"All gods are man-made" - evidence?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by wynn, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. wellwisher Banned Banned

    We learn all types of things in our life but very few things push our buttons for long durations. The question becomes why do certain things that are learned (work under the assumption god is learned behavior) have such a strong induction?

    Even the atheist is obsessed with God, even if this is in a negating way. This particular data input has more power over even the atheists than most of the atheist doctrine since you will always learn more about it. It also has significant power over the faithful. Unlike a fad or even a science topic, which can be interesting for some but wears out for most, the God topic continues to animate the mind, for pro or con, to levels that is not common with most information input. The question is why such selectivity in the human mind? It has to do with command lines associated with the personality firmware, or the main frame part of the brain.
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Every god is a ridiculously anthropomorphized patron of the tribe or culture it is worshipped in. It is fashioned in the image of men at that time in history, assuming such roles as warrior, judge, pharoah, king and father to fill the needs of the populace and laden with fallible psychological traits such as wrath, hatred, jealousy, desire, egocentrism, possessiveness, and regret. That's how we know they are manmade. They bear the unmistakeable imprints of the hands that fashioned them. BTW, we haven't had a new God since Allah. If there are gods, then where are they? Why did they suddenly stop talking to human beings millenia ago and resort to the feeble transcriptions of religious authorities to reveal themselves? More evidence gods are nothing more than the primitive fictions of ancient cultures.
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, I think that many people use the word 'God' as kind of an undefined variable. I remember talking to a gentleman who I have the greatest respect for, who told me that anyone who doesn't believe in God is stupid. I asked him what he meant by 'God', and he kind of waved his arm and said 'There has to be more to reality than this'. So for him, the word 'God' seems to have meant something like 'Transcendence' or 'The Mystery of Being'.

    Is that a man-made concept? I guess so. But I do think that this sort of idea does have a real referrant. There really are mysteries inherent in being. (They are what first attracted me to philosophy.) What they are and how many there are, we don't know. (They are mysteries.)

    Of course, calling 'Mystery' by the name of 'God' introduces all kinds of traditional connotations that are likely very misleading. But it does kind of capture an interesting emotional aspect to this stuff. Many people feel that these aren't just mysteries, they are existentially important mysteries, mysteries that go to the heart of what human beings are and what all of us are doing here.
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  7. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    I don't think there are any claims that man could not possibly have known at that time, contained within scripture, I just think that with what they did know it would seem silly
    to make up gods to attribute them to.

  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Then why not just continue to call them mysteries? The mystery of Being. The mystery of consciousness. Etc. Calling them "God" doesn't do anything but add meanings to them they didn't originally have. And who wants to worship a "mystery" anyway?
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Yes, and that is answering the question of what one wishes to accomplish by making such a distinction.

    Although as far as I've come to know you, you will either ignore this point, or claim it is not appropriate to question one's intentions.
    And yet, as I've always argued, investigating one's intentions is precisely what would reveal more about the issue and why it is interesting to one.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    That's what I do.

    That's just it. For some people at least, calling the ultimate mysteries by the connotationally loaded name 'God' kind of suggests that they think that there's something about these particular mysteries that's basic to the meaning, goal or purpose of their own lives, and of everyone's existence here. There's something about these inchaoate and poorly-formed ideas that engages them very deeply, on an emotional level.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    So personal incredulity on your part?
    Is it not possible that the concept of gods actually pre-dates that knowledge and they merely continued to utilise the concept, rather than also be the ones to make up the concept? Afterall, that is what we seem to do now as our knowledge expands. It is not as though the concept of gods only arose 2.5k years ago.
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I still fail to see its relevance.

    The question of motivation obviously does have spiritual relevance. It's like the old grail-quest stories, where the old wise one asks the young knight, "Why do you seek the grail"? Answering that question is kind of the heart and moral of the story. The grail is something that can only be discovered by somebody whose motivations are most pure, suggesting that the quest is a path of inner-transformation.

    The 'existence of god' questions here on Sciforums seem to be a very different kind of issue. God is supposed to be a real existent, that exists independently of whatever we happen to think about it. Our existence is dependent on him, his isn't dependent on us. So how does our pure motivation, or the tight-fisted unshakeable confidence with which we grasp onto our conclusions, guarantee the existence of a being to which our religious words and concepts supposedly refer?

    Perhaps I'm wrong, but what you seem to be suggesting here is the peculiarly Christian idea of knowing something by faith.

    You stated the thread and you're the one who originally asked the question. Why do our opinions on whether 'all gods are man-made' interest you? What were you seeking by asking us to take a shot at answering it?

    The question that I'm most interested in isn't what motivates somebody to ask a question, but rather the very different issue of how they (and perhaps more importantly, others around them) can know that their uniquely personal experiences have provided them a true and trustworthy answer.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I'll argue that this is the wrong question. More below.

    Not at all.

    "All gods are man-made" is a controversial claim that is impossible to simply answer directly, so it is bound to draw up a lot of discussion.
    As always, I'm seeking to clarify my own reasoning processes, and sometimes I do that by engaging in discussion with others.

    And I think this is where the difference between the "Eastern" approach and the "Western" approach (I'll call them "Eastern" and "Western" for the sake of convenience) becomes most apparent:

    In the Eastern approach, the seeker is already convinced there is a problem, and perhaps has already defined the problem. What the seeker feels is samvega - "the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it's normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle." It is a proactive approach: the seeker is troubled, has a problem, is sure of the importance of the problem, and is seeking someone who may have a solution. It's all very personal, defined by one's own quest. The seeker is taking responsibility for themselves, for what they do, whom they listen to, whose advice they take on board.

    In the Western approach, the seeker isn't sure there is a problem, but first wants to become convinced there is one. It's a passive, reactive approach, focusing on first figuring out which religion is objectively the right one, if any at all, with the intention to then "stick to it until death". It's an approach that presupposes that the seeker with his personal needs, interests and concerns is pretty much irrelevant. This places the seeker in the position of the metaphysical (and practical) victim, and eventually, a metaphysical martyr. (So it's no wonder that people with the Western approach tend to be so full of resentment.)

    In the Eastern approach, issues of which religion is objectively the right one, whether this or that text is authentic or not, etc. are not at the foreground; but instead, the focus is on one's problems, and how can they best be solved: the focus is on the doable, the actionable. Big metaphysical issues that the Western approach begins and ends with, are put aside because they are acknowledged as being impossible to be resolved by an unenlightened person. Whereas someone with a Western approach keeps trying to resolve big metaphysical issues, issues that even they themselves sometimes acknowledge would require omniscience to be resolved. This leads such a person into all kinds of speculations, stress, that they then have to medicate somehow (such as by alcohol consumption) or otherwise make amends for (such as instinctively resorting to unconscious psychological defense mechanisms such as denial or projection).
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Once again, you're the one who started this thread. YOU asked US whether we think that "all gods are man-made", and if so, why. So if there's any underlying "problem" that's motivating all of this, then isn't that problem yours?

    While I certainly experience suffering (and hence have problems), I don't find myself reactively driven to seek God as a result of them. As I wrote earlier, I don't believe that God is the sort of being that exists independently of the stories that human beings tell. I'm reasonably certain that humans like ourselves created our ideas of 'God' in our own image.

    In other words, the issue you posed in this thread was conceived in a way that doesn't really engage me very deeply. It's certainly interesting to talk about though, because many of the people around me every day do think in this theistic manner, and also because the discussion raises a whole host of philosophical issues that are interesting to me in their own right.

    That's why I raised the question of how the rest of us can distinguish between individuals who truly tell us that they have had a veridicial private religious experience (assuming for the sake of argument that such things exist, which is something we don't know) -- and individuals who make similar claims who are merely deluded or even psychotic. It's an important question and anyone who hopes to be responsible in spiritual matters will have to grapple with it at some point.

    I don't understand where your ideas of victimization and martyrdom come from, or how they fit into the larger discussion.

    Nor do I understand how "first figuring out which religion is objectively the right one" (an idea you appear to be criticizing) is different from "taking responsibility for themselves, for what they do, whom they listen to, whose advice they take on board" (an idea which you seem to applaud).

    There indeed is a strong note of something like pragmatism in early Buddhism, which in its Pali form at least seems to be rather psychologistic.

    But again, how is that relevant to the question of whether the rest of us think that "all gods are man-made"? Your choice of thread topic seems to have been both theistic and ontologized from the very outset.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Talk about dishonest, disingenous arguing! You posted almost this same identical question within another thread and I slapped you down for it. And here you are pretending that that never happened? You're slipping. That's a textbook case of trolling, a violation of the website's rules. Despite your other faults, you can usually be counted on to follow the rules.

