Religion Pre-dates Atheism… Really?

nickspencerThis image was posted on Twitter by my friend Secular Scarlet (@naradee12) and it started a discussion.  Not a surprise, considering that’s what Twitter is for.

No, what’s strange is the input from an historian and atheist called @KevinAthans.

The image is the cover of a book that is an examination of atheism through the ages and the associated spiritual, political, ideological and philosophical issues that go with it. And it has a semi-jokey title.  I’ll offer you the benefit of the doubt that you don’t need me to explain it to you.

Sadly it would appear that not every atheist does get the joke, neither do they read the book before offering their opinion, as shown by this tweet from Kevin:

Bold title…yet all evidence points to religious beliefs in human origins.

It would appear that he made an assumption about the subject of the book and that is religious beliefs arose in conjunction with evolution of humans from our earliest ancestors (proto-humans if you will).

When asked to make his point, he came back with:

You really want me to write you an essay? What are all of the oldest texts and paintings about?

As far as I know, and I freely admit that I’m not an expert, but the earliest examples of art are the cave paintings found in Indonesia’s Maros and Pangkep regions, dated approximately 40,000 years old.  They are human hands stencils and animals of the time. I would suggest that there is nothing religious about these images, instead I would say that they are decoration and representations of things of importance around them.  After all, what could be more important than your food supply?  I saw nothing to suggest that any form of worship was involved.

DispilioThe oldest known text is the Dispilio Tablet, it has yet to be deciphered, so to state that it is a religious text is presumptuous to say the least. The oldest texts for which we have a decent amount of material to work with are Sumerian, Ancient Egyptian and Akkadian. Whilst some of these texts are religious in nature, most are concerned with such things as:

  • Funerary texts
  • Poems
  • Commemorative texts
  • Autobiographical texts recounting the careers of prominent administrative officials.

It strikes me as the ultimate arrogance to state that writing and art rose through a need for spiritual fulfilment, and rather ridiculous that religion should be held as the reason for the invention of both.

However, there’s more to this.  After some discussion, he then came back with:

religion serves a purpose today, but to suggest the earliest people were atheists is unfounded.

My response is, don’t be ridiculous, of course it isn’t.  Atheism must pre-date religion for the simple reason that religious belief is a product of higher brain functions and isn’t part of the animal brain.  Any and all myths are based on what the ancients saw and/or experienced and were early attempts to explain them.

His response:

You cannot support atheism came first. You also, incorrectly, assume their myths are based on first hand counters and that they understood them. Your argument is the same argument ancient astronaut theorists make.

First of all, that’s putting words in my mouth. I made no mention of aliens or astronauts.  My point was simply that atheism must pre-date religion for the simple reason that natural occurrences happen and must be observed before any attempt can be made to explain them.

imgresFor example, the ancients must have watched the sun and moon rise, travel across the sky and set before they came up with a sun god in his chariot chasing the moon goddess through the heavens.

I propose that our earliest ancestors wouldn’t have thought too much about the sun at all, beyond appreciating the heat and light it produced.

To suggest that the sun god is invented (yes, invented) before the sun is observed in the sky is, to my mind at least, beyond stupid!

He also had this to say:

You fail to realize the most basic question is “where did I come from.” These myths tried to explain that.

maslowReally?  That’s the most basic question, is it?  I put forward that much more basic questions that early humans would have are questions such as:

  • Where can I find food?
  • Where can I find shelter from the cold and sabre-tooth tigers?
  • Where are all the hot girls at?

Metaphysical questions are a privilege reserved for those who have systems in place for their basic survival and procreative needs, and come fairly low in the hierarchy of needs.

dryopithecus2I agree that the myths did attempt to answer the ‘where did I come from?’ question, but I find it difficult to believe that Dryopithecus came down from the trees and then started pondering philosophy rather than avoiding an instant and bloody death from predators or looking for food of his own.

Another point he tried to make was that atheism cannot exist without religion.

Bullshit!

A lack of belief in gods before any gods were created is called atheism because there isn’t a word for non belief in supernatural deity figures who are yet to be created.

urlThe fact that the dictionary definition of atheism doesn’t cover this situation is an issue with the language rather than the concept.  So we either need a new word to cover lack of belief in yet to be created gods, or we need to add the situation to the current dictionary definition. He was indulging in word play, which is something I usually expect from theists.

Atheism is that which exists when there is no religious belief in a supernatural deity.  Gods are required for theism, but not for atheism.

