Inception And Prevalence Of Western Monotheism
Sept 23 2007 physforum
I have always been baffled by references to the Jewish religion, into which I was born, as "monotheistic since Abraham".
I have been born and raised with the Hebrew language, and am reasonably familiar with the old testament, that has been fully compiled and cannonized by circa 100 AD. I am not aware of any statement in the old testament that may be cited to suggest or support monotheism, i.e. the doctrine or belief that there is but one God.
Yes, there is a profusion of urgings of monolatry, i.e. of worship of a single deity, in the old testament, worship only of the Yehovah god that "adopted" Abraham and "promised him The Covenant". But throughout the OT there is a clear "awareness" of "gods of other peoples" without any shred of denial of their existence. Even the declaration of Moses to the multitudes on their way from Egypt to their forefathers' land : "Hear O Israel, Yehovah our god is one Yehovah", is meant by him to allay their apprehension that their long-ago-forefathers' god may not presently be their protector god. The then prevalent concept was that god was a regional authority, and the Israelites, being then "regionally displaced", felt unprotected and apprehensive. And Moses proceeds then to warn them : (Deuteronomy 6:14) "You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you…". Stick with your forefathers' historical god…
We thus see that the treatment of, and references to, Abrahamic "monotheism" are incorrectly confused with monolatry, i.e. with worship of a single deity.
One consequence of this confusion is that e-searches of Explicit Inception Date of Monotheism, and e-searches of Prevalence of Monotheism, are hopelessly and desperately fruitless and overwhelmed with irrelevant background noise.
I have a feeling that a discussion and clarification of this subject might contribute more than just information…
Sept 27 2007 physforum
Jews, And Roots Of Western Monotheism
I thought that within the framework of examination and definition of "Western Civilization" it would be interesting to learn what our attitudes are about monotheism, i.e. about the doctrine or belief that there is but one god. My 'plan' was to follow this with an examination of our attitudes about the 'nature' of 'god' or 'gods'.
As I sought to "research" the background for this thread I became frustrated with the lack of information about the inception and prevalence of monotheism, due to an indiscriminate reference to monolatry as monotheism. The following is from an old, relevant, posting of mine:
Jews, And Roots Of Western Monotheism:
(a) To me, a student of evolution, Life is a fractal phenomenon, and I see this wherever I look. In the course of evolution of Judaism (religion of Judea, kingdom of the tribes Judah and Benjamin) there were two revolutionary evolutions.
Until the destruction of Solomon's temple and the exile of Judeans to Babylonia (586 BC) the god of the ten-tribes kingdom, Israel, and of Judea, was similar to other contemporary near-east gods, i.e. a regional people's god with jurisdiction over the people's territory. At circa 720 BC
the Assyrian Sargon II completed the 3-year siege of Samaria, Israel's capital, started by his brother Shalmaneser V, and deported the Israeltes from Israel, replacing them with rebels against Assyria from other countries. Having, most probably, adopted the local regional religions, the ten tribes became "lost" whereas the new implanted Samaritans became "nou-veau Israelites".
However, when the Judeans were uprooted into exile to Babylonia they expanded to a concept of non-territorial omnipresent omnipotent god. This to me is similar in significance to 1st century AD evolution of Western religion as the 5.4 million yr ago move of our chimpanze/bonobo forefathers from the trees to the plains, that started human's evolution. This was the first step in establishing the present Western monotheistic concepts.
Then in the 1st century AD the Hellenistic Jew Paulus, from Tarsus, started a symbiosis of Jewish thoughts with Hellenistic beliefs, and this evolved into Christianity, which found welcome followers as it released gentile, non-Jewish, joiners from the bothersome daily Mitzvot, commandments, which Jews developed explicitly for preventing such a symbiosis.
This turned to be a very successful evolutionary turn, similar to the symbiosis of early cells with either a mitochondria or a chloroplast cell to end up with very successful energy processing cells.
(b) Most present religious Jewish customs/commandments were formulated and developed in their various exiles, especially since the massive Roman exiles during the 2nd half of the 1st century AD, when for surviving with their unique culture and heritage, their unique cultural phenotype, Jews had to separate themselves in several aspects from surrounding cultures. Some few earlier original customs evolved still prior to the first Judean exile into Babylon, for protecting their culture from surrounding cultures.
