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.
error: I should have written: They have turned their states around on some important issues in the past.
I appreciate your letting me know, Joan. It means a lot to me. Thank you.
Loren's answer is awesome of course. :)
It's just superstitious behavior. Some Indian does a funny dance and it starts raining. He does it again, same thing. If you're hungry and you need the crops to survive it's difficult to stop.
I'm not going to type the question out, but I'll link you to the episode uploaded to YouTube. I'm linking to a specific portion of the video where Cristina Rad, the YouTube blogger, gives her take on why she believes religion or the very concept of "God" came about, and I think her response is the conclusion most agnostic/atheists arrive at. I used to hold this conclusion myself, the sort of "God of the Gaps" explanation that arrives out of the curious imagination. I link specifically to 6:26, but if you don't have an ad blocker, it may start at the beginning.
Cristina's comment on why she thinks the concept of "God" came about is I think what most atheists would agree with. This theory leaves out mystical experiences entirely, and ironically enough the first to answer in the show is Kristina Keneally who briefly mentions (@2:50) the mystical experiences of Hildegard of Bingen but in a very skeptical tone. This is because as rationalists we have no right to expect this phenomenon even exists, so a skeptical tone is obviously the natural response to this phenomenon, and that's okay because there's a great deal of people who've not had a so-called "mystical experience" for themselves and it's obviously not something prevalent in our culture or society. My own take that I've developed is that without the knowledge of mystical experience, what you end up with when attempting to rationalize all of this is essentially Cristina's point-of-view.
I mention this because of course the mystical experience is probably not responsible for all conjured Gods. Cristina's argument, I think, could account for the Gods of worship, such as the one she pointed out that gave closure to people surrounding the phenomenon of lightning; that could definitely be attributed to fanciful imagination, but the more profound concepts of the divine, such as Brahman in Hinduism can definitely be attributed to this particular phenomenon in consciousness dubbed "mystical experience."
Now, if you posit for a moment that there is a rare universal phenomenon that can effect consciousness, and that this is the real culprit behind these greater concepts of God, religion, the notion of the soul, etc., then it isn't simply a God of the Gaps issue, because such attributes you find that define "God" all seem to manifest within this experience, i.e. an apotheosis, glimpses of eternality, agapé, intuitive omniscience, etc. So, then what you have is a language developed in attempt to articulate not lightning as an "atmospheric discharge of electricity," but instead this very peculiar phenomenon in consciousness. I'd wager Cristina nor most atheists (or theists for that matter) have undergone such an experience, and as Alan Watts used to say, are not even aware that it exists.
Of course, I'm not the first to point this out, that the root of religion may be mystical experiences. This idea has been explored throughout recent history in examples such as Aldous Huxley's book "Perennial Philosophy," there is also Richard M. Bucke's "Cosmic Consciousness," Abraham Maslow had this concept of the "Peak Experience," Romain Rolland, in fact, attempted to make Sigmund Freud aware of this phenomenon in a letter where he presented his idea of the "oceanic feeling," but of course, Freud only mentioned it in his books as a footnote because he hadn't had any type of experience himself of the sort. There's also a mention in Strassman's book "The Spirit Molecule" where he attributes this phenomenon to endogenous indole and tryptamine-based neurotransmitters.
Of course, you'll find various references to this state of mind in religion, western and eastern, as in what's referred to as Shekhina in Judaism, Beatific vision in Christianity, nirvana in Buddhism, satori in Zen Buddhism, quietism in Christian mysticism, etc. So, the distinction is a bit tricky to make here because you could say that "God" has always been a metaphor by which the human mind is trying to make sense of natural phenomena, whether that natural phenomena be lightning or a mystical altered state of consciousness. Perhaps a further distinction could be made such that in the case of the lightning, you could say that if you lived during the Greco-Roman era, you might be inclined to presume that only a God-like entity could produce that effect. Whereas, with the mystical experience, a religious vocabulary is what is developed in order to describe an experience, an entelechy, a state of mind.
More contemporarily, this phenomenon in consciousness has taken names such as "ego death" or in psychology, you hear related terms, i.e. depersonalization or derealization that are associated with this phenomenon. I'd also include hallucination, although that's a very broad term as there's many types of hallucinations. M. J. Horowitz attempted to categorize hallucinations in stages, and there's a reference on the Wiki page on hallucinations. He attributed Stage 5 to hallucinatory activity relative to mysticism or mystical experience, but I'm not too familiar with his work, and as broad as hallucinatory experiences can be, it's sort of strange to reduce it to various stages since there's such a wide spectrum of hallucinatory experiences. However, I do believe this phenomenon in consciousness is something more specific, and while there's not much studies being done on it, there has been some work on these states through the use of fMRI and other devices on Tibetan monks, shamans, etc. The areas of the brain associated with these type of experiences have been pinpointed to the temporal lobes. Dr. Rick Strassman also has a book in which he titled "DMT: The Spirit Molecule" which mentions that perhaps this powerful hallucinogenic compound that our own bodies make may be the culprit behind this phenomenon of "mystical experience," because it seems to elicit an experience within the individual that is universal, that is to say, an experience that contains universal motifs that cannot be reduced to the individual's personal unconscious.