To be honest, I was disappointed that an atheist and academic of all people would come out with such obtuse and fatuous reasoning, but then, if nothing else, it shows that professing atheism and having an education isn’t a cure for stupid… Sadly.

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18 Responses to Religion Pre-dates Atheism… Really?

  1. dfxc says:

    So, if I’m following your argument, atheism arises from low brain function, ignorance, and a failure to observe the natural world?
    Not a claim I’d tend to embrace…
    …though it would explain much of the nonsense written on the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Far from it. Your understanding is flawed.

      Religion/religious beliefs/myths are based on early attempts to understand the world around us and to explain natural phenomenon.

      Atheism is a lack of belief in god(s).

      At no time did I say that atheism is a lower brain function.

      At no time did say that atheism is failure to observe the natural world, it is simply that atheism requires no myths to explain reality, whereas religion does.

      Please point out to me where I said that “atheism arises from low brain function, ignorance, and a failure to observe the natural world.” I would dearly love to know.

      Like

      • dfxc says:

        «Please point out to me where I said that “atheism arises from low brain function, ignorance, and a failure to observe the natural world.” I would dearly love to know.»
        OK:
        From your post: “religious belief is a product of higher brain functions”
        Corollary: Atheism is a product of low (or lower) brain function.
        From your post: “atheism must pre-date religion for the simple reason that natural occurrences happen and must be observed before any attempt can be made to explain them”
        Corollary: Atheism originates in not observing natural occurrences.
        From your post, contrasting the position of later authors of theistic myths: “I propose that our earliest ancestors wouldn’t have thought too much about the sun at all, beyond appreciating the heat and light it produced.”
        Corollary: Atheism starts in vacuity.
        QED

        Addendum
        From your comment: [Its entire content and tone.]
        Corollary: Some atheists are without gods and a sense of humor.

        Like

      • Flawed corollary 1: Atheism is the lack of belief in a god. It doesn’t reside in the lower brain, it resides in the upper brain where the individual has the reasoning power to come to the conclusion that the evidence does not support the existence of god. If an individual does not know about a concept, he/she BY DEFAULT cannot believe in it.

        Flawed Corollary 2: Atheism doesn’t originate anywhere. It is the default state. Observing natural occurrences can and does lead to either a religious position or a scientific position. But the observation MUST take place before either can happen. Atheism is the blank canvas upon which a religious position is painted.

        Flawed corollary 3: Although I can see why you would state that atheism begins in vacuity, I must disagree. You claim (I suspect) that atheism is borne from a lack of intelligence, and in a sense that may be considered, after all, do snails and slugs believe in god? But in the case of early man, there would probably have been to many other things to worry about (a covered in my article) for them to spend any time in spiritual matters. They would have been too busy staying alive.

        Flawed corollary 4: ALL atheists are without gods. Although a sense of humour is not a requirement of atheism, I do have one… Just not about some subjects. The shit I see in the news every day about the heartache, death and destruction done in the name of religion stops the laughter for me.

        Like

      • dfxc says:

        Your reply to 1 appears self-contradictory. Either “atheism” is ignorance [sentences one and three] or it requires discernment [sentence two]. If it refers to both states, then the term becomes useless. For example, never having heard of evolution and rejecting evolution are two radically different positions and, if we label them, we label them differently. Collapsing the two positions into one term reduces the efficacy of the term… what’s the value there?

        Your response to 2 neglects your own text, which I quoted. I’ll do so again, “…atheism must pre-date…” — that’s a temporal/historical statement made in the context of an article that is making temporal/historical claims. Unless you’re claiming the eternal existence of entities capable of belief who lacked a specific subset of all possible beliefs, then you’re the one who implied “origination”. If you want to switch to something more akin to logical priority and speculative theory of mind, fine, but that’s not what you said. Your appeal to the “default state”, however, goes back to my critique of your response to point 1 regarding the same term is being used for both the “discerned state” and the “default state.”

        Your response to 3, again, neglects your own text. First, I didn’t claim anything; I just read and reiterated what you wrote. I disagree as well. In fact, I disagreed first when I wrote in my first comment, “Not a claim I’d tend to embrace.” You’re the one who has put forward the claim (at least twice now) that these prehistoric ancestors were “atheists” because they “wouldn’t have thought too much”. ‘Not thoughtful’ is, I believe we can agree, generally synonymous with ‘vacuous’.