(c) My own feeling is that Western humanity made a mistake in 1st century AD. It was then on a cultural crossroad and elected not to continue with the inherently tolerant polytheistic culture, tolerant by definition; it elected to go on a monotheistic route, which is by definition intolerant and raises self-righteous banners of single absolute truths that have lead to endless pains and injustices.
Sept 29 2007 physforum
Of Science and Religion
Nov 11 04 – Dec 4 05, Dov in Brights and biologicalEvolution forums
We live on a tiny speck of dust within an infinitely immense swirl.
Life ( also a black hole? ) is a substantiation of a temporary containment of cosmic energy dilution. All forms of Earth life are thus temporary energy bubbles. We are not yet able to figure out the implications of this.
Evolution did us a disservice, endowing us with "intelligence", with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, causing us to perceive and explore and wonder.
Some of us, like you, feel desperately lost without an ID (Inteligent Design) or without "everything being shaped by…something". You need to subsist under some form of Providence. Your peace of mind and your reflective elation are founded on a feeling that your existence is purposed towards something vague of which it will somehow sometime become a part.
Some of us, like me, regard our cosmic circumstances, all reality, and our meagre comprehension of them as an invitation to explore and chart the infinite aspects of the evolving universe. In pursuit of this we try to fashion ourselves in accordance with what we progressively learn about the universe and about life and about ourselves.
This, in my opinion, is the difference between religious and science-based worldviews.
Science is science is science, regardless of WHO SAYS WHAT.
Someone says "… if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God".
NO. Nature's patterns, physical laws and rules at all cosmic levels, have NOT always been there. They have been evolving since the beginning, from nil through ever more complexity at an ever consequent accelerating rate typical of an evolving system, towards an unfathomable end or towards a border of return back to singularity.
Thus this someone's god is an "evolving god"…
And if you are unable to rid yourself of distress and bewilderment without a god of local or personal involvement just ponder what you are and where you are.
Out of the billions of galaxies consider just one, our own galaxy the Milky Way. It, OUR galaxy, just one example out of many many billions, comprises circa 300 billion (10^9) M stars (smaller size than our sun) and 30 billion (10^9) G (our sun-size) stars, with planets and with other dust particles smaller or bigger than the tiny dust particle we call Earth…
15 June 2006, an added entry:
Science and Religion
Psychiatrist draws a straight vetrticle line on a sheet of paper, shows it to the patient and asks: "what do you see?"
Patient, somewhat excited: "A standing naked woman…"
The psychiatrist draws a horizontal line, shows it and asks: "What do you see now?"
Patient, more excitedly: "A lying naked woman…"
The psychiatrist now draws a 90-deg angle and asks: "And what do you see now?"
Patient, overcome with excitement: "A naked woman lying with her legs up…"
"Man", says the psychiatrist, "You're sex crazy!"
"Doc", says the patient, "It's you who draws these sexy drawings, not I!"
Scientists see the lines, religious persons see the drawings…
"Without Science there can be no Religion, without Religion there can be no Science".
You don't have to be an Einstein to make such a profound statement.
Obviously there can be no night without day and no day without night. As day and night define each other so proof and faith define each other.
And re the connotation of this statement: just as in looking at a 90 degree angle a scientism-guided person sees the two sides and angle whereas other persons may see more than the two sides and angle, so this statement conjures different implications in different persons.
Sept 23 2006, Hypo forum
Re Religion and Re Bible
– Religion, being a component of culture, which is a biological attribute, is one of the evolutionary factors ( not revolutionary, even though, I know, subversive too…) that humans artifacted when/where it served them well for survival. It has been functioning socially and personally for human phenotypes survival (comprising also a feeling of geno- and pheno-type self-esteem) for thousands of years. However, being a human artifact based on faith and also in many cases (not all) favoring inherently and intolerantly one cultural phenotype to the exclusion of others, it has been becoming socially increasingly more disruptive and destructive for humanity. For the human genotype to survive it is sensible to hope and to plan to replace its faith-based ethical-moral foundation of civilization on a rational science-informed comprehension of the evolution of the universe and of life and of humanity.
