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Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion 
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Post Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion



Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:08 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
Electric eels pack a punch of six hundred volts. How did they evolve? Diamond explains that fish have a range of electric senses and abilities, from ability to detect predators and hunt prey to ability to use electric charge for defence and attack. Electric eels appear to have adapted another electric function as a hunting tool. Similarly with religion, Diamond explains that the function of religion can be explained by looking at how it evolved as a by-product of some other capacities of our ancestors.

He says functions of religion include maintaining social order, comforting anxious people and teaching political obedience. Survival is a product of success, not of truth. Diamond suggests that religion evolved as a by-product of our brain's capacity to deduce cause, agency and intent, to anticipate dangers, and thereby to formulate causal explanations of predictive value that helped us survive.

We accurately see intent in animals. Religion infers analogous intent in non-sentient entities such as plants, rocks, stars, planets and the sun and moon. Monotheism develops this analogy to imagine a creator of the universe as an entity with personal intent. This explanation from evolutionary psychology is more scientific and economical than the conventional religious argument that faith evolved as a result of revelation supplied by actual transcendental entities.


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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
I'm not reading Diamond's book, but sort of poking my head in to see how it's going. I'm currently reading Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough which seems to support Diamond's suppositions. I'm currently reading a chapter on "sympathetic" magic which is the idea that there's a special magical quality on objects simply by their association with a person (or animal). For example, certain tribes believe that if you lose a tooth, you must keep it in a safe place so that your enemies can't get a hold of it and use it to make bad voodoo against you. Frazer provides many, many examples of this kind of magical thinking.

Quote:
Among the Australian tribes it was a common practice to knock out one or more of a boy’s front teeth at those ceremonies of initiation to which every male member had to submit before he could enjoy the rights and privileges of a full-grown man. The reason of the practice is obscure; all that concerns us here is the belief that a sympathetic relation continued to exist between the lad and his teeth after the latter had been extracted from his gums. Thus among some of the tribes about the river Darling, in New South Wales, the extracted tooth was placed under the bark of a tree near a river or water-hole; if the bark grew over the tooth, or if the tooth fell into the water, all was well; but if it were exposed and the ants ran over it, the natives believed that the boy would suffer from a disease of the mouth. Among the Murring and other tribes of New South Wales the extracted tooth was at first taken care of by an old man, and then passed from one headman to another, until it had gone all round the community, when it came back to the lad’s father, and finally to the lad himself.


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If a horse wounds its foot by treading on a nail, a Suffolk groom will invariably preserve the nail, clean it, and grease it every day, to prevent the foot from festering. Similarly Cambridgeshire labourers think that if a horse has run a nail into its foot, it is necessary to grease the nail with lard or oil and put it away in some safe place, or the horse will not recover. A few years ago a veterinary surgeon was sent for to attend a horse which had ripped its side open on the hinge of a farm gatepost. On arriving at the farm he found that nothing had been done for the wounded horse, but that a man was busy trying to pry the hinge out of the gatepost in order that it might be greased and put away, which, in the opinion of the Cambridge wiseacres, would conduce to the recovery of the animal.


It's interesting to see how magical thinking was used not only for social bonding but to reinforce gender roles in a society. Also, we see the beginnings of the kind of thinking that would lead later to belief in a soul.

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Further, the sympathetic connexion supposed to exist between a person and his afterbirth or navel-string comes out very clearly in the widespread custom of treating the afterbirth or navel-string in ways which are supposed to influence for life the character and career of the person, making him, if it is a man, a nimble climber, a strong swimmer, a skilful hunter, or a brave soldier, and making her, if it is a woman, a cunning sempstress, a good baker, and so forth. Thus the beliefs and usages concerned with the afterbirth or placenta, and to a less extent with the navel-string, present a remarkable parallel to the widespread doctrine of the transferable or external soul and the customs founded on it. Hence it is hardly rash to conjecture that the resemblance is no mere chance coincidence, but that in the afterbirth or placenta we have a physical basis (not necessarily the only one) for the theory and practice of the external soul. The consideration of that subject is reserved for a later part of this work.


Interesting stuff.


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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
I've told you before that sympathetic magic is at the root of all human language so when you're trying to disassociate human rationality from religious beliefs you really need to factor that in before trotting off with the various atheists attempts to explain a phenomena they have no experience in. And again, by never answering my question how does any thinking animal originate invisible spiritual forces acting upon their world in the first place since atheists tell us everything is materially explained. We don't see lions or wolves expending energy in any actions that hint of invisible forces in their lives and so far our closest relatives also do not do so. So I ask you again where does the original invisible force and invisible spirit idea come from in any animal dealing with material survival? In short, these "explanations" of how religious ideas originate in human beings are fabrications that leave out the foundational stimulus that humans are responding to. You can see the vapidity of the "science" answer in this:

"Electric eels appear to have adapted another electric function as a hunting tool. Similarly with religion, Diamond explains that the function of religion can be explained by looking at how it evolved as a by-product of some other capacities of our ancestors. He says functions of religion include maintaining social order, comforting anxious people and teaching political obedience. Survival is a product of success, not of truth. Diamond suggests that religion evolved as a by-product of our brain's capacity to deduce cause, agency and intent, to anticipate dangers, and thereby to formulate causal explanations of predictive value that helped us survive.

We accurately see intent in animals. Religion infers analogous intent in non-sentient entities such as plants, rocks, stars, planets and the sun and moon. Monotheism develops this analogy to imagine a creator of the universe as an entity with personal intent. This explanation from evolutionary psychology is more scientific and economical than the conventional religious argument that faith evolved as a result of revelation supplied by actual transcendental entities."

Where is the explanation for the original idea of using invisible forces and entities as no non-existent force or entity can effect anything in the first place if atheists are correct so there would logically be no reason for human beings using such non-existent things. Who would believe the first human being who said bad spirits made me sick. They would look at the person who thought that as crazy, just like you atheists do now. So until atheists provide a real answer and not these half-assed psuedo-psychology of people who don't know what they are talking about becausde no experience in the subject matter they claim expertise in, theism stands as a done deal. Proven by countless religious reports of internal spiritual experiences with which human beings created civilization. At no point I know of in ancient history were new ideas attributed human intellectual effort. Gods provided knowledge and how does this idea originate if human experience of the world was always materialistically appropriate otherwise we wouldn't be here? You still must explain how human beings originate non-existent forces to not only explain their world but to expend great amounts of social time and energy dealing with it using their knowledge of supposedly non-existent forces. In short, until atheism can explain the quantum leap in human cognition to attributing spiritual forces to material world events atheism hasn't explained anything about theism.



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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
Animism and theism are usually considered as separate, but it must be true that theism grew out of animism. Sonoman, your language isn't always easy for me to understand, but what is it exactly about an overactive agent detection device in human brains that is so implausible in explaining the origin of animism? Do I read you correctly that human perception of such spirits or forces must mean that they really exist?



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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
DWill wrote:
Animism and theism are usually considered as separate, but it must be true that theism grew out of animism. Sonoman, your language isn't always easy for me to understand, but what is it exactly about an overactive agent detection device in human brains that is so implausible in explaining the origin of animism? Do I read you correctly that human perception of such spirits or forces must mean that they really exist?


Like Robert Wright in The Evolution of God, Frazer also suggests that magical thinking preceded religion. See this passage:

Frazer wrote:
In some parts of Melanesia a like belief prevails that certain sacred stones are endowed with miraculous powers which correspond in their nature to the shape of the stone. Thus a piece of water-worn coral on the beach often bears a surprising likeness to a bread-fruit. Hence in the Banks Islands a man who finds such a coral will lay it at the root of one of his bread-fruit trees in the expectation that it will make the tree bear well. If the result answers his expectation, he will then, for a proper remuneration, take stones of less-marked character from other men and let them lie near his, in order to imbue them with the magic virtue which resides in it. Similarly, a stone with little discs upon it is good to bring in money; and if a man found a large stone with a number of small ones under it, like a sow among her litter, he was sure that to offer money upon it would bring him pigs. In these and similar cases the Melanesians ascribe the marvellous power, not to the stone itself, but to its indwelling spirit; and sometimes, as we have just seen, a man endeavours to propitiate the spirit by laying down offerings on the stone. But the conception of spirits that must be propitiated lies outside the sphere of magic, and within that of religion. Where such a conception is found, as here, in conjunction with purely magical ideas and practices, the latter may generally be assumed to be the original stock on which the religious conception has been at some later time engrafted. For there are strong grounds for thinking that, in the evolution of thought, magic has preceded religion. But to this point we shall return presently.


Note how he says "evolution" of thought. :wink:

sonoman wrote:
I've told you before that sympathetic magic is at the root of all human language so when you're trying to disassociate human rationality from religious beliefs you really need to factor that in before trotting off with the various atheists attempts to explain a phenomena they have no experience in. And again, by never answering my question how does any thinking animal originate invisible spiritual forces acting upon their world in the first place since atheists tell us everything is materially explained. We don't see lions or wolves expending energy in any actions that hint of invisible forces in their lives and so far our closest relatives also do not do so. So I ask you again where does the original invisible force and invisible spirit idea come from in any animal dealing with material survival? In short, these "explanations" of how religious ideas originate in human beings are fabrications that leave out the foundational stimulus that humans are responding to. You can see the vapidity of the "science" answer in this:


Our big brains and the development of intricate language changed everything, Sonoman. We evolved as storytelling creatures, inventing myths to explain the way the world is long before science. I'd say we still engage in magical thinking on many levels. (But what do I know, I'm just an armchair philosopher.) :D Frazer lists countless examples of magical thinking and superstition, both in the distant past and in the very near past and present too. Our brains probably haven't changed that much in the last 100,000 years.

I don't believe our simian brethren have the language capacity to be able to formulate stories and myths, but I would also say that we probably don't have a clue what goes on in their minds.

Bruce Hood, author of SuperSense points out that people are very reluctant to buy a house where a murder has been committed. I think this is a basic instinct that incorporates magical thinking to a certain extent. See the link below. He's a pretty interesting guy.

Hood wrote:
We are pre-wired with a mind design that creates a 'supersense' that shapes our intuitions and superstitions and is essential to the way we learn to understand the world.


http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2009/6335.html


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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
DWill wrote:
Animism and theism are usually considered as separate, but it must be true that theism grew out of animism. Sonoman, your language isn't always easy for me to understand, but what is it exactly about an overactive agent detection device in human brains that is so implausible in explaining the origin of animism? Do I read you correctly that human perception of such spirits or forces must mean that they really exist?


Question: Who or what came into my mind as a mental epiphany when I was an atheist, never read the Bible or any religious text except the I Ching and parts of Taoist texts and the Book of the Hopi and informed me through through synchronicity experiences following after the mental revelations that these were happening to me outside of my control, because I couldn't manipulate my world to link mental epiphanies with synchronistic events, only God could do that. Tell me, how and why an atheist would manufacture a series of experiences of spiritual reception complete with a Program that was traditionally or historically based. Tell me, tell us, how this comes about through any of your atheist explanations of theistic events. Where did I see the face of Jesus in the cloud formation when it was dark and me lying in bed getting my spiritual revelations? Where did I confuse the rumble of thunder for the voice of God? Oh yes, I most certainly did have spiritual experiences in which God "talks" in sign language, synchronicity events, but it happened in a three days string of such events that if you've got an explanation for how that happened please give it as I don't--except I went through a profound religious conversion experience with latter events not taking anything away but adding and adding and adding new spiritual knowledge in a most logical of religious theologies so that now I have a virtually bullet-proof Christian theology that none of you atheists can touch with your feeble counter arguments. I mean I've been mostly defending my theist beliefs here by using strict logic and no references to my own spiritual beliefs but when I do that it makes your arguments seem more absurd because they can't begin to explain the original or continuing Christian theology that pervades my spiritual experiences. Remember, I was an atheist the day before going through this initial conversion experience with no intention whatsoever of "believing" any religious ideas. Why do spiritual experiences follow definite historically developed forms if they are based in non-spiritual materialistic things? Answer? Because the Spirit is real and yes, it does impact our world all the time. Most of us just aren't aware of it and atheists least aware of all because of lack of spiritual reception ability.