        Your apparent stress on “ALL” in your reply to point 4 suggests that you believe that I misused “Some” in my proposition. On the contrary, you appear to have misunderstood the conjunctive function of “and” in that same proposition.
        Also, we must watch different news sources. The quantity of heartache, death, and destruction done in the names of profit, patriotism, and prejudice overwhelms (by my count) the amount done in the name of religion by at least an order of magnitude.
        Actually, come to think of it, I can’t think of any that are done in the name of “religion” as such… there are a number of tragedies I recall that claim to be motivated by specific religious traditions, and some of those are done “in the name of” that tradition’s deity or founder or other prominent individual, but none I can think of that were motivated by or done in the name of “religion”.
        What channel do you watch?
        Maybe we’re actually *not laughing* at the same stuff… but maybe not, since none of the stuff I’m not willing to laugh at is going to be helped or changed or stopped by arguing over whether prehistoric humans should be called atheists or not. I mean, in comparison to the stuff I see in the news, this whole exchange is a hilariously pointless absurdity — which I enjoy from time to time, because the world can be so horribly unfunny.

        Like

      • “I can’t think of any that are done in the name of religion”

        By that statement alone I consider you beyond hope.

        Along with your deliberately obtuse attitude and inability to read and understand basic English, means I wish no further discussion with you.

        Run along now.

        Like

  2. rasungod0 says:

    Intrinsic atheism is probably the best term for the state before any gods were invented, without inventing a new word.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pingback: Ignorance: A Bad Thing? | Cyber Atheist

  4. stern255 says:

    Guess who? It’s @KevinAthans!

    Since you took a few random Tweets to articulate a blog post, I will type up something for you as well. I will also point out where you read into things just to make an argument.

    To clarify, I am not a professional Historian. I did double major in History and Religious Studies. Because this always comes up, let me clarify what Religious Studies is…

    “Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.

    While theology attempts to understand the nature of transcendent or supernatural forces (such as deities), religious studies tries to study religious behavior and belief from outside any particular religious viewpoint. Religious studies draws upon multiple disciplines and their methodologies including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history of religion.”

    You are correct that I am an atheist, though I prefer the term agnostic, but I will get into that later.
    I will start by quoting you…

    “Sadly it would appear that not every atheist does get the joke, neither do they read the book before offering their opinion, as shown by this tweet from Kevin:”

    I assure you, I get the joke…I just do not find it funny. Also, I never gave my opinion of the book, I simply said “Bold title.” I looked at the summary of the book and I understand what it was about, but I have not read it and did not offer an opinion about the book. I commented on the title and then made a very broad remark…which led to all of this…So how about I do some explaining insted of you just taking broad Twitter clips out of context and reading into them.

    At least you freely admit you are not expert, because this is very clear. This is clear because you have a very simple, and unsophisticated, definition of religion, mainly that it is a belief in a god.
    In Religious Studies, one of the biggest questions is “what is religion” and “how do we define religion?” These may appear to be very simple questions, but as it stands, there is not a universal definition of religion in Religious Studies. Different scholars come to different conclusions, but the biggest difference of opinion is from one field to another, such as psychology compared to anthropology. If someone is a psychologist and uses their definition for religion, and explains why, fine, we can have that discussion, but I seriously question anyone that uses some broad and simplistic definition, such as “a belief in something.”

    “A belief in something” was an actual definition used by a psychologist in a scientific study to determine if atheists are smarter than religious people. Here is the problem…I believe in evolution because of the overwhelming scientific evidence for it. So, by his definition, I am a religious person…but also an atheist. What does that mean for his study? Flawed and irrelevant…

    I mentioned that to simply show how much of a difference a definition can make and how it can make or break a claim. This is why making the claim that atheism came before religion is problematic. Not only do you not explain which definition of religion you are using, by why. On that point, you also need to define atheism. The fact that you have to give an explanation, rather than just opening a dictionary, is significant. I was not the only person to suggest that your definition of atheism is more comparable to ignorance…

    See the problem with the argument? We have something undefined coming before or after something undefined. It is an unwinnable argument because people are arguing completely different points or just arguing ignorance, or both. Definitions must be established.
    On the topic of definitions, let me quote you again…

    “The fact that the dictionary definition of atheism doesn’t cover this situation is an issue with the language rather than the concept. So we either need a new word to cover lack of belief in yet to be created gods, or we need to add the situation to the current dictionary definition. He was indulging in word play, which is something I usually expect from theists.”

    Maybe we do need a different dictionary definition for atheism. I do think it is cute that you are accusing me of word play AND that you link it to theists. Word plays are used by anyone skilled in apologics or debate and are heavily used by atheists. The most common one is the term “atheist.” You were engaging in it also. You have used the term atheist to mean several different things and even made an argument about why the dictionary is wrong. If one wants to make an argument for the definition they are using, fine, but atheists generally have many definitions for atheism and agnosticsm and use which ever one suits that particular argument.