– I am amazed again and again endlessly at the features and meanings that people attribute to the bible, especially to the "old testament". I am familiar with it only in Hebrew (my mother tongue) and I am also fairly well familiar with its evolution from earlier cultures and literatures in the middle east thus I am able to trace the evolution of its meanings and messages as the tool it has been for the survival of the Judaic culture-phenotype (Yehudi, from the kingdom of the two tribes Yehudah and Benyamin). But most of the discussions and references to it that I see in the electronic media are carried on by persons who have read it only in translations from translations into another language, and furthermore they amazingly refer to the Bible as if it has been compiled and written in anticipation and in reference to present-day ideas and comprehensions of the society and culture in which they presently live. This has always amazed me. Unbelievable.
And lest there is an impression that I attribute the reading of hidden meanings and messages in the Bible only to or even mainly to the translations, let me clarify that many are also the Israelis and/or Jews whose mother-tongue is Hebrew who likewise find those hidden or implied things in the Bible. I.e., it is not the language but the psychology/state-of-mind…that makes one see an image in the line(s).
Sept 29 2007 physorg forum
Religious Identification Surveys
IMO a "Religious Identification Survey" cannot convey extent of prevalence of intellectual-conceptual attitudes about god(s) or about religion or even of affiliation with an organized religion. This since "religious identification" involves social/historical/emotional/traditional group-phenotypic elements other than religious elements.
Thus in my own case I would definitely check-in as Jewish simply because I "identify" with my phenotype group and, being an organism, I do my best for its survival. My "identification" with the Jewish religion/group does not interfere with my science-based comprehension and concepts about the universe and life and humans. I learn and assess my group's religious matters with a biologist-evolutionist viewpoint, yet simultaneously also with a natural innate group-phenotypic dedication.
Sept 30 2007 physorg forum
(From postings elsewhere during 2005-6)
My own humanistic concept/self-image comprises only science-informed-based attitudes and behaviour.
Becoming a humanist is not envisioned/intended to be a religious conversion, shedding off one's phenotype traditions and features and adopting another's phenotype traditions/features. Becoming a humanist/Bright is shedding supernatural beliefs and applying science-informed rational thinking and attitudes. Humanism is broad and firm enough to accept, with scientific rational understanding, concurrent adherence of members to their innate historical phenotypic, former religious customs/traditions, stripped of their elements of faith/belief and sacredness.
"Spreading the humanist/Brights gospel" should be, I think, mostly and primarily by example and by display of principles and behaviour, both within the family and in the community, rather than by deriding religious beliefs anywhere in any way.
In Nov 2005 I came across a link of a "Centre for Science and Religion", comprising:
"The University of Leeds has now established a new Centre for Science and Religion. The connection between science and religion amounts to far more than conflict. Religions are a source of values, and the sciences give power to implement them, so their study is important for all of society."
Thus I finally learned and understood the division of labor between science and religion. It has become clear for me…Dumbfounded DH.
Morality-ethics are human artifacts, extensions and elaborations of the most basic characteristic of life, cooperation.
All aspects of organisms' inter-cooperation within its community are at the base of life's evolution and are an expression of evolution's progress towards survival, at ever higher complexity. This scheme started with the genesis of life, with individual genes evolving and elaborating cooperative genomes commune associations.
Life is a fractal affair, a repetition of phenomena on ever more complex scale. It cannot be otherwise; this is the nature of the universe. And surviving-proliferating life has always been a cooperative affair since cooperation is a most successful mode for overall survival, proliferation.
Thus all organisms have an innate natural drive and instinctive mode of cooperativ
Humans display a different approach to the scientific study of the nature of life than to the study of anything else. This is most probably due to an aversion to accept the dismaying realization that we are, after all, just one of the many life forms on Earth (or in our galaxy or in the universe?).
A most essential, and uniquely human, ingrained/inherent need, is an inflated degree of self-esteem. The survival and bearable existence of human individuