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Where did God come from? A dream, A lie, And an explanation

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2019 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 431 times Debate No: 120991
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Taken from "The Atheist Republic"
Where did god come from? To Atheist Republic contributor Dean Van Drasek, The answer is simple: a dream, A lie, And an explanation.

You may have come across this topic in books and articles about religion, Psychology, Anthropology, Philosophy, Comparative mythology/religion, Archeology, And even popular science books. Sadly, There is no answer, As it's buried in the depths of time before humans developed writing, And probably even before there was cave painting. I am not an expert in any of these fields, But I do have some ideas that I find more persuasive than others. Nothing here is original, And it's been picked from a wide variety of sources.

Intelligence in apes seems to be linked to brain size, At least when cross-referenced with technological accomplishments. Hominid's brains in the genus homo developed slowly until about 200, 000 years ago. This marked the arrival of our species of hominid, Homo sapiens. I suspect that the belief in the supernatural may have been as early as this.

Every human society ever discovered has had some belief in the supernatural. So where does this come from? The answer I find most persuasive is because we, Like other animals, Dream, But we had the intelligence to question what was the source for this experience.

The origin of gods lies in the belief in spirits, Which is the belief that the experience of the mind in dreams was an externally originated experience. Many early cultures (which we know about through their written records) did not know that human thoughts were derived internally from the brain. By the time writing evolved, It was a well-established concept that dreams were frequently thought of as messages from the gods or another outside sources.

All other human sensory perceptions, Such as sight, Sound, Taste and touch, Come from external stimulants. When we are awake and thinking, We do not experience purely mental sensory events. Waking memory and dreams use different parts of the brain, Which is why dreams can seem so real compared to mere memory. Dreams often use the same parts of the brain which are responsible for the processing of normal sensory signals, Such as sight. This, The neurological experience is nearly the same.

In our dreams, Which can be fearsomely realistic, We often see our dead family and friends. This presented our ancestors with a logical conundrum, As they "knew" their loved ones are dead, But they could see and hear and may even touch them in their dreams. So without other references, If we see what is real, And in our sleep we "see" those who are dead, Then there must be something present that we can't see during the daytime. So an assumption that nocturnal senses would also be stimulated by external forces would be logical.

What happened next was pure human ingenuity. People were seeing these images in dreams, And could not always understand them. At some point in human history, Some human decided to lie and claim that they could understand those nocturnal communications. They could interpret the cryptic messages from the dead friends or relatives, Or they might even be able to communicate with them or channel them. The first conman was born, Who no longer had to hunt or be productive for a living, But who could use their imagination and get the tribe (who more honestly did not claim to be able to understand or speak to these dream-people) to accord them a high status. Thus, The first shamans evolved within the tribes. It is an intrinsic part of almost every human culture, Even our modern popular one (just look at all the movies and TV shows where people talk to ghosts and spirits). When we see someone today supposedly channeling the spirit of the dead, We are seeing a relic of humanity going back perhaps as far as 150, 000 years or more.

But how to get from spirits of the dead to gods? I like the idea that is based on a basic human weakness that exists still today. People in authority don't like to admit ignorance, Because they are afraid this will weaken the regard that others have for them. It would be natural for the tribe to ask the shaman questions such as: Where does the lightning come from? Why does the wind blow? How can I save my sick child? The shaman had no way to answer these questions, But they didn't want to admit this, So they made up an answer based on what people already believed and they knew worked for them within the community: namely, That these other occurrences were also the result of the actions or omissions of spirits, Same as in the dreams, But stronger ones. As the lies multiplied and were retold over time, These spirits often became gods. Early recorded religions had thousands of such spirit gods, In the tress, Rocks, Waters, Clouds, Animals, Etc.

As the explanations got more complex, And writing allowed the stories of the shamans and their ritualistic prescriptions to be recorded, The gods became more complex, Rituals more refined, And the priesthood more powerful and organized. Out of this probably arose the institution of monarchy, Where a secular ruler was in part entitled to the obedience of the people due to the favor of the imaginary gods. At some point, Leadership became hereditary, Which is not something we see in most other ape species, Where any male can contend for the top spot. But at some point in human history, We decided that a person was entitled to rule over others not because of their own capabilities and merit, But because of their lineage - probably one of the worst ideas in all of human history. At that point, The shaman and the ruling class recognized that they had the same interest in promoting the religion of the gods which kept both in power and affluence.