    A lot of times it is not word play, it is simply that one person does not understand the term they are using. You said…

    “You need to learn the difference between atheism and agnosticism. I don’t think you understand.”

    You do not know how often I get this…My response is YOU do not understand. I have done an entire blog about the term “agnostic.”

    Let me just quote a bit from my blog…

    “Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist, coined the word agnostic in 1869…”

    See, the term was coined by Thomas Henry Huxley, who created his own definition for the term. His definition is the definition I go by because he is the person that coined the term. The question is, what exactly did he say about the term?

    To keep it simple, here is some of the stuff from the Wikipedia link above…

    Agnostic views are as old as philosophical skepticism, but the terms agnostic and agnosticism were created by Huxley to sum up his thoughts on contemporary developments of metaphysics about the “unconditioned” (William Hamilton) and the “unknowable” (Herbert Spencer). Though Huxley began to use the term “agnostic” in 1869, his opinions had taken shape some time before that date. In a letter of September 23, 1860, to Charles Kingsley, Huxley discussed his views extensively…

    “I neither affirm nor deny the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing it, but, on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it. I have no a priori objections to the doctrine. No man who has to deal daily and hourly with nature can trouble himself about a priori difficulties. Give me such evidence as would justify me in believing in anything else, and I will believe that. Why should I not? It is not half so wonderful as the conservation of force or the indestructibility of matter …”
    “When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain “gnosis”–had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. And, with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding fast by that opinion …

    So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of “agnostic”. It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the “gnostic” of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. … To my great satisfaction the term took.”
    Since I do not want to post my entire blog, here it is in short…

    Huxley saw atheism as a truth claim, that they had solved the problem of existence. This was his observation and it has been my observation. This is why I prefer the term agnostic. I do not believe we can know, while most atheists appear to be making truth claims.

    I think most atheists know this, which is why they use so much word play and use terms like “agnostic atheist.” (Do not send me the pictures, I have seen them) Atheists spend impressive amounts of time explaining what atheism means and how much they “do not believe.”
    I certainly know what the term agnostic means, and I know the difference between it, and atheism.

    I guess I should get back to the original topic…

    First, we would have to agree on a definition for religion, which is a difficult task. Religion is such a complex idea that it could include a number of different biological factors or traits.

    One of the ways in which religion has been studied, is biologically. Many scientists believe there is a biological and psychological link to religion, or that type of thinking and reasoning. Sam Harris, who I detest, even makes this argument in one of his books, pointing out that religion has a biological aspect that was essential to human evolution. We can get into the specifics if you desire, but the point is many scientists believe there is a biological connection. If only there was a prominent atheist biologist that could do some biology on the topic…I mean besides just repeating what Freud incorrectly argued 100 years ago…

    If religion is biological in nature, thus being developed in our non-human ancestors, how can one make the claim that atheism predates religion? Religion is part of humanity, like an opposable thumb is uniquely human. Opposable thumbs did not just suddenly appear, like God made them that way. They have an evolutionary history that dates back to the origin of limbs. If you want to suggest that atheism predates the biological factors of religion, this will be very enjoyable! Let’s see the biological factors of atheism…

    For my closing, I will again quote you…

    “To be honest, I was disappointed that an atheist and academic of all people would come out with such obtuse and fatuous reasoning, but then, if nothing else, it shows that professing atheism and having an education isn’t a cure for stupid… Sadly.”

    And you said this…

    “Best you can do? No valid response, just an ad hom? Try again please!”

    The problem is not my education, it is that your education on the topic is so lacking that you do not realize how ridiculous you sound.

    I look forward to your reply. And please stop calling me stupid, it makes you look like a hypocrite…
    Kevin

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    • I will ignore the unnecessary introductory comments and explanations as, even though I hold no formal qualifications in this field, I do have an understanding of English and am FULLY AWARE of what is involved in Religious Studies.

      If you prefer the term agnostic to atheist then you are conflating two completely separate concepts, thereby showing a lack of understanding of both. But conflation does appear to be something you’re good at. Having re-read your tweets, I see that you conflate, myths & legends, personal religious belief and organised religion. You also display your inability to understand how cause and effect works. The observation of the phenomenon MUST come before the attempt to explain it.