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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
sonoman wrote:

Question: Who or what came into my mind as a mental epiphany when I was an atheist, never read the Bible or any religious text except the I Ching and parts of Taoist texts and the Book of the Hopi and informed me through through synchronicity experiences following after the mental revelations that these were happening to me outside of my control, because I couldn't manipulate my world to link mental epiphanies with synchronistic events, only God could do that. Tell me, how and why an atheist would manufacture a series of experiences of spiritual reception complete with a Program that was traditionally or historically based. Tell me, tell us, how this comes about through any of your atheist explanations of theistic events. Where did I see the face of Jesus in the cloud formation when it was dark and me lying in bed getting my spiritual revelations? Where did I confuse the rumble of thunder for the voice of God? Oh yes, I most certainly did have spiritual experiences in which God "talks" in sign language, synchronicity events, but it happened in a three days string of such events that if you've got an explanation for how that happened please give it as I don't--except I went through a profound religious conversion experience with latter events not taking anything away but adding and adding and adding new spiritual knowledge in a most logical of religious theologies so that now I have a virtually bullet-proof Christian theology that none of you atheists can touch with your feeble counter arguments. I mean I've been mostly defending my theist beliefs here by using strict logic and no references to my own spiritual beliefs but when I do that it makes your arguments seem more absurd because they can't begin to explain the original or continuing Christian theology that pervades my spiritual experiences. Remember, I was an atheist the day before going through this initial conversion experience with no intention whatsoever of "believing" any religious ideas. Why do spiritual experiences follow definite historically developed forms if they are based in non-spiritual materialistic things? Answer? Because the Spirit is real and yes, it does impact our world all the time. Most of us just aren't aware of it and atheists least aware of all because of lack of spiritual reception ability.


I note the lack of an answer to my question as well as the clear attitude of, "I can hardly stand to respond to fools like you."



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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
Sonoman, here's DWill's question again:

Animism and theism are usually considered as separate, but it must be true that theism grew out of animism. Sonoman, your language isn't always easy for me to understand, but what is it exactly about an overactive agent detection device in human brains that is so implausible in explaining the origin of animism? Do I read you correctly that human perception of such spirits or forces must mean that they really exist?


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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
DWill wrote:
sonoman wrote:

Question: Who or what came into my mind as a mental epiphany when I was an atheist, never read the Bible or any religious text except the I Ching and parts of Taoist texts and the Book of the Hopi and informed me through through synchronicity experiences following after the mental revelations that these were happening to me outside of my control, because I couldn't manipulate my world to link mental epiphanies with synchronistic events, only God could do that. Tell me, how and why an atheist would manufacture a series of experiences of spiritual reception complete with a Program that was traditionally or historically based. Tell me, tell us, how this comes about through any of your atheist explanations of theistic events. Where did I see the face of Jesus in the cloud formation when it was dark and me lying in bed getting my spiritual revelations? Where did I confuse the rumble of thunder for the voice of God? Oh yes, I most certainly did have spiritual experiences in which God "talks" in sign language, synchronicity events, but it happened in a three days string of such events that if you've got an explanation for how that happened please give it as I don't--except I went through a profound religious conversion experience with latter events not taking anything away but adding and adding and adding new spiritual knowledge in a most logical of religious theologies so that now I have a virtually bullet-proof Christian theology that none of you atheists can touch with your feeble counter arguments. I mean I've been mostly defending my theist beliefs here by using strict logic and no references to my own spiritual beliefs but when I do that it makes your arguments seem more absurd because they can't begin to explain the original or continuing Christian theology that pervades my spiritual experiences. Remember, I was an atheist the day before going through this initial conversion experience with no intention whatsoever of "believing" any religious ideas. Why do spiritual experiences follow definite historically developed forms if they are based in non-spiritual materialistic things? Answer? Because the Spirit is real and yes, it does impact our world all the time. Most of us just aren't aware of it and atheists least aware of all because of lack of spiritual reception ability.


