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Old 12-03-2008, 09:28 PM
 
Location: New York
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Why hasn't there ever been a society (at least that I know of) that came into existence as an atheistic society?

GSTroop, let me hear your eloquent reply. All others welcome.
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:09 PM
 
Location: Mississippi
6,715 posts, read 12,287,985 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condemned View Post
Why hasn't there ever been a society (at least that I know of) that came into existence as an atheistic society?

GSTroop, let me hear your eloquent reply. All others welcome.
Like anything throughout world history, we can find tangible connections of how many different civilizations, societies, and other human gatherings more or less copied distinct characteristic things such as writing, inventions, artwork, etc...

I think it's necessary to point out that there is a wide amount of evidence to support that beliefs in deities, supernaturalism, and divine happenings took place well before man trasitioned from the typical hunter-gatherer to that of the more agricultural society. In a sense, it does make sense to look back on early man and realize that he would have tried to explain things to the best of his ability given what he had at the time. These explanation were probably existent even when man was almost eradicated tens of thousands of years ago and the population of humankind was at an all time low of 2,000 or 5,000 people.

Drought, famine, plague, war, terror, infant mortality rates, and low average life expectancies certainly had just as much an effect on hunter-gatherer man as it does on the modern day human being. The attachment to emotional ambivalence, the explanation of a better life after the one they were living, as well as the inability to perceive of death due to always having consciousness certainly played a factor into early man's foundation of religion and supernatural explanations. Most modern day religious people scoff just as quickly at these explanations as being invalid as we do to modern day religious excuses but the two are just as evolved from one another as the Wright Brother's first airplane was to Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings of an aeronautical device.

What often starts as supernatural relevances, tribal lore and folktale often passes on from word of mouth down through centuries. Sometimes, as is the case in many aboriginal tribes, certain totems of worship such as animals, plants, and statues become iconic figures of worship without so much as an inkling in modern day history as to why people first began worshiping it.

Most of what transitioned early peoples from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to that of a more civilized society was the introduction of agriculture and with the introduction of agriculture came a need to write things down and this transitioned very quickly to writing down ancient stories and myths passed down from generation after generation - even after the long ago reasoning and justification for it had expired in the hearts and minds of people. Thus, as agriculture bonded communities together, traditional tales of spiritual warfare as well as divine revelations became ingrained into early societies.

It should be no surprise to us that agriculture presumably only developed in three areas of the world and thus spread out from there - usually along the axis of the equatorial regions due to the firmament and arid soils often found there. Thus, in the Incan Empires of Peru, the Middle East, and China were the first foundations of agriculture developed as well as the first co-mingling of peoples. We can consider, for these purposes, that the Incan worship methods were probably semi-relevant and related to those of the Native American population but it's hard to say which came first.

Spurning and spawning from the rise of these first great agricultural societies came the advent of what could have possibly been the three religious bases of the world. We could call it Eastern Religion, European Religion, and Western Religion (if we wanted to) but the Western religion was handily eradicated by the Spanish conquistadors shortly after the founding of the New World.

Not to get ahead of myself with all of this, but it's easy to see how once the dawning of the earliest explanations of mythologies and spirit worlds came about in these three distinct regions how the spread of these ideas populated the globe. While I should take particular jurisprudence to explain that the belief in the supernatural followed the hunter-gatherer tribes, it would only be necessary to really recognize that it was the rise of agriculture - the presence of food source in abundant supply that brought people together and influenced the ideas. Having a source of only three major agricultural foundations in the world, we can look and see if we go far enough back how religion has evolved respectively from these three main societies.

Thus, the influence of those three main societies (Middle East spreading to Europe, Chinese Empire spreading to the Mongols and back again and throughout Asia, and the Incan/Native American religions) - we can form a basis of consensus as to why all other societies that sprang forth afterwards were affected by such things. With the rise of agriculture came the rise of more powerful inventions, better weapons and armor, and thus those agriculturally well to do societies were able to swiftly conquer and defeat those who opposed the religion. A perfect example, once again, would be to read Pizarro's brother's account of the Spanish conquistadors conquering thousands of Incan troops with only a handful of soldiers.

