• Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Why Did We Evolve the Notion of God?

McBell

mantra-chanting henotheistic snake handler
The comfort zone.
As we learned more about how the world works and come to realize that less and less was caused by demons, devils, gods, etc. the less we needed God to "protect" us from them.
 

kai

ragamuffin
The comfort zone.
As we learned more about how the world works and come to realize that less and less was caused by demons, devils, gods, etc. the less we needed God to "protect" us from them.
and that he wasnt responsible for the crops failing or the tide coming in etc etc etc
 
A

angellous_evangellous

Guest
Why do you say that?

Many different people have imagined far less powerful gods than the creator of the entire universe. For example, out of all of the greek Gods, only Zeus created the universe. There were other gods for different areas, such as a god for war, a god for different cities, gods for different natural phenomena, gods for many major occupations, and so forth.

For the simple reason that if we created God, God was not and cannot be our Creator.
 
A

angellous_evangellous

Guest
The notion that our basic idea of deity is a product of evolution does not logically imply there is no deity.

Precisely. Only that the deity that exists cannot be our Creator. It's the connection between idea and divinity that is key.
 
Going back to a quote from Sunstone on the first pageof this thread:

Why did we evolve this design or impulse to personify things? What evolutionary reasons brought it about?



I don't know... but really, don't we even do that same kind of thing to people? We observe a few key characteristics and invent a whole personality for them- including friends, strangers we meet and public figures. It starts with stereotyping and just keeps going. Is it merely our need to understand the world around us? Is it that we just making logical assumptions to fill in the blanks of our knowledge?

Applied to inanimate objects- we take their key characteristics and repetitive behaviors to have some guide to their future behavior. We name them because we are, each of us, are completely alone in the world. Our consciousness has no direct contact with anything else. We seek the company of those people who we relate to the most- who our consciousness akins to,albeit indirectly; through our words and actions. In the end, though, they can't be there ever instant of our lives -( who would want them to be?)- and people will change unpredictably. Naming and inventing a consciousness for an inanimate object gives us control and company.

It's my belief that this is much the same reason why we evolved the notion of God and prayr. This and Carl Sagaan's idea that we need hierarchy- God judges everyone because there must always be someone higher in the chain of command. (Dragons of Eden)
 

logician

Well-Known Member
Homo sapiens personifies many things because we only understand what we know; a god that does not have human traits is an unknown or foreign trait to humans, thus the personification of many gods throughout history. Does this make them real? NO, it's just makes them familiar.
 

Sunstone

De Diablo Del Fora
Premium Member
What is the evolutionary advantage of personification? Why would the ability be selected for?












(I might know. I just want to know if you might know.)
 

MdmSzdWhtGuy

Well-Known Member
Why did we evolve this design or impulse to personify things? What evolutionary reasons brought it about?

I kind of think of it like this. Those who tend to see patterns in things tend to live long enough to pass their traits on to the next generation. Let me give an example: Grog notices that when Thak gets bit by a rattlesnake (I know, bad example, as this is a New World snake, but play along) that Thak tends to swell up, get very sick, and die.

Grog, being the sort of chap that puts patterns together, remembers that his uncle, Greelor was also bitten by a snake, and that he swole up, got sick, and died. Grog decides that maybe it is a good idea to avoid snakes. He puts the pattern together that snakes = get sick and die.

Grog passes along this ability to see patterns to his kids, who, if they pick up this ability, will pass it along to their kids, and so forth and so on.

I am guessing that the cavemen who did not have enough sense not to play with snakes, or walk off of cliffs, and such, probably did not live long enough to pass along this lack of ability to the next genereation, while those who saw such patterns and adapted their thinking and behavior accordingly, did get their genes into the next line on the human family tree.

That pattern forming ability is very useful in almost all forms of learning, as you are well aware. These symbols I am punching on this keyboard, become symbols you are seeing on your screen, and I am conveying my meaning (I hope) of my words because you have devoloped the ability to read, largely in part because you have noticed that when these symbols (letters) are arranged in certain sequences, they mean certain, and distinct things. "hikhjkjhikj" doesn't mean a thing to you, while "Elephant" means something very distinct.

That being said, when things in the environment come along that Grog doesn't understand, he still tries to put them in the "pattern" framework of learning that he has as a template in his head. He is successful as a hunter because he figures out that the deer, rabbits, bison, or whatever, tend to follow a certain pattern to their behavior. He knows which berries to eat, because he recognizes the pattern of others eating some berries and thriving, while others eat other berries and perish. As you can see this way of thinking is crucial to Grog's success.

However, when Grog see's an eclipse, and the life giving Sun, goes away, he probably freaks right the Eff out, screams, gnashes his teeth, and maybe even murders one of his dogs out of his frustration, and then, lo and behold, the Sun comes back. Well, what caused the Sun to go away? Who knows? But it has to be something. What was I doing right before the Sun went away? Thinks Grog. Better avoid that behavior in the future. What was I doing when the Sun came back? Oh, yeah, stomping my dog to death. Well, apparently, I did something to anger the Sun, causing it to go away, but by killing Fido, I caused it to come back.

It is a short step from that made up scenario, to there being entire rituals set up to appease the Sun/God into staying in the heavens and continuing to give us what we need to survive, and in turn, sacrificing things in an effort to either make the Sun/God come back, or keep it staying where it is.

I think that, or something very similar, is what started this whole mess we call religion, personally.

B.
 

Alex_G

Enlightner of the Senses
Why did humans evolve the notion of god -- that is, the notion of supernatural agency? When in our evolution did we evolve it?

What is the evolutionary advantage of personification? Why would the ability be selected for?

