Theism is Primitive Thinking

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by PsychoticEpisode, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    (assuming that you are pursuing the line that a creator must also have a creator) Given that god is not attributed as being under the sway of linear time (but rather the source of it), it seems an irrelevant argument.

    Even the suggestion of a cyclic universe, or a universe with key essential elements that remain an eternal constant (never mind that they are mere chemicals) work around this problem.
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  3. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Evidence here.
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  5. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Not that I really want to proceed with this line of thought (as it's heading way off topic) but..

    LG, you do realize that this post of yours doesn't actually respond to what spidergoat has posted?
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  7. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    He didn't specifically say what the blind watch maker evidenced - I am assuming that he was going with the analogy of how a watch has its cause in a watchmaker who also has a cause (hence the ol "who caused god" thing ...)

    If there's something else with the watchmaker thing, please feel free to fill in the gaps (preferably in text form and not a link to a 1 hr documentary)
  8. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    What are those qualities?
  9. Mr. Hamtastic whackawhackado! Registered Senior Member

    That's great. Some conceptions may be possible to be shown as false, which I invite you to show.

    Prayer, for example, is said to be 'disproven' as effective. People seem to forget that prayer is not magic. If I ask you for twenty dollars, are you guaranteed to give it to me? Is prayer so different?

    As far as crime statistics, being a believer doesn't make one less human and prone to being irrational, greedy, violent, careless or anything else. A central idea of christianity is that everyone is a sinner(criminal against God) and in need of forgiveness to avoid eternal punishment.

    The fact is that theistic thought begins with God, atheistic thought begins with anything but God.

    Consider your hero Richard Dawkins. His statement in the interview with Ben Stein to the effect of humanity could have been started by aliens, but not God, is pretty telling.

    Atheists confuse the crap out of me anyway. I know atheists that believe in ghosts. I know atheists that believe in aliens. I know atheists that believe whatever they are told, so long as it disparages theism. Yet they claim to be 'unbiased, but right' about such things.

    Don't get me wrong, theists are equally confusing. I know theists who think the belief in aliens' existence to be blasphemy. I know theists who believe that their deity is really stressed about people's choice of artistic expression, especially music. I know theists who deny that women should have any equality with men.

    No, primitive thinking is when one group tries to force their beliefs on another. I don't care if it's a theist, an atheist, or what. Don't tell me about the rest of the theists when it comes to this, because I will agree that they are a pain. Instead, consider that individuals only have control of themselves. Do you want to be just like that irritating theist, forcing your ideas on theists and generally showing your disrespect for them?

    Let's face it, theism and atheism should be as relevant as color preference. If people stop arguing about them, however, I have no doubt humanity will divide itself into "blue-lovers" and "Orange-worshippers" and such. Humans are stupid like that.

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  10. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Asking people and asking invisible sky daddies are really two different things.

    The stupidity behind that central idea is staggering. And, it would appear that being a believer does in fact make one prone to being irrational, greedy, violent, careless, etc. according to crime statistics.

    Did you come up with that on your own?

    Yes, it is telling of Stein's intellectual dishonesty.

    That's most likely pure bs.

    That I would believe.

    Like Christianity.

    Theists deserve all the disrespect they get as they force their beliefs on society without any respect for anyone else.

    No, theists are stupid like that.
  11. Spectrum Registered Senior Member

    Technically speaking any 'prime-' ative thinking relates to the first thoughts we have. These probably relate to 'mummy' or 'daddy' because I would say that these are the first words a child speaks.
  12. thinking Banned Banned

    well theism is pretty much like that

    you know the god as the daddy/mummy , the followers the sheep/child , never growing up independent , think for themselves
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    How do you know you are really "thinking for yourself"?
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Wow, so much to catch up with after not checking in for a little while.
    Jung would agree. He determined that each religion is a collection of archetypes--stories, images, rituals, etc.--that occur in all cultures and all eras, manifested unconsciously in dreams and semi-consciously in mythologies. Belief in the supernatural, and specifically in supernatural creatures who whimsically, lovingly and/or cruelly perturb the operation of the natural universe, is an instinct. He lived before genetics became a cornerstone of science, but instincts are now classified with all other preprogrammed behaviors as expressions of DNA patterns. Like most (but not all) of our DNA, many instincts are or were survival traits. Some, like running from a large creature with both eyes in front of its face, are obvious; those who did not run were eaten before they had a chance to reproduce.

