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Thread: Is belief in the supernatural necessarily innate?

  1. #1

    Default Is belief in the supernatural necessarily innate?

    I came across a story about an American missionary (Daniel Everett) who went in to "save" the Amazonian Piraha people and came out the other side deconverted. His problem was that he had no pre-existing superstitious framework on which to hang his new set of beliefs. These people didn't even have a word for God, or creation myth. Over the course of living with the tribe, he ended up realising that they were happy, and that they really didn't want, or need the Christian salvation message. However, they weren't hostile to him in this respect. They rejected his beliefs, but accepted him. His book is called "Don't Sleep, there are snakes".

    Some questions for debate:

    1. Is superstition and religion necessarily a human genetic/behavioural predisposition? Motivate.
    2. Is "chaos" [rampant socially destructive behaviour] the necessary outcome of a society without a god?
    3. Following from this, what can be said of ethics, social benefit and individual happiness without a religiously inspired set of social norms?
    4. On what grounds would a hypothetical Christian God judge the tribe posthumously, and what would his verdict most likely be?

    Last edited by murraybiscuit; 13-03-2012 at 09:27 AM.
    The causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them. Fyodor Dostoevsky - The Idiot

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    Contrary to popular belief you don't need to believe in a god to believe in the supernatural, aka buddhists.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by SEF View Post
    Contrary to popular belief you don't need to believe in a god to believe in the supernatural, aka buddhists.
    Oh, here's an argument waiting to happen. I wont get into an argument about whether or not Buddhists believe in the supernatural because some obviously do. But, in light of the other thread you're currently involved in, I will say that Buddhists don't believe in a soul.
    Quote Originally Posted by icyrus View Post
    Good to see that you are still a bigoted ignorant arsehole. Some things never change.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by SEF View Post
    Contrary to popular belief you don't need to believe in a god to believe in the supernatural, aka buddhists.
    Belief in a god is by its very definition, a belief in the supernatural. And some sects of Buddhism do.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by SEF View Post
    Contrary to popular belief you don't need to believe in a god to believe in the supernatural, aka buddhists.
    ok, so would you say that the belief in the supernatural is innate from your point of view?
    The causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them. Fyodor Dostoevsky - The Idiot

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick333 View Post
    Oh, here's an argument waiting to happen. I wont get into an argument about whether or not Buddhists believe in the supernatural because some obviously do. But, in light of the other thread you're currently involved in, I will say that Buddhists don't believe in a soul.
    buddhists are a pretty bad example to generalise on. their view of a soul (and reincarnation) changes from school to school and teacher to teacher. it is also somewhat abstracted from the general western conception of reality, theology and ontology. i'd advise against trying to use the label to substantiate a viewpoint
    The causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them. Fyodor Dostoevsky - The Idiot

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick333 View Post
    Oh, here's an argument waiting to happen. I wont get into an argument about whether or not Buddhists believe in the supernatural because some obviously do. But, in light of the other thread you're currently involved in, I will say that Buddhists don't believe in a soul.
    ^ this

    Look at Confucianism as an example.
    .... and thanks for all the fish.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by murraybiscuit View Post
    buddhists are a pretty bad example to generalise on. their view of a soul (and reincarnation) changes from school to school and teacher to teacher. it is also somewhat abstracted from the general western conception of reality, theology and ontology. i'd advise against trying to use the label to substantiate a viewpoint
    Anatta or no-self is a pretty fundamental Buddhist principle I think. And while reincarnation implies some unknown process or component that may or may not be supernatural transferring from one body to another, what's transferred is not a permanent personality, it's the mind activity that gives rise to the illusion of a personality. In other words the thoughts that are reincarnated not the thinker. So, anyone who is attracted to Buddhism because you like the idea of living many lives, sorry you're out of luck. The truth is that there is no you to be reborn.

    I mean if you're inclined to believe in that sort of thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by icyrus View Post
    Good to see that you are still a bigoted ignorant arsehole. Some things never change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by murraybiscuit View Post
    Some questions for debate:

    1. Is superstition and religion necessarily a human genetic/behavioural predisposition? Motivate.
    2. Is "chaos" [rampant socially destructive behaviour] the necessary outcome of a society without a god?
    3. Following from this, what can be said of ethics, social benefit and individual happiness without a religiously inspired set of social norms?
    4. On what grounds would a hypothetical Christian God judge the tribe posthumously, and what would his verdict most likely be?
    1:No! If you take the mind of a child, and do not introduce any form of religious belief structure or faith based structure, and only introduce the reality of the world around it, that childs mind will remain superstition free, indicating no predisposition.
    Superstition and religion are behaviour patterns learned from parents and elders through observation and assimilation.
    Religion is a trap for the superstitious "mind", once you eliminate the superstitious "mind" what you are left with is the philosophical mind.

