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Thread: Guilt is the origin Religion

  1. #1 Guilt is the origin Religion 
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    Please refer to this thread to see how this thought process evolved:

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/viewt...=101929#101929

    I think that the feeling of 'guilt' is the origin of morality.
    Guilt being a very primitive group survival mechanism.

    I theorize that when language and thus thought evolved, the physical sensations of 'guilt' were given consideration. Why feel 'bad' after committing an act, as oppose to before doing it? From this consideration came a concept of positive and negative actions. I.e., negative results in this unpleasant feeling we associate with and have since named 'guilt'.
    Negative and positive actions then evolve into a sense of right and wrong. Right and wrong evolving further into what we call morality.

    Is it possible religion evolved from our need to define these negatives and positives to SAVE us from the feelings of guilt and better still, to create a mechanism that does NOT exist within our physical biology for curing us of these feelings of guilt. That mechanism being the concepts of 'forgiveness', 'salvation', 'redemption'. Interesting that we have so many words that are about alleviating us of 'guilt'.

    Your thoughts on this?


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    Gurdjieff suggested a move towards conscience and away from systematic morality, but did not - as far as I know - have some genealogical account. Of course, the first genealogical account for morality was Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals - who perceives ressentiment, frustration caused by inequality in power relations, as being the main originator of the Judeo-Christian morality.

    Of course, he also famously commented that morality was the herd instinct - which is not incommensurable with the above. In any case, conscience and guilt would be the effect of this herd instinct, the wish to comply with the herd instinct. It would not be the origin but rather the effect of morality.

    As for the relation between morality and religion, I think that is much more complex, although morality often is related - especially in the Judeo-Christian line. However, I would not generalise this to other religions.


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    must agree with HU on this one : guilt is nothing but the discordant feeling arising from a clash between personal wishes and the dictates of society

    i'm not even sure whether religion needs to enter the picture, unless it's just another component of society
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    I am reminded by this of something in a favorite fantasy novel, "The Wounded Land", by Stephen Donaldson. The main character is a writer who has some interesting ideas described here by someone who read his book:

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Donaldson in The Wounded Land
    If you had a chance to read "Or I Will Sell My Soul for Guilt", you'd find him arguing that innocence is a wonderful thing except for the fact that it's impotent. Guilt is power. All effective people are guilty because the use of power is guilt, and only guilty people can be effective. Effective for good, mind you. Only the damned can be saved.
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    I get your points chaps and all very good ones, but not sure you are getting mine.

    Forget for a moment we are capable of language and thought and take yourself back to your primitive human state before we were that developed.

    Guilt was not a concept or something explained or considered it was a biological response to a stimuli. It still is. A biological reaction takes place in the body when we do something we believe is 'wrong'

    So, cave man A kills cave man B who happens to be his brother. Later he has an ache in his stomach, feels sick and his body is weakened. He may experience headaches, and his immune system may be affected.

    Or, is it the case that cave man A did not experience these changes in his body?

    Did he merely move on from it?

    If he was not physically affected, then there was no 'guilt' present. if there was no 'guilt' present, then there IS NO survival isntinct that requires us to experience guilt in order to ensure species survival.

    (see first thread on this subject)

    If Guilt is not the product of biology and innate survival mechanisms then it is the product of culture, and all you state above is true and correct.

    But if Guilt is first and foremost the product of nature then it did indeed proceed moralityand religion and could be the basis of all.

    Morality being the preventative measure for 'guilt' and Religion being the 'cure'.

    So the question is, is the physical experience of guilt a matter of nature or nurture?
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    Why would cave man A experience guilt in the first place? You sure have not established that it is not religion that causes guilt in the first place. Or, like I stated earlier, that it is the herd instinct that causes this guilt.

    As it is, yours is a story without a way to determine its accuracy.
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    Would this fit into Dawkins whole evolutionary concept of genetic apathy fitting into the societal effects of evolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomoUniversalis
    Why would cave man A experience guilt in the first place? You sure have not established that it is not religion that causes guilt in the first place. Or, like I stated earlier, that it is the herd instinct that causes this guilt.

    As it is, yours is a story without a way to determine its accuracy.
    I can't prove invisible pink unicorns don't exist either, I don't need to establish religion isn't the cause of guilt, it's obvious isn't it?

    I am looking at guilt from the biological perspective, ie the symptoms that present rather than the name we attribute to those symptoms and the concept that is now attached.

    Some animals express something that resembles 'guilt' and as they do not have religion, religion is clearly not the origin.