    Just as we may question the survival connection of this instinct, as we sit here with domesticated predators warming our feet and protecting our children, it's hard for us to fathom why belief in gods may have been a survival trait for our ancestors. The answer of course is that it may not have been. This mutation could have been passed down through a genetic bottleneck like Mitochondrial Eve, and nature gets the last laugh.

    However, it's been suggested that at the Mesolithic/Neolithic cusp, the religions that accreted around the god archetypes (more on my deliberate use of the plural a little further down) may have been a positive force for progress. Homo sapiens is a pack-social species like the wolf and the lion; our extremely powerful pack-social instinct tells us to trust and care for only the companions we have known since birth, and to regard all other packs as competitors for scarce resources. The Agricultural Revolution changed that, both permitting and requiring us to form larger communities so that farming and animal husbandry could be the engines driving division of labor and economies of scale. Perhaps it was easier to cast aside our wariness of the clan in the next valley and live in harmony and cooperation with them, when we discovered that we both had the same legends about the gods and their wacky antics.
    I assume you mean "all the other animals" since you claim to be a biologist. The reason is that they are not on our genetic line and they don't happen to have that instinct programmed into their DNA. Lucky beasts.
    If in some unimaginable future theism becomes a non-survival trait, the gene(s) will be lost. But since the militant monotheistic variety of theism has most of the world in a stranglehold, it's more likely that persecution of atheists will bring about our extinction sooner.
    Jung says that we did not invent it but were born with it. The last genetic bottleneck in our species was Y-Chromosome Adam ca. 60KYA, so the instinct for belief in supernatural creatures goes back at least that far, and the various religions are merely accretions of local legends around the basic instinctive themes.
    I missed that but I'm constantly on Sam-troll-watch because someone has to be. There are (depending on which classification model you use) six kingdoms of organisms on this planet: bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi, plants and animals. Humans are animals.
    Jung would also agree with that. He found that all of the traditional religions had the same 23 archetypes--which also appear in the dramatis personae of Shakespeare and the character list of soap operas. The Warrior, the Lover, the Hunter, the King, etc. His model of human thought and behavior is built on the idea that we each have all of these distinct "spirits" inside of us. They occur in different proportions and their relative strength varies from day to day and in response to change in circumstances. Some days you just have to be the Healer, some nights you just have to be the Reveler, and people who are guided most often by one or two of them gravitate to lives where that's an asset.

    A traditional polytheistic model of the human spirit(s) and the world around us teaches us that life is about balance and choosing the best resource for the current circumstances. Monotheism, on the other hand, compresses this richness into a stark one-dimensional model where everything falls on a scale between "good" (God) and "evil" (Satan), with no allowance for creative adaptation or situational ethics. As a result, according to Jung, we shove many of our spirits down into our "shadow," (or "The Dark Side" as Lucas calls it) where they fester in frustration until one day they take advantage of a weak moment and burst out into an orgy of anger. Jung says this is why the monotheistic communities--with their institutionalized self-repression--are so especially driven by hatred and violence and why "The wars among the Christian nations have been the bloodiest in human history."

