Are we regressing?

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by modernpaladin, Jul 18, 2023.

  1. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Im watching a show on Netflix called 'Unknown: Cave of Bones' about the discovery of a new species of 'homo'- homo naledi, which apparently ritualistically buried their dead, which is a big deal because most hominids, except for us, didn't. The discovering archaeologists and anthropologists got extra excited when they found a 'tool shaped rock' buried in the hand of one homo naledi. This excitement was because it suggested an even more advanced society and culture, as homo naledi may have been trying to prepare their buried dead for a potential afterlife by burying them with objects that were only useful to the living.

    Fundamentally, this is what we call today, 'religion.'

    So, if religion (or spirituality, mysticism, what have you) is one of the fundamental differences that separates humans from other animals, why is it, today, that religion/spirituality/mysticism -the beleif in something unquantifiable and unreproduceable- is instead considered 'superstitious', 'uneducated', 'unintellectual' -undavanced?

    Are we supposed to be striving to be more like the hunger and sex driven beasts, instead of postulating about and preparing for what merely may be?
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2023
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  2. Lil Mike

    Lil Mike Well-Known Member

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    The modern view of religion as 'superstitious', 'uneducated', 'unintellectual' only applies to supernatural religions. Philosophies or ideologies can be just as fanciful but since they are not dependent on supernatural acts violating what we perceive as the laws of nature, they get a pass because...you have to. One of the traits of humans, as you say, is religion, and apparently humans need it, whether it's a traditional supernatural religion or a non supernatural one like communism or enviromentalism.
     
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  3. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    The belief in the unquantifiable doesn't seem that different to me to a deer that gets spooked by a rustle in the grass without confirming that the rustle actually came from something dangerous. Commitment to the unjustified is probably way older than humans.

    The aspects of humanity that allow for ritual and religion seems to me more to have to do with our ability for abstraction, and our ability to create persistent behaviour (like creating a behaviour that can then be handed down through generations. Those are good/advanced things, human things, and they give rise to religion and ritual, but I don't see that that makes a virtue out of the unjustified beliefs.

    Then again, of course, you don't have to buy my interpretation above. My main point is that correlation is not causation. The fact that religion turned up at the same time as (some aspect of) humanity turned up doesn't mean that one simply directly caused the other.
     
  4. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Religion itself isn't the difference, it is a consequence of the difference. The key difference between us and other animals here is creative intelligence, the ability to think about what could be rather that just what we have observed. That is one of the key factors which allowed us to learn, discover and invent the things that allowed us to develop the human societies we now have.

    It also led to us inventing mythology and develop spirituality which in turn formed the foundations for religion. Religion is just one of the many social structures that formed as human societies developed. Religion in itself isn't necessarily good or bad but the elements of acting on doctrine based on pure faith, especially in areas in which subsequent factual discoveries have been made can still be legitimately deemed irrational and outdated.
     
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  5. Green Man

    Green Man Banned

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    Everybody has a god, it is unavoidable. Now don't misunderstand, everyone follows their god and I am speaking of god as a concept. There was a famous psychiatrist named Karl Jung that came after Freud who said that whatever ideals a person holds highest in their mind's eye, if that is not God it still functions as though it were a god.

    This is why we give kids super heroes like batman and superman and captain America. These are idols to follow. They have unabtainable attributes that kids can try to reach for. And while it's good to set your goals to unobtainable height, trying to be like Batman ain't going to lead you to Heaven.

    "Choose this day whom you will serve"

    -----------------------

    "Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you"

    How is that outdated?
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2023
  6. yardmeat

    yardmeat Well-Known Member

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    Humans are not unique in having ritualistic regard for their dead. Some birds do it. Elephants do it.
     
