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    hi everyone , got a question for you if you wouldn't mind having a think for me. I just can't figure out the answer.

    Here it is; In anthropology, how would you answer the question , what is the 'base' instinct, the 'animal' instinct that drives humans to want to beleive in a creator? what 'animal purpose would that serve?

    erm........ for instance.........women apply make-up to attract a mate, just as a Peacock displays its feathers. Do you see what I mean?


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    what is the 'base' instinct, the 'animal' instinct that drives humans to want to beleive in a creator? what 'animal purpose would that serve?
    erm........ for instance.........women apply make-up to attract a mate, just as a Peacock displays its feathers. Do you see what I mean?
    I don't see how these two relate. Personally I would say that the instinct that comes from an animal to believe in a creator (as an equivalent to us), would be to either a) place blame something else, or rather ignroant instincts, or companionate instincts. I say ignorant because the belief in a creator may slow some people down in understanding the world. As for the companionate instinct, well that could develop from needing to be around other animals of its kind, in a way :?

    Women don make up to enhance that as a sexual difference between her and the male, rather I suppose in the same way that a peacock struts it feathers. Glamour and beauty, making oneself seem attractive to another. Again I do not see how this and 'belief in a creator' fit together. Do you perhaps have a better example?


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    oh yes , sorry , the example is only related in the sense that the base instinct drives the action, ie; making-up.
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    Oh ok I see now . I think I cannot give another description to what I put though but that is a lot clearer thank you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannny
    Here it is; In anthropology, how would you answer the question , what is the 'base' instinct, the 'animal' instinct that drives humans to want to beleive in a creator? what 'animal purpose would that serve?
    If I understand correctly, you're asking about the evolutionary basis for religious belief. If so, that was a question I pondered a while back myself. In my opinion, religion is a device of humanity so that we would have hope against hopelessness. It likely arose from the desperation of our sentient ancestors after the loss of a parent or tribal leader.

    In the absence of the wisdom and experience of an elder (perhaps by death), our ancestors offspring or followers likely felt that emulating the elders would imbue them with the knowledge or spirit of the elders; i.e., they would make decisions based on what they felt their elders would do if they were still alive. This evolved into a worship of the deceased elders and, subsequently, the worship of some supreme elder. In essence, religion probably evolved from a child's longing for the wisdom and guidance of a deceased parent or protector. Therefore, to answer your question, the animal need or instinct for belief in a creator is the basic need for the support, security, and guidance that a parent might provide--in my opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    Quote Originally Posted by dannny
    Here it is; In anthropology, how would you answer the question , what is the 'base' instinct, the 'animal' instinct that drives humans to want to beleive in a creator? what 'animal purpose would that serve?
    If I understand correctly, you're asking about the evolutionary basis for religious belief. If so, that was a question I pondered a while back myself. In my opinion, religion is a device of humanity so that we would have hope against hopelessness. It likely arose from the desperation of our sentient ancestors after the loss of a parent or tribal leader.

    In the absence of the wisdom and experience of an elder (perhaps by death), our ancestors offspring or followers likely felt that emulating the elders would imbue them with the knowledge or spirit of the elders; i.e., they would make decisions based on what they felt their elders would do if they were still alive. This evolved into a worship of the deceased elders and, subsequently, the worship of some supreme elder. In essence, religion probably evolved from a child's longing for the wisdom and guidance of a deceased parent or protector. Therefore, to answer your question, the animal need or instinct for belief in a creator is the basic need for the support, security, and guidance that a parent might provide--in my opinion.
    Well at least that sounds verry plausible.