    To recap, polytheism may be the more primitive belief system, but paradoxically monotheism triggers the most primitive behavior. Unlike polytheism, monotheism does not inspire us to find the commonalities with our neighbors but instead focuses on our differences, even telling us to consider ourselves better than them. This reinforces the tribal instinct of the caveman inside us and tears at the fabric of civilization, which is based on our transcendence of tribalism.
    Belief without evidence is unscientific. Science insists that every assertion must be proven true beyond a reasonable doubt before it is promoted to a canonical theory. (Yes I borrow the language of the law because the language of science seems almost deliberately crafted to confuse laymen).
    Q, do I have to follow you from board to board to remind you to cease your stupid flame war with Sam, which is becoming increasingly one-sided? Why don't you two just get a room? It does nothing for the quality of the discourse on this website. If you have a criticism, then please state it constructively or put a sock in it.
    Yes. Any Jew who accepts Jesus is immediately released from the Covenant. His family will no longer be subject to God's wrath as punishment for failing to keep it, in the form of plagues, bondage, destruction of temples, diaspora, a millennium of antisemitism, holocausts, and the wars resulting from the kindly donation by the British government of a new homeland built right on top of somebody else's old homeland.
    I heard him in person one time. He's very entertaining and his historical knowledge is quite deep and interesting--and easy enough to separate from the crackpottery. Even his crackpot hypotheses are well-crafted and debunking them is good exercise in the scientific method--not to mention food for thought because some of their components are not too far off base.
    The entire primate line has been going in that direction since it arose. They found a niche in which intelligence--augmented by better articulation of the hands and the arboreal lifestyle that facilitated--to be a powerful survival trait. The lemurs are more intelligent than the sloths, the monkeys are more intelligent than the lemurs, the apes are more intelligent than the monkeys, the Great Apes are more intelligent than the gibbons, and we are more intelligent than the other species of Great Apes. (Homo sapiens is a species of Great Ape. We may be special but we're still animals.)
    As I noted earlier, it is specifically monotheism that inspires the wrath that constantly threatens to bring down civilization. The polytheistic communities have certainly had their warlike periods. But the era of Abrahamism--particularly evangelical Abrahamism which tells its adherents that everyone else is inferior and all means to their conversion are valid--has seen the greatest atrocities in our history, including the complete annihilation of three of mankind's six precious civilizations, in the name of their god and with the blessing and encouragement of their religious leaders.
    Well greed was not really a practical attitude in the Paleolithic Era. Without a permanent home and without wheels, draft animals or even baskets, nomadic hunter-gatherers could not possess anything they couldn't carry, so acquiring a surplus of anything--even food--was pointless. Nonetheless theft was common. During a famine the only way for a tribe to survive was to steal the food of the tribe in the next valley. Studying the bones of the cavemen with more sophisticated instruments has led some anthropologists to state that violence was not only the leading cause of death of adults, but that more people were killed by other people than by all other causes combined.
    Scientists are just as capable of cognitive dissonance (belief in two mutually exclusive things) as anyone else. It's a characteristic of humans. Their ability to pray to an imaginary god on Sunday and then enforce the scientific method on weekdays does not mean that the two belief systems are compatible.
    Belief in the supernatural, in fact, directly contradicts science. At least if that belief extends to supernatural beings or other forces that perturb the functioning of the natural universe. The underlying premise of all science is that the behavior of the natural universe is completely ruled by its natural laws, and that we can derive those laws logically from empirical observation of its behavior. That premise is recursive and has been tested intensively for five hundred years without coming close to being falsified. To believe otherwise is to spit on science.
    Colloquially, the word "religion" is used for anything from sports to rock and roll. But in the place of scholarship that we Moderators struggle valiantly to create here, we should stick to its primary definition, which includes belief in a god.
    A book is a collection of assertions. In an academy of tertiary and quaternary research like SciForums, of course citing the assertions of an acknowledged expert is accepted as evidence to support one's own assertions. But in primary research one must gather one's own empirical evidence, and not merely cite the assertions of someone who came before as hearsay evidence. No one has ever found empirical evidence to support the assertions in the Bible. Further suspicion is cast on the veracity of these assertions by the fact that absolutely none of them are claimed to have been directly recorded by eyewitnesses, but are freely admitted to have been written down after the deaths of those parties. Such testimony does not constitute the extraordinary evidence that the Rule of Laplace requires before we are obliged to treat extraordinary assertions with respect.
    Science does not "disprove" theism. The scientific method provides a common-sense guideline for determining when an extraordinary assertion is worthy of respect, and theism does not qualify. Not only do we have no obligation to disprove an unsupported extraordinary assertion, we don't even have to waste our finite time and other resources in responding to it with more than a curt, "Don't come back here again until you've got something to show us."
    Dawkins's status as a hero of atheism was bestowed on him by popular vote, which means the theists outvoted us. His research is poor, his conclusions are therefore often incorrect, his rhetorical style comes out of his butt, and he is a bad scientist because his goal is to prove his opponents wrong rather than to find the truth. The latter may be all in a day's work for us students, amateurs, looky-loos and wannabes here on this forum, but it's inexcusable for a published author who claims to represent an entire beleaguered community. His work demonstrates the dark side of freedom of speech.
    Unfortunately many atheists are like Dawkins. Their mission is to joust at the windmill of theism and add a little discomfort to the lives of the majority, not to present a well-substantiated philosophy and explain why it would benefit civilization. Their problem is not with theism but with religion. And in my country that's exclusively evangelical monotheism, i.e. Christianity and Islam. Most of them don't even have a coherent set of beliefs. To paraphrase you, they may believe in reincarnation, feng shui, clairvoyance and homeopathy. (Yes I'm using a particular acquaintance of mine as an example.

