The question of the origin of religion

in the discussion, one atheist said that when a person realized that he was mortal, then he created a religion. Any religion appeared because a person at a certain stage of evolution realized that he would die. what is the answer to this? Thank you!

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I would not think that is correct, as many religions propose no afterlife, including to some extent various forms of Judaism, as I understand it. I would think that religion became a thing when humans began to think about first causes and how they came to exist. Or a Paul put it in Romans 1:20 “ For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”


Excellent! So an atheist created religion? Gee thanks, atheists. So much for the argument that the world would be better off without theism. Why bother to get rid of it, some atheist is just going come along and reinvent it.


There is just a little irony there. What are people to do? They will be perplexed as to whether or not to join the FFRF.

Just goes to show that atheism is no cure for irrationality.

So were this person’s ancestors just stupid that they did not realize they were going to die?

Besides I see no evidence whatsoever that the earliest religions had any sort of afterlife.

Going by what we see of the earliest religions a better theory was this it was invented to give people a means to insure that their crops would grow and bring abundant harvest.

But the truth is that religions have been invented for a great variety of reasons and I have yet to see a religion that was invented for that particular reason.

I agree essentially with everything that has been said except for one way this can be taken. I don’t think -aside from scientology- that religions are ever a deliberate invention. I think they arise in wonder in regard to a number of things including death, origins and our own depths. Our imaginations are probably involved but not in the sense of deliberate fabrication.

If you listen to what most atheists speculate are the origins of religion you quickly realize they have no real curiosity, just a desire to ridicule and dismiss it. But the idea that it was simply a con, something invented to give its creators power and wealth is nothing anyone needs to answer. It isn’t a serious answer.

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Well it is more accurate to say that religions are an accumulation of invented practices. Even Scientology is not entirely a product of what Hubbard came up with. But a couple others with a comparable degree of invention are Islam and Mormonism. Both were started quite deliberately with the work of a single person. But to be sure much was changed and added to them as time went on. But most likely the only real difference is how recent the and well known are the beginnings of these religions.

What about Christianity? Were not the ecumenical councils deliberate? Perhaps you can say Christianity is in many ways more than just the religion – certainly a lot of the believers think so. But I would still say that the religion was established by those ecumenical councils… deliberately.

Does it seem impossible that God is capable enough and has indeed revealed himself?

Recall the second aborigine.

I’m sure it happens every day. But God isn’t a being apart but rather a part of every being. Leastwise that is the way it seems to me.

Maybe ‘what gives rise to God belief’ is reality and not just a game.

I think you overlooked my intent:

God does reveal himself everyday that way.

Something the second aborigine might have said.

That sounds rather like the classic definition of pantheism.

Yeah once the institution exists those who lead it will put their finger prints on it for better or worse. I suppose Islam and Mormonism are essentially off shoots of Christianity as Christianity is from Judaism. Perhaps Mohammad and Smith truly felt and believed themselves to be inspired by a truer vision, a benefit of the doubt I wouldn’t extend to Hubbard. But the ecumenical councils were not originators of anything so much as they were or endeavored to be stewards of something they believed to be inspired. It was probably more political in nature. This is why I think like William James that it makes sense to distinguish between religion and religious experience. There needn’t be any of the latter in the former.

It probably is but I haven’t looked into it much. Or perhaps panentheism? But I’m not at all sure. I guess I’d rather get clear on what I think before I try on any jargon.

On this we do agree though I think we imagine the reality differently.

Now this is where you are being too cynical… OR perhaps that is what you meant by invention as applied to scientology as the exception. Otherwise the former (religion) exists because of the latter (religious experience) – needed to guide the latter with the accumulated learning of what what practices to avoid.

There is nothing but evidence if you look in the right places. I.e. those cultures that haven’t changed for ten and therefore a hundred thousand years for a start.

Sorry guys, but I really don’t know why you interpreted the OP as asking whether an atheist created religion.
Unless you were to call an extremely hairy, ape like human an atheist, just because their brain wasn’t quite big enough to understand the concept of God.
And it isn’t about ancestors being stupid, just not evolved enough. Does your dog or a cat knows it’s going to die? And if a dog can grasp it, what about other, less intelligent animals? Does a small child? So there must be a tipping point somewhere along the timeline.

Okay, let’s parse the OP.

  • It’s my understanding that Alex was observing or participating in a discussion of the origin of religion, and an atheist offered his conjecture,
    • which was that some fellow,
      • at some stage of evolution, realized that he was just like all the other human beings around him;
      • and, having lived long enough, had observed that humans can and eventually do die, from old age if nothing else. The fellow’s train of thought must have been something like this:
        • I’m a member of a group.
        • I have observed that members of my group can and eventually do die, from old age, if from nothing else.
        • I’m more similar to those people than dissimilar.
        • Although I have difficulty imagining it, what can and eventually does happen to them is probably going to happen to me. In other words, I probably ain’t going to live forever.
          • Sidebar thought: I won’t swear to it, but right about there is “the tipping point” that you saw coming in your post…
        • Keep in mind: What I’m trying to do is imagine a reasonable and rational sequence of events that a hypothetical human being must have undergone some time long ago. AND I’m trying to imagine that sequence of events from the perspective of an atheist who’s trying to imagine that sequence of events. Pretending that I’m an atheist is pretty hard for me: I’ve been brainwashed for quite a few years, so thinking like an atheist doesn’t come naturally to me. But it seems very probable to me that a rational and reasonable natural-born atheist would assume that all humans were atheists, including the guy who first realized that the odds of his dying were greater than the odds of his living forever.
      • Hmm, … where was I at? Oh yeah, … back to the first guy who figured out that he was more likely to be mortal than immortal. Assuming he isn’t dying of some wound or illness, he’s getting old. And the older he gets, the faster he get old: his vision, hearing, and strength are fading. He’s not leader of the pack (if he ever was); worse, he’s finding it more and more difficult to keep up with the pack. Then it hits him, light a bolt out of the blue: it sure would be nice if life didn’t suck and I weren’t mortal. I think I’ll invent a religion and see if that changes anything. Note: until he came up with that Idea, an atheist would–I believe–rationally and reasonably assume that the guy who came up with that idea had been a natural-born atheist.

:laughing: .

I think the thought of this atheist was as follows: religion is not a revelation of God to people, but a human invention to overcome the fear of death

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