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Religious Anthropology

GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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7/13/2010 11:31:09 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Ive seen Atheists (even my favorites) always give the anthropology explanation of religion as well as claim that it was our first attempt at philosophy (Cereb said it came from us trying to figure out the world around us).

This is simply just false and it's easy to see.

If it was merely our first attempt at philosophy, then why do the doctrines have things like Jesus saying he is the way, the truth, and the life and that he is God, or that he was crucified and resurrected. That's not philosophy. There is certainly philosophy contained within the teachings, but religion can't be called our first attempt at philosophy.

Not to mention the fact that we already had advanced philosophy from the Greeks as well as Lao Tzu, Zhuangzi, and Confucius from the East before any of the Abrahamic religions even existed.

So religious anthropology FAILS and is far from being our first attempt at philosophy.

And if religious anthropology doesn't explain religion, then what does?
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mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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7/13/2010 11:34:54 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 7/13/2010 11:31:09 AM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
And if religious anthropology doesn't explain religion, then what does?

sorry, but...

REPTILIAN ILLUMINATI!!!
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
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Yvette
Posts: 859
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7/13/2010 12:22:06 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Uhmmm, since when was the anthropological explanation for religion just "it was our first attempt at philosophy"? Anthropology is an entire field, and there are probably many theories.

As I understand it, however, it goes something like this:

Religion wasn't the beginning of spirituality or belief in a supernatural. It may have not even begun with modern humans (Jane Goodall has observed gorillas? or was it chimps? acting odd in response to natural phenomena like rivers, lightning, and waterfalls, which she said looked like awe and wonder--and Neanderthals have some evidence of rituals and religion), but with Animism very long ago--ie, the idea that everything has a spiritual component to it, even rocks. This eventually lead to value judgments on some spirits, because their physical forms (other predators, for example) would have meant life or death for people. I'll note here that spiritual experiences have a real biological basis in the brain.

This is why there are anthropological explanations for specific gods. For example, in India, the cow has very real benefits for every person--especially when it is alive. So if you are seeing everything as spiritual and the cow is keeping you alive, you are going to worship the damn cow! In early religions, the spirits which had been raised to powerful spirits and then to gods were anthropomorphic. They were animals who had very real effects on the lives of humans. Why do you think this was? Do you think they just pulled the animal-gods out of their head at random?

Spiritual explanations were very much a part of how we explained our world and still are (but not the ONLY way), but this is not why religion developed. Religion developed because we were already spiritual creatures, combine that with our social stratification, often sedentary agricultural lifestyle, inclination to form habits, pattern-seeking, tradition forming, story-making (and believing), power-grabbing, etc. Even today religions are formed from those very factors with spirituality already existent, just look at today's cults.

Hopefully that made sense. But I think you've simplified the anthropological viewpoints so incredibly that it's ridiculous.
In the middle of moving to Washington. 8D

"If God does not exist, then chocolate causing cancer is only true for the society that has evidence for that." --GodSands
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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7/13/2010 1:27:40 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Actually, in my initial post I said "religious anthropology as well as our first attempt at philosophy," which acknowledges that they are separate. Though, I apologize for not making this clear because I didn't actually focus much on the anthropological aspect.

I guess the thread title should have been called religious reductionism, because I mainly focus on the reductionist explanation that it was our first attempt at philosophy.

With regards to your argument for anthropology, that only explains a few indegenous animistic religions and one minor aspect of Hinduism. What about the the two largest religions, Christianity and Islam. How can these be explained by anthropology?
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
InsertNameHere
Posts: 15,699
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7/13/2010 1:30:37 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Yea, I'll have to disagree with this. Religion in some form or another has always existed since the beginning of human civilization. It has just changed and evolved over time. I'd say the Greeks probably had some of the first philosophy and they came pretty late compared to some other civilizations.
Yvette
Posts: 859
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7/13/2010 1:58:21 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 7/13/2010 1:30:37 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
Yea, I'll have to disagree with this. Religion in some form or another has always existed since the beginning of human civilization. It has just changed and evolved over time. I'd say the Greeks probably had some of the first philosophy and they came pretty late compared to some other civilizations.

And spirituality/animism existed before civilization.

However, please note that religion is not universal while belief in supernatural things afaik just about are. The Piraha, for example.
In the middle of moving to Washington. 8D

"If God does not exist, then chocolate causing cancer is only true for the society that has evidence for that." --GodSands
Yvette
Posts: 859
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7/13/2010 2:08:45 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 7/13/2010 1:27:40 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Actually, in my initial post I said "religious anthropology as well as our first attempt at philosophy," which acknowledges that they are separate. Though, I apologize for not making this clear because I didn't actually focus much on the anthropological aspect.

I guess the thread title should have been called religious reductionism, because I mainly focus on the reductionist explanation that it was our first attempt at philosophy.

With regards to your argument for anthropology, that only explains a few indegenous animistic religions and one minor aspect of Hinduism. What about the the two largest religions, Christianity and Islam. How can these be explained by anthropology?

You gave the thread the name "religious anthropology", and argued against a particular theory. What did you want people to think?

Where did I say religion stopped evolving at animistic religions? I have pointed out elsewhere that Judaism (and by extension the two religions that evolved from it) seem to have evolved in some way from Egyptian mythology. They are at least very similar in their mythology, sans anthropomorphism. Judaism and it's descendant religions are really nothing more than a collection of myths and legends, combined with a belief in a monotheistic overgod (just like the Egyptian sun god, who was not anthropomorphic when made into the monotheistic sun god). Why is anthropomorphism dropped when we move from polytheism to monotheism in this area but not in areas of Europe? I'm not sure (maybe they made the move away from anthropomorphism already) but in ancient European religions, gods were still essentially spirit overlords of certain domains, with attachments to certain animals and other physical objects the believers were in constant contact with. Isn't it a wonder that gods are never like the animals from the other continents? Huh.

Even the Judaism and it's descendants have mundane attachments, from sheep herding (the people who began the religion were...you guessed it, sheep herders) to casting the ram, cow, etc idols of their mundane rivals as "evil", ie the Devil.

Everywhere you look, the spiritual world has it's roots in the physical lives of those who practiced those beliefs. Anything else supposedly not rooted in the physical world?
In the middle of moving to Washington. 8D

"If God does not exist, then chocolate causing cancer is only true for the society that has evidence for that." --GodSands
Cerebral_Narcissist
Posts: 10,806
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7/13/2010 2:13:54 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 7/13/2010 11:31:09 AM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Ive seen Atheists (even my favorites) always give the anthropology explanation of religion as well as claim that it was our first attempt at philosophy (Cereb said it came from us trying to figure out the world around us).

Indeed that is my opinion.


This is simply just false and it's easy to see.

If it was merely our first attempt at philosophy, then why do the doctrines have things like Jesus saying he is the way, the truth, and the life and that he is God, or that he was crucified and resurrected. That's not philosophy. There is certainly philosophy contained within the teachings, but religion can't be called our first attempt at philosophy.

Christianity was also not our first religion.


Not to mention the fact that we already had advanced philosophy from the Greeks as well as Lao Tzu, Zhuangzi, and Confucius from the East before any of the Abrahamic religions even existed.

After many millenia of religion.


So religious anthropology FAILS and is far from being our first attempt at philosophy.

And if religious anthropology doesn't explain religion, then what does?

Early man indeed pre-man, questioned the world around him. An intelligent being he asked himself what caused thunder, what happened when people died, what spells could be cast to improve his chance of success during a hunt. The first religion was an attempt to explain and control the world around him.
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
Yvette
Posts: 859
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7/13/2010 2:59:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Christianity was also not our first religion.

Win.
In the middle of moving to Washington. 8D

"If God does not exist, then chocolate causing cancer is only true for the society that has evidence for that." --GodSands
Yvette
Posts: 859
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7/13/2010 3:15:02 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 7/13/2010 1:27:40 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Actually, in my initial post I said "religious anthropology as well as our first attempt at philosophy," which acknowledges that they are separate. Though, I apologize for not making this clear because I didn't actually focus much on the anthropological aspect.

I guess the thread title should have been called religious reductionism, because I mainly focus on the reductionist explanation that it was our first attempt at philosophy.

With regards to your argument for anthropology, that only explains a few indegenous animistic religions and one minor aspect of Hinduism. What about the the two largest religions, Christianity and Islam. How can these be explained by anthropology?

If you want a discussion, actually, can you define what you're saying better?

Philosophy is our way of explaining the world. It's not just naked white men in thinking poses.

What is "religious anthropology" exactly? And if it's not the idea that religion is an attempt at philosophy, what is it about it that FAILS so terribly, exactly? Either they are separate or they are not, yet you have railed against them with the same argument at the same time.
In the middle of moving to Washington. 8D

"If God does not exist, then chocolate causing cancer is only true for the society that has evidence for that." --GodSands
ravenwaen
Posts: 96
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7/13/2010 4:32:48 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 7/13/2010 11:31:09 AM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Ive seen Atheists (even my favorites) always give the anthropology explanation of religion as well as claim that it was our first attempt at philosophy (Cereb said it came from us trying to figure out the world around us).

This is simply just false and it's easy to see.

If it was merely our first attempt at philosophy, then why do the doctrines have things like Jesus saying he is the way, the truth, and the life and that he is God, or that he was crucified and resurrected. That's not philosophy. There is certainly philosophy contained within the teachings, but religion can't be called our first attempt at philosophy.

Not to mention the fact that we already had advanced philosophy from the Greeks as well as Lao Tzu, Zhuangzi, and Confucius from the East before any of the Abrahamic religions even existed.

So religious anthropology FAILS and is far from being our first attempt at philosophy.

And if religious anthropology doesn't explain religion, then what does?

You're talking about two things here: a) the tendency of humans to be superstitious (belief); and b) the religious social institution (tradition).
A is explained, as Yvette said, by human pattern-seeking and storytelling. B is explained, as Yvette said, by human social structures and habits.
The story of Jesus is just that -- a story. It provides a belief foundation for the religious institution.