I note the lack of an answer to my question as well as the clear attitude of, "I can hardly stand to respond to fools like you."


When you can answer my question posted above with reasoned argument and not more of the atheist ad hominen attack on me, then you will have your answer, won't you? My attitude responds to atheist provocation of "answering" me with slander and anything to avoid trying to answer my challenge questions that expose atheist irrationality in dealing with theism.



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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
geo wrote:
Sonoman, here's DWill's question again:

Animism and theism are usually considered as separate, but it must be true that theism grew out of animism. Sonoman, your language isn't always easy for me to understand, but what is it exactly about an overactive agent detection device in human brains that is so implausible in explaining the origin of animism? Do I read you correctly that human perception of such spirits or forces must mean that they really exist?


Same answer for you too as I gave to Dwill. I can't reason for you and the issue for you is can your atheist philosophy explain how this former atheist is in error who was convinced of spiritual reality by undergoing three intense days and nights of spiritual revelatory bombardment and accompanying synchronicity events reinforcing the spiritual information coming into my mind completely unbidden, unprepared for in any way at all, seeing how I was an atheist for well over two decades before the experience happened to me. I not only underwent a religious conversion but came away with revelations that I need you atheists to explain how and where they came from, how I somehow was totally unaware of creating them in my atheist mind that hadn't ever thought in religious terms and was almost completely ignorant of the spiritual traditions my crash course in spiritual consciousness uploaded into my brain. For you to have any credibility at all as far as I'm concerned you've got to at least attempt answers for what happened to me. And by now I think you understand that cut-and-paste links to atheists "answers" won't cut it, do not address my experiences of spiritual contact with God and the Spirit of Christ.



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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
Apophenia. You've already been given this answer, and have responded with nothing coherent as a counter-argument. Apophenia explains your visions and your synchronicity events. Vehement denial has been your only response. :P


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Post Re: Ch. 9: What Electric Eels Tell Us About the Evolution of Religion
sonoman wrote:

Same answer for you too as I gave to Dwill. I can't reason for you and the issue for you is can your atheist philosophy explain how this former atheist is in error who was convinced of spiritual reality by undergoing three intense days and nights of spiritual revelatory bombardment and accompanying synchronicity events reinforcing the spiritual information coming into my mind completely unbidden, unprepared for in any way at all, seeing how I was an atheist for well over two decades before the experience happened to me. I not only underwent a religious conversion but came away with revelations that I need you atheists to explain how and where they came from, how I somehow was totally unaware of creating them in my atheist mind that hadn't ever thought in religious terms and was almost completely ignorant of the spiritual traditions my crash course in spiritual consciousness uploaded into my brain. For you to have any credibility at all as far as I'm concerned you've got to at least attempt answers for what happened to me. And by now I think you understand that cut-and-paste links to atheists "answers" won't cut it, do not address my experiences of spiritual contact with God and the Spirit of Christ.


Well, I know someone who spent three days in a Wal-mart parking lot, and he had an epiphany too. Only his epiphany wasn't anything like yours. Last time I saw him he was mumbling something about the Grand Wazoo and the Oil of Aphrodite. But he was dead sure he was right. So while I'm sure your spiritual awakening was very meaningful for you, how do I know yours is the ONE TRUE REVELATION THAT IS BETTER THAN ALL THE OTHERS? I just have to know before I sell all of my things and join your cult. I mean, are you 100 percent sure? How do you know? Do I have to take your word on it?


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