• thewonder

    I'm an atheist, but how do you know that they didn't worship the paintings in the caves?
  • PoeticUniverse

    A sensation may be present, but who's to really say what is the basis of it.

    Also, thinking of something a lot can make it come to mind a lot more.
  • Coben
    If those who wrote religious texts claimed to have experienced God sensorily, that is no different than them suddenly claiming that there is a being that exists which they decided to call God (or whatever name you want to apply), then writing texts over a period of time about this being and things that He supposedly did. But how does any of this make it any more likely that the being exists?Maureen
    It doesn't make it more likely that it exists for you, but it might make it more rational for them to believe. Their beliefs could be based on their experiences and then also on the practices seeming to help or bring them closer to experiences they prefer and were promised or that seem to or actually do solve emotional and spiritual problems for them. Thus making their religious experiences a foundation for their deepening or continued belief.

    For you not experiencing any of this, it doesn't really provide any basis.
    In general, to experience something by sight is to prove that it exists,Maureen
    That's really not the case. Much of what we consider real is via inference.
    but God cannot be experienced in this manner, or any other manner for that matter. I.E. God cannot be heard, touched, smelled, etc. so by this logic no human could truly have experienced God sensorily in spite of their claims.Maureen
    Well, they claim different, and that via long term practices on can experience God, including sensorily.
  • Coben
    I will not argue that there could have been a Christian God even before Christianity came about, but unless humans were aware of His presence before the onset of Christianity (which is impossible to determine, but again very unlikely)Maureen
    There was certainly theism before Christianity, since Christianity flowed out of Judaism. We know from shamanic and indigenous cultures that people have experiences of beings that seem equivalent to God (along with other entities). I see little reason to believe that belief in God arose in the recent history Christianity began in.
  • BrianW
    While particular designations such as "Yahweh", "Allah", "Shiva", "Tao", "Ishvara", etc, etc, might not have existed before the conception of religions, there is ample evidence that all past human cultures recognised and idealised certain forces that were beyond human control. Eventually, names like God(s), demons, spirits, etc, came into usage.

    One can choose to look at religions myopically as consequences of ignorant humanity or as a natural point on the human scale of progression. However, on the broader scale, everything in the past reflects, to certain degrees, both our limitations (ignorance) and ingenuity (creativity).

    I think the only shortcoming of most religious cultures is the perfection with which they are endowed by those respective adherents/followers. Any critical mind will have doubts as to the whole premise of religion, and any investigative efforts will readily reveal a much less classical operation within such a supposedly balanced domain. And yet, even in our allegiance to what we refer to as scientific thinking, there is much which is analogous to religious sentiment, which is perhaps an indication of a more pronounced character within our human relations expressed through knowledge and understanding of our interactive realities with respect to the perceived vs the conceived constructs.

    It may not be about what we believe in but how we came to believe in something. If we learn the methodology of belief then we can apply it however it suits us. For example, since we know how to bulk up our bodies with the use of exercise/gyms, anyone can be burly, not just those who work in fields with considerable manual labour as would have been expected in the past.

    All I'm saying is, the idea that religions are special is quickly fading because its time is up. But, they will lose much those who insist/persist for and against it and forget what value they have/had in our societies. Not everything is good and not everything is bad about religion but some things will need to be learnt and remembered.
  • TheMadFool
    Isn't this like saying the Sun doesn't exist when you're not looking at it?

    Despite faith being central to Theism most theists attempt to argue for God. These arguments generally work along the lines that God is/was a discovery - existing long before we got to know of him. So I don't think God can be considered an invention like you seem to suggesting.
  • Fine Doubter
    Adam and Eve, who are not the first man and woman, but only the first man and woman that are remembered (and their ancestress Mytochondrial Eve has been tentatively placed at around 120,000 y.a. and Stephen Oppenheimer has traced the movements of mankind in the intervening period), seemed to know a “person” they titled God, then in the time of Enos (Gn 4:26) were folks that called on a “person” they titled “The Lord”, then later on were Noah, Abraham and the like. Writing, for the Hebrews, probably began to come in around the time of the Exodus but only as an aide to oral expression (for double checking accuracy). Mass literacy came in during the Exile.

    Hence the situation prior to Adam and Eve was probably similar to that following them.

