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Old 08-07-2012, 10:00 AM #1
Serj
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The Evolution of Religion

I've been thinking a lot about religion lately, and I came up with a sort of theory for how it came to be what it is today. I'd like to hear other opinions though.

Go back to the first recorded religions thousands of years ago; the Egyptians and the Greeks are good examples for this. The Egyptians believed in a god that made the sun rise and fall. They believed in a god that made it rain. They believed in a god that controlled the afterlife. Basically, they had a god for what they could not explain. The Greeks were more specific, having a god different personalities you could say.

But then humans began questioning everything they could not explain. It was no longer "it must be a god," it was "the earth rotates and does a bunch of other ****." And since humans began figuring out how the world works, they stopped believing in gods for every specific event. This eventually evolved into Christianity. The idea of there being one god. There is only one god because few questions remain that people have no way of answering: why are we here (what is the meaning of life), how was the universe and everything in it, including humans, created, and what happens after we die? People rely on this one god as the answer to these questions because they cannot be explained. People want to believe there is a reason for existence because nobody wants their life to be meaningless.

We are now on the verge of actually discovering how the universe was created, but still the questions of the meaning of life and the afterlife will be unanswered. There will never be an answer for them that humans will know. That is the essence of god. That is what faith is. Some things simply cannot be explained by science, so it must be something else; it must be a higher power many believe.

For this reason, religion will have evolved to a final and permanent stage once we figure out how the universe was created. If we didn't wonder why we are alive and what happens when we die, god would cease to exist. Never will there be a day where kids look back in there history books, seeing the present time saying to themselves, "that's crazy that people actually believed in god," similar to how many of us probably thought about Greek mythology or the Egyptians. People will always believe in a god as there will always be something we cannot explain.

I don't know enough about any other religion, let alone Christianity, so I'd like to hear some opinions of what you all think about this.
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:50 AM #2
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The oldest recorded scripture are the vedic texts.

We don't actually know what the Greeks and Egyptians actually believed. We know what is recorded. The problem is that understanding of religion has always been different depending on your caste. How the priesthood nobility and warrior classes viewed their religions was different than how the peasants would have viewed it.

Using Christianity for an example. You can read catholic scholars work on the faith. St. Thomas Aquinas description is absolutely different than the peasant "old man in the sky" version. It was recognized that the peasantry did not possess the capacity or the time to fully understand matters. Which is why you have parable allegory and the like. Easy to understand the jest of it.

When we are studying old religions we tend to project the peasant views on them. Much as you have done here. The problem is a lack of proper context.

The reason Christianity caught on so well wasn't because of some grand evolution in thought. It caught on because the rituals and teachings of what is now known as pagan were so complex and hard for your average underclassmen to understand. When Christianity came round it caught on amongst the peasants first with the nobles and priests being the last to convert over. Not true in every situation of course but there you have it.

So in short: no.

Last edited by Iamamartianchurch : 08-07-2012 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:19 PM #3
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Take a world religions class, you will learn more about how religions evolve out of each other, borrow traditions and the like. Your outline is a little rough but your idea is on the right track.
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Old 08-13-2012, 10:37 AM #4
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Take those classes with a grain of salt. Perceptions are a mother ****er. Your best bet is reading Scripture for yourself. Or immersing yourself in a sect for sometime.

If you take a good honest look at things, the philosophy of the Vedas is far more advanced than Judeo Christianity. If anything, the recorded history of Religion shows a devolution. Right down to today's political religions which are matters of only pure matter
Which has some very interesting implications.

Last edited by Iamamartianchurch : 08-13-2012 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:52 PM #5
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Originally Posted by Iamamartianchurch View Post
Take those classes with a grain of salt. Perceptions are a mother ****er. Your best bet is reading Scripture for yourself. Or immersing yourself in a sect for sometime.

If you take a good honest look at things, the philosophy of the Vedas is far more advanced than Judeo Christianity. If anything, the recorded history of Religion shows a devolution. Right down to today's political religions which are matters of only pure matter
Which has some very interesting implications.
You seem to have your **** down when it comes to this stuff. I suppose I'll have some new pleasure reading.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:33 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iamamartianchurch View Post
Take those classes with a grain of salt. Perceptions are a mother ****er. Your best bet is reading Scripture for yourself. Or immersing yourself in a sect for sometime.

If you take a good honest look at things, the philosophy of the Vedas is far more advanced than Judeo Christianity. If anything, the recorded history of Religion shows a devolution. Right down to today's political religions which are matters of only pure matter
Which has some very interesting implications.
This has to do, I think, with the fact that religion was inseparable from philosophy and both of those with science.

Basically, monks and priests were the scientists of the time. The smartest academics were, for example, devout muslims and scholars in the monasteries. Now, there is a general movement towards the separation of religion and science done by both sides. We see a rejection of science by religious extremists (think Young Earthers) and a rejection of theology by many scientists.

Even as recently as the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, leading scientists also viewed themselves as spiritual individuals.

Because, in the past, religious authorities also tended to be experts on academic practices, we see a more nuanced version of religion in the past which incorporates much more critical thinking in terms of theology, philosophy, and science.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:54 PM #7
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This has to do, I think, with the fact that religion was inseparable from philosophy and both of those with science.

Basically, monks and priests were the scientists of the time. The smartest academics were, for example, devout muslims and scholars in the monasteries. Now, there is a general movement towards the separation of religion and science done by both sides. We see a rejection of science by religious extremists (think Young Earthers) and a rejection of theology by many scientists.

Even as recently as the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, leading scientists also viewed themselves as spiritual individuals.