    The vernacular statement, "Gods are man-made," is a colloquial version of various more proper scholarly or scientific statements of the form:

    There is no evidence for the existence of gods. Therefore we are obliged to rule all assertions of their existence as false until evidence is provided. However, the concept of gods, like all concepts, is an artifact of human cognition. Therefore it is correct (although trivial) to say that the concept of gods is man-made.

    If something does not exist, then it was not made by anyone. So to ask "who made it" is just plain stupid. Or, in your case, disingenuous. You're attempting to trap people into wasting their time on a vapid argument, by tricking them with sloppy language.


    You become a bigger pain in the butt every day. Your sophomoric arguments-for-the-sake-of-arguing used to be entertaining, and would occasionally prompt a rebuttal in the form of an explanation that would be useful to our younger members who want to learn how science works. But now, they're just annoying.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    If you want to take that route, then the forum might as well be shut down.

    Nobody said that experiencing suffering would automatically result in seeking God.

    I think this is actually misguided, in that it operates from an idea that in matters of God, one must trust others, and cannot come to direct knowledge oneself. This way, one is disqualifying oneself from the onset, and setting oneself up to forever be at the mercy - and whim - of others. And this is one aspect of the victimization I'm talking about.

    I've brought up this idea a couple of times before.

    You've taken that out of the context.

    I think that in the Western approach, one tries to do too much at once, trying make too big a step, trying to think and decide too far ahead, trying to make too many decisions at once, trying to make decisions about big topics that one has no personal knowledge of. Like trying to decide today what you would do if you would become the CEO of a big company in ten years, and then, from today on, trying to stick to that decision. It's unreasonable. And in business terms, most people readily recognize it as unreasonable, but not when it comes to religion.

    I've mentioned the sutta on the unconjecturables several times. IMO, it's stating a fairly straight-forward fact: there are things that are such that if one speculates about them, one ends up mad and vexed. Although some people apparently don't notice this, or don't mind it.
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    But if we do not "assume for the sake of argument that such things exist," which is the only way a real scientist can approach this assertion (since it is not presented with any supporting evidence), there is no difference at all between "individuals who truly tell us that they have had a veridicial private religious experience" and "individuals who make similar claims who are merely deluded or even psychotic."

    To attempt to define this distinction is something a religionist would do, not a scientist.

    Since spirituality is fictitious, "spiritual matters" constitutes a null set. Therefore anyone with such a hope is "deluded or even psychotic." So why do we care about the "grappling" of a lunatic?

    In actual practice, the leaders of many congregations soft-pedal the supernatural aspect of their particular religion, acknowledging the statistic that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are the two most common symbols of Christianity in the USA. They let their flock regard God and Jesus as beloved literary figures like King Arthur and Robin Hood, the factuality of whose existence is unimportant since their importance lies in what we learn from them.

    As the Head Linguist around here, I admit that I'm uncomfortable with even calling these variations of Christianity "religions" since they don't satisfy the dictionary definition. But this isn't the Linguistics board and I realize that many people use the term "religion" in extra-lexicographical ways, such as Ozzy Osbourne declaring rock'n'roll to be his. (Amen, brother.

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    So okay, one of these, uh, "belief systems" would be, objectively more "the right one" than the one which insists not only that God is real but also that he hates gay people--even though he bothered to make so many of them.

    Mrs. Fraggle insists that Buddhism as practiced by American Buddhists such as herself has no trappings of religion since it has been stripped of all vestiges of supernaturalism. I think she's overlooking the American Buddhists who still call themselves Christians and Jews, but she's certainly not the only American Buddhist who fits her own definition. It's variously called such things as "a search for the truth" and "a search for peace," and as practiced by her and others like her this search can be conducted with meditation, chanting, literature, music, science and sheer conscious introspection, studiously avoiding the aura of supernaturalism that is more common in Asia.

    And as I noted, it assumes without argument that gods are real! (As opposed to the concept of gods, which is indeed man-made like all concepts.) That's surely a much more important question, one she has still not answered. Until she answers in the affirmative and provides evidence to support her affirmation, the answer remains, "no," and the question reduces to meaningless babble.

    Then we can start a new thread titled, "Why does Wynn post meaningless babble?"
  18. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

    Mystics, for one.
  19. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I wasn't trying to mess with your head, Wynn. I apologise if it seemed that way.