      Your arrogance shines through for the next couple of paragraphs, as well as your lack of a sense of humour. Then you have the temerity to tell me what I understand. Religion is the a system of control based on the existence of a supernatural deity figure. That is the beginning and the end of it. To try and bolster your own self worth and superior attitude by stating that my opinion is simplistic simply shows you for what you are. An intellectual snob.

      It doesn’t help your case that, as you dismiss my ‘simple’ view, you go on to say that even at your rarified level of study NOBODY ACTUALLY AGREES. Well done you! All you’ve done is show that, like classic philosophy, Religious Studies is a field with many questions but NO answers. So, I’ll ask you, what use is Religious Study?

      Your claim that your belief in evolution makes you a religious person under certain circumstances is ridiculous beyond belief (for want of a better expression). Religious belief, by definition is belief without proof. The theory of evolution, in case you had missed it, is back up by mountains and mountains of verifiable data. Do you see the difference there?

      You go on to talk about my not showing which definition of religion I use and my response is, it doesn’t matter which definition one uses. A concept must have been considered, before it can either be discounted or believed. Therefore atheism is the only possible start state.

      You go on to talk about ‘things undefined’ although I really don’t know what point you’re trying to make, other than you can’t think outside the box or go beyond the dictionary via independent thought. Another commenter came up with ‘Intrinsic Atheism’ to cover the default start state, and I for one, consider it good for the task.

      Definitions in this case simply do not need to be established, as one (atheism) is the obvious start state, religion (by definition hah!) has to be learned. Atheism does not. This is why all babies are atheists.

      Please, please, please point out where I indulged in word play. I mentioned that there was no single word to cover not believing in a supernatural deity when the concept of a supernatural deity did not exist. It is for the same reason that Shakespeare didn’t have Romeo and Juliet emailing nude selfies to each other instead of sending love notes. The concept of the Internet did not exist at the time.

      Also, at no time did I state that atheist meant anything other than a non belief in any supernatural deity figure. If you would point out where I did, I’d be grateful, but I suggest that you either put words in my mouth (a habit of yours it would seem) or you read somebody else’s blog.

      And no, atheists do not chop and change the definitions of atheist and agnostic. One is about on belief, the other is about non knowledge. *cough* Conflation *cough*
      Atheists have one basic point, and that is the challenge to provide credible evidence to support the existence of God… Any god. To date, THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED.

      I love the way you tell me what I do and do not understand. I also loved the way you used the theistic device of appealing to authority. To wit: Huxley and then go on to regurgitate a wikipedia entry on his definition of agnosticism. I don’t argue against his explanation, I simply fail to see what it has to do with atheism. You really are good at this conflation thing.

      I’ll be honest, I really couldn’t give a shit what Huxley has to say about agnosticism as it is a side issue. And I note that yet again, you allow someone else to do your thinking for you.

      Also, I challenge your claim that most atheists make truth claims. We merely ask theists to provide evidence for theirs. The theist says, “God exists,” to which I respond, “Prove it!”

      Where in that scenario, do I make any claims? Also, provide citations for your claim about ‘most atheists’.

      You then go on to reiterate your need to have a definition for religion and my response is still, IT DOESN’T MATTER. Religion needs to be learned, it is not instinctive. If it were, then babies would be born praying instead of crying.

      You state that many scientists believe there is a biological link to religion. Again citations required. If you’ve found the God Gene, then why hasn’t the Nobel Prize been awarded yet?

      You drop a few names, including Freud, just to point out he isn’t relevant to this discussion, but at no time do you offer any reasonable excuse for including them. Showing off how well-read you are? Why? What will that add to your ‘argument’?

      I’ll quote you:

      “If religion is biological in nature, thus being developed in our non-human ancestors, how can one make the claim that atheism predates religion? Religion is part of humanity, like an opposable thumb is uniquely human. Opposable thumbs did not just suddenly appear, like God made them that way. They have an evolutionary history that dates back to the origin of limbs. If you want to suggest that atheism predates the biological factors of religion, this will be very enjoyable! Let’s see the biological factors of atheism.”

      You start your argument with a presupposition that religion is biological in nature and then base the rest of your argument on that. Intellectually dishonest of you, what?
      Atheism has no biological factor that I’m aware of, nor does it need one.

      Finally, I never called you stupid, I called your position stupid. But I will say this, your need to constantly mention your education sounds more desperate than edifying.
      To be honest, I am forming the opinion that you are neither an atheist or an agnostic. The evidence so far is leading me to the conclusion that you are a Poe.

      Prove me wrong.