    Religion came when we as humans became the higher developed animals. In early times religion was nothing else then showing respect to things you didn't understand or of whitch you were afraid. Animals wouldn't think of something like that because it is way beyond their level of thinking yet they are afraid and do flee for fire and seek shelter for stormy weather. So isn't it possible that religion was a way of protecting yourself from harm and has evolved to what it is nowadays?
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    Its nice that I find we all have the rough same idea of how religion came about, now were being sensible! :-D
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis
    Religion came when we as humans became the higher developed animals. In early times religion was nothing else then showing respect to things you didn't understand or of whitch you were afraid. Animals wouldn't think of something like that because it is way beyond their level of thinking yet they are afraid and do flee for fire and seek shelter for stormy weather. So isn't it possible that religion was a way of protecting yourself from harm and has evolved to what it is nowadays?
    If the question regards what instinctive behavior or yearning gave rise to religious belief, I think that behavior or yearning did evolve from a need or desire for protection from harm. Among ancient animals, protection became associated with the presence of a parental influence. As these animals matured and left the nest, they probably felt the absence of parental protection. As human ancestry evolved into sentience, I think religion was how they compensated for what they felt in the absence of parental protection. Thus we seek "God the Father," "Gia the Mother," or the "Creator" to watch over and guide us in our hour of need. Essentially, religion satisfies our desire or need for parental protection--in my opinion.
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    All well and good, but what would be the survival advantage of feeling safe? Would a person who felt themselves to be safely under the protection of a parental figure have some advantage over an atheist who held no such belief?

    I think religion has served two purposes; one to help explain the world, and one to reinforce norms of society.

    I think that when man became a thinking animal, he started to develop theories or models of how the world worked. If you can figure out that a prey animal is eating a certain type of food, bedding in a certain area, and traveling on certain trails at certain times of the day, you have a definite advantage over other predators who have to just stumble across their prey by chance. So men tried to come up with some sort of explanation for everything, just as we are still trying to do today.

    Did it help if the only explanation was supernatural? Probably not much. They might try to appease the volcano god with some kind of sacrifice, but it wouldn't actually prevent their village from being buried by lava.

    The normative function of religion was probably much more important. A person who believed in an invisible entity who would punish transgressions might be more compliant than one who did not. A warrior who believed in an afterlife might be braver, and sacrifice himself for the good of the tribe. This would have a survival advantage.
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    I would agree more with Harold. When you live in a cooperative social group, you will always have the problem of cheaters - people who take advantage of your willingness to cooperate, to help others at a cost to yourself, and don't pay you back for your trouble, and maybe even harm you with their selfishness. Detecting cheaters is one part of the problem, but punishing them is another part of the problem. The act of punishment can be costly to you; they may fight back and hurt you, it may take time away from other important activities like looking for food, etc. The threat of a supernatural punisher can help take care of that problem.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Thanks all for the replies, I've been having a think myself.

    Have you noticed that cats and dogs and animals in general don't like thunder and lightning? well way back in mans evolution we must have been like that, but as we became more intelligent we tried to explain it and other earthly phenomenon (aurora, volcanic eruptions, tsunami?) and we atributed it to something cleverer and more powerful than us.

    ?



    edit. sorry, you all ready said that
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    The normative function of religion was probably much more important. A person who believed in an invisible entity who would punish transgressions might be more compliant than one who did not. A warrior who believed in an afterlife might be braver, and sacrifice himself for the good of the tribe. This would have a survival advantage.
    I think the question was about the animal instinct that likely led to a belief in a "Creator", if I'm not mistaken. If wanting to believe in a Supreme Being was a product of some instinctual yearning, what was that yearning? I think we can clearly observe what it may be in other animals through the behavior of bear cubs forced into separation after two years under the protection of the mother bear. These young bears will continue to follow the mother for a short while after separation until her aggressive behavior conveys that it is not in their survival interest to remain in her company. I don't think that two year old bear cubs seek to stay in their mother's company because of some devotional instinct. They seek to remain with the mother because she has been their protector and provider from birth.