So why do we have gods? Because we dream, And some people are very imaginative liars, And as we all know, Any lie told often enough and loud enough tends to be accepted by many people as the truth.

Why do you think god was invented?

dsjpk5 is disqualified from the voting procedures as he tries to pretend he's god and thus change the voting structure of who wins and loses here on DDO.


The notion that gods come from dreams is one I vehemently oppose. Before I continue, I believe it is necessary to disclose that I am an atheist, And also believe that religions, While not "true" or "real", Were integral and even necessary to build an advanced civilisation. Finally, I need to disclose that I come from a Hindu family, And hence feel "easier" discussing about gods in plural). If I misread the intent of your debate, And you wish to solely discuss a particular god, Please feel free to boot me out of this debate.

So where do gods come from? To find the roots of theology, I believe it is necessary to examine the very first religions, The so called "pagan" religions. In general, The ancient religions we have some knowledge about, Are the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek and the Hindu religions. If one examines these religions, It is evident that the roots of theology are in rationalisation. As early humans, We did not know why lightning struck, So we invented a reason called Indra or Zeus. We had a distinct phobia of chaos (like the outcome of a flood or an attack from a particularly vicious creature) and loved the calm that order brought. Many civilisations like the Mesopotamian, Egyptian and the Greek believe that gods exist to combat chaos (like the tale of Marduk vs Tiamat or Apep vs Ra). Similarly, Gods became created to symbolise rivers (like the Ganges) which could gift them with bountiful harvest or take everything away in a flood, For no apparent reason. Even human actions and emotions that could not be understood, Like love and sleep earned their own gods in the form of Aphrodite and Hypnos.

Then where do rituals and myths come from? At least some of it is again rationalisation. The ancient humans understood that the great animals of prey like the lion or the tiger are normally satisfied by hunting a few members of a herd. Hence, A few humans were satisfied to "appease" the "hunger" of these terrible "higher beings" that could call upon thunder, Lightning and floods to cause large natural disasters. The existence of a "soul" was reasoned from two sources - one, It was the thing that made us different from rocks, The substance that made life possible, And two, Since these higher beings apparently did not feast on the carcass offered like lions or tigers did, They must have been appeased with something else, Something that must have been there when the victims were alive but were taken away upon death. Voila - a "soul".

Many religions also deal extensively with death, And basically comfort the living that those who left us are in a much better place, Be it Valhalla, Elysium or Heaven. This also became a tool for both ensuring that one behaves properly and to rationalise bad luck. If one misbehaves, On gets cast to a "bad" place - Hell or Tartarus. Finally, If one behaved well and still had a spate of bad luck, It must have been a bad deed from a "past life". Hence, Was born reincarnation.

Finally, We come to epics. Most religions have these, From the takes of Achilles and Hercules to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This, I believe to be simply a result of successive exaggerations of a real event during the period when stories were chiefly passed down from ear to ear. Maybe a hard armour became invulnerability, Or a natural talent became a god given ability. This was continued for a long time till somebody was able to pen down the myth, And by then, It became a clash of titans.

Basically, I believe that the ancient humans anthropomorphised anything they could not understand, From the forces of nature to human behaviour. This is strictly different from dreaming, As understanding and rationalisation is what we humans still pride ourselves on. It is just that the early humans did not have the understanding of hypothesis testing, "correlation is not causation" and other such facts we realised. Instead they made more "primitive" conclusions - they believed in the gods.
Debate Round No. 1


Well it seems like, Though its hard to tell, That you pretty much agree with the article. So I can really say nothing against that. And I cannot continue with this argument. I do agree with pretty much all of what you have to say. Though religion is invented to explain the unexplained. And its also been around ever since man has been around. You've also got a power structure with most religions, Though not all. First comes power, Then comes fear and then comes control. Also the similarities between religions is just far to close to be called a nick knack paddy wack. I think you touched on them. There's an above world, A heaven if you will. And then there's a hell, A below world if you will.
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Ku4nt3m 3 years ago
+1 Dr. Franklin
Posted by DeletedUser 3 years ago
Posted by Club 3 years ago
Sorry, I accidentally clicked "Accept the Challenge"
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