    It's just that you had written in an earlier post: "In the eastern approach, the seeker is already convinced there is a problem... the seeker is troubled, has a problem, is sure of the importance of the problem, and is seeking someone who may have a solution". That suggests that if you are conforming to the "eastern" pattern, then this thread might have that kind of motivation.

    I was just speaking about myself there. While certainly I do experience suffering, it doesn't motivate me to seek God. My point was merely to note that your question about whether we think that "all gods are man made" doesn't directly speak to a deep or existential concern of mine. That's not to say that my own problems don't motivate me to make my own religious movements.

    The topic of personal religious experience suggests the possibility of coming to direct knowledge oneself.

    But having left that door open, I have to say that I haven't gone through it. I haven't received any personal revelations from God. Maybe other people have. (I don't know that anyone has, but some people make those kinds of claims and it's conceivable.) But how in the world can I know that what these people say is true, short of duplicating whatever their experience was for myself? (And if it was the experience of psychosis, it might not be all that veridicial, even then.)

    It's possible to chart an individual course in these matters, without depending on any spiritual guidance from anyone else. (I kind of approximate that myself, in a way.) But it's hard to imagine anyone doing it in total isolation, with no input whatsoever from other people. Merely using a word like 'God' already introduces the whole cloud of traditional and perhaps non-traditional connotations that surround it.

    Even the "eastern" traditions that you speak of place great emphasis on finding a suitable teacher. The Buddha speaks of the importance of what he calls 'spiritual friends'. And a cultural context that provides us with our conceptual vocabulary and many of our expectations seems almost unavoidable. Those kind of things call for some discernment from us.

    Maybe the trick is to find some middle-way, between credulous guru-worship on one hand, and equally thoughtless dismissals on the other.

    I agree. That's why I think that the tremendous emphasis that Christianity places on belief might be a mistake. (It certainly doesn't work for me.) I much prefer the emphasis that Buddhism places on practice.

    It doesn't take a whole lot of belief in things that one has no way of knowing to embark on a regimen of meditation. All one needs is some understanding of what one is attempting and some basic faith that it's worth trying at all. Then our meditator can judge the results, decide if they are confirmatory, and proceed from there. It's an incremental process, a step at a time. There aren't any huge onto-epistemological leaps necessary that demand unshakeable belief the absolute central importance of things unknowable and unseen.
  20. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Let's recap on what you said:

    1. No. It's best if you look for yourself, and arrive at your own conclusion.
    2. If you read them, no guess work would be necessary.
    3. Don't get this question.
    4. I've done that loads of times and we just end up focusing on one point and lose the thread. The best way is to find out for yourself.

  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    That's just it: Why do you want to know whether what those people say is true or not?
    Is it just mere curiosity, or do you plan to do something important with that bit of information?

    I wouldn't call it a "trick." That's so cheapening.

    I think it's quite simple: An earnest seeker will seek someone who can take them to the next level, someone who is knowledgeable, and then learn from that person.
    Even as an amateur, one has some idea on who has more expertise than oneself and who is just full of shit, so it's not rocket science to recognize people who may be suitable to learn from.

    Yes, traditional Buddhism is very plain and straightfoward in this regard.

    But, as you may have noticed, understanding such graduality seems quite foreign to many people, whether they be into spirituality/religion or not. A good example are matters around "G/g/od" where people want to have things settled within a few forum posts.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    None of which answers the questions subsequently posed to you, Jan.
    You claimed it would be silly to make up gods given what they knew:
    I asked if it would not be reasonable to assume that the concept of gods predated this knowledge, and thus they merely continued to use the concept, and that it was not as though these people (who had the knowledge 2.5k years ago) were the ones to make up the concept.

    Your subsequent response, to revisit my previous post, in no way addresses this.
  23. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    Okay, I get the question now.

    I used 2.5k years as a conservative/scholarly estimate of the oldest known scriptures (vedas), some scholars believe it to be as far back as 5k years.
    But more importantly the it is purported that the scriptures were written specifically for the people of this age (kali) because we have lost the capacity to memorise not only the exact words, but each and every nuance.
    Previous to that, it was aurally passed down in a disiplic succession.

    This kind shoots your assumption down in flames, but why would you assume that the concept of gods predates the written scriptures?


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