    Now, if you will, imagine humanity on the cusp of becoming sentient. Do you think their first notion was to make sense of the world or was it to make sense of a parent's absence? In the beginning, religion wasn't about the world or the afterlife; it was about a yearning to remain somehow close to a primary protector or provider that likely died or abandon its offspring. Initially, in my opinion, the abandon offspring may have clung to remainders of their parent's presences. These reminders probably evolved into a worship of artifacts and, subsequently, a belief in some etheral force beyond artifacts. Therefore, again in my opinion, religion and a belief in a Creator are likely the outcome of some basic survival yearning rather than some inner need to interpret the world.
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    DrmDoc, I don't know much about early human religions, so I will defer to your knowledge on that. However, I do know animal behavior, so I would like to comment on your point about the bears.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    I think the question was about the animal instinct that likely led to a belief in a "Creator", if I'm not mistaken. If wanting to believe in a Supreme Being was a product of some instinctual yearning, what was that yearning? I think we can clearly observe what it may be in other animals through the behavior of bear cubs forced into separation after two years under the protection of the mother bear. These young bears will continue to follow the mother for a short while after separation until her aggressive behavior conveys that it is not in their survival interest to remain in her company. I don't think that two year old bear cubs seek to stay in their mother's company because of some devotional instinct. They seek to remain with the mother because she has been their protector and provider from birth.
    What you are describing here is weaning conflict. Those baby bears don't want to stay with their mother forever - eventually, when they get larger, she'll just be a food competitor, and they'll want their own territory. But right now, she's still a more successful forager and hunter than they are, and feeding from what she kills and finds is easier than going to get their own. The mother is not driving them away "for their own good", but out of interest in herself and her future reproduction. Everything these two babies eat, she doesn't eat, and the less she eats, the less quickly she can build up her fat stores for winter and/or the next set of cubs.

    What I described above are really the ultimate, evolutionary reasons why these animals do what they do. It is entirely possible that a bear cub's reluctance to leave his mother is expressed in his mind as fear and/or reluctance to leave a protector. But to say conclusively that is what the bear cub is feeling is another story altogether, and not one that has a lot of evidence behind it as of yet.

    Now, if you will, imagine humanity on the cusp of becoming sentient. Do you think their first notion was to make sense of the world or was it to make sense of a parent's absence? In the beginning, religion wasn't about the world or the afterlife; it was about a yearning to remain somehow close to a primary protector or provider that likely died or abandon its offspring. Initially, in my opinion, the abandon offspring may have clung to remainders of their parent's presences. These reminders probably evolved into a worship of artifacts and, subsequently, a belief in some etheral force beyond artifacts. Therefore, again in my opinion, religion and a belief in a Creator are likely the outcome of some basic survival yearning rather than some inner need to interpret the world.
    Again, I don't know about the early forms of religion, but I have doubts about how much human ancestors suffered from "a parent's absence." This depends on the nature of the species in question, and I think it's safe to say that a great ape does not do things exactly the way a bear would. You say "on the cusp of becoming sentient," and I'm not sure when that would be - Homo erectus? Homo habilis? One of the australopithecines? If you consider chimpanzees to be on the cusp of sentience, perhaps you could be talking about our last common ancestor with the chimpanzees, which was probably very chimp-like themselves.

    So let's consider chimps as the extreme end of the spectrum. An infant chimpanzee nurses for four years, and the mother usually has another offspring when her current one is about five or six. At this point the five or six year old is weaned and is no longer allowed to nurse, but as a juvenile this chimp will continue to follow its mother (and its new younger sibling) around for another three or four years. If this individual is male, it will stay in the same group it's mother lives in, but start spending its time with the other adult males. If this individual is female, she is on the one who leaves to find her fortune. Her mother stays in that group, and most certainly does not force her daughter to leave.

    If we then go to the other extreme end of the spectrum, modern human hunter gatherers, the stage of childhood dependency is even longer. A child lives with and is actively cared for by its parents for 15 to 18 years. And again, depending on the social structure, they may continue to live in the same group as their parents for many years after that.

    It is entirely possible to suggest that, somewhere between the last common ancestor with chimps and modern humans, there was a stage where the young were forced out alone into the world like bear cubs are. But I personally find it highly unlikely. You are therefore basing your entire premise on a general sense of abandonment that I very much doubt was common to most members of the species at any point in our evolutionary history.

