From 5700-year old Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, a prophecy has often emerged, based on "liver omens" (soothsaying done by analyzing the shape of a sheep's liver), that expressed a yearning for unity at a time when Babylonia had once again disintegrated into a dozen or more small city-states: "There will come a king of the four corners of the earth."

The Jews have spent 3000 years anticipating a "Messiah," while Christians have passed 2000 years waiting for the return of theirs.

Is there something innate and universal within Humans - a lack of faith in our own abilities, perhaps - that subliminally urges us to seek out a savior?

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highly likely.

Excellent question!  I think the notion of something more powerful than yourself could be an attractive notion for individuals who feel a lack of control over their lives or who suffer from other esteem or anxiety issues.   Perhaps those who are intellectually lazy,  would also give in to the comfort that comes from having some force bigger than themselves in control of their destiny and answer all their difficult questions.  There are those who buy in to that whole original sin nonsense.  I could never understand that.  It offended my innate sense of justice and fairness.  Yet many people enjoy beating themselves up over it.  What does that say about them?     Conversely, there are those who feel internally strong enough to not only question the dictatorship of the believers but face the serious questions on their own.  Without super powers or safety nets.   Those people I can respect. 

Geoff - RE: "Perhaps those who are intellectually lazy,  would also give in to the comfort that comes from having some force bigger than themselves in control of their destiny"

There are certainly those among us who agree with you:

"Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
-- John F. Kennedy --

"Whatever we cannot easily understand, we call God; this saves much wear and tear on the brain tissues....Belief in the supernatural reflects a failure of the imagination."
-- Edward Abbey --
author/environmentalist

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx
www.in-His-own-image.com

Is there something innate and universal within Humans - a lack of faith in our own abilities, perhaps - that subliminally urges us to seek out a savior?

In my opinion no. Not at all. The desire for a savior is forced down the throats of theists and indoctrinated into children in a very young age. There is nothing innate about that.

I feel however, there is a want, innate or not, in most people to be around, see, feel and experience in some way greatness. Greatness can come in various forms, sports heroes, politicians, humanitarians but we are drawn to these people. Think about the crowds that Tiger Woods draws. Despite his past missteps he is still widely admired and the hope for his greatness to return supersedes his past. But let's go deeper.  For me, personally, Hitchens was a great man. Bobby Kennedy was a great man. King was a great man. Malcom X was a great man. I find though, in these days, greatness is hard to come by. Obama could a great man. But I digress.

The point being that I feel that there is a desire in each of us to be great, to do great things, and to experiences greatness. That is part of being human.

But a savior? Nothing innate or even human about that desire. It's completely manufactured.

I think that people thought there was 'something' out there that made the volcano erupt or a disease wiping out a village, or it was a lousy season for fish or whatever, or someone inexplicably dying  - superstition then came into it, and other people jumping on the bandwagon, soothsayers and witch doctors. People realized how much control and kudos they could have if they convinced people they had 'the power' .If you do not heed what I say, then introduced fear, which is what religions rely on today.

Then when prophesies were made, just the same as a Mom saying if you don't do 'this', there will be dire consequences, as in 'go to hell and burn  FOREVER!' That's hard not to believe if one is told this from the age of four.

In todays society, people want community, which old religions are losing, and some mega churches are twigging to. Jump for Jesus, with music, is the way to go. A smart mega church talks about families, life, kids, and has coffee shops. Winning combination. What communities used to do.

This site is a community for like minded people who are Atheists, a comfort zone especially for teenagers coming out in a bible belt or evangelical family. Just the same as church gives comfort to people with problems. 

There are people on this site, when they know they are an Atheist, can have trouble with the concept of their death being final, after many years of believing there was something really nice (debatable)  -that is it - finito - nothing more.

Religious people have to think there is somebody in control of this frgging chaos, that evil people will suffer for the injustice they have caused,  something 'in the end after all this crap'. Life ever after.  Atheists are just realistic.