We as humans live in a social world. We are expert psycologists by nature, and having attractive social charecteristics will undoubtedly prove fruitfull in finding a mate and having kids. Gone are the days where sharp teeth and claws trumped all.

We personifly eveything because it is in our nature to psycoanalyse things. Its only our great intelect that lets us diferentiate between actual persons and 'non persons'. Its not really a fully concious thing, like a cat chasing string, it cant help it, to some degree it realises its not a living thing but still chooses to chase. Theres the classic example of trying to coax a broken down car back to life, so amusingly shown in Faulty Towers.

As for belief, its a mix between personification and trust. The belief without evidence is, as a process much quicker than working the whole thing out. This is somthing that had evolutionary advantages apparent in the example of a mother telling their child not to eat the red berries. There is of course complience without reasoning.

What creates the belief is the trust in your notion of god, what the notion is comes down to personification.

If your interested in how religions come about i sugest you have a look into the 'Cargo cults'. They demonstrate a small sample sized version of mainstream religions, with interesting similarities. A good insight in my opinion.

Cargo cult - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia heres the wiki link to get started :p
 

yossarian22

Resident Schizophrenic
More seriously, if it was not Zeus, who was it?
Man, my memory on this is foggy.
Well, everything came from Chaos. Then the five (or was it six?) original Titans(?) popped out. Then it just rolled along till Zeus popped out.
 

yossarian22

Resident Schizophrenic
What is the evolutionary advantage of personification? Why would the ability be selected for?
Well, my answer is basically the same: our innate desire or need to create patterns where there are none. What better to compare things to than ourselves and the other things we see around us.
 

blackout

Violet.
I kind of think of it like this. Those who tend to see patterns in things tend to live long enough to pass their traits on to the next generation. Let me give an example: Grog notices that when Thak gets bit by a rattlesnake (I know, bad example, as this is a New World snake, but play along) that Thak tends to swell up, get very sick, and die.

Grog, being the sort of chap that puts patterns together, remembers that his uncle, Greelor was also bitten by a snake, and that he swole up, got sick, and died. Grog decides that maybe it is a good idea to avoid snakes. He puts the pattern together that snakes = get sick and die.

Grog passes along this ability to see patterns to his kids, who, if they pick up this ability, will pass it along to their kids, and so forth and so on.

I am guessing that the cavemen who did not have enough sense not to play with snakes, or walk off of cliffs, and such, probably did not live long enough to pass along this lack of ability to the next genereation, while those who saw such patterns and adapted their thinking and behavior accordingly, did get their genes into the next line on the human family tree.

That pattern forming ability is very useful in almost all forms of learning, as you are well aware. These symbols I am punching on this keyboard, become symbols you are seeing on your screen, and I am conveying my meaning (I hope) of my words because you have devoloped the ability to read, largely in part because you have noticed that when these symbols (letters) are arranged in certain sequences, they mean certain, and distinct things. "hikhjkjhikj" doesn't mean a thing to you, while "Elephant" means something very distinct.

That being said, when things in the environment come along that Grog doesn't understand, he still tries to put them in the "pattern" framework of learning that he has as a template in his head. He is successful as a hunter because he figures out that the deer, rabbits, bison, or whatever, tend to follow a certain pattern to their behavior. He knows which berries to eat, because he recognizes the pattern of others eating some berries and thriving, while others eat other berries and perish. As you can see this way of thinking is crucial to Grog's success.

However, when Grog see's an eclipse, and the life giving Sun, goes away, he probably freaks right the Eff out, screams, gnashes his teeth, and maybe even murders one of his dogs out of his frustration, and then, lo and behold, the Sun comes back. Well, what caused the Sun to go away? Who knows? But it has to be something. What was I doing right before the Sun went away? Thinks Grog. Better avoid that behavior in the future. What was I doing when the Sun came back? Oh, yeah, stomping my dog to death. Well, apparently, I did something to anger the Sun, causing it to go away, but by killing Fido, I caused it to come back.

It is a short step from that made up scenario, to there being entire rituals set up to appease the Sun/God into staying in the heavens and continuing to give us what we need to survive, and in turn, sacrificing things in an effort to either make the Sun/God come back, or keep it staying where it is.

I think that, or something very similar, is what started this whole mess we call religion, personally.

B.

That was a very thought provoking and insightful post.
I enjoyed it a whole lot. :rainbow1:
 

djrez4

Swollen Member
No one has yet mentioned the odd, human need for self-importance. The existence of a god, in whose image we were all "created," makes us pretty darn special.

Now where'd that pesky ego come from?
 
No one has yet mentioned the odd, human need for self-importance. The existence of a god, in whose image we were all "created," makes us pretty darn special.

Now where'd that pesky ego come from?

Isn't that in pretty much every social creature, though? Why do dogs bark at other dogs and demand their own dominance?- because they're the head honcho! Nature has taught us that only the strongest survive. We're alive, we have the power to kill all the animals around us- therefore we're the strongest, the best. (well, according to that logic)

also, not all gods are anthropomorphic; take the Egyptian gods for instance

((Edit: I forgot the words "every social" first time through))
 

djrez4

Swollen Member
Isn't that in pretty much every social creature, though? Why do dogs bark at other dogs and demand their own dominance?- because they're the head honcho! Nature has taught us that only the strongest survive. We're alive, we have the power to kill all the animals around us- therefore we're the strongest, the best. (well, according to that logic)

also, not all gods are anthropomorphic; take the Egyptian gods for instance

((Edit: I forgot the words "every social" first time through))

Sure, but dogs don't believe Anubis created them in his image...
 
Top