree - unjust wars can be sold to even good men if the facts are selected just right. Some wars are just, some are not, others a mixture. It can be a difficult call at times.

'That's a bold claim. Prove 'God' was there. The burden of claim is ALWAYS on the one who claims something by the way.'

It would be a burden of proof IF I were attempting to prove God's existence to you. I'm not. I'm merely telling you what I know - you have the choice of investigating God's existence for yourself.

'Erm, no it's really not. I suggest you check out scholar works regarding Jesus in comparative mythology. You will be amazed to find your 'Son of God'..is in fact nothing more than 'Solar Diety' worship. I understand you may hold deep convictions but without wanting to rock your boat too much...it's all bollocks. I've read many scholarly works and they make very convincing cases for their position. The only ones that don't stand up to scrutiny are those with vested interests like the laughable 'Got questions' site you linked too. Why don't you just post a link to the utterly ludicrous and outright lying site 'Answers in Genesis' and have done with it?'

Don't believe me, try an atheist site: https://richarddawkins.net/2014/04/seeking-hard-evidence-for-the-similarity-of-the-horus-and-jesus-myths/

On a related issue, and if you have a bit of time, here's the excellent atheist scholar Bart Ehrman and the excellent Evangelical scholar James White in debate:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moHInA9fAsI



Steve R said...

Wolfsbane,

"'Good and Evil are human conceptions, nothing more.'

Yes, that is what I'm saying atheism must hold"

No, 'Atheism' does not. Atheism is nothing more than a lack of a belief in a diety, NOTHING else. It's not a belief system or adherent to such.

"One human has this view of morality, another has that. But neither can logically say there is a real good or evil, just that this is what they feel about each event."

Yes, though some 'events' are quite clearly more evocative of emotion more than others.

"The theist has his/her morality revealed( or imagined), and can logically say that all conflicting claims to morality are false."

Logically to the theist that is. Their opinion on matters is seemingly based on a mental crutch of a 'divine being' being responsible for said morality. To me that seems a delusion in itself. Imagine if I decide that my imaginary friend said that it is OK to kill ginger haired people but only on the second Tuesday's of the month. I'd be shipped off to the nut house and rightly so. Claim some sort of divine mandate and you are held in veneration.

" So unless you make yourself to be a god, you cannot say conflicting moralities are false. You can only say they are different from yours."

Morality comes from Man, I work on ethics. Where is the morality in a god that murders infants?

"It would be a burden of proof IF I were attempting to prove God's existence to you. I'm not. I'm merely telling you what I know - you have the choice of investigating God's existence for yourself."

I am a former Christian, and you have said nothing to shake me from my awakening.

"Don't believe me, try an atheist site: https://richarddawkins.net/2014/04/seeking-hard-evidence-for-the-similarity-of-the-horus-and-jesus-myths/"

Not entirely sure why I would look on a blog of a prominent evolutionary biologist for similarities between the Jesus story and Mithra, Horus or one of the many others though I did and found a list of comments by other users. One of them reminded me that the story of Noah and the Flood was a plagiarism stolen from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which I completely forgot about so thanks for that. Not sure what you intended though.

One of the things people of faith do is confuse one of the branches of the Natural Sciences with another, whether through ignorance or genuine confusion I am not sure, but it sure is daft!

Bart Ehrman-- I copy and paste this from Wikipedia as it imports all that needs to be said by a brilliant textual critique...

"In Misquoting Jesus Ehrman recounts becoming a born-again, fundamentalist Christian as a teenager. He recounts being certain in his youthful enthusiasm that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error. His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and also textual criticism. During his graduate studies, however, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled. He remained a liberal Christian for 15 years but later became an agnostic atheist after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.[1]


There you have it. One of the greatest experts in Biblical Texts, even blinkered by the mania of religious righteous fever, is forced to admit....it's bollocks.