    That much is from the Hebrew and Christian Old Testament (as interpreted sensibly, as is intended); other traditions generally contain details that aren’t fundamentally contradictory with that.

    The point made by Reshuffle 12 days ago establishes that “soft atheism” which is people I knew in my young day that would nowadays be called “atheistic agnostics” and weren’t against anyone else having a theistic belief of varying strength, is compatible with the above findings.

    Therefore the existence of written scriptures in relatively recent times tends to support the highly probable existence of various forms of agnosticism and theism, including atheistic agnosticism, well before that. At the same time there would certainly have been hard atheists, who would not allow their fellows to have theistic or agnostic beliefs.

    Fresco clarified the issues on the same day as does Brian W 7 days ago.

    You now focus on a different aspect of the question, how did people think they knew (or think they thought) there was a God or Lord or Ishvara or so on. To what extent was it through their senses? Personally I think that through their shallowness those who claim to present God to the public have been increasingly occulting Him (but that's just me).

    The real point is, that all this predated the present religions by many tens of thousands of years.

    Like Terrapin Station, I am trying to guide you to formulating relevant enquiries.

    Keep at it, very interesting field!
  • Fine Doubter
    I forgot to add that the details of the content of each "revelation" will have differed, ostensibly and/or substantially, between periods and locations.

    I summarise the Old and New testaments as "don't stunt the growth of your fellow adopted widows and orphans in Father's firm" which explains the raison d'etre of Holy Spirit and also explains questions in other threads such as why is God shy.

    Others may be able to offer insights about other religions?
  • 3017amen

    Maureen, if I read you correctly, I would caution you from focusing on objectivity too much. Or to a lesser degree even subject-object methods of perception. As the story goes, Jesus came to earth with a consciousness/human brain. And so it begs real questions as to the nature of same.

    Accordingly, you can infer existence from Christian Revelation (meditation, prayer, stream of consciousness, and so on) Cosmology, and happenstance.

    Objective truth's won't really get you there. Living life is much more. Contemplation of phenomena associated with human consciousness will work better.
  • Fine Doubter
    If God could see that some "revelations" contained greater value than others (which is not a numerical scale such as "positivists" would tend towards) that is not an excuse for us to do other than Os Guinness recommends, namely defend pluralism, which would be the basis on which we could then offer our teaching without bad nerves (if we ourselves knew what it even was).

    Maureen, when you consider that human beings have the highest faculties of any life form, plus the many stupendous new facts scientists are constantly finding about the world, the universe and everything, and how the dimensions intersect, and how everything comes in various different spectrums, and how we dwell in some of those dimensions sensorily, and perhaps don't know about most of the facts of our lives, why not regard knowledge not only as a mosaic, of which we hope to get more pieces, but even the gaps seem harmonious for the time being, like the silences in the music of Haydn.

    As most religion is relational, information that is given to us that illustrates that, and examples set by members of religions that illustrate that, are going to be part of our sources of information. I think these are the sorts of things 3017 is referring to. In my definition of "objective" they would be objective in value but only partially known.

    Above all, like 3017 says, living life and knowing ourselves, that means acknowledging our own faculties - we are not figments of the politico-commercial machine after all.
  • Pattern-chaser
    Like I said any of these Gods could exist and could have existed without respect to their given religion, but it is impossible to make that argument unless humans were aware of the presence of any of the Gods before their religion came about, which in itself cannot be proven.Maureen

    I don't think anything to do with God or religion can be proven, can it? :chin:
  • Teaisnice
    It looks like you laid your argument out as follows:

    1. If humans were not aware of the presence of any gods or God before their respective religions came about, then these gods or God could not have existed before their respective religions came about.
    2. Humans were not aware of the presence of any gods or God before their respective religions came about.
    3.Therefore, any gods or God could not have existed before their respective religions came about.

    For simplicity, I’ll speak in terms of God for now. Objecting to the conditional in (1), God could exist before any human defines Him. This is sensible because humans make things, so one might suppose that humans and the world were made by something--perhaps God. A creation must necessarily come to exist after its creator. So if God created humans, then humans came after God. It follows that humans’, and humans’ definitions of God, came after God.

