Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Origin of the Gods --- Part III

My Darling Anne,

In response to my post on the origin of God(s), you propose that humans created God(s) because we seek purpose in things, and the God(s) we create have a way of validating the human search for purpose and meaning in life.

I think that might be one part of it. But what strikes me most about the issue is there are so many ways to look at it --- and so many various factors that obviously play a role in the creation of deity. As I mentioned in my first post, the human tendency to ascribe personality to things plays a role. And as you mentioned, the human tendency to seek purpose plays a role. But so do many other things too.

Recently, The New York Times published an exceptional article on the scientific research that is being done on this issue. Brian Hines gives an excellent summary of the article on his blog, The Church of the Churchless, and -- quite thoughtfully -- makes the original article available for download. I highly recommend that you pause from your busy undergraduate schedule of whoring around, and read the article -- it is absolutely exciting.

Having said all that, I'll mention even before you read the article that I take what is called a "byproduct" view of why humans created deities. That is, I believe (and believed it even before I read of it from others) that both the propensity of humans to create deities, and the propensity of humans to be religious, is simply a byproduct of various traits which evolved in us, and which had nothing else to do with religiosity. We are religious by accident.

So, do yourself the immense favor of making the time to read Brian's summary --- and if possible the Times article itself --- and then let us continue this conversation about the origins of deity. You will be so glad you did that you will surely name your first illegitimate child after me.


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