As a species, when we were younger we anthropomorphised everything. In other words, we translated externalities through our own experience. Hence God in our image etc.
Anthropomorhising is the only way we can relate to something that is outside of our understanding: by dressing it up in a framework we do understand.
The tenets of science rejects anthropomorphising. Objective observations only. Not easy but we are trying.
My point is this: I think having a deity is important, a higher source to inspire, comfort and offset ego.
But why do we not use the one thing that LITERALLY makes us, houses us, feeds us, protects us and offers us so much wonder and inspiration? Earth.
Why is Earth not our principal god? There would be no atheists if it were. There would also be no elitism and I think that has to be the point. Obfuscation is the truth behind power.
Principal god: Earth (not even going to anthropomorphise it into her into Gaia)
Let's not forget that the sun is an accretion over billions of years starting with dust gathering together into a core rock which attracted other rocks larger and larger in average size until a planet was made. Then another planet plowed into the Earth and created our moon.
I'm wondering what day Earth turned into Gaia by thinking "I'm a planet among planets basking in energy from the sun"?
Where is the seat of Gaia's godly brain? Sure, we depend on the circumstances of Earth's surface, its atmosphere, and it's place in the solar system for life, but none of that demonstrates that the planet itself is alive. Are you implying we should worship a "being" which lack the capacity to think and engage in intentional behavior?
Oh, and BTW, human life as we know it would be impossible without the Moon. Is the Moon a smarty-pants, too?
Thanks Unseen. My new word for the day: accretion.
The earth it could be argued is VERY alive. Lacking cognizance and mental ability is hardly reason to strip it of the "being alive" title. You could argue that is has 'intentional behavior' in the sense that the physics of our natural world results in a precise and predictable result.
You've just learned a new word and it's "accretion"? That truly is sad.
Wow, I was unaware prior to this how much you need to learn. Okay, let's start with the relationship of prediction to intentionality (behavior based on intentions). Intentional beings base their intentions on predictions, but in order to be an intentional being, first one has to be able to form an intent. The physics of our world is blind, but can be used by an intentional being. Physics is predictable and thus allows of the forming of intentions, but the predictability doesn't imply intention. It's the opposite which is the case. When the apples falls from the tree to the Earth, no intention is involved even there, despite the fact that trees are living beings.
What you propose was the norm for millennia, and might be still practiced in some places, along with Sun worship. I think it may have been eroded when people grew with knowledge and wondered who made these things, thus positing an even greater entity (i.e. God). Anyway, even in the days of Earth and Sun worship, people still anthropomorphized them, with the Earth imagined to be like a human female, the sun like a human male, etc. Now that we have scientific insight, the earth and sun are uninspiring objects to worship. Few people believe they would answer prayers, or think natural phenomena are divine signs, as was once imagined. One can feel a sort of respect or appreciation of them, but that is not the same as worship. It would be like worshiping gravity. A gravitarian sect is not inspiring.
When I have a conversation with theist friends, I speak of gravity as an alternative to a god in order to get them to think about a power that does not care about or meddle in the affairs of humans. When they can wrap their minds around that, which is a biiiiig stretch for some of them, then they are ready to think about no entity at all.
It changes the conversation away from a footing where they have a bible or books to refer to. Most theists give at least lip service to alternate forms of worship. When I play the gravity card, they will converse, when I play the atheist card, often the conversation ends.
“Long ago, when an early galaxy began to pour light out into the surrounding darkness, no witness could have known that billions of years later some remote clumps of rock and metal, ice and organic molecules would fall together to make place called Earth; or that life would arise and thinking beings evolve who would one day capture a little of that galactic light, and try to puzzle out what had sent it on its way. And after the earth dies, some 5 billion years from now, after it's burned to a crisp, or even swallowed by the Sun, there will be other worlds and stars and galaxies coming into being -- and they will know nothing of a place once called Earth.”
― Carl Sagan
What's with these threads? It'd be funny if it wasn't so ridiculous.
First I see Simon's hilariously nonsensical thread about how the tale of Jesus' crucifixion had "logic and value."
And now you're saying having a deity is "important, a higher source to inspire, comfort and offset ego."
Are you guys sleeper agents, or did you just hit your heads?
I think it's cave-human natural for us to feel there's a higher purpose, and to judge each other in terms of how well all tribal members conform to the support of the group. (This can even beget urges to ridicule others. See above.) But more to the question of anthropomorphism, I think that our ability to empathize with each other and predict each other's emotions and needs is what lead us to over-intellectualize our feelings to the extent that we even invented spirits and gods to explain the behavior of animals and processes (e.g. weather). That was before we had science, which we've had for maybe only something like 1% of our cultural evolution.
I'm in the middle here. On the one hand, I think it's important to realize how we humans have deluded ourselves wrt inventing and putting faith into supernatural entities (with personalities and minds of their own that we can empathize with, and claim to predict the behavior of). On the other hand, I think it's important to realize how powerful our human need to empathize has been in our social/cultural evolution, so much so that we accidentally project our empathy to other beings and objects, and we continue to invent new woo, practically every day. (Well, not all of us, but for those of us who continue to assume that all answers to our most profound questions must come from "out there", somewhere, if only we can mentally connect with it somehow.)
(Come to think of it, I'm often polishing my communication skills and empathy as I re-write and re-write these posts. Sorry about that. Sometimes it just doesn't come out as well as it first sounds in my head.)
Earth - the pacifier that lies between "breast-fed" and "weaned" - not sure I need one, but for those who do, sure, why not?
I do not think having a deity is important. Give that Deity any form or name you wish but it is still a construct invented in the human mind. Any comfort and solace it may give is only placebic (another new word?) in nature. For the rest of us we gain the strength to cope with life through education and discussion. Once we strip away all the woo and superstition we gain an insight into seeing how much of an infliction on the human spirit religions are. It is religion that holds us back. It is this God meme that it has instilled in the collective minds of our species that poisons our ability to see ourselves as we actually are.
We are an evolved species on a small planet, one of billions in a Universe so vast we cannot conceive of its size. It does not even know or care we exist. We have only one short life to live and yet in those few years we can come to realize how magnificent it is. We need to get over the idea of thinking “there must be more” and accept that as individuals we are of no real importance in the bigger scheme of things. As a species we have great abilities and potential. There is much Truth and beauty to be discovered and enjoyed and all without requiring us to be slaves to the traditions and values of ancient tribesmen. There is nothing bleak about being an Atheist and knowing that “this is it”. It gives those of us that have reached this “nirvana” the freedom to think clearly and to fully appreciate our lives and the value that is can have.
It is religion that says that this viewpoint is wrong. There is nothing to despair of. This is not a valley of sin. It is religions that tries to break and enslave the human spirit. It is this need for a god that means people must also seek it out in order to have solace or comfort when the going gets tough. People would not need to cling to the concept or nourish their delusion if they were not blinded by religion as children and left to think like children even when they become adults. There are no gods and there is no need for any to exist. We will flourish without them.