    Dogs are taught what is acceptbale by their pack leader/owner. If a dog chews a slipper, it may then go and 'hide' before it's owner comes home and cower even before a punishment has been administered or the slipper discovered. It is aware there will be a repercussion. The senstaion and biological response to knowing it did 'wrong' will begin.

    We do not call these sensations in dogs 'guilt' unless we are being anthropomorphic but they are the same biological feelings caveman A would have been subject to and we still are. The difference is we have elaborated, elongated, speculated and cogugated and come up with a term 'guilt' that is nothing more than a label for those biological changes and subsequent feelings.

    As for herd behaviour, well that brings us back to nature again doesn't it. The herd mentality is all about survival, we are instinctively drawn to follow, or rather some are as all herds have their leaders.

    So guilt is a manifestation of nature first and foremost, religion was not there at the 'start' so it is nonsense to say religion proceeded feelings of guilt.

    Without feelings of 'guilt' we would not have a sense of right and wrong and would not have faired very well as a group species. We did fair well and that was before religion existed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Quote Originally Posted by HomoUniversalis
    Why would cave man A experience guilt in the first place? You sure have not established that it is not religion that causes guilt in the first place. Or, like I stated earlier, that it is the herd instinct that causes this guilt.

    As it is, yours is a story without a way to determine its accuracy.
    I can't prove invisible pink unicorns don't exist either, I don't need to establish religion isn't the cause of guilt, it's obvious isn't it?
    Why is it obvious? Besides, that's not what I was referring to. What I was referring to is that your story, your explanation has no predictive value and no explanatory value. It is useless.

    I am looking at guilt from the biological perspective, ie the symptoms that present rather than the name we attribute to those symptoms and the concept that is now attached.
    A biological perspective? Oh dear.

    Some animals express something that resembles 'guilt'
    Ever heard of 'anthropomorphism'?


    and as they do not have religion, religion is clearly not the origin.
    Right.

    Dogs are taught what is acceptbale by their pack leader/owner. If a dog chews a slipper, it may then go and 'hide' before it's owner comes home and cower even before a punishment has been administered or the slipper discovered. It is aware there will be a repercussion. The senstaion and biological response to knowing it did 'wrong' will begin.
    So now you are attributing morality to dogs? Understanding the difference between Pavlovian learning and moral cognition would make this discussion a lot simpler.

    We do not call these sensations in dogs 'guilt' unless we are being anthropomorphic but they are the same biological feelings caveman A would have been subject to and we still are.
    You haven't established that, at all. You don't even know what causes the physiological effects in humans, or dogs. Biological perspective? Closing your eyes is not a perspective.

    The difference is we have elaborated, elongated, speculated and cogugated and come up with a term 'guilt' that is nothing more than a label for those biological changes and subsequent feelings.
    cogugated?

    As for herd behaviour, well that brings us back to nature again doesn't it. The herd mentality is all about survival, we are instinctively drawn to follow, or rather some are as all herds have their leaders.
    Thank you for rolling back psychology two-hundred years.

    So guilt is a manifestation of nature first and foremost, religion was not there at the 'start' so it is nonsense to say religion proceeded feelings of guilt.

    Without feelings of 'guilt' we would not have a sense of right and wrong and would not have faired very well as a group species. We did fair well and that was before religion existed.
    If you are interested in psychology, why not study it? There's a book on religion by Scott Atran, in Gods we trust. There are countless books on psychology, Kalat, Pinel, &c that provide an understanding..

    Of course, you could just go to a university and follow a college course in it.
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  11. #10  
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    Homo, can you do something other than roll out what you've read, where are your own thoughts in all this, do you 'think' at all or just read, believe and parrot?

    Meanwhile I feel you are still missing the point, so I'll simplify the question for you:

    Which do YOU (not someone you've read about) think comes first in relation to guilt:

    the thought (of guilt) then the bodies physical response to that thought

    or

    the bodies physical response to the guilt inducing stimuli and then the thought?

    Meanwhile re your snipe re the anthropomorphism, you'll find I clearly know what it is as I referred to it in that same post. Perhaps read the post in it's entirity before trying to dissect it. The fact you read and reply that way shows you really have no interest in trying to understand my point in all this.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomoUniversalis
    cogugated?

    .
    typo's due to close proximity of keys to those used in error, the word is cogitated


    cog·i·tate (kj-tt)
    intr. & tr.v. cog·i·tat·ed, cog·i·tat·ing, cog·i·tates
    To take careful thought or think carefully about; ponder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Homo, can you do something other than roll out what you've read, where are your own thoughts in all this, do you 'think' at all or just read, believe and parrot?
    My own thoughts on cognitive psychology? What makes you think you could understand? My views are based on countless experiments and reviews. There's no explaining this in a vacuum. If you are interested in psychology, study it. Failing that, read a book about it.

    Meanwhile I feel you are still missing the point, so I'll simplify the question for you:

    Which do YOU (not someone you've read about) think comes first in relation to guilt:

    the thought (of guilt) then the bodies physical response to that thought
    Thought is a physical process. There is certainly an interesting discussion going on in cognitive science on this perspective.. Damasio with somatic markers has some interesting things to say, I feel, although I'm not sure how much I really can agree with him.

    or

    the bodies physical response to the guilt inducing stimuli and then the thought?
    Why would it be either of the two? It's entirely possible there is a confounder. However, I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to do with your thread. Wasn't this thread originally about religion and guilt, the first coming - historically - from guilt?

    Meanwhile re your snipe re the anthropomorphism, you'll find I clearly know what it is as I referred to it in that same post. Perhaps read the post in it's entirity before trying to dissect it. The fact you read and reply that way shows you really have no interest in trying to understand my point in all this.
    Yeah, and the fact that you haven't read any literature on this shows that you that you lack the commitment to your ideas to feel they are worth of such a foundation. I think I'm better at psychologising, what do you think?
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    Homo you never told me you believed yourself to be psychic?

    Your comment re my not reading any literature on this subject.....that assumption arose from where?

    I have owned and read no less than 21 books on various areas of psychology, that was 14yrs ago though. I confess to not reading much since, or recalling much, but that's not relevant. There is no need for me to present a fully referenced essay with PROOF as all I am doing is sharing my thoughts and requesting feedback. I enjoy 'original' thoughts more than those repeated from books. If I want to read a book I will, if I want to have a conversation I will. They are two different things and satisfy in different ways.

    If you have a problem with that perhaps you should close this forum, being as all things discussed in it can be found answers for in some book. Perhaps just refer everyone to wikipedia instead of starting threads?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Homo you never told me you believed yourself to be psychic?
    A psychic? What gave you that idea?

    Your comment re my not reading any literature on this subject.....that assumption arose from where?

    I have owned and read no less than 21 books on various areas of psychology, that was 14yrs ago though. I confess to not reading much since, or recalling much, but that's not relevant. There is no need for me to present a fully referenced essay with PROOF as all I am doing is sharing my thoughts and requesting feedback. I enjoy 'original' thoughts more than those repeated from books. If I want to read a book I will, if I want to have a conversation I will. They are two different things and satisfy in different ways.
    Quality over quantity. And yes, in fourteen years, a lot has changed.

    If you have a problem with that perhaps you should close this forum, being as all things discussed in it can be found answers for in some book. Perhaps just refer everyone to wikipedia instead of starting threads?
    *sigh* You think discussion is only possible at this superficial level at which you operate? Like I said, there is much active discussion in psychology, like Damasio per example.. Maya..
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    This thread isn't a psychology thread, it's a religious one. Hence it is in the religion forum.

    I was hoping that a couple of religious users may have contributed their own ideas about guilt in relation to morality and religion. Or they may speculate on the origins of religion for which there is no definitive answer to be found in ANY book. This thread is merely more speculation.

    Meanwhile, interesting, you again reinforce your belief that you are psychic telling me now the books I read are not quality. I don't recall telling you the titles or authors of the books I read? Yes things have changed in 14yrs, but the text books haven't.
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    religion is the natural process of every society, every culture, in an attempt to explain the origin of life in the absense of science. nothing more and nothing less.
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    They conceal it in books.
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    TOR, I think you're probably on the wrong track with respect to guilt. It seems more likely to me (and of course this can only be speculation but speculation is NOT useless) that religion arose as a response to natural phenomena that were frightening, and inexplicable to paleolithic humans. The supernatural thus having been invented, it then only needed clever leaders to come to the fore to manipulate this mental phenomenon.

    There is a hypothesis that the tendency to belief in supernatural powers is genetically based. Some of us have the gene and some don't (the hypothesis goes). I can see how this is not an unreasonable idea. Belief in gods and ghosts has always been entirely incomprehensible to me - and yet others of greater intelligence have sincerely held beliefs. It cannot just be environmental. If true this might explain why fear of lightning, volcanoes, and wild animals might manifest itself as religion. Some of those without the "god gene" might follow along for social reasons (as I did once upon a time), or as a kind of insurance, without the need for actual belief.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajg624
    religion is the natural process of every society, every culture, in an attempt to explain the origin of life in the absense of science. nothing more and nothing less.
    Such utter ignorance of religion is quite amazing. All the religious people who believe in the theory of evolution would be rather astonished that anyone could be so clue-less.
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