Even while all of this was going on, scientific enquiry and examination lacked for hundreds of thousands of years. So primitive explanations that had themselves adapted and unraveled over time even within these three main societies, stood the test of time as the best of explanations. It wasn't even until the mid-1800's that anyone questioned the possibility that things were not designed until Darwin produced his Origins of Species and set the religious world on fire.

Thus, due to the fact that spirituality has been used to explain so much - from why lightning strikes, rain falls, and thunder claps, it has never been opposed as a dominant form of explanation within a society. No one ever questioned it because there wasn't anything to contradict it. Thus, even the springing forth of religious endeavors like Judeo-Christianity - which clearly has its roots in Egyptian mythologies and other Middle Eastern religious beliefs and Zoroastrian Astrology, has carried forth to this day due to people's inability to decipher probability, scientific facts, and explain them with ramblings of religious texts.

To sum it up, the reason why no society ever really sprang from the ashes as an Atheistic one was because the scientific answers of why rain fell, thunder clapped, and lightning struck were far beyond the scope, depth, and magnitude that any of our earliest ancestors as well as some of our modern-day human beings can really seem to comprehend. Therefore, answers without merit will continue to plague society simply because it's much easier to believe that a mythical being did something rather than decipher the cryptic analysis of the scientific world.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:44 PM
 
Location: New York
321 posts, read 602,839 times
Reputation: 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by GCSTroop View Post
Like anything throughout world history, we can find tangible connections of how many different civilizations, societies, and other human gatherings more or less copied distinct characteristic things such as writing, inventions, artwork, etc...

I think it's necessary to point out that there is a wide amount of evidence to support that beliefs in deities, supernaturalism, and divine happenings took place well before man trasitioned from the typical hunter-gatherer to that of the more agricultural society. In a sense, it does make sense to look back on early man and realize that he would have tried to explain things to the best of his ability given what he had at the time. These explanation were probably existent even when man was almost eradicated tens of thousands of years ago and the population of humankind was at an all time low of 2,000 or 5,000 people.

Drought, famine, plague, war, terror, infant mortality rates, and low average life expectancies certainly had just as much an effect on hunter-gatherer man as it does on the modern day human being. The attachment to emotional ambivalence, the explanation of a better life after the one they were living, as well as the inability to perceive of death due to always having consciousness certainly played a factor into early man's foundation of religion and supernatural explanations. Most modern day religious people scoff just as quickly at these explanations as being invalid as we do to modern day religious excuses but the two are just as evolved from one another as the Wright Brother's first airplane was to Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings of an aeronautical device.

What often starts as supernatural relevances, tribal lore and folktale often passes on from word of mouth down through centuries. Sometimes, as is the case in many aboriginal tribes, certain totems of worship such as animals, plants, and statues become iconic figures of worship without so much as an inkling in modern day history as to why people first began worshiping it.

Most of what transitioned early peoples from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to that of a more civilized society was the introduction of agriculture and with the introduction of agriculture came a need to write things down and this transitioned very quickly to writing down ancient stories and myths passed down from generation after generation - even after the long ago reasoning and justification for it had expired in the hearts and minds of people. Thus, as agriculture bonded communities together, traditional tales of spiritual warfare as well as divine revelations became ingrained into early societies.

It should be no surprise to us that agriculture presumably only developed in three areas of the world and thus spread out from there - usually along the axis of the equatorial regions due to the firmament and arid soils often found there. Thus, in the Incan Empires of Peru, the Middle East, and China were the first foundations of agriculture developed as well as the first co-mingling of peoples. We can consider, for these purposes, that the Incan worship methods were probably semi-relevant and related to those of the Native American population but it's hard to say which came first.

Spurning and spawning from the rise of these first great agricultural societies came the advent of what could have possibly been the three religious bases of the world. We could call it Eastern Religion, European Religion, and Western Religion (if we wanted to) but the Western religion was handily eradicated by the Spanish conquistadors shortly after the founding of the New World.

