John Zande

Hi oogenhand, hope you’re doing well.
”You presuppose that a god does not exist, and therefore you read all data through that lens and arrive at satisfying results.”
This is false. The sequence of events are 1) I, like everyone, was born a-theist 2) theism was taught to me and accepted as truth 3) personal investigation revealed theism to be false.
No religion is true, and I know this because no religion has emerged independently twice on the planet. Peel away the colourful ritualistic outer layers, bypass the oral traditions and the always cryptic books, navigate around the creative hermeneutics, over the various strains of inventive apologetics, philosophies and elaborate theodicies, and press on through the charismatic mind-sets to the core within and the impartial observer finds that there are but two ostensible, universal truths pervading all faith-based religious beliefs:
1) They all claim to be true.
2) Not one has ever emerged twice on the planet.
That is all there is. There is nothing lurking any deeper than these two truisms, and as the second maxim annihilates the first claim the observer swiftly determines that there is no need to even litigate the petitions forwarded by any single religion as it is already perfectly clear that any allusion to authenticity is entirely groundless.
If this were not the case, if any single religion were in fact true, we would have—indeed should have—already seen that religion emerge naturally and entirely unassisted wherever human beings were found, regardless of their isolation or epoch. Its deity (or deities) would wear a single hat, carry a single name and speak a single language audible to the deaf, coherent to infants, understood by the demented, and intelligible to the senile. Its dramas and narratives would be recognised and repeated by cloistered populations in every corner of the planet, and its edicts would have penetrated all tribal, domestic and international legal code mindless of earthly or socioeconomic borders. If any single religion were true a single and unchangeable objective moral writ would underwrite all human populations, dietary conventions would be unchaste by oceans, and norms of etiquette, civility and protocol would not deviate with geography or era.
No religion has however emerged twice anywhere on the planet, no single deity has been envisaged by two populations separated by time and geography, and not a solitary person in history has arrived independently at Mithraism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Scientology or Judaism without it first being taught to them. Captain Cook did not find Aborigines swallowing back Christian communion wafers at Botany Bay, Columbus was not confronted by a wall of Arawak backsides pointed away from Mecca at sunrise on the beaches of Santa María de la Concepción, and Pedro Álvares Cabral did not uncover tribes of Aimoré Indians auditing their Thetans with Mark Super VII Quantum Electropsychometers.
That is a fixed, unarguable truth, and it is a point worth repeating. If any given mythology were even remotely accurate (the claim made by all) then that cult, its gods, its rituals, behavioural codes and canons should have emerged unsupervised at least twice on the planet. Its truth would in fact be demonstrable in this supernatural event.
”My own conversion wasn’t one of superstition, paranoia, or any other fear-based thought system.”
I’m sure that’s the case, but that is missing the point of the general thesis. As a species we have (from an evolutionary perspective) favoured quick associations. This has been beneficial, something inherently good for survival, but the residue of this has been a bias to false associations. That is to say, it’s easier for us to accept the false association. “Theism” is not revealed here, rather many, many steps further up the ladder.
”I would question that every thread of paranoia is built into our genetic code. How much if this is taught behavior? For instance, some people do jump at the possibility of a mouse. Had you not grown up in a culture afraid of rodents, would you have the same reaction?”
I don’t argue that it is. Fear is the grandparent: that urge to survive. Paranoia is a word, and as a word it often has negative connotations. I get that. If you substitute “paranoia” with, perhaps, “weariness,” then we might find more common ground.
And it’s not jumping at the sight of the mouse, rather the sound… the unknown. Superstitions are cultural. They are learned. The root, however, is paranoia.
And your claim that theism is unnatural is more in agreement with mine. If a Creator did create, then that Creator would be outside of nature, existing before it, and be unnatural.
One is not related to the other, and here “theism” is called unnatural because no single belief system has ever arrived independently (naturally) in two populations. What I would most certainly argue is natural is our penchant to find agency in nature. Many studies point to this being fact, and once again, this can be explained from an evolutionary perspective. In fact, it is the very explanation I use in the post. The grass moving is assumed (immediately) to be an agent: a lion. We are hardwired to find agency in nature. Doing so enhances our chances of survival. That is natural for us. Dressing all that up in theistic notions is, however, purely cultural.

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