Theism is Primitive Thinking

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

  1. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    This sounds like a claim to knowledge about how a God MUST act. How did you come by this knowledge?
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  3. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I don't think this is the case, but perhaps you know more here. Most nomadic groups I've ever read about had deities and spirits. I am most familiar with Native American groups that were nomadic and also Australian aborigines. But perhaps there are other groups you are thinking of.
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  5. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I think this is assuming too much, though I'm open to some evidence. That these nomadic groups are not monotheistic seems to fit what I have read, but many nomadic hunter gatherer groups seem to be/have been theistic.
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  7. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    And even 'apple' is not a given. When we say 'apple' we refer to a vague amalgam of memories about apples, which in turn becomes a kind of shorthand for a set of experiences, experiences we expect we can repeat - by moving our hand towards the red, round gestalt. But the 'apple' out it really a separate thing? Is it like our experience of it?

    Then there is the issue of categories: do they really exist or are they useful heuristic devices?

    Every time we use the word apple we are inexact or vague in relation to some object in itself which we are claiming is in the category.
  8. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    i agree. i listed a few examples of such "evidence" in post #299 (which i could expand upon), but then, like i said: how much are we to trust these claims of outsider anthropologists?

    likewise, i also think that many would completely look over instances of pantheism and panentheism altogether, by virtue of their absence of the appropriate language and "naming": such individuals might easily construe pan/panentheists as being "atheistic."
  9. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I agree. Overall I think it is unlikely that a significant number of nomadic groups would have belief systems that most atheists would call atheistic. I do have a little direct experience - of course every culture is 'tainted' these days - but mostly I am going on what I read. But if we move to dismissing what we read, the claim that they are atheistic also falls into the ditch.
  10. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    i'm inclined to think of categories as heuristic devices, though i've met with a lot of opposition to this perspective--whether the opponent is even aware or will acknowledge that they conceive categories in that other sense is a whole 'nother matter.

    and when one goes so far as to suggest that no thing can be defined or specified by qualities, properties, and characteristics, where does that leave concepts? oh, if only the randians could have their example of pure laissez faire capitalism, then they could show the rest of the world that it really works, and to the benefit of everyone (and the musicians who make uncompromising music which appeals only to a very small audience will just have to learn that they must churn out commercial crap if they wish to survive).

    ah, but we all know precisely what "theism" "is"--and we shall have it's head on a platter by the end of the day!

    my "knowledge" is also informed both by some direct experience, and a lot of reading--and my direct experience is mostly with the, er, quasi-nomadic: native americans, various romani, travellers, australian aboriginals through an acquaintance (who is insistent that they are pluralists--he has lived perhaps 10 years amongst a particular group, but i'm still somewhat inclined to disagree. kind of.), et al. many of the navajo and hopi i know are members of the assembly of god church, an obvious "compromise"; the papago and apaches? well, they're just a difficult read; and with the relatives of the apaches, the tarahumara in northern mexico, i never got on to metaphysical subjects as i was a bit obsessed with their dogs--and our mutual disgust at sophisticated, overspecialized footwear.

    but even if we personally do have extensive direct experience, and with those whom are the least "tainted," can we reasonably draw any conclusions? i mean, i personally try to refrain from becoming too beholden to any ism, but anyone who knows me might reasonably conclude that i am a "dogist." am i? perhaps. but honestly, i don't even know.

    when chatwin, and others, write of the australian aborigines, the bedouin, whomever, that "movement" or "migration" itself is their religion or their god, what does this mean? to be a proper theist, must one have some notion of transcendence? can anyone really answer these questions?
  11. thinking Banned Banned

    theism is primitive thinking because it does not evolve Human thinking about its self

    Humanities attitude towards its self
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Spirits, various entities of that kind, sure. Deities?

    We want to exclude, on the one hand, leprechuans and fairyfolk generally, true? On the other had, philosophical insights such as Plato's Ideals - where there is an "ideal" tree, or even (say) bear - are not deities either - agreed? And neither are the explanatory "forces" and the like, invented or abstracted entities we invoke for their aid in thinking and understanding.

    Most of the anthropological description of nomadic peoples has been by Abrahamic theists (often, flat out missionaries), and they tend to see primitive versions of their own superior culture in other people's cultures. They call these spiritual entities gods, and by their labeling and description they immediately become inferior gods - their one Abrahamic God (whether they believe in it or not) automatically installed at the top of some kind of hierarchy.

    A little bit of doubt of all of that is appropriate, no?
  13. PsychoticEpisode It is very dry in here today Valued Senior Member

    Knowledge? Doreen, it's the only way true theism can exist. I actually feel like I'm helping theism here.

    Why would someone stake their beliefs on an idea that can't be proven? How good is an idea that can't be tested in comparison to one that can?

    All I'm saying is that if God is not an idea then it's because at one time He was proven. God Himself had to make an appearance to someone in the past in order for that to happen. Isn't proven better than an unsolvable mystery?

    However theists are still left with the same problem. In order to say God exists they have to believe their fellow man first. Whether God made an appearance in the past or He is a figment of someone's imagination, all theists have to believe that their fellow man is speaking the truth. Theism today is not about believing in God but about believing in human beings who claim to have witnessed or had first hand knowledge of God. True theism is not about an idea, that's all. The question is: Does true theism exist or is it a figment of my imagination?

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  14. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    ... and then along comes the issue of application .....
  15. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Yes, a claim to knowledge on your part. If there was a God it would have contacted humans the moment they had consciousness...etc. This is a claim to knowledge on your part.
    Everyone does this. Can you prove everything you believe happened to you happened? Everyone has beliefs, from trivial to important, that they cannot prove to others? How many people who believe in evolution could actually prove the theory correct? Very few. (note carefully, I believe in evolution. I am pointing out how people relate to beliefs) Most lay people, IOW not scientists, take many scientific beliefs on authority. Most people have an array of political beliefs they cannot prove.

    Can we test the idea that you are the same consciousness you were when you were ten? No.

    This sentence makes no sense. Further people have correctly believed things, before they could be proven, because of their experiences.
    Or in the present.
    And we form beliefs about the truth all the time using similar methods. It is, for example, how our court system functions. Further you are describing religious participation as if it was ONLY words in the mind. People participate in a religion. If they find that a wide array of things turn out to be true or work for them, they are not simply basing their beliefs on witness accounts, but on their own experiences. Something everyone does.
    I would guess, since you will probably remain an outsider observer, you will never know. Some knowledge can only be gotten via experience, sometimes dedication is necessary. In fact many skills and experiences can only be had if one partipates, and this is not at all restricted to religious skills and experiences. If you are truly interested, pick one and try it. If you are not, fine. But keep in mind you are working with very little when you draw your conclusions.
  16. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Yup, sky gods and earth mothers. Often a head deity.

    Notice how you moved from
    they did not have gods
    we should be skeptical about assertions by anthopologists that they did.

    without really acknowledging this.

    You now present a hypothesis for why we should ignore anthropological opinion that differs from yours.

    As far as your hypothesis, anthopologists have been much savvier about their own biases in the last few decades and I doubt even a majority are monotheists anymore. I have college courses in anthro, not at the graduate level, and even there they deal with precisely the concerns you assume anthropologists - iow experts in a field you are not an expert in - are blithly unaware. I sincerely doubt that masters and doctorate programs suddenly forget observer bias issues.
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    as to the former, agreed. as to the lattermost, i'm not sure how one would go about distinguishing such from a deity.

    uh, what sources are you using and from what century? there are COUNTLESS anthropologists, from the late 18th century onwards, who have described varied nomadic groups as "atheistic" (for a few examples, see several posts above).

    sure it is. i don't think anyone (well, i'll take that back) take's the words of anthropologists as "truth." but can you offer a definition of "theism," from which you are working? it would seem that your definition might not regard pan- and panentheism as theisms, no?
  18. PsychoticEpisode It is very dry in here today Valued Senior Member

    It might have been a better time than when we were merely evolving to our present form. I'm open to suggestion. However in order for theism to not be an idea and remembering I am trying to remove it from the primitive category(chronologically) then God would have had to introduce Himself prior to anyone's thoughts on whether He existed.

    I'm not asking you to prove God, only that a past historian is speaking the truth about God making an appearance.

    If someone said God appeared in the past then you only have to prove that person was telling the truth. God would have been proven to that person. How is that illogical?
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009

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