Because, in the past, religious authorities also tended to be experts on academic practices, we see a more nuanced version of religion in the past which incorporates much more critical thinking in terms of theology, philosophy, and science.
Very true. Complimentary modes of study. It is forgotten or ignored that, to medieval theologians, Reason was the path to God.
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:20 PM #8
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Have a conversation with a Jesuit Scholar sometime. I've had many. Most evangelical Christians would have a stroke listening to the conversations I've had.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:56 PM #9
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Lying at the base of every religion is a specific experience, the dogma that follows it is just man-made baggage, accumulated over time and adds nothing to society.
The fundamental religious experience is latent within humans.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:01 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iamamartianchurch View Post
The oldest recorded scripture are the vedic texts.

We don't actually know what the Greeks and Egyptians actually believed. We know what is recorded. The problem is that understanding of religion has always been different depending on your caste. How the priesthood nobility and warrior classes viewed their religions was different than how the peasants would have viewed it.
This. I am actually really fascinated with religion on the Indian subcontinent and in Asia, and have taken a few courses on them.

At the crux of Hinduism, the earliest religion of India, is an emphasis on duty that we do not see in Westernized religions like Christianity. Duty is of the utmost importance to Hindus. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God recorded in the Mahabharata, we see this very concept expressed in full. The poem is about a prince named Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, and Arjuna's reluctance to go to battle against people who are his family. Krishna tells him quite simply, "know your duty, do it, and leave the rest to me". This same concept is outlined in Karma Yoga, a tenant of Buddhism. This is in part because Buddhism was a direct answer/split from Hinduism itself, but that's another matter.

As for your second point, you are exactly correct. Religion was highly related to your place in life. If you were a brahmin, a Vedic priest, you were expected to go through all 4 stages in life (in a system called varna-ashrama-dharma, I can describe this if needed) and to learn the Vedas and carry out the sacraments. The kshatriyas, the warriors and rulers, were to learn from the Vedas but were not allowed to teach them, and were required by Vedic tradition to preform lavish sacrifice which, as they believed, would sustain the universe as a replication of the original sacrifice of Puruscha (the sacrifice which they believed created the universe and the Hindu caste system). On the far end, the sudras, the servants, weren't even permitted to read the Vedas. As you can see, there is a vast separation between the sudras and the brahmins, and this is all based on what class of society you were born into.

So in some ways, religion is a progression of knowledge. We can see that today as the Catholic church accepts Evolution as a theory which works in tandem with Catholic dogma. Buddhism as it spread across India and into Asia and finally into Japan encountered huge changes: especially when it made the jump from India to China and encountered the technological advancements that the Chinese had made.

Do I think that one day religion will be obsolete? I do. I think that it is -- or at least should be -- obsolete in todays' society. It is a great motivator and a great tool for social control, but its moral system is outdated (seriously, what is that wrong with homosexuals that you object to it on moral and religious grounds?).
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:56 PM #11
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This. I am actually really fascinated with religion on the Indian subcontinent and in Asia, and have taken a few courses on them.

At the crux of Hinduism, the earliest religion of India, is an emphasis on duty that we do not see in Westernized religions like Christianity. Duty is of the utmost importance to Hindus. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God recorded in the Mahabharata, we see this very concept expressed in full. The poem is about a prince named Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, and Arjuna's reluctance to go to battle against people who are his family. Krishna tells him quite simply, "know your duty, do it, and leave the rest to me". This same concept is outlined in Karma Yoga, a tenant of Buddhism. This is in part because Buddhism was a direct answer/split from Hinduism itself, but that's another matter.

As for your second point, you are exactly correct. Religion was highly related to your place in life. If you were a brahmin, a Vedic priest, you were expected to go through all 4 stages in life (in a system called varna-ashrama-dharma, I can describe this if needed) and to learn the Vedas and carry out the sacraments. The kshatriyas, the warriors and rulers, were to learn from the Vedas but were not allowed to teach them, and were required by Vedic tradition to preform lavish sacrifice which, as they believed, would sustain the universe as a replication of the original sacrifice of Puruscha (the sacrifice which they believed created the universe and the Hindu caste system). On the far end, the sudras, the servants, weren't even permitted to read the Vedas. As you can see, there is a vast separation between the sudras and the brahmins, and this is all based on what class of society you were born into.

So in some ways, religion is a progression of knowledge. We can see that today as the Catholic church accepts Evolution as a theory which works in tandem with Catholic dogma. Buddhism as it spread across India and into Asia and finally into Japan encountered huge changes: especially when it made the jump from India to China and encountered the technological advancements that the Chinese had made.

Do I think that one day religion will be obsolete? I do. I think that it is -- or at least should be -- obsolete in todays' society. It is a great motivator and a great tool for social control, but its moral system is outdated (seriously, what is that wrong with homosexuals that you object to it on moral and religious grounds?).
Dammnit I was going to quit posting on this forum, then you leave me this, a good post.

I've brought up that same Arjuna story around here before.

Anyway, no it is not going to become obsolete because the "religious attitude" does not disappear with deities. There is a negligible difference between Neo Platonism, Vedic Scripture, Pali Buddhism (for lack of a better distinction) and even the earlier Christian Church. As for morality, that is a most hefty debate. I've said in the past that secular humanism is not significantly different from Christian morals with the exception of its shedding of all Tradition.
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Old 02-18-2013, 03:51 PM #12
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Try learning about as many religions as possible. A smart mind can research something one doesn't want to. Then decide for yourself what you want to do. Your outline on evolution of religion is very well said
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