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    To be fair, our disgust with Christianity and Islam is well-earned, since the evangelism their books demand of them infringes on our lives every day.
    Well okay but I'm working within a different context. I think it's important to understand that belief in gods is instinctive, not something people choose. Instinctive beliefs are more powerful than beliefs acquired through reasoning and learning. They feel true and don't require support or defense. When you criticize a person for his theism, you're criticizing something that is part of who he is, not something he was taught or figured out for himself.

    Nonetheless I hold out hope that mutations have already occurred. I am not a "convert" as most atheists are. My parents were atheists and gods were never discussed in our family. I never heard of the concept until I was seven years old. When I did I couldn't stop laughing and I couldn't understand why the kid was so outraged at my appreciation of the remarkably amusing story he made up. I don't seem to have the instinct for religion so there must be others. I presumably inherited it from my mother, who was raised in a similar household. (My father was raised in a family where religion was discussed but not taken seriously and also grew up as an atheist.)
    I don't think that's true for a couple of reasons.
    • 1. Theism contradicts science. In my country it's painfully obvious that the predominance of true theism (not ceremonial as in Europe) holds back the spread of scientific knowledge. As Martin Gardner said, "Our nation is weakened when large numbers of citizens are scientific illiterates."
    • 2. Evangelical monotheism, the only brand of theism that we have to deal with in the USA, reinforces our species's tribal instinct, and that works counter to the advance of civilization. The Egyptian, Olmec/Maya/Aztec, and Inca civilizations did not survive their encounters with Islam and Christianity. We barely survived WWII, much of which was a war between Christianity and Judaism. We barely avoided WWIII with Communism, which is an offshoot of Christian philosophy. (No one else believes that what a man takes from civilization does not have to correlate with what he gives back.) And we're currently on the brink of a nuclear war between Christianity and Judaism (temporarily allied) and Islam.
  15. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Is there scientific research supporting Jung's archetype idea?

    I thought most people considered theism a nurture issue rather than a genetic one.
  16. Doreen Valued Senior Member


    • If one believes in God, what science is contradicted? What specific theories is one disagreeing with?
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Psychology is a "soft science." Controlled experiments range from difficult to unethical. Many people don't even take it seriously, although in America that statement loses its force because so many of our people are patent fools who don't take science seriously, period.

    Still, scholars have studied the mythologies of cultures all over the world and as far back in time as we have any sort of record. The 23-dimensional model of the human spirit holds up and the binary model of monotheism is a recent oversimplification.