    Now, fear of abandonment is most certainly something that most very young primates probably feel. At that age, to be without the mother is simply a death sentence. They have to hold on, they have to want to hold on, to their mother if they're going to live. But does that fear permeate adult life to the point where whole groups of people decide to believe in a protective supernatural being? I'm not so sure.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Now, fear of abandonment is most certainly something that most very young primates probably feel. At that age, to be without the mother is simply a death sentence. They have to hold on, they have to want to hold on, to their mother if they're going to live. But does that fear permeate adult life to the point where whole groups of people decide to believe in a protective supernatural being? I'm not so sure.
    I think human behavior has its roots in something primitive, which is often suggested by the behaviors of other animals. Religious belief didn't arise suddenly as some great existential leap in human understanding; it probably arose, as all behaviors, from some basic primal need. The most basic of needs shared by many animals are, I believe, the need to be safe and well fed. To early humans, safety and feeding was probably the role of the elders among the family group. Rather than pray to some metaphysical provider, I think early humans were initially more terestrial in whom they perceived and revered as providers. Therefore, it is likely that early family groups suffered from the loss of an elder.

    Although I agree that early humans probably didn't suffer as much from abandonment, they probably experienced some mental or emotional void or trauma at the lost of a family member. We see, for example, how elephants seem to exhibit almost human emotion and reverence when they return to caress the bone of long dead pack members. Like less sophistocated animals, what I'm suggesting is that religious ideas among early humans probably began as a desire to fill a void left vacant by the death of a valued family member. As I suggested in a previous post, rememberance of the dead likely lead to keepsakes that evolved into objects of worship then into objects of worship beyond the material. I agree, contemporary people don't just make a leap from a lost parent into a belief in some supernatural being. However, primitive people, over a period of many thousands of years, likely made a leap that allowed them to keep their departed loved ones among them in spirit. The greater dependency amony early humans, as opposed to the great apes, likely led to this type of mental and emotional compensation for their social loss.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannny
    Here it is; In anthropology, how would you answer the question , what is the 'base' instinct, the 'animal' instinct that drives humans to want to beleive in a creator? what 'animal purpose would that serve?
    ?
    The awe for nature is a survival mechanism which we all share. Combine it with other survival traits such as imagination and creativity, and rigid thinking (!), and you end up with a gradient of religious determinism inside the human brain. Some are more affected than others.

    Apparently there have been twin studies that show that there is genetic determinant to the level of 'being religious', and it is also know that you can modify your brain to make it more open to the religious experience. A good example of this is cocaine abuse, which leads to a religious phase in the second part of the life of many politicians. See for instance GW Bush.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    I think human behavior has its roots in something primitive, which is often suggested by the behaviors of other animals. Religious belief didn't arise suddenly as some great existential leap in human understanding; it probably arose, as all behaviors, from some basic primal need. The most basic of needs shared by many animals are, I believe, the need to be safe and well fed. To early humans, safety and feeding was probably the role of the elders among the family group. Rather than pray to some metaphysical provider, I think early humans were initially more terestrial in whom they perceived and revered as providers. Therefore, it is likely that early family groups suffered from the loss of an elder.
    I'm not sure how I feel about summarizing an animal's needs with "be safe and well fed." There are times in many animals' lives when food and safety are not top priority. There are more things animals have to desire in their lives besides food and shelter if they're to leave viable offspring in the population; because if they didn't, we'd all die out.

    Although I agree that early humans probably didn't suffer as much from abandonment, they probably experienced some mental or emotional void or trauma at the lost of a family member. We see, for example, how elephants seem to exhibit almost human emotion and reverence when they return to caress the bone of long dead pack members. Like less sophistocated animals, what I'm suggesting is that religious ideas among early humans probably began as a desire to fill a void left vacant by the death of a valued family member. As I suggested in a previous post, rememberance of the dead likely lead to keepsakes that evolved into objects of worship then into objects of worship beyond the material. I agree, contemporary people don't just make a leap from a lost parent into a belief in some supernatural being. However, primitive people, over a period of many thousands of years, likely made a leap that allowed them to keep their departed loved ones among them in spirit. The greater dependency amony early humans, as opposed to the great apes, likely led to this type of mental and emotional compensation for their social loss.
    I think I'm seeing something here that may or may not be what you intended. It is demonstrated in many social animals that an individual experiences extremely high levels of stress when another individual they had a close social bond with dies. Presumably this is because whatever benefit this bond was, it is now gone, and the one who's left will do the worse for it. I can imagine a scenario where having a strong believe that an individual who died isn't truly dead but still exists and still, in some fashion, benefits you, this could alleviate the stress response which could potentially be evolutionary advantageous. In adult baboons, their social relationships help them in dominance fights and food contests. In adult humans, their social relationships help them gather resources. Losing either of those things can be stressful.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Some great thinking here, thanks.

    perhaps also the visible universe may have played a part, with the notion of heaven and such things?



