Why did man invent religions, deities, angels etc. As I don't think our fore-fathers & mothers were stupid, I think they had good reasons. Beside strong companions, someone to blame and patches in our knowledge, I can believe that by making simple rules we were helped in decision-making. I'll like views on that.
I believe dan dennet the philosopher wrote a book about that.
Ernst, I wasn't there, but I went to Catholic schools and the following seems a reasonable conjecture.
An authority figure in the tribe, upon finding that people told each other stories to calm their fears or sorrows, realized their effectiveness in controlling tribe members. He decided to collect the stories and persuade the most effective story tellers to tell them as needed.
Mark Twain is alleged to have said religion began when the first con man met the first fool. Those words seem unnecessarily harsh. I have a collection of all of Twain's on a Kindle and searched them for key words but found none. However, I'd read all of his Letters from the Earth, nine stories in all, and the alleged words are close to a metaphor for those stories.
Is it a why or a what? I favor the view that our emotions and the necessary seasonal social interactions (sex and trade) caused the behavioral changes that we interpret as primitive religion. After that we get languages, therefore stories, explanations, and finally institutions.
Darwin's Autobiography (the one with the original omissions restored by his grand-daughter Nora Barlow) contains some of his opinions on Religious Belief, starting on page 85. I review this small volume regularly and rarely fail to find in it some food for further thought.
Thanks you for the link to Darwin's autobiography, with the addition of his granddaughter's restorations. Incidentally, Nora Barlow has a columbine named after her:
The entire section on "Religious Belief" is a worthwhile read, one section stood out for me:
"Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been driven. The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered."
~ Charles Darwin, Autobiography, "Religious Belief", ppg 85-87.
Two hundred millennia ago, homo sapiens didn't know shit from shit. Yet those that were during that time saw the world and were driven to give explanations as to how things worked, what were the mechanisms that allowed day to follow night, the succession of seasons, why stars only showed up during certain times of the year, how crops grew, why there were natural phenomena such as rain, snow, earthquakes or volcanoes. The problem is that they had ZERO idea about any kind of methodological inquiry into these effects. Someone came up with the idea of a super-powerful being or beings who had the means to these ends ... and religion was born.
Man evolved and religion with it, as evinced by the plethora of religions he left behind and the couple that have been dragged along with him to this day. Whether a religion survived depended less on whether its tenets jibed with reality than the skill and the strategies of those promoting it. Religion became a means to project power, from those who asserted that they KNEW what was going on to the vast majority who didn't know from Adam ... or Manu ... or whichever first human their tradition espoused. Power corrupts, and those with the power of religion got corrupted pretty quickly (my guess) in convincing the ignorant that they had better believe as they were told or there were cataclysmic consequences in store for them. Thus was created the power of the meme, a self-perpetuating idea which exists only for its own sake.
Granted, this is a horribly bowdlerized short-form version, and it comes from an engineer, who couldn't care less about philosophy than he could about solid fact and demonstrable theory and who has lived his life by those for most of his adult life ... but it's a shot.
Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances...
Loren, that is the way I see it. May I repost on Twitter?
Rock 'n' roll, Joan! :)
You received these responses Loren:
Sylvia Gibbons I like this.
These are all political activist friends on Facebook. They have turned their stats around on some important issues in the past. I don't know their stand on atheism. They are powerful women.