Allow me to introduce another point, which no one has brought up.
Have you ever wondered why religion is so prevalent throughout history? Why every single culture, even cultures that developed independently (in anticipation of your impending comment that every culture learned religion from another culture) has a religious belief system? Why is this true if religion is a “learned behavior”? It is much more reasonable to explain the worldwide phenomenon of religion by positing that we are hard-wired, created, to know and worship God. In a way, the very fact that humankind seems to have an innate desire to know God points to the fact that we were created by God. God created us with a desire to know him. And of course, cultures missed the mark, creating false mythologies and empty religions. But all of these belief systems come from a common source. Religion is not an accidental phenomenon.
No; I have never wondered why religion is so prevalent throughout history. The answer to that question is obvious. Gods are the byproducts of our limitations. They purportedly do what we cannot. They control weather and natural disasters; they fly and they conquer death, amongst other things. Religion is a system that dictates how said god(s) is/are worshiped, sacrificed to, spoken to, etc. Some systems even decide who is closer to said god(s) or who is authorized to teach the text(s) of the given religion. Regardless, you have changed the subject. The quote applies individually and not culturally. In other words, McAfee is saying that religion is a learned individual behavior, and in saying that he’s correct; he is not saying that entire cultures somehow learned to behave religiously. If that was his argument, I would strongly disagree. How religion arose in one culture or another is a complex matter; how religion arises in one individual or another isn’t complex. Funny; you thought you could anticipate my response. You forget that there’s a significant age difference between us and therefore, there’s a significant difference in knowledge and experience between us. My point: it is highly unlikely that you will ever properly anticipate my response; it is best that you do not even attempt to do so.
You argue your point (that religion is a learned behavior) by saying that different regions and ethnic groups have their own specific religions, and someone brought up in a certain region or ethnic group is more likely to have that specific religion than a religion that is typical of another region or ethnic group. For example, someone brought up in Pakistan or Syria is more likely to have a Muslim faith than a Christian one, and a person brought up in the United States more likely to have a Christian faith than a Muslim one. But this doesn’t prove that religions and religious sentiments are entirely man-made. As I said above, the universality of religion points to an aspect of the nature of man that cannot very well be explained by evolution.
Correct; it doesn’t prove that religions are entirely man-made. The McAfee quote is a small argument amongst a vast number of arguments that atheists have made. The universality of religion doesn’t point to some ambiguous part of our nature and yes, it is explained thoroughly by evolutionary psychology. Furthermore, I explained it effectively. However, I’ll give you some common examples to substantiate what I said above. What is it with crop gods? Crop gods were common in the past and they are still common in parts of the world where people either haven’t learned to apply science to agriculture or don’t have the luxury of land fertile enough to yield consistently sufficient harvests. It is no wonder they turn to gods given that limitation; it is no wonder they invent a system in where this god can be pleased enough to give them a good harvest or displeased enough to cause a drought or famine. Then there are those moments when they do everything properly and there still isn’t a harvest; that’s when the devout make excuses for their gods. Then there’s animal sacrifice, which leads to human sacrifice. This is a disgusting commonality amongst the major world religions; even unknown and ancient religions sacrificed animals and/or humans. You talk about the universality of religion as if it is a good thing! Some religions would give the impression that religion is the universal acceptance of utter insanity—especially when considering that some cultures sacrificed children and infants for religious purposes! Thank goodness for Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and the like; the founders of such religions proved that philosophy can be the basis of religion. However, Buddhism wasn’t always what it is today; furthermore, Buddhism isn’t always zen and aligning of chokras. Buddhism has its fair share of extremists who aren’t peaceful and instead of meditating, they’re aligning their firearms for political reasons.
You say that religion arose because we have this innate desire to know god. You speak of religion from a monotheist point of view obviously and it is clear that you have no idea what you’re talking about. That is also made obvious by your egregious comments concerning so called “false theologies” and “empty religions”; Hinduism, for instance, is far from an “empty religion” and in order to conclude that x or y religion is a system of “false theologies,” it is incumbent on you to actually study x or y religion. It isn’t enough to say that they’re false because Christianity is true. As I have shown, religion is a lot more than trying to know god; in some cases, the devout have no desire to know the god they fear. They simply desire to please this god in order to get what they want. It is a melancholy truth that religion isn’t selfless in most cases; it is often selfish. Even Christians are selfish; most would pray for their prosperity and their health prior to praying for the prosperity and health of others. Your simplistic view of religion doesn’t help in defining religion, but look on the bright side, you’re fairly younger than I am and thus, you have much time to expand your knowledge.
And one unrelated question: You are probably familiar with the fact that e^(pi x i) - 1 = 0. How do you explain the fact that seemingly unrelated numbers which describe seemingly unrelated different parts of nature and reality come together in such unison? Can this, and other common mathematical patterns in nature, such as the Fibonacci spiral, be explained by a worldview that says that this earth and universe come together coincidentally from disorder and chaos? Doesn’t this take more faith to believe than the idea that such order is the result of an intelligent design? (and by the way, for the sake of argument, I am saying intelligent design as a general term, and am not positing that these patterns prove the existence of any specific God in particular. So please do not respond by saying, “yes but how do you know that it’s YOUR God that created the universe.”)
This is a variant of the Fine Tuning Argument. Furthermore, atheism doesn’t say that the universe came together coincidentally from disorder and chaos. We simply state that the universe was likely not created. Therefore, it doesn’t take more faith to be an atheist. It takes more faith to believe that the universe is the result of an intelligent designer. Science explains everything naturally; whenever there’s a gap in knowledge, it is filled naturally. Therefore, it takes more faith to believe that a natural world came from a supernatural agent. Might I add, this unison you allude to isn’t always the case. Just look at the issues with general physics and quantum mechanics. Unified Field theories have been proposed, but none (thus far) have proven to be the case.
In that last part, you did what nikosnature did. You have locked horns with me before and thus, you know that your god is entirely indefensible around these parts. That is precisely why you say you argue for general intelligent design rather than specified intelligent design. No matter, your argument is still an argumentum ad ignorantiam. We’re still trying to figure out where the universe came from, which implies that no one knows where it came from. Your naive answer is the result of arrogant ignorance: “I don’t know, but I believe x.” I would much rather be contented in my justified ignorance and state the following: I don’t know and I refuse to conclude until there’s sufficient evidence to conclude. “An intelligent designer did it” like “God did it” doesn’t answer the question; statements like that only pretend to.
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