Sunday, April 14, 2013

4-8-13 HUMANITY The Ego-centric Animal  blog

If you trace human history as far back as is possible, you will find evidence of some sort of worship. While I do believe that paleo-anthropologists over-estimate the meaning of some artifacts as religious still there is no doubt that humans have always built religions. And, it is reasonable to wonder for what reason.

We originally hunted and gathered fruits and nuts for sustenance; life was a commodity that we took from animals so we could eat them. But, somewhere along the way, perhaps because of guilt, perhaps because the children loved their pets or perhaps simply because we have a highly developed sense of empathy (not enough but that's a different topic) we began the practice of apologizing for our killings. Still, that begged the question: To whom, or what was the apology directed?

The world, a mysterious place had to have spirits and godlets to make sense of things and, the self-love of humans required immortality.

Well, bodies deteriorate - no eternal life there. So, to preserve our self-esteem, to preserve the notion that we could not simply disappear from existence we argued there is more to us than the body. We postulated an essence, and a different kind of existence populated by the souls of the dead.

We a simple stroke of the brain, we had conquered death. To augment our new idea we developed a set of understandings called religion with rituals and idols and the comfort provided by a gathering place for the dead. Heaven beckoned.
The soul idea, providing comfort in harsh, unpredictable environments has lasted even until now though; in spite of the wisdom of our elders we cannot find any evidence for it. Of course, before humans learned and continue to learn to understand how the universe works there was no significant challenge to the idea. Of course, burning heretics at the stake certainly cooled the ardor for soul investigations. But, the religious had disagreements and with the reformation the disagreements became bloody. The Vatican sold indulgences so that loving relatives could get the souls of their loved ones out of purgatory. Luther put paid to that. Do you get to heaven by doing good works or because you have proper faith? Again, blood was spilled. Baptisms at birth or when the child could reason disputes provided another occasion for killing

No solutions seemed possible and after more bloody warfare, perhaps only by exhaustion things settled down . . . until science. Science is nothing but an attitude about the material world. The question shifted from why to how. It no longer was why did God make the grass grow, but what were the circumstances under which grass appeared and prospered. Did the flood actually occur? Of course, look at the fossils high in mountains where the flood deposited them. Wonderful explanation until geology described how mountains formed; they rose high carrying with them the desiderata of dead animals. Yet, the argument persists even now.

Again, many wise people have attempted to use science to prove the existence of the soul. In one experiment, as people lay dying they were weighed and after death weighed again. The religionists anticipated lost weight because of the disappearance of the soul but no matter how much they finagled, they could not demonstrate a physical difference before and after death.

So, is there a soul? It is important to understand that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To say that differently, because we cannot find evidence for a soul is not proof that soul does not exist. The lack of evidence means only that we don't know. Of course, we can ask the believers why they believe in the absence of evidence but surely their response would not satisfy. There is a bumper sticker that says, “Don't believe everything you think.” I love it.

So, when the day comes when I die, who knows perhaps I'll be happily surprised. Nah, I don't think so.

If you want to fit in with society
Belief in soul is a necessary priority
Their mentation is lazy
So soul believers get crazy
But, as ecclesiasts says, "All is Vanity."

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