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  7. Chrizton

    Chrizton Well-Known Member

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    If a particular religion adds value to your life, go for it. If it doesn't, so be it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2023
  8. Dirty Rotten Imbecile

    Dirty Rotten Imbecile Well-Known Member

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    Religion is one of the fundamental differences that separates humans from other animals.
    Denying religion is striving to be more like the hunger and sex driven beasts
    Deny religion is bad

    Nuclear Armament is one of the fundamental differences that separates humans from other animals.
    Denying nuclear armament is striving to be more like the hunger and sex driven beasts
    Deny Nuclear Armament is bad

    Being part of a hive mind is one of the fundamental differences that separates bees from other animals.
    Denying the hive mind is striving to be more like the hunger and sex driven beasts
    Deny the hive mind is bad, Resistance is futile :)
     
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  9. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    Actually-- if I may be allowed to broaden your base of information, simply from my memory, and leave it to you, to pursue further, if you are interested-- the "religious" trait, in humanity, came not out of superstition, principally, but out of a change in our brains which allowed for the ability to lose our individual grounding, in the experiencing of some larger reality. Again, I am using my own words, and memory, here, but the phenomenon is convincingly documented. For the longest time, because of interpersonal conflicts, the size of human communities maxed out, at about 50 members. This new brain structure, allowed for communities to grow much larger, which led to all sorts of other advancements of civilization.

    It might, separately, also be noted, that the most impressive, ancient structures in the world-- Gobekli Tepe, the Great Pyramid (and pyramids, the world over), Malta's Hypogeum Hal Safliene, Stonehenge, etc-- are predominantly considered, at any rate, to be associated with religious beliefs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2023
  10. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    Interesting line of argument, I'll give you, but ultimately flawed. The basis of the capacity for religious experience, is being able to feel oneself as being part of some greater reality. There was actually a change in human brains, which governs this capacity, and this has been tied to human communities finally breaking beyond the barrier of 50 members, at which they had, till then, been stuck.

    But you are falsely equating the religions, specifically the modern institutions, with this potential for "spiritual" experience. A good case can, and has, been made, that use of hallucinogenic, natural substances, predated religion, and perhaps laid the groundwork for the contemplation of many of its precepts (immortality; being one with a universal Spirit; etc.).
     
  11. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    Interesting. And I do not doubt this possibility, but would still appreciate more details, if you have them.
     
  12. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    While that may be true, Jung very much did believe in the reality of "God." To him, it was what animated the Universe. In his mind, the evolution of human beings represented God's search for an adequate physical form, for expressing Itself.

    BTW, Jung was Freud's contemporary, and his heir apparent, until they split.

    Incidentally, Jung's first name, is spelled with a "C." He is often referred to, as C. G. Jung (Carl Gustave).
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2023
  13. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Im not conflating spiritual connection with authoritative doctrines here. The question is not whether the common usage of spirituality as a means to manipulate groups of people ( :technical 'religion') is a defining human charasteric (it might be, but thats a question for a different thread), but rather its a question of the seeking of answers without an ability to actually find those answers- like 'is there an afterlife?' Thats a question that only humans (and apparently homo naledi) bother to ask, and its a question that can exist without and indeed existed before, the authoritative doctrine of established religion, and it appears its also a question that scientists consider very important in determining whether a society is 'advanced' or not.

    I had hoped by saying "spirituality/mysticim/religion" it would have made it clear that Im not talking about Jehovah or Allah or flying spaghetti monster, but the general concept of spirituality overall.

    But apparently not...
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2023
  14. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    In that case, your premise is false, because all forms of "seeking answers without an ability to actually find those answers- like 'is there an afterlife?' " are not considered " 'superstitious', 'uneducated', 'unintellectual' -undavanced?" Scientists, for example, have even studied the way that meditation, particularly that associated with Buddhists and Hindus, greatly affects, and could be said even to control, brain waves. There is also scientific interest in hallucinogenic drugs, like LSD, for their ability to help people make psychological breakthroughs; it has only been the government's high restriction against them, which has limited research.
    End thread.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2023
  15. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    Well, I think my point is that superstition alone is not what brings religiosity, but that it needs coupling with abstraction and information being handed between generations (I'm sure other things as well). I'm not entirely sure whether phenomenon you mention is included in that, could you give some more detail on what you mean?



    I would agree that many old impressive buildings are religious. I'm not sure what you suggest we conclude from that.
     
  16. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    You had begun your initial reply:

    Swensson said: ↑
    The belief in the unquantifiable
    doesn't seem that different to me to a deer that gets spooked by a rustle in the grass without confirming that the rustle actually came from something dangerous. Commitment to the unjustified is probably way older than humans.
    <End Quote>

    Do those deer, tend to run off to build architectural wonders, with methods we still can't conceive of? My obvious point, is that a great proportion of the technological achievement of the ancient world, can be tied to religious belief or spiritual pursuit. Therefore, it is a fallacy to equate it with the fright of a deer, at an unknown noise.



    This is why I had explained that I was going by my memory, and suggested you research it for yourself, if interested: because I didn't feel like taking the time to re-research this (since I am already aware of the basic idea). But be patient, and yes, I will go back to do that, and get you a link or two, as well as provide a snip for you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2023
  17. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    No, but they also don't have abstraction, or ability to develop, maintain and iterate building processes, so we wouldn't expect them to.


    I don't think I'm equating them, I'm pointing out the difference.



    Sure, cheers. There wasn't enough info in your previous point to know which idea you were referring to. But link should be fine.
     
  18. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    Once again, your quote had been:

    Swensson said: ↑
    The belief in the unquantifiable
    doesn't seem that different to me to a deer that gets spooked by a rustle in the grass without confirming that the rustle actually came from something dangerous. Commitment to the unjustified is probably way older than humans.
    <End Quote>


    To be clear, then, you are saying that calling religion not that much different from the way a deer gets spooked by noises which it can't identify, is your way of "pointing out the difference" between them? If they are significantly different, then why start with the apparent analogy, saying that they are essentially the same, or, in your words, "not that much different?"


    The point had been, that it was religion which had inspired our ancestors, to employ their abilities.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2023
  19. Dirty Rotten Imbecile

    Dirty Rotten Imbecile Well-Known Member

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    I think one of the functions of our prefrontal cortex is that we can see cause and effect more fully than other species do. We can see that the footprints were caused by an animal, we can gauge the length of time since the footprints were made. Having this ability made humanity prosper through multiple environments because that skill easily makes us more adaptable.

    One of the side effects of this ability is that not everything has a clearly discernible cause. This is a built in bias in the way that we view the universe. Since we experience reality in 4d slices that we measure as time, we are used to seeing one thing cause another. We have developed a capacity to understand reality by interpreting the universe as a chain of events. When we are unable to find a true cause we do tend to create one to fill in the blank of our thought template. There has to be a cause to everything because we can only interpret reality as a chain of events.

    So yeah it’s advanced thinking to be considering a cause for everything but it is also undisciplined thinking to conclude an assumption is a fact.
     
  20. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    Of course, this applies not just in spiritual matters, but in all those of the mundane world, and by no means excludes concepts, adopted in the various fields of science (medicine, physics, and so on) in which assumption is very often treated as fact.

    If you counter argue, btw, that: no-- science does not think of these as facts (which is a contention, itself, that could easily be shot to bits, with examples) but as only their best guesses, based on current information-- well then that exact same caveat could be applied to religious beliefs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2023
  21. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

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    I'd say that deer is reacting to an immediate threat. That's not enough for religion.

    Yes, those who cared for their dead may have had religious ideas. Or, maybe religion came after respecting the dead.

    I would expect an atheist to show care for the bodies of family members. As an atheist, I certainly didn't see my mother's body as garbage.

    I agree with your last on correlation not proving causation.
     
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  22. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    OK, but the archaeologists and anthropologists that discovered homo naledi arent basing their suggestion that homo naledi had a remarkably advanced society based on 'meditation or hallucinigins', rather they made that suggestion based on homo naledi's apparent preparation for some sort of afterlife. I mean meditation and hallucinigins may have played a role, but there isnt any evidence to suggest it... So why are you dragging meditation and hallucinigins into this discussion?

    And what do you mean by "End thread"?
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2023
  23. Dirty Rotten Imbecile

    Dirty Rotten Imbecile Well-Known Member

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    I wish that exact same caveat were applied to religious beliefs. Good science typically talks mainly about what is most likely and what evidence suggests.
    And yeah there’s a bunch of people who are anti-evolution or anti climate change who are sharpening their pencil to criticize that statement but for the most part that is true.

    Christianity (because not all religions are like this) demands that you must believe certain things and those things are taken, by necessity, on faith.
     
  24. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    Buddhism, is a religion. Meditation, is their main spiritual practice; their way of praying, one might say. Buddhists are not generally considered "superstitious."

    Your OP cited that tools were included in a burial, indicating these hominids believed in life after death. You defined that as "religion." So my first reply was to correct your directly equating, of the two. You replied, sarcastically, that I should have known, you were not limiting your idea of spiritual beliefs, to just institutional religions (even though your OP literally said, "fundamentally, this is what we call today, 'religion,' "):


    modernpaladin said: ↑
    ...its a question of the seeking of answers without an ability to actually find those answers- like 'is there an afterlife?' Thats a question that only humans (and
    apparently homo naledi) bother to ask, and its a question that can exist without and indeed existed before, the authoritative doctrine of established religion, and it appears its also a question that scientists consider very important in determining whether a society is 'advanced' or not.
    I had hoped by saying "spirituality/mysticim/religion" it would have made it clear that
    Im not talking about Jehovah or Allah or flying spaghetti monster, but the general concept of spirituality overall.

    But apparently not...
    <End Quote>




    So, I explained, by your new parameter, that hallucinogen use certainly qualified, as inspiring "the general concept of spirituality." So do meditative practices (which are believed to have come out of religious beliefs). But using hallucinogens, for enlightenment, is not now considered "superstitious." Nor is meditating-- even if the purpose of your meditation, is to connect with God, the All-Being, Brahma, or what have you-- thought of as superstitious. On the contrary, meditation is taken quite seriously and is even touted by health professionals. So I could not see who you had in mind, in your OP, who are supposedly considered "unadvanced" because of their "spirituality/mysticism/religion." That is why I wrote "end thread:" there seems to be no general truth, to your thesis.

    Though it still would have been debatable, the only way you could have made a case, that modern society views those pursuing this avenue of human experience, as being "uneducated," would be if you did intend to focus on religious devotees. But your previous reply, made quite clear, that you were not intending to limit spirituality to religion (as I had initially thought). So, in that circumstance, you seem to have no case; hence: end thread.

    Perhaps you could specifically name the groups, which you contend are now thought of as "unadvanced," because of their religious beliefs-- the Amish?
     
  25. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    There is, of course, a good reason, for this difference: namely, that religious beliefs, cannot be tested, scientifically. It would be a long, and probably pointless conversation, to debate whether religions "should" emphasize, that they have no way of objectively verifying, any of their tenets. While there are a few of us, who are comfortable with that sort of uncertainty, one of the top benefits that most get from religion, is a sense of security. That would only apply, if the devotee was sure of his dogma. Certainly, you must be able to see this.

    On your other point-- while I do not dispute either climate change or evolution-- I disagree that "for the most part," people of science carry in their mind, of all their scientific ideas, that these are only working theories. This is also a topic which could occupy a lot of space but which, ultimately, we are each going to base our belief on our personal experience. And I have known many doctors, who follow the conventional wisdom to the letter, without even understanding why, and who are completely shut off to considering that there is any possible error, until there is a newly-accepted theory. At that point, in a serio-comic way, I have seen doctors switch on a dime, with the seeming loss of all memory, of what they had been championing, up to that point. Much like the religious devotees, many physicians seem to feel they need trust fully, in whatever information they are taught as being true. If you want to contest me about this, I hope you have lots of examples, to prove your argument of the scientist who is ever skeptical of the established beliefs, of their branch of science, because I have a butt-load of stories, about the other kind of scientist.

    This is not to say that science and religion are identical. It would be a sadly low bar, if your defense of science, was merely that it has more proof behind it, than religion-- of course it does. The thing is, despite the claims of any given religion, the society does not endorse any religion's claims. It is common sense, for anyone not brainwashed (no offense, to the religious-- I couldn't think of a nicer word to describe it) by their faith, that religion cannot be proven, and so is speculative, in nature. But science is not generally presented as speculative. It is treated, in most cases, as "known," and proven.

    Note, for example, that you call it "evolution," and not "the theory of evolution." Yet, if you had been serious, about scientists treating their information, ever with the realization that it is only a small piece of the puzzle, and that most of the pieces have yet to be placed, by mankind, then every scientific belief, would be thought of, as a theory. The theory of gravity, etc. In practice, though, that is not how it works; it's too much of a hassle. So you just start saying "evolution," and drop the "theory of" part. But when one starts doing this, it is only a matter of time, before they will begin thinking of it, no more, as just a theory.

    On top of that, there is the institutional environment, which breeds conformity, and treats those who have different ideas, or who doubt, any of the official theories, as apostates.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2023

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