    To move the question on a little, and I'm not trying to turn this into a religous thread or nowt, I'm interested in the reasons. How can the bible be explained? I am not too familiar with the bible, I've read revelation, luke, genesis and dipped into some others. I am told that the bible is unique. I have never read a book like it, but for all I know there may be many similar texts. it appears to me that the bible is more or less a collection of writers telling virtually the same story, from different perspectives.
    Don't get me wrong, it's a mighty impressive book, but a book that appears to me to be the word of man? (I am feeling my conditioning here as I write. My brain tells me not to comment adversely on the bible 'just in case'!)

    Thank you all for helping my feeble brain out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    There are times in many animals' lives when food and safety are not top priority. There are more things animals have to desire in their lives besides food and shelter...
    I do not believe there are "more things animals have to desire" other than food and security (not just shelter) unless you are referencing a desire to procreate or form social groups. Although some may, I do not believe most animals will risk their safety and food intake to satify their reproductive desires. If we are talking about the young in the absence of a primary provider and protector, I think the drive to be secure and to feed surpasses all other priorities including reproductive. The need to form social groups is probably a consequence of satifying basic security and nutrient needs. If, however, we are discussing some basic instinctual need at the root of belief in a metaphysical protector and provider, no needs are more basic than that of wanting to feeling secure and having enough to eat--in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan
    I have never read a book like it, but for all I know there may be many similar texts.
    Have you heard about the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Juda? The history of the christian bible is a fascinating study--but we digress.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    There are times in many animals' lives when food and safety are not top priority. There are more things animals have to desire in their lives besides food and shelter...
    I do not believe there are "more things animals have to desire" other than food and security (not just shelter) unless you are referencing a desire to procreate or form social groups. Although some may, I do not believe most animals will risk their safety and food intake to satify their reproductive desires. If we are talking about the young in the absence of a primary provider and protector, I think the drive to be secure and to feed surpasses all other priorities including reproductive. The need to form social groups is probably a consequence of satifying basic security and nutrient needs. If, however, we are discussing some basic instinctual need at the root of belief in a metaphysical protector and provider, no needs are more basic than that of wanting to feeling secure and having enough to eat--in my opinion.
    You are wrong there. In many multi-male, multi-female primate groups, if there is a highly desirable estrous female around, the dominant male will do nothing but defend her for days on end. He won't eat because eating means he's not watching and if he's not watching other males might mate with her. Males can lose significant amounts of weight during these periods. He will attack any and all males that attempt to take her, even though doing so significantly increases his chances of getting injured. Even if more than one male gangs up against him, he will continue his defense until he is physically driven away.

    Forming social groups satisfies one of your stated needs at the cost of another. Grouping decreases predation risk, that much is certain, but many individuals who eat the same foods in the same place means food competition is higher. Animals have to weigh the benefits and costs of group living, and if the costs to feeding are too high compared to the benefits of protection, they won't group.

    Think about human hunter gatherers. In order to hunt, human males have to travel long distances away from camp, often in small groups or even alone, in order to bring home food. Their children and their mates are dependent on this food. Yet the process of going out to get it is inherently more dangerous than staying in camp where everyone else is. If males do not go out, if they do not desire to go out, how can they sustain their families?