    2: No, a society can function within a set of parameters laid out by its members, to maintain peace and tranquility, without any form of deitic belief structure.

    3:Look at the philisophical teachings of pure Daoism, they predate many religious teachings.

    4:Harmony ! Did they live in harmony with the natural world around them and each other.
    i.e. Did not kill for more than food and survival, did not kill each other needlessly, did not kill for gain, but only in defence of their habitat.
    Laws of the natural wolrd.
    Abandon the search for Truth; settle for a good fantasy.

  10. #10

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    No. Superstition is environmental. If other people in your environment are superstitious you are likely to be too.

    My children grew up without superstition and they are not superstitious. They see superstition and religion as part of human history, and are not hateful toward such matters, they understand what it is, and they understand the power of indoctrination and lack of education that perpetuates it.
    This text exists even though you can't really see it, now apply this truth to your existence in the universe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by murraybiscuit View Post
    I came across a story about an American missionary (Daniel Everett) who went in to "save" the Amazonian Piraha people and came out the other side deconverted. His problem was that he had no pre-existing superstitious framework on which to hang his new set of beliefs. These people didn't even have a word for God, or creation myth. Over the course of living with the tribe, he ended up realising that they were happy, and that they really didn't want, or need the Christian salvation message. However, they weren't hostile to him in this respect. They rejected his beliefs, but accepted him. His book is called "Don't Sleep, there are snakes".

    Some questions for debate:

    1. Is superstition and religion necessarily a human genetic/behavioural predisposition? Motivate.
    2. Is "chaos" [rampant socially destructive behaviour] the necessary outcome of a society without a god?
    3. Following from this, what can be said of ethics, social benefit and individual happiness without a religiously inspired set of social norms?
    4. On what grounds would a hypothetical Christian God judge the tribe posthumously, and what would his verdict most likely be?
    Nice Vid.

    1) No it is not a predisposition to be religious. No child is born with a faith. These Piraha are the perfect example of a philosophical puzzle that I often pose to people. If you took a baby, born to any family, of any base religion or lack of religion, and put them in a jungle or island in the middle of nowhere. Provided them with the tools to survive, and gave them no external information at all. Pushed no societal conventions on them at all.
    I would be willing to bet my life on the fact that even the most philosophically curious would not puzzle out a belief in any certain religion in particular. Sure the religious might argue that that is why the gospels say they must go out and bring religion to the masses. But surely a god that loves all his creations would not knowingly damn some of them from birth, just because of their geographical remoteness. He would instill within each of us the certainty of his words from birth. They would be imprinted in our minds, so that no-one would need to tell us about him and his plan for us etc...

    2) The obvious answer is no. No matter how much people argue it over. A lack of religion or god to ensure some kind of moral compass would not result in a society of rampant murderers. The Piraha are observable proof of that fact. Sure people would fight and jostle for position, but that is true of any society that needs to fight for resources and leadership. It goes on whether religion is around or not.

    3) Personally, every single Athiest that I know is far happier than every single religious person that I know. Sure it could be argued that this is anecdotal evidence. But on a topic as subjective as happiness levels. Short of a worldwide 24.7 365 serotonin level study and analysis of everyone on the planet along with a video documentary to accompany the report and demonstrate what each person was doing to spike or dip those levels and what the avg is. I dont think we can get a conclusive study on this. So we need to take a page out of the Piraha book and simply believe what we see, understand that our reality in some regards, can and should only be what we see and experience each day. My personal experience is that Athiests are truly happier than people that subscribe to a religion.

    4) Hypothetically speaking, According to scripture, every single ancestor of that tribe will be damned due to the fact that they did not accept Jesus into their hearts in their lifetime. Even further back, they are not part of the 12 families of 12000 that will be saved etc...
    Never mind the fact that god had not brought the message of Jesus to them earlier.
    Sounds like a pretty unfair dude to me.

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