I was thinking much along these same lines.  Thank you.

I do not believe that there is an intrinsic, or natural, desire in humans for a saviour. Explaining the phenomenon by the insecurities of life, such as feeling helpless as to government, health, morality, and so forth, do sound plausible, to be sure – a little bit too plausible in my taste. In my view, cause and effect are confused in this kind of explanation.

When I was young, I had no desire for a saviour, neither personal nor with respect to the rest of the world. On the contrary, I feared the Christian God and the concept of a returning Jesus Christ as a Saviour because I thought I might be judged falsely, although I had tried to be good. I eagerly read the Bible so as to know what to do in order to go to heaven instead of hell. At one time, I was convinced that if anyone in the world would go to heaven, it would be I, whereas even the rest of my family would certainly go to hell. Yet at some point, I had to realize that it is impossible to be good enough to go to heaven – partly because of the contradictions in the Bible.

I believe, therefore (and for other reasons as well, but it would expand the point I am making too much), that the phenomenon (and thereby the explanation) originates the other way round: that humans are told that they are morally bad, sinful, despicable beings, truely unworthy of any praise or glory whatsoever, causes the desire for a saviour in them. For why would you desire to be saved unless there be anything to be saved from?

"I've been the worst" - to choose a username like that, SOMEone must have done a number on you, but you seem to have recovered nicely, and you make an excellent point: "why would you desire to be saved unless there be anything to be saved from?"

The method behind the madness that is Basic Training in the US Army lies in breaking down recruits until all vestiges of their self esteem are gone, then rebuilding them in the Army's image - I strongly suspect the concept of "original sin," and the accompanying guilt, employs much the same modus operandi.

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx
www.in-His-own-image.com

I am not really sure what you mean by ‘“I’ve been the worst” – to choose a username like that, SOMEone must have done a number on you …’. My username does not mean this, to be sure. My username is German, and it is a combination of the two sentences ‘Ich bin das Wort’ (‘I am the word’) and ‘Das wort ist ich’ (‘The word is I’). ;)
But thank you very much for praising my point, nonetheless! :)

ichbin - I knew it was German, I just mistranslated - my bad! Guess it's back to Berlitz for me! Ich bin dumkoph!#-o d'oh!

But what I said about your post, I still stand by.

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx
www.in-His-own-image.com

Nein, Du bist kein Dummkopf! (No, you are not a fool!) Mistranslations happen all the time. ;)

Yes.  But, you don't have to look far to see it. People seem to 'have to' believe.  No matter the context.  It manifests itself in a myriad of ways ranging from superstitious acts like throwing a pinch of salt over one's shoulder to being completely enamored with a football team.  Leprechauns, good luck numbers like lucky 7 and sports players in little league and beyond who wear their same 'lucky' shirt to every 'home' game are all examples of belief unsupported by facts.  Part of this, I believe, comes from the human mind's need to create something from nothing. People like patterns: Both a strength and a curse, it has allowed people to progress unimaginably well.  Who else but a human would gaze up at the night's sky and draw patterns within the stars or conceptualize wine from grapes?  Since time immemorial, this need to have order and understanding has given rise to religion as a way to understand the world and the people that would see themselves risen up in society by this power and influence.  I then tie this notion of wonder and fear with the very basic, human-mammalian need of family.  Babies and children idolize, listen and basically worship their parents.  Just imagine if they did not.  Compare the love of a child for her parent and the love of the so called devout with their 'lord' and a relationship seems to form.  Perhaps, though people grow older and hopefully more wise and mature over time, there is a need from childhood that craves a parent figure or authority to offer direction.  Man, in his animalistic human nature, still can't quite grasp his innate loneliness and looks to religion as a means to fill the void, provide direction and if done well, a solid social construct.  Most people of average intelligence can't make the conceptual leap from faith and belief to understanding of science and reality. 

What do you think?

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