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Man is by Nature Religious
Posted: 28 January 2012 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Professor Max Muller wrote that “We may safely say that, in all researches, no human beings have been found anywhere who do not possess something which to them is religion” (Max Muller, Origin and Growth of Religion, [London: Longmans Green and Co., 1901], Lecture ii.).

Charles Darwin also wrote that “a belief in all-pervading spiritual agencies seems to be universal” (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, Part 3, Chapter 21).

According to this a man is by nature religious. How can this be explained?

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Posted: 28 January 2012 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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True! And we should learn from that history that the gods aren’t real. More and more people are figuring that out. We need to realize it is better to be kind to one another without using an ancient text.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, professor Muller can safely say whatever he wants, but since I have never been religious nor even close to being religious, his observation is automatically wrong.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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traveler - 28 January 2012 11:13 AM

True! And we should learn from that history that the gods aren’t real. More and more people are figuring that out. We need to realize it is better to be kind to one another without using an ancient text.

Hi Traveler,

You did not answer my question:

According to this a man is by nature religious. How can this be explained?

Do you have any explanation?

Thanks!

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Posted: 28 January 2012 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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George - 28 January 2012 11:28 AM

Well, professor Muller can safely say whatever he wants, but since I have never been religious nor even close to being religious, his observation is automatically wrong.

Hi George,

Cannot “religion” have to do with having a knowledge of moral law of which the “conscience” bears witness?:

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness (Ro.2:14-15).

Do you recognize that you have an inborn knowledge of what is good and what is not?

If your answer is “yes” then can you not understand that that alone can be one of the reasons why people can be described as being religious by nature?

Thanks!

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Posted: 28 January 2012 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Because I have an inborn sense of morality—which I most certainly do—it makes me religious? How so? I am not following your logic here.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Unexplained occurrences can often lead to an animal being damaged or eaten so I believe we all have a motivation to find reasons.  If we can’t find them, we tend to come up with hypotheses.  If they don’t cause pain, even if they are meaningless, we gradually accept them.  Second, we all learn extremely early that our parents are the ultimate authority both for knowledge and power.  As we grow away from them, we still have the tendency to expect and depend on some source of ultimate knowledge and power.  If we don’t have the insight to recognize this, we anthropomorphize natural events and come up with some being who is like our natural parents but far more “super”.

Built into all living things is the orientation to continue the species.  For humans among others this means the drive to survive, and this requires the acquisition of benefits.  Social animals quickly learn that working cooperatively results in greater benefits, albeit sometimes delayed.  We learn this from copying the behavior of our parents and others in our society.  And that is the basis for morality, not some ficticious sky creature.

Occam

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Posted: 28 January 2012 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Jerry Shugart - 28 January 2012 11:46 AM

Cannot “religion” have to do with having a knowledge of moral law of which the “conscience” bears witness?:

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness (Ro.2:14-15).

Do you recognize that you have an inborn knowledge of what is good and what is not?

If your answer is “yes” then can you not understand that that alone can be one of the reasons why people can be described as being religious by nature?

Animals also have inborn senses of right and wrong, as vampire bats will ostracize members of their species that do not share blood with the hungry. Vampire bats do not have religion.

In fact, neither do I.

No moral system requires God. God is the classic fifth wheel of morality, something we’ve known since Plato.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Jerry Shugart - 28 January 2012 11:35 AM
traveler - 28 January 2012 11:13 AM

True! And we should learn from that history that the gods aren’t real. More and more people are figuring that out. We need to realize it is better to be kind to one another without using an ancient text.

Hi Traveler,

You did not answer my question:

According to this a man is by nature religious. How can this be explained?

Do you have any explanation?

Thanks!

Well, as a couple have already pointed out, not all persons are religious by nature. Your statement is that man in general is naturally religious. You want an explanation and I think that’s pretty easy. When a person doesn’t understand something, they look for an answer or a cause (as you are doing now). Some search and search and search until a reasonable answer is found. Oftentimes an answer does not come. Those who give up often say God works in mysterious ways, which presumes something has an answer. To me, that’s lazy, false, and immature. But I don’t push my philosophy on others; that would be rude.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I think people have been religious by nature for may reasons. But the fact that religion is ubiquitous does not prove it is valid.

Religion is common because it was the only method humans had available to explain the scary world around them. God is easier than science. Human beings are intelligent and try to find patterns and explanations in the world around them. Science takes time. Knowledge is obtained in steps. Theories are built on evidence. Evidence requires tools. God requires no thought, no work and you have an instant answer. Human beings have always preferred instant gratification over the delayed type.

Religion also provides leadership to people who want someone else to make decisions for them and access to power for the megalomaniacs among us who can’t acquire it through the usual political channels. Its easier to let a priest, rabbi, shaman, etc tell you whats right and wrong than it is to try and work it out for yourself.