Not to get ahead of myself with all of this, but it's easy to see how once the dawning of the earliest explanations of mythologies and spirit worlds came about in these three distinct regions how the spread of these ideas populated the globe. While I should take particular jurisprudence to explain that the belief in the supernatural followed the hunter-gatherer tribes, it would only be necessary to really recognize that it was the rise of agriculture - the presence of food source in abundant supply that brought people together and influenced the ideas. Having a source of only three major agricultural foundations in the world, we can look and see if we go far enough back how religion has evolved respectively from these three main societies.

Thus, the influence of those three main societies (Middle East spreading to Europe, Chinese Empire spreading to the Mongols and back again and throughout Asia, and the Incan/Native American religions) - we can form a basis of consensus as to why all other societies that sprang forth afterwards were affected by such things. With the rise of agriculture came the rise of more powerful inventions, better weapons and armor, and thus those agriculturally well to do societies were able to swiftly conquer and defeat those who opposed the religion. A perfect example, once again, would be to read Pizarro's brother's account of the Spanish conquistadors conquering thousands of Incan troops with only a handful of soldiers.

Even while all of this was going on, scientific enquiry and examination lacked for hundreds of thousands of years. So primitive explanations that had themselves adapted and unraveled over time even within these three main societies, stood the test of time as the best of explanations. It wasn't even until the mid-1800's that anyone questioned the possibility that things were not designed until Darwin produced his Origins of Species and set the religious world on fire.

Thus, due to the fact that spirituality has been used to explain so much - from why lightning strikes, rain falls, and thunder claps, it has never been opposed as a dominant form of explanation within a society. No one ever questioned it because there wasn't anything to contradict it. Thus, even the springing forth of religious endeavors like Judeo-Christianity - which clearly has its roots in Egyptian mythologies and other Middle Eastern religious beliefs and Zoroastrian Astrology, has carried forth to this day due to people's inability to decipher probability, scientific facts, and explain them with ramblings of religious texts.

To sum it up, the reason why no society ever really sprang from the ashes as an Atheistic one was because the scientific answers of why rain fell, thunder clapped, and lightning struck were far beyond the scope, depth, and magnitude that any of our earliest ancestors as well as some of our modern-day human beings can really seem to comprehend. Therefore, answers without merit will continue to plague society simply because it's much easier to believe that a mythical being did something rather than decipher the cryptic analysis of the scientific world.


Was thinking along this line but just could not word it as good. Thanks.
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Old 12-04-2008, 12:25 AM
 
4,047 posts, read 4,492,098 times
Reputation: 1326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Condemned View Post
Why hasn't there ever been a society (at least that I know of) that came into existence as an atheistic society?

GSTroop, let me hear your eloquent reply. All others welcome.
Think about modern man, with all the knowledge we live with today. We have modern physics principles etc. to explain what could only once be described as "magic." This age of science is incredibly new compared to the vast time span of cultural evolution.

Humans have a natural need to explain things. We usually come up with the best conclusion about everything we encounter, based on what we know, and influenced by the tendencies of our brains. You can watch a baby develop into a child to see how our brains work on an instinctual level. As we get older, we learn more about the way the world actually works, and lose fallacies and magical thinking along the way. In a primitive culture, this cultural knowledge would not be as accurate as our modern society, so they have less real explanations to replace the fallacies and magical concepts.

Now think of a culture that has no answers yet. How would primitive humans answer the all-encompassing question of why? They will use what they know about themselves: human characteristics, emotions, conversation, manipulating others, using tools, hunting, fighting, migration, sex, jealousy, ad infinitum; and the environment: generally hostile, the weather, flora and fauna, etc. The list goes on, but just basically try to picture what a primitive human knows.

Now instead of a long paragraph about how humans use what they know to describe what they don't, I'll just say to flip the two bolded words in this passage:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:06 AM
 
Location: New York
321 posts, read 602,839 times
Reputation: 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by LogicIsYourFriend View Post
Think about modern man, with all the knowledge we live with today. We have modern physics principles etc. to explain what could only once be described as "magic." This age of science is incredibly new compared to the vast time span of cultural evolution.

