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Featured Vengeful Gods Arise In Complex Societies?

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Revoltingest, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    In the news....
    When Ancient Societies Hit a Million People, Vengeful Gods Appeared

    Excerpted....
    A new study suggests that the formation of complex societies came first and that the beliefs in such gods helped unite people under a common higher power.

    Ancient societies often used supernatural forces to explain natural phenomena, such as lightning. But in the past several millennia, religions also used supernatural forces to enforce moral codes. For example, the Egyptian sun god, Ra, judged the fate of people in the afterlife according to how well they followed the code of "maat," or "what is right." [The World's Top Religions (Infographic)]


    Past work suggested that the rise of this idea of cosmic enforcement of morality was associated with social complexity. The concept of supernatural judgment evolved to help strangers in large societies cooperate, researchers hypothesized. Some work, such as analyses of Austronesian religions or of the Viking age in Scandinavia, suggested that moralizing gods preceded complex societies, while other research, such as a study of Eurasian empires, found that moralizing gods followed the rise of complex societies.

    But those studies were limited in geographic scope and hampered, at times, because historians lacked detailed information on the complexity of societies at given points in history, said Patrick Savage, an anthropologist at Keio University in Kanagawa, Japan. In the new study, Savage and his colleagues sought to overcome these limitations using the Seshat: Global History Databank, a database of information about global history from the end of the Paleolithic period up to the Industrial Revolution.
     
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  2. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    The problem is always which came first the chicken or the egg. The evolution of belief; of course, becomes more apparent when populations reach your ~1 million thresh hold when the ability to communicate and record these beliefs and organize beliefs. This does not recognize the existence of beliefs prior to this when societies did not have the sophistication of social organization, writing and such. For example: Early cultures have ceremonial burials indicating the possibility of the belief in the afterlife or the soul going back to cultures like the Neanderthal.
     
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  3. whirlingmerc

    whirlingmerc Well-Known Member

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    The real God is stunningly holy and stunningly loving.
     
  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    But there are so many real ones.
    And they're so different in who or what they like or hate,
    & when the reward or the smiting is to be meted out.
     
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  5. whirlingmerc

    whirlingmerc Well-Known Member

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    Additionally, vengeful is a bit reductionistic.

    Jesus said love your enemies and pray for those who spitefully use you that you might be sons of the living God.

    Vengeful?

    Luke 6
    “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
     
  6. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    I've known many Christians.
    Perhaps they love enemies, but some can be quite
    hateful towards family, acquaintances, & political foes.
     
  7. whirlingmerc

    whirlingmerc Well-Known Member

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    There are cultural Christians and actual Christians

    There are also misunderstandings, sometimes things are labeled 'hateful' that are not.

    And Christians are 'a work in progress' and not perfect (yet) but everything needed to perfect them was 'bought and paid for' 2000 years ago.
     
  8. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Just like true Scotsmen & unreal Scotsmen, eh.
     
    #8 Revoltingest, Mar 21, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  9. whirlingmerc

    whirlingmerc Well-Known Member

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    Just like 'the wheat and the tares'
     
  10. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    It makes sense that as a population increases, and becomes more complex, the people in it will begin to create subsets for themselves that they can more easily conceptualize and relate to. And that will almost inevitably result in an 'us vs them' form of conceptual unification. Including an 'our God vs their gods' (or lack thereof) meme. Competition usurps cooperation, and the squables begin.
     
  11. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    It has always been my belief that human morality gave birth to civilization civilization gave birth gods. Following the rise of early humans (cro-magnon) and Egypt it seems the only logical explanation.

    I never really considered that larger groups would crate vengeful gods but it does make sense in the need to motivate people to conquer neighbours with "our god is on our side and will ensure we crush the hated enemy" and consequently steal their land, livestock and virgin women.
     
  12. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    It would be wonderful if people followed that advice.
     
  13. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    While God may be this in its essence, that does not mean people see this. They invariably see a projection of themselves reflected back at themselves. Someone full of fear, sees a fearful God. Someone full of anger sees a vengeful God. Someone full of shame, sees a condemning God. Someone full of love, sees a loving God. And so forth.
     
  14. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    And equally, not seeing things. Liie all the passages that specifically
    say god is vengeful.
     
  15. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Now we must study the reasons behind preference for virgins.....or for some, livestock.
     
  16. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    Indeed. We all selectively filter all out the parts that don't fit into our image of God. That's pretty much what we all do as humans for everything, downplaying or ignoring what doesn't fit for us, and emphasizing and focusing on what does. Logic is not what we are, but what we choose to use to justify what we already believe.
     
  17. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    We've got barely 5000 years of recorded History to work with, but it appears that vengeful gods are politically useful. I have thought of a couple of exceptions to your OP. First I think your size of 1 million is too large, and secondly I don't think that human sacrifice requires belief in vengeful gods.

    I don't think you need a million people for that to be true. I think you only need enough for there to be political advantages. Bora Bora had 10,000 people, but it had human sacrifices and religious wars. Likely it was settled about 3,000 years ago by people from Taiwan. Taiwan may have had a larger population, so I can't say for sure that Bora Bora didn't get its religions from there. Its neighbor, Raiatea, was reputed to sacrifice a lot more people. I chalk all of this up to politics, but the religion is part of the sacrificing. This is a classic example of justifying the blood-thirst of a god.

    Japan didn't have vengeful gods demanding sacrifice although it had the same religious problems as places that did. For millennia Japan was a place with a History of warfare with many fractious territories. They had executions which were many, but while these were religious in nature they were not called sacrifice. They were related to honor, and honor related to their beliefs about death. The closest thing to vengeful gods would have been demons, but their demons were blamed for evils not worshiped. Even so people were executed for religious reasons. The population was in excess of 1 million, yet there were no vengeful gods -- and yet religious executions appeared anyway.
     
  18. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    Macho men prefer virgins, makes them feel more macho even though they can only do it once for each captive, it gives them a sense of ownership :-/

    Why they are into livestock, maybe for when they run out of virgins
     
  19. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Being from England, you know why Wellington boots are popular.
     
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  20. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    I could say sheep are trained to run away at the sight of them but i wont...

    ...So...

    Yup., the weather is terrible. ;-)
     
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