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Caveman instincts may explain our belief in gods and ghosts

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posted on May, 21 2014 @ 07:32 AM
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Caveman instincts may explain our belief in gods and ghosts
(TheConversation.com)

There's an interesting article on how humans have come to readily believe in gods and spirits, with such beliefs tied to our survival instincts;


Notions of gods arise in all human societies, from all powerful and all-knowing deities to simple forest spirits. A recent method of examining religious thought and behaviour links their ubiquity and the similarity of our beliefs to the ways in which human mental processes were adapted for survival in prehistoric times.

It rests on a couple of observations about human psychology. First, when an event happens, we tend to assume that a living thing caused it. In other words, we assume agency behind that event. If you think of the sorts of events that might have happened in prehistoric times, it’s easy to see why a bias towards agency would be useful. A rustling of a bush or the snapping of a twig could be due to wind. But far better to assume it’s a lion and run away.

The survivors who had this tendency to more readily ascribe agency to an event passed their genes down the generations, increasingly hard-wiring this way of making snap decisions into the brain. This is not something that people need to learn. It occurs quickly and automatically.


Along with the above described "agency," the author describes the "theory of mind" - a coping mechanism that allowed us to comprehend the behavior of others, giving us empathic abilities to understand them.


This idea says that we automatically assume that there are reasons behind others’ behaviour which we try to work out in order to better understand why they behave the way they do.


See the article for just how "agency" and "theory of mind" play such a large role in our beliefs in gods and ghosts.




posted on May, 21 2014 @ 07:44 AM
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a reply to: Blackmarketeer

I'm about to go on my Hols (and get married to a woman whose taste is either superb or highly questionable, delete as applicable) so i've only a little time to skim this, but it reminds me that i read a few years ago that some of Joseph Campbell's students (or maybe foundation members) were preparing a large work based on whether animals have gods or not, and so forth - every time i look for info on this though i turn up a blank.

Very interesting, thanks for posting



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 07:57 AM
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Great read, Thanks a lot for finding this. It fits in with some of my studies at the moment. I will enjoy telling my fellow students about this. Cheers



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 08:04 AM
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I wonder if the lower orders of life that operate entirely on instinct (responding to stimuli with reaction toward survival) and no higher thought processes, like self awareness, believe in gods?



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 08:26 AM
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a reply to: Blackmarketeer

My caveman instincts make be believe in girls.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 08:36 AM
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But I've seen ghosts and know they are a reality, not some caveman superstition. God on the other hand......Never seen that cat.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 08:47 AM
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I read another article that was very similar. It's opinion was. That as soon as we became self aware and able to realize how easy it was for us to die. We had a need for an afterlife. Life has always been dangerous. One false step and you could slip fall and break your kneck. But life requires you to endanger yourself daily. Even more so in prehistory.


Basically saying that as soon as we were self aware. We needed an after life to comfort us as we did life threatening actions in our everyday life.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 09:11 AM
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a reply to: Blackmarketeer

I thought this was common sense.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 09:12 AM
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originally posted by: butcherguy
I wonder if the lower orders of life that operate entirely on instinct (responding to stimuli with reaction toward survival) and no higher thought processes, like self awareness, believe in gods?


Why would they? They get along much better just relying on themselves and each other for survival. All that time wasted addressing the ether when they could have been amassing sorely needed resources like the well-grounded critters they are.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 09:21 AM
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a reply to: Blackmarketeer
an easier explanation! Og the caveman throws a rock at a critter and kills it.Og drags it back to the cave,waves his arms in the air,and starts slicing it up.A thunderstorm moves in,Og is hit by lightning,killing him.The other cave people scream"SKY GOD HATE OG FOR KILLING DEER!!" ,and forever more,they praise deer as a sky god.See,another fairy tale like the bible



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 09:45 AM
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originally posted by: skalla
a reply to: Blackmarketeer

I'm about to go on my Hols (and get married to a woman whose taste is either superb or highly questionable, delete as applicable) so i've only a little time to skim this, but it reminds me that i read a few years ago that some of Joseph Campbell's students (or maybe foundation members) were preparing a large work based on whether animals have gods or not, and so forth - every time i look for info on this though i turn up a blank.