Religion also provides humans with a social group. That can be critical. Those who are seen as outsiders in society often are ostracized and I would think that would affect mortality and reduced ability to reproduce especially in primitive societies.

There’s no mystery about the ubiquity of religion. It may have had survival value at some point but that doesnt make the concept valid.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam. - 28 January 2012 01:06 PM

Built into all living things is the orientation to continue the species.  For humans among others this means the drive to survive, and this requires the acquisition of benefits.  Social animals quickly learn that working cooperatively results in greater benefits, albeit sometimes delayed.  We learn this from copying the behavior of our parents and others in our society.  And that is the basis for morality, not some ficticious sky creature.

If I understand you correctly you are saying that the continuation of the species is dependent on man evolving to such a state whereby he has developed an absolute moral code in his inner being that has enabled mankind to to continue to exist.

Is that right? But if this inner moral code is a result of man’s evolution and is the very thing which has enabled mankind to continue to exist then how do you explain the fact that wrong-doing is easy for man while doing good requires a sustained effort? It seems as if it should be the opposite if your theory is right—well-doing should be easy and wrong-doing would require a sustained effort.

When we examine the history of the human race the evidence would suggest that mankind is not evolving in the manner which you seem to think, especially considering the events that happened in Germany in regard to the Jews during World War II as well as what was going on in Russia under Stalin during the 20th century.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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traveler - 28 January 2012 01:24 PM

Well, as a couple have already pointed out, not all persons are religious by nature. Your statement is that man in general is naturally religious.

Not ALL people are religious but please consider what C.P.Tiele said here:

“The statement that there are nations or tribes which possess no religion, rests either on inaccurate observations, or on a confusion of ideas. No tribe or nation has yet been met with destitute of belief in any higher beings, and travellers who asserted their existence have been afterwards refuted by facts. It is legitimate, therefore, to call religion, in its most general sense, an universal phenomenon of humanity” (C.P. Tiele, Outlines of the History of Religion [London: Trubner & Co., 1877], 6).

You want an explanation and I think that’s pretty easy. When a person doesn’t understand something, they look for an answer or a cause (as you are doing now). Some search and search and search until a reasonable answer is found. Oftentimes an answer does not come. Those who give up often say God works in mysterious ways, which presumes something has an answer. To me, that’s lazy, false, and immature. But I don’t push my philosophy on others; that would be rude.

Speaking from my own experience I can say that my belief that God exists came from the light of nature. The Apostle Paul confirms my belief that all men should know that God exists because of nature:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (Ro.1:18-20).

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Posted: 28 January 2012 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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We have evolved to behave morally and immorally because it has been advantageous for us to behave in a such way. Evolution has nothing to do with Plato’s ideas of perfection. Natural selection selects those who are best adapted, and that may sometimes include characteristics we may not find admirable. If you believe in God, you can blame that on him. If I were an omnipotent God, I wouldn’t have allowed for natural selection to favour immorality.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Quoting J.S.:

If I understand you correctly you are saying that the continuation of the species is dependent on man evolving to such a state whereby he has developed an absolute moral code in his inner being that has enabled mankind to to continue to exist.

From your complete misunderstanding of what I wrote I must assume either that English is not your native language or that you are a troll with no interest in rational discussion, but only in silly evangelism.  That is completely NOT what I said.

I said NOTHING about how the human race is evolving.  If you want to make believe you are answering my post, at least stick to what I said. 

I suggest that for the purposes of this discussion for the moment you try to put your mind in the framework of a non-believer.  This may give you some understanding of our thinking.  It may even help you formulate better arguments for your position.

Occam

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Posted: 28 January 2012 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Jerry Shugart - 28 January 2012 06:06 PM

Speaking from my own experience I can say that my belief that God exists came from the light of nature. The Apostle Paul confirms my belief that all men should know that God exists because of nature:

Well, how nice for you. Apostles mean nothing to me, so the quote is meaningless (to me, of course). I’m not trying to change you. My understanding of nature is still developing and I don’t expect to ever understand it all. But I’m not into shortcuts or scams which is honestly how I perceive theistic religions.

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Posted: 28 January 2012 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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If I’m not mistaken, and I may be, wasn’t the Max Muller that you mentioned in post one (sans the umlauts) the very one who espoused Aryanism, the superiority of the white European? This later led to the pseudoscientific eugenics used by the National socialists. Also, can you site any current research to bolster your claim to universial religious belief besides Paul? You mention Darwin but his findings only concern theories based on empirical evidence, mainly genetic not faith based. Are you arguing for a supernatural cause for “good behavior”?


Cap’t Jack

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