    Animals desire many different things throughout their lives, and there are times where some desires must be sacrificed in order to meet the currently more pressing desires. To say that some of these needs are more basic, more primary than others, is IMHO a subjective judgment. They are all important at some point, and less important at others. And without all of them, life would not continue on as it has. Are food and safety more basic just because they tend to be higher priorities earlier in life? Is this your metric for determining what is basic and what isn't? If not, tell me how you do determine it.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Are food and safety more basic just because they tend to be higher priorities earlier in life? Is this your metric for determining what is basic and what isn't? If not, tell me how you do determine it.
    If I am not mistaken, we are discussing some basic instinctual need at the root of belief in a metaphysical protector and provider; a belief in a Creator. Is that likely instinctual root associated with sexual maturity, existential thought processes, enforcement of society's norms, or is it more likely an extension of an offspring or descendent's need to feel secure and supported in the absence of something tangible? Isn't the belief in a creator merely an outgrowth of a very basic instinctual need to feel secure and protected?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Are food and safety more basic just because they tend to be higher priorities earlier in life? Is this your metric for determining what is basic and what isn't? If not, tell me how you do determine it.
    If I am not mistaken, we are discussing some basic instinctual need at the root of belief in a metaphysical protector and provider; a belief in a Creator. Is that likely instinctual root associated with sexual maturity, existential thought processes, enforcement of society's norms, or is it more likely an extension of an offspring or descendent's need to feel secure and supported in the absence of something tangible? Isn't the belief in a creator merely an outgrowth of a very basic instinctual need to feel secure and protected?
    The point I'm trying to make is this: why that particular need? Why did we believe in a supernatural protector? Why don't we believe in a supernatural food giver, a supernatural mate, supernatural children, etc etc? If belief in the supernatural sprung from basic need, why did we choose to satisfy the need for protection and not some other need? This is why I don't think a desire for a protector is a particularly explanatory reason for the species-wide tendency to believe in the supernatural.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Are food and safety more basic just because they tend to be higher priorities earlier in life? Is this your metric for determining what is basic and what isn't? If not, tell me how you do determine it.
    If I am not mistaken, we are discussing some basic instinctual need at the root of belief in a metaphysical protector and provider; a belief in a Creator. Is that likely instinctual root associated with sexual maturity, existential thought processes, enforcement of society's norms, or is it more likely an extension of an offspring or descendent's need to feel secure and supported in the absence of something tangible? Isn't the belief in a creator merely an outgrowth of a very basic instinctual need to feel secure and protected?
    The point I'm trying to make is this: why that particular need? Why did we believe in a supernatural protector? Why don't we believe in a supernatural food giver, a supernatural mate, supernatural children, etc etc? If belief in the supernatural sprung from basic need, why did we choose to satisfy the need for protection and not some other need? This is why I don't think a desire for a protector is a particularly explanatory reason for the species-wide tendency to believe in the supernatural.

    hi paralith, but surely we do beleive in these things somewhere on the earth? perhaps in the depths of the amazon there is a tribe offering gifts to the grat giver of food?

    it is only in the western and developing world that christianity became the most 'fitting' (profitable?) religion.

    what do you think?

    dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Are food and safety more basic just because they tend to be higher priorities earlier in life? Is this your metric for determining what is basic and what isn't? If not, tell me how you do determine it.
    If I am not mistaken, we are discussing some basic instinctual need at the root of belief in a metaphysical protector and provider; a belief in a Creator. Is that likely instinctual root associated with sexual maturity, existential thought processes, enforcement of society's norms, or is it more likely an extension of an offspring or descendent's need to feel secure and supported in the absence of something tangible? Isn't the belief in a creator merely an outgrowth of a very basic instinctual need to feel secure and protected?
    That might apply to some extent for a monotheistic religion but wouldn't explain the various evil demons, wood sprites, gods of the pantheon, etc.
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    The earliest forms of religion are probably the most informative about what originally caused us to start believing in the supernatural; I am not familiar with what those forms are. DrmDoc claims many of them are based on protective spirits, which I would probably want to evaluate for myself from the evidence. But he also mentioned ancestor worship, and I do have some little knowledge about that, namely that it is pervasive in a lot of traditional cultures, so I can more readily accept that as an early form of religion.

    This is why I think the stress relief idea may have some merit; the people that you had bonds with during your life probably benefited you in many different ways. You helped each other get food, you protected each other, maybe you were mates, maybe they were your offspring. For any and all of these reasons, to then lose that person means you are no longer getting that benefit, and it causes a stress response. Like I mentioned before, this stress response has been measured in animals like baboons; a female baboon who loses another individual that was close to her displays a huge spike in stress hormones. If you can convince yourself that no, that person is not gone, they are still present just in a different form, perhaps that can decrease the stress response. This idea is not limited to a relationship with protection or food, but with whatever need was being fulfilled by that person you lost.