    God might be described as transcendent, omnipresent, and/or omnipotent. This would allow Him to transcend our concepts of time and space. However, it does not even seem that (1) is compatible with that description of God because it traces God’s existence to the instance that humans became aware of Him. Yet it does not seem like you are arguing that we need to revise our descriptions of God. It seems that you are arguing that because God is transcendent, omnipresent, and/or omnipotent, we cannot observe His existence. Further, because His existence cannot be observed, religions made up their concepts of God. So you, the author of the original post, may want to conclude that we should not ascribe to any religion that makes up concepts of gods or God out of thin air. But, it would be replied, religions do not make up concepts of gods or God out of thin air.

    Regarding (2), this is not the most unsensible premise. My biggest issue with (2) is not the premise itself, but that you are so adamant to say that it is absolutely, without any doubt whatsoever true. It seems there is at least some reason to doubt it. Humans, before religions, might have speculated that something such as God existed, but did not have available to them the religious language used now. Even now, children can be aware of something ‘out there’ such as God without exactly knowing what/who God is or what to call Him, and can do so without having been introduced to any religion. To be charitable, I would grant this premise because objections to premise (1) do all of the work needed.
  • Marissa
    Hi Maureen,

    If I am correct, I think your argument takes this form:

    1. If a god is not known to exist prior to the development of the religion it is recognized in conjunction with, then it does not exist.
    2. The Christian God was not known to exist prior to the development of Christianity.
    3. Therefore, the Christian God does not exist other than as a result of the development of Christianity.

    I take issue with this argument, specifically Premise 2. As a part of your explanation of your argument, you claimed that a god only necessarily comes to fruition because of the development of a religion surrounding it and that, because there is no way to know if people believed in God before the development of the Christian religion, then no one can make the argument that God exists and has always existed.

    One counter-example I would pose to Premise 2 is the argument for fine-tuning. If you are not familiar with this argument, it affirms the existence of God on the evidence that the basic structure of the universe is balanced in such a precarious way that the most plausible explanation for its existence is an intelligent creator. This argument uses the parameters of physics and the initial distribution of matter and energy that is so specifically fine-tuned to support life that it would be highly improbable that it happened that way by chance.

    Even though people who lived before the development of Christianity did not yet have the tools to know the parameters of physics and the scientific background surrounding the origin of the universe, this information regarding the fine-tuning of the cosmos was the same. It cannot be claimed that no one knew of the existence of God prior to Christianity because the universe in its precarious state still existed and someone may have taken this to mean it had been created by some intelligent being. You conceded that since we cannot know if anyone knew of God before the development of Christianity, then we cannot claim God exists other than as a result of the development of the religion. However, we also cannot deny that someone knew of God before the development of Christianity and the various arguments for God’s existence, including the fine-tuning argument, could provide a rationale that those who did believe in God before Christianity could’ve followed. These arguments make it seem more likely to me that people did know of God before the development of Christianity.
  • KrystalZ
    Your argument seems like this:
    1. If God exists before Christianity was founded, human were aware of God’s presence before Christianity was founded.
    2. It’s impossible to determine that human were aware of God’s presence before Christianity was founded.
    3. God does not exist before Christianity was founded. (1,2 MT)
    4. If God does not exist before Christianity was founded, God only exists in conjunction with the Christian religion.
    5. God only exists in conjunction with the Christian religion. (3,4 MP)

    I don’t agree with P2. There two ways to argue that human were aware of God’s presence before Christianity was founded.

    First, one can say existence of God is independent from any religious doctrine that defines him as a religious God. It exists without the definition given by a specific religion established by the human civilization over time. Christian God is a God defined with Christian doctrines, same with other religions. Human can be aware of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being like God. Different people had different ideas of such being and they identified themselves as the believer of certain religion because its doctrines match or is close to their ideas of such being.

    Second, human were aware of some supernatural events happened in the past which they cannot understand and attribute those events to the omni-being. The existence of such being helps explain supernatural events. They only lack a general definition and name of such being.

    With regard to P1, one can contend that human does not need to be aware of God’ presence before Christianity was founded if God exists before Christianity was founded. God’s existence alone is not hinge on whether human are aware of it. Something not tangible can exist without you knowing it exists. A case in point will be the knowledge that one has not learned and not even aware there is this kind of knowledge but this kind of knowledge indeed exists and may has already been aware of by others.
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