Humans have a natural need to explain things. We usually come up with the best conclusion about everything we encounter, based on what we know, and influenced by the tendencies of our brains. You can watch a baby develop into a child to see how our brains work on an instinctual level. As we get older, we learn more about the way the world actually works, and lose fallacies and magical thinking along the way. In a primitive culture, this cultural knowledge would not be as accurate as our modern society, so they have less real explanations to replace the fallacies and magical concepts.

Now think of a culture that has no answers yet. How would primitive humans answer the all-encompassing question of why? They will use what they know about themselves: human characteristics, emotions, conversation, manipulating others, using tools, hunting, fighting, migration, sex, jealousy, ad infinitum; and the environment: generally hostile, the weather, flora and fauna, etc. The list goes on, but just basically try to picture what a primitive human knows.

Now instead of a long paragraph about how humans use what they know to describe what they don't, I'll just say to flip the two bolded words in this passage:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image
Thank you!

You typed the words right out of my mouth. I posted this because my girlfriend asked me the question in the original post. I told her that if you isolated a man on a hill in the middle of nowhere with nothing but some animals around yet apart from ALL outside influence and let him ponder the things around him, we know he won't have a eureka moment and believe the god of Israel is the one true god, not Allah or Odin for that matter.

He probably will come up with some conclusions on how the things he sees came to be. He might even believe it is the work of a giant elephant who took a huge cosmic dump and chunks of it became the stars, mountains and on a day when it had a bad case of diarrhea, he squished out the water supply around him and over time it tuned blue. However, I told her that most likely, this man would probably come up with the more likely idea that whatever creative source there is out there, looks a lot like him, thinks like him and acts like him and in time he may project all kinds of things upward to this invisible "thing" and crown it god over time.
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:31 AM
 
Location: South Central PA
1,562 posts, read 3,908,159 times
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De facto atheism is the logical end step in a process for human mental progression, baring the influence of indoctrination from the religious.

It makes sense to start out believing, but eventually with education, all logical reason for there to be a deity ceases to exist to the point of the probability of one eixsts becomes extremely small.
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:20 PM
 
Location: Santa Monica
4,708 posts, read 7,723,621 times
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With research, I think that you can find examples in history of relatively small and more or less independent "societies" of persons whose group understanding excluded the idea of God.

I also think as my own idea, not researched nor otherwise validated, that the larger the society that has existed to date up to the present time, the more likely it is that there will be a religious commonality in those peoples' thinking. Why is that? Because the larger and more inclusive is the group of persons, the more likely to be included are those with lesser analytic faculties and less capability for what has been termed "formal operative thinking." Those persons will be more likely to find acceptable a "supernatural" explanation for human history, the establishment of human society and its rules/laws, etc.

So until the process of educating a larger society's young changes to exclude indoctrination on religious subjects, there probably won't ever be a "society" of large size that can become based on atheistic ideas.
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Old 12-08-2008, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
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At this point in our history we only have to go back a few centuries to get to the dark ages so it's not surprising that the relatively new concept that there might not be a God is not a prominent philosophy in any society. Every society that exists in the world at this moment has a history that is very ancient and has roots that are based on mythology. There's no such thing as a modern society that has come into existence out of the blue. Because mankind is ancient it's only common sense that every culture from every part of the world is also ancient and that would even include the most isolated groups of human beings who were separated from the rest of humanity for centuries if not thousands of years. Supernatural beliefs that are used to explain natural phenomenon are a universal trait that virtually all human cultures have in common. It's my opinion that atheism or the realization that God or supernatural forces do not exist is based on the last several centuries of human advancement so I wouldn't expect that any society would be based on atheism. Afterall, atheism has only come into being because more realistic answers to all of the questions regarding our existence and the nature of the universe have been conceived in modern times.
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Old 12-08-2008, 06:15 PM
 
272 posts, read 439,969 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condemned View Post
Why hasn't there ever been a society (at least that I know of) that came into existence as an atheistic society?

GSTroop, let me hear your eloquent reply. All others welcome.
Many Asian belief systems are atheistic as you say. Buddhism comes to mind, along with Jainism which is also very old.
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:35 PM
 
Location: sugarhouse
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Taoism, especially prior to the British colonization, was atheistic. They worshiped their ancestors, but did not have a concept of GOD. But they did have some supernatural beliefs - specially regarding immortality.
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