Matt, thanks for the lead to Cristina Rad! She makes very good sense and has a not-so-subtle way of speaking her mind. Her question, "What about Scientologists?" hit the nail on the head. She is sharp.
The mystical experience is very much a feature of Homo sapiens. There exists a sense of wonder, just seeing water turn into ice or gas, or watching sunrises and sunsets, or the different features of the sky! Then, when one observes birth and death, a more mystical event does not exist as far as I am concerned. None of these involves a god/s. Nature, with all its diversity, presents wonder upon wonder.
She's great, isn't she? Everyone loves Cristina.
@Joan Denoo Hmm.. Perhaps I was misunderstood. In the context that I'm using "mystical experience," I'm not referring to an experience like watching a sunset or the emotional feedback in witnessing birth or death. It's a more rare phenomenon than any of these instances. It's something that may not involve "God/s" of the deity form, but when one aims to describe it, "God" doesn't fall too short of a metaphor. It's a profound, colossal altered state of consciousness, if you will.
I mentioned that Dr. Rick Strassman wrote in his book "DMT: The Spirit Molecule" a speculation that N,N-DMT might be directly involved in this phenomenon because we produce this very powerful entheogen naturally within the brain. So, according the "Perennial Philosophy," it's believed that Christ, Muhammad, Gautama, etc. were mortal human beings, just like you and I, who sometime in their lifetime had this experience. So, while Christ may have had a natural induction of DMT somehow, there are plants that also containing high concentrations of N,N-DMT that shamans have been using for millennia.
The experience in and of itself is so profound, so capable of transforming one's expectation and understanding that it could easily be the most profound human experience available this side of the yawning grave. I mean, a speed bump in the imagination of someone over 40-years-old is quite a thrill, but DMT is a 300 foot cliff! So, when I hear comments like, "A more mystical event does not exist, as far as I'm concerned," I just know that I'm not really coming across, but as I mentioned, this is quite understandable as most people have not had this experience, theists and atheists alike, and some are not even aware that it exist. So, what I'm trying to get at is that there is a rare phenomenon in consciousness that is very God-like in proportions that people have had over the ages, and may be the root of the very notion of God, the soul, and the major religions. I mentioned in the post, but I'm not sure how you may have interpreted the portion, Joan, where I said that such attributes that are given to God manifest within this experience, i.e. apotheosis, glimpses of eternality, agapé, intuitive omniscience, etc.
In other words, if one is going to attempt to describe it, if you're religious, you may say "I met God" at the height of this experience. If you're a UFO nut, you may be inclined to believe that you've fused consciousness with the extraterrestrial. If you're an atheist, you might describe it as though you've "glimpsed a higher dimension." So, while your personality can definitely filter this experience, nevertheless, in any case it is something profound, transcendental, and gives way to a sense of interconnectedness to anyone who undergoes this experience.
I think it's as simple as fear of death. The age old questions of what happens when we die.
But..as Loren pointed out so well never underestimate the need for power and the greed of man. Only he put it so well as only Loren can.
I think religions were invented as a mechanism to try to escape ignorance when the modern scientific method wasn't available. Things once weren't as easily explained in an objective manner as they are now, but people still wanted answers. These answers came in the form of assertions that people accepted because they made 'sense' and may have even been consistent to a certain degree. It made 'sense' that a supernatural being created the universe because what else could there be (notice the appeal to ignorance fallacy)? Consistency, of course, is not enough; there must be evidence to support these conclusions to validate them as justified true belief.
Unfortunately, these conclusions grew into religions that became so deeply rooted in people's lives, that they didn't care about any sort of evidence and those who demanded it or went against the common doctrine were persecuted (The Spanish Inquisition for example)! Fortunately, in this century we can speak our minds without much fear anymore, and freely demand for the evidence that religions fail to provide every single time.
As for decision-making, if one uses gods as purely a philosophical concept that may help them make decisions, that may be O.K. Each and every one of us has our own personal philosophy (whether we realize it or not) that helps us make decisions everyday. My philosophy may be based on Sartre's existentialism, yours may be based on Kant's categorical imperatives, etc. However, the minute that a theist claims that god(s) actually exist, they are automatically given the burden of proof and they need to provide evidence for the truth of their claim (which I've never seen happen before).
This is a common conclusion most atheists come to, but I think there's more to it than that.