    We can only map the human brain at the level of continents, to use MapQuest as a reference scale. We can't go down to the level of individual buildings, pointing to a set of neurons and saying, "These are the synapses where the archetype of Aphrodite is stored, and over here is Bacchus."

    And even if we could do that, we're faced with the fact that genetics is in its infancy; people are alive who were born before DNA was discovered. It's challenging enough to search for the genes that control right- and left-handedness; it will be a long time before we can pick out the ones that shape our relationship with Thor and Freia.

    This is why psychology is a soft science. Jung's archetypes are useful, far more than the models of Freud, his teacher. But at this point, from the standpoint of "hard science" they're just metaphors, like the gods they describe.
    I don't know which community of people you're referring to, but Jungians say they're wrong. People like me who are born without the instinct for supernaturalism are rare.

    Freud may be obsolescent but Freudians still hold onto a lot of power. He's still taught in medical school and most psychiatrists (M.D.) use his models. But everywhere else in the university, from the literature department to the business school, they teach Jung, and an increasing number of non-medical psychologists use archetypes.

    It isn't a specific theory, it is the entire fundamental premise of science. The scientific method only works because the natural universe turns out to be a closed system, run by its own set of natural laws which are slowly being discovered, and because the behavior of the universe can be predicted by theories expressing those laws, which are derived logically from empirical observation of its present and past behavior. This premise stands as the foundational theory upon which all the rest of science is built. It is recursive--i.e., not exempt from its own rules--and has withstood continuous and exhaustive testing since the Enlightenment.

    If the natural universe is in fact not a closed system, if gods living in an illogical and unobservable supernatural universe can exert external forces on it at their whim, unpredictably altering its behavior so as to violate its natural laws, then the foundational theory upon which science is built is false.

    If gods exist (active gods, not silent observers), then all of science is contradicted.
  18. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'holds up'. Is there research to back this up? Research that shows that it's 23 not 18 or 54. Psychology may well be a soft science, but 1) I am not sure this is support - it wouldn't count as support in other forums and 2) many parts of psychology are very 'hard'. If Jung's ideas are very hard to test or falsify, why is it alright to refer to them with certainty?

    And it is very unlikely that specific subregions of the brain would contain 'Aphrodite' since it would involve, most likely many different parts of the brain simultaneously.

    If there are genes for Thor or Freia - without these names, I assume - does this mean that if we take Scandanvian children and do not teach them Norse mythology, they would somehow end up believers?

    It still seems to me you are making a claim without scientific support.

    Freud and Jung seem like apples and oranges to me in many ways. I also see a wide range of therapies being developed that work in a very broad way with Freud's ideas - for example that there is an unconscious mind, that childhood experiences can affect adult limiting attitudes and behaviors - then combine these with ideas from cognitive psychology. And these therapies are doing rather well, statistically.

    Yes, it is not a theory, it is a set of methodologies. But the fact that it works does not mean that 1) it is rational to limit one's beliefs only to what scientific methodologies indicate is true and 2) other approaches are incorrect.

    See my response in the Mystics and Scientists thread in relation to supernatural. And by the way we cannot know if that foundational starting point in science is correct - see the simulation example - and even if it were not correct, it does not mean that science is not useful. We cannot know that what you refer to as a closed system is always closed. How have we tested this? It is however a very good axiom to work with.

    I do not think this is the case at all. It would simply not be the complete picture. Which is the case anyway, but for other reasons. If the rules (that we are aware of) were being broken all the time or being changed all the time, then science becomes irrevelent.
  19. thinking Banned Banned


    • the evolution of life
  20. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Only if you are a creationist, in the sense that fundamentalist Christians are.
  21. thinking Banned Banned


    what ?

    look back at post # 233
  22. thinking Banned Banned


    what sense are you making here
  23. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    If you are not a Creationist believing in God does not preclude believing in Darwinism. FR and I are talking about a few forms of theism in two threads. We are not only talking about one kind of Abrahamic monotheism, though he is more focused on those kinds of religions than I am. In a sense that is part of my point in relation to his position.

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