Even if you are an avid Christian, a rabid Muslim, or an Orthodox Jew you have to admit that OTHER people invent gods.
Nobody believes in the Roman gods (Apollo, Mars, Diana, Mercury, etc.), the Greek gods (Dionysis, Poseidon, etc.), or the Norse gods (Freyr, Heyl, Odin, etc.) any more. Everybody admits that they were invented.
So, given that dozens, probably even hundreds, of gods were invented by humans, why would anybody think their god wasn’t invented?
For some reason, humans have an innate need to invent gods to worship. Do you think other animals invent gods?
I once had a dog who would sometimes bark at inanimate objects -- say an oddly shaped stump encountered on a walk in the woods. Dogs have rather poor eyesight and are highly social and territorial. Their "pack" roughly corresponds to our "tribe". They are highly attuned to recognize "the other" and impute agency on what they detect. That is, a dog has an image in its mind of an agent that it thinks it has detected, and projects intent onto it. That bear (the stump) means me harm.
I don't see this as categorically different from what humans do when they perceive God (the stump) and project onto it their imagined model of an intentional agent. My dog, on finally realizing that he'd been barking at a stump, would behave sheepishly. He'd glance back at me as if to see whether I'd noticed his mistake (of course, here I'm projecting and anthropomorphizing). Humans are smarter than dogs in many areas, and considerably less honest. Rather than admit that we are wrong, we make up elaborate justifications to preserve our status within our pack/tribe. These justifications we call "religion".
Rather than just look sheepish and get on with our day, we continue to ruminate on how we may have actually been "right" in our assessment of the stump as a bear. Maybe the bear transformed, Heisenberg style, into a stump when we noticed it. Maybe it's better to take Pascal's wager and treat every odd looking stump as if it's a bear. Maybe I'm the only one who truly saw the bear and everyone else was deluded into seeing just a stump. Maybe I'll be the apostle Paul and go around trying to convince others that stumps are bears in disguise.
Whether other animals have gods of course depends on our human assessment of what constitutes a god, and what we think we know of the minds of other critters. I'm pretty sure that at least dogs don't have religion -- that is, they pretty quickly get over the shame of being wrong and don't build some Rube Goldberg justification machine of defense. They may have something akin to gods -- hell, it might be us, or it might be some imagined thing at which they bark at night. I just wish that they'd stop their incessant fucking barking so that I could get a decent night's sleep.
To Ted Foureagles: An AWESOME reply.
I think you're right about dogs. I have had several dog companions that I know are embarassed when they did something stupid (even falling down the stairs). And have had (and have now) a dog who knows things I don't know (due to their sense of smell) that I don't know, and CAN"T BELIEVE that I am not excited by the fact that a raccoon family or a coyote has crossed the road near our house.
You're right, though. They get over it - they don't keep trying to prove they're right despite all kinds of facts to the contrary.
Anybody who has ever lived with other animals knows that in many ways they are more intelligent than we are.
Maybe this is one of the ways - they don't invent things to worship.
"Anybody who has ever lived with other animals knows that in many ways they are more intelligent than we are.
Maybe this is one of the ways - they don't invent things to worship."
Well put Gus. One of my best friends was a wolf/husky who called herself "WooOoo!". She was a lot smarter than me in most practical situations. She seemed to recognize my stupidity of perception and took it on herself to judge what to do. I tend to give people benefit of doubt -- she didn't, and her judgment was usually better. When we were just wandering the mountains she would lead unless I had some specific destination in mind. In that case, she'd run ahead to find the best route, then come back to see if I was deviating from it. Hardly ever did she just follow. She knew that she knew more about the landscape than I could, and so did I. She also knew more about people than I could, which seems odd. WooOoo! was no happy-slappy pup -- she was a wolf who gave no quarter unearned, but embraced anyone she deemed worthy of trust. For example, she never much liked my Dear Ex Wife -- I should have listened. When a dog gives me what seems a quizzical look I assume that they're asking, "Don't you smell that, you idiot?"
I've heard many people make claims about dogs watching TV, but for the most part this is not true. My parents did have one dog who watched TV. She would set there and watch TV with us, and you could tell it by the way her head moved slightly. If you turned the TV on it would get her attention and she would go to it instantly.
In Texas I had one dog that I could play with in the floor as I'm laying down, and she loved it. Then, if I would suddenly "play dead" she would just walk away as if I really was dead. Some dogs might lick your face and try to get you to move, but not that one.
Dogs also get an idea of your property quickly even if there are no fences. They do this and try to defend that territory for you.
Michael, I'm glad you added "...but for the most part this is not true."
When I was in high school the family dog ignored the TV unless a cat was on screen.
Then she sat maybe a foot away, looking at the screen like there was on one else in the room. Until the cat was no longer on screen.
She left the family cat alone unless a neighbor's dog was in the house with her.
I had a dog who was extremely freaked out by a coiled-up fire hose :)
I'm enjoying all the comments here, and especially Ted Foureagles'.