ORIGINS OF RELIGION, 11: GODDIDIT

Long ago when Homo sapiens was not advanced and humans began questioning why they were there and what or who made the universe, some bright individual—the first shaman?—answered the equivalent of “God did it”.

His or her simplicity was excusable because they were early times. What’s inexcusable is that many people in our world’s scientifically advanced, highly-educated countries still resort to “Goddidit”.

Wiktionary summarises the sardonic alternative:
“Goddidit”, as now used, “is a sarcastic assertion that because something has not been satisfactorily explained by science, it is therefore evidence of God”.

Some references:
Dec 7, 1997, Chris Kennedy, Fighting something that doesn't exist, alt.atheism:
“Yes, well, I'm not surprised. I'll bet a lot of things are puzzling to you. But you can just say goddidit and forget about them, can't you?”

Apr 28, 1998, Kevin Jaget, Either God or matter has existed for eternity, talk.atheism:
“Anything we can possibly observe can be explained by Goddidit, after the fact. If it rains, goddidit. If it didn't, goddidit. If the Earth is round, goddidit. If the Earth isn't round, goddidit. It explains everything, but predicts nothing, and is therefore a totally content-free statement”.

Sep 10, 1999, Al Klein, Recreating the Origins of Life, alt.talk.creationism:
“How did whales survive in a fresh-water ocean for a year? Goddidit. How did any totally impossible thing happen?”

2003, Leslie G. Howarth, Genesis 2.0: The Search for the Truth Continues, p. 188:
“The search for the truth is not over yet. In the previous chapter I described how creationism believes the opposite and tends to argue against science rather than providing answers to critical questions, usually falling back upon its untested and unproven "Goddidit" hypothesis”.

Then next—on looking at www.rationalwiki.com/
we find

“Goddidit is essentially the simplest possible explanation for the universe. It is the answer to every and all religious questions taken to their extreme end. If you're wondering how speaking the universe into existence actually works, you're a heretic . . . The concept of 'God did it' can be used to create unfalsifiable theories. A creationist need never doubt creation because God could have made anything.”

Yes, and so could the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And so today, ‘Goddidit’ goes on evoking the same old fictions as they are drawn from the book of futility that is creationism and brainless ‘intelligent design’.

Tags: FSM, ID, creation, goddidit, origins

Views: 6

Replies to This Discussion

It's intriguing to think about the paradigm shift that occurred in the pre-human mind, from the concept of "it is" to the concept of "it was caused". In other words, "it's raining' to "something caused it to rain". And then, lacking other explanations, to "someone made it rain (goddidit)" and "I must have done something that led to someone causing it to rain". And ultimately, this leading to throwing goats into volcanoes to appease the volcano gods. Or voting for silly Alaskan politicians who believe in witchcraft.

I know that my dogs have a certain ability to observe, and a limited understanding of cause and effect. For example, if they hear a package open in the kitchen, they run, and display "gimme" behaviours ("give me a jerky treat"). They only do it, if it is the jerky package, not other packages. They engage in behaviors designed to get me into the kitchen, so they are actually able to learn by observation and trial and error (if I do THIS, I get a biscuit. If I do THAT, I get to go outside.).

So, some nonhuman animals seem to have a sense of cause-and-effect, and they probably had that sense before domestication. "Goddidit" in some way may have preceeded active cognition, and may have preceded what we now consider human. I realize that I'm not an animal behaviorist, but it seems to make sense. I have a cat with similar behaviors, who has learned that certain cues result in being fed, and now engages in behaviors to encourage me to feed her. I don't think it's purely reactive, it is actually learned. Who knows, to these animals, maybe I'm "god"! (stream of consciousness here - so is "begging" really "praying"?).

Given that science and technology were developed thousands of years after the development of civilization and religion, it seems like "goddidit" was the most logical explanation that unsophisticated people could have. It takes the next paradigm shift, from "goddidit" to the far more complex, but correct, explanations, to achieve a scientific answer. Many people are much closer to that than they were a few generations ago, but not completely there yet.

My favorite example is the cargo cult phenomenon (the usual wikipedia discussion here). These are religions that arose in modern times as a result of interactions between isolated Pacific islander cultures, and WWII pilots bringing supplies. There are also modern 'cargo cult'-like behaviors that occur when people try to imitate, without understanding, a successful product or process. I've seen this happen in a couple of modern corporations (sorry I cant say more - I need to make a living!). This is one reason that I wonder if religion is 'hard-wired' into the human psyche, and is a natural (but harmful) part of our thought processes, which requires special circumstances to 'cure'.

As usual, this is inexpert rambling on my part, but it's interesting to dwell on these issues.
On the subject of "god did it" I think you might enjoy this:

Edward Currant is God.
Well I'm glad we cleared that up. :-)

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