      Like

  5. stern255 says:

    I have wasted enough time with you. I have better things to do with my time. This is as far as I got…

    “Your arrogance shines through for the next couple of paragraphs, as well as your lack of a sense of humour. Then you have the temerity to tell me what I understand. Religion is the a system of control based on the existence of a supernatural deity figure. That is the beginning and the end of it. To try and bolster your own self worth and superior attitude by stating that my opinion is simplistic simply shows you for what you are. An intellectual snob.”

    That is classic to call me arrogant when I did EXACTLY what you asked, explain my points. Once again, your definition of religion is shallow and a definition you chose to make your point. You call me an intellectual snob because you can only result to ad hom responses. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess you do not see Richard Dawkins as an “intellectual snob” for one reason…you agree with him.

    You say I am trying to bolster my own self worth and superior attitude? Who kept pushing the argument on Twitter? You. Who dedicated an entire blog post to this argument? You. Did I once give you the link to my blog? Nope. Is my blog publicly displayed? Nope. Why is that? Because I do not care if people read what I have to say. I have not even blogged recently. You update your blog daily, it appears, and talk about my superior attitude? You need to get over yourself. You have the superior attitude and are completely disrespectful to anyone that challenges you or disagrees with you. You bring up ad homs when you yourself can barely make it through a paragraph without engaging in one.

    You call me an intellectual snob as if it is a bad thing. It just goes to show that loud mouth, blow hard atheists like yourself have nothing to do with intellectualism. You praise and worship it until someone says something you do not want to hear. I do always love to see atheists like yourself insult an education and then talk about how religious people need an education. You are the epitome of why so many religious people hate atheist. Your only purpose is to talk down to people and show them why they are stupid and you are smart.

    You need to look up the definition of hypocrite and look in the mirror. I am done with you. Unlike you, I have better things to do with my time…you know, work, read, spend time with my kids…I am going to go do that and you can up another gold star up on your wall for showing your superior intelligence. You clearly need your ego stroked more than I do. Have a nice life.

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  6. Does it really matter what came first? I think you’re right that atheism did come first and your points are valid, but really, I don’t think there’s anything theism or atheism can gain by claiming to be older. Geocentrism came before heliocentrism, and we know which one turned out to be correct. The age of an idea has nothing to do with whether or not it is accurate. Isn’t it more important to focus on the content of the claim than on the length of time it has been entertained?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that the content of the claim is far more important than the age.

      But my my point was less about which position was older, but more about which is more likely to be both verifiable and true, as well as challenging the theist view that religion, or at least a religious belief is an intrinsic requirement to appreciate human existence.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Hehe. It seems sort of obvious that there couldn’t be theism until someone made up a deity to believe in. (Judging by some of the comments, apparently not, though.)

    I watched a really interesting documentary a while back about the development of monotheism; I forget what it was called, but it explored the evolution from simple ancestor and nature worship to the complex, monotheistic beliefs of the Abrahamics today. The Egyptians beat the Hebrews to monotheism with Akhenaten, but then a new pharaoh took over and brought back the pantheon, which was interesting, and there are some speculative historical theories that this was a formative influence on the Abrahamic concept of monotheism. Unfortunately there’s no way of telling during what dynasty and for whose reign the Hebrews were present in Egypt, or even if they were in Eqypt, since there’s no evidence for the historicity of Exodus. It might have been something with Diarmaid McCulloch.

    I saw another interesting doc that made a compelling argument for the Eden myth being an appropriation from the Sumerian creation myth, and that the Sumerian myth and story of the flood itself is actually a mangled version of an older story about a natural disaster displacing a prehistoric hunter-gatherer tribe. It was fascinating because they used satellite imagery to look at changes in geography and climate science to posit the effect on the area in question, something we’ve only been able to do very recently in human history.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If you want to know more about Akhenaten, head over to Secular Scarlet’s blog. She’s a subject matter expert 🙂

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  9. To defend the term agnostic atheist, I like the analogy (I didn’t come up with) of the sealed jar of gum balls. There are either an even or odd number of gum balls in the jar. The evenist (theist) makes the claim that there are an even number (a god exists). The aevenist says “Prove it!” I don’t know if there are an even or odd number as the jar is sealed. The default position is I don’t know (agnostic). That’s why agnostic aevenist (atheist) describes the position perfectly.

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    • Until you know the gumball machine is a thing, then you can’t be evenist or aevenist about the number it contains. You have to observe the machine first and THEN observe that it contains gumballs 🙂

      Thanks for the good comment.

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