    This also fits in more with the variable nature of religions that came later, like the pantheistic gods that Harold mentioned. These gods represent a variety of things important to human life, things we want and need including food or protection, but also things like love, marriage, family, the health of your children, etc.

    Of course, the next step would be understanding why a reduction in the stress response to the loss of a loved one would be advantageous; generally speaking stress responses are hard on the body, and perhaps reduces the quality your performance in other important activities. Many religions, though, include extended grieving periods and practices, so perhaps the stress response isn't that disadvantageous, which would more or less disprove my idea. I don't know, but it would be interesting to look into.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    that would explain why males seem less emotional,in general, than females. there is probably an advantage in being able to overide your emotional response in many types of interaction. I suppose it makes you look 'harder', improves your standing in the troupe? if you appear to be tougher than the other males then you have to fight less. this happens all the time doesn't it?

    males also feel uncomfortable showing emotion in front of each other.could that be because we don't want to lower our standing ?

    thanks
    dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    The point I'm trying to make is this: why that particular need? Why did we believe in a supernatural protector? Why don't we believe in a supernatural food giver, a supernatural mate, supernatural children, etc etc? If belief in the supernatural sprung from basic need, why did we choose to satisfy the need for protection and not some other need? This is why I don't think a desire for a protector is a particularly explanatory reason for the species-wide tendency to believe in the supernatural.
    Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    ...the people that you had bonds with during your life probably benefited you in many different ways. You helped each other get food, you protected each other, maybe you were mates, maybe they were your offspring. For any and all of these reasons, to then lose that person means you are no longer getting that benefit, and it causes a stress response...If you can convince yourself that no, that person is not gone, they are still present just in a different form, perhaps that can decrease the stress response. This idea is not limited to a relationship with protection or food, but with whatever need was being fulfilled by that person you lost.
    Is it truly an extraordinarly leap of logic from wanting to remember a caregiver after death, to revering that caregiver after death, and then to have other among a perhistoric tribe remember and revere that caregiver? How far a leap is it from worshiping a revered caregiver to belief in a Supreme Caregiver?
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    DrmDoc, all I'm arguing is that there are more desires than simply protection, or caregiving as you now state it, that can be fulfilled by belief in the supernatural of some kind. I don't agree that this one single need is explanatory enough.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Paralith, supreme protector or supreme caregiver are both the same to me. In ancestral worship and worship of a supernatural being, what common thread is there in these behaviors that we can trace back to some primal, instinctive need or desire?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    Paralith, supreme protector or supreme caregiver are both the same to me. In ancestral worship and worship of a supernatural being, what common thread is there in these behaviors that we can trace back to some primal, instinctive need or desire?
    lol, I feel like we're talking in circles. I've expounded on my stress response idea a couple of times, and I can easily see how ancestor worship could have suited a variety of primal needs, which could have lead to a variety of forms of modern religion. Perhaps we should agree to disagree and let it rest.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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    lol, I feel like we're talking in circles. I've expounded on my stress response idea a couple of times...
    I agree, we do seem to be circling; however, wasn't your expounding merely an elaboration of an idea I initially proposed?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    lol, I feel like we're talking in circles. I've expounded on my stress response idea a couple of times...
    I agree, we do seem to be circling; however, wasn't your expounding merely an elaboration of an idea I initially proposed?
    Your initial idea seemed too limited in its scope to me. But not wrong entirely, no of course not. Like most complex behaviors I imagine the real reason will be very multifactorial.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannny
    that would explain why males seem less emotional,in general, than females. there is probably an advantage in being able to overide your emotional response in many types of interaction. I suppose it makes you look 'harder', improves your standing in the troupe? if you appear to be tougher than the other males then you have to fight less. this happens all the time doesn't it?

    males also feel uncomfortable showing emotion in front of each other.could that be because we don't want to lower our standing ?

    thanks
    dan
    That's an interesting question, danny, and we could start a whole new thread on it. Since it's kind of off-topic to your original question, perhaps Kalster can split this into a new thread?
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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