Very interesting, thanks for posting


Skalla, off topic, but congrats on the wedding, good luck to both of you



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 09:57 AM
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originally posted by: blkcwbyhat
a reply to: Blackmarketeer
an easier explanation! Og the caveman throws a rock at a critter and kills it.Og drags it back to the cave,waves his arms in the air,and starts slicing it up.A thunderstorm moves in,Og is hit by lightning,killing him.The other cave people scream"SKY GOD HATE OG FOR KILLING DEER!!" ,and forever more,they praise deer as a sky god.See,another fairy tale like the bible



That just about sums it up for me.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 10:02 AM
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Some tribes still ingest substances that cause hallucinations. They do so intentionally in order to commune with the gods.
That could be another explanation for belief in gods.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 10:14 AM
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It's a flawed understanding IMHO and one I prescribed too many many moons ago until I bothered to stop and read, learn and experience for myself. Which kind of makes the argument counterintuitive seeing how I was originally thinking it was caveman mindset which evolved into a different understanding, to which I believe in something greater.

It is an easy argument to those without experience or unable to connect with ones deeper self. It would easily explain the gods of the greek and roman time period. We perceived everyone as "stupid" back than and feared everything, like earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami's, etc, etc, so the worshipped the gods of things they didn't understand to appease them and spare their life. It's easy and makes a lot of sense, but I consider myself evolved or at least more so than some around me and yet, I have seen enough and felt enough to know there is something quite amazing with our perceived reality even if we are surrounded by less amazing things.

There is a synchronistic pattern that unifies all things, perceived living or otherwise, that shares a common "bond" that powers all that we see and everything we cannot. God or otherwise, its all rather......magnificent.

edit on 21-5-2014 by Rosinitiate because: (no reason given)

edit on 21-5-2014 by Rosinitiate because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 11:08 AM
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a reply to: Rosinitiate

Well, it's not like we live in a universe where anything is possible. There are rules, and there are limitations. If everything is working with the same set of tools with the same limitations, then obviously, they are going to exhibit some of the same characteristics. That's not "divine", that's logic.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 11:21 AM
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Not one for Bible quotes, but do you think that Satan, the fallen Angel, a Meteorite? Stars, and Planets were often considered as as Gods, mainly for Angels, Stars Im guessing.

Fallen Star, Fallen Angel.

Luke 10:18
"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."

And to think, Satan would wipe out all life in the blink of an Eye.
Works for me.
edit on 21-5-2014 by Specimen because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 11:38 AM
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a reply to: Blackmarketeer

Starred! [I will Flag asap!]


Wow! That is an interesting theory!



This idea says that we automatically assume that there are reasons behind others’ behaviour which we try to work out in order to better understand why they behave the way they do.


I would assume we use our Mirror neurons in some fashion to try sense that which we can not directly see ... someones or somethings thoughts!

However I wonder if such hardware is more a reflection of our own thoughts overlaid onto others OR is the hardware a reflection of others thoughts overlaid onto ourselves
[puns intended]




posted on May, 21 2014 @ 11:52 AM
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a reply to: Specimen

That would require a belief framework already in place, i.e. heavenly bodies represent the deities, and a heavenly body plunging to the ground in a fireball is a deity falling out of the heavenly host. It would be easy to rationalize this fallen deity as somehow evil or bad, else why would it fall?



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 11:55 AM
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End must be nearer than I thought because you people are trying your hardest to disprove God.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 11:59 AM
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a reply to: petrockopera

If you think about all the tragedies that happened when two cultures collide, because gestures that were meant to be friendly were misinterpreted were taken as acts of hostility. I believe our empathic abilities are fine-tuned to those with similar cultural values. The greater the cultural divide or difference between us and 'them' (especially towards different species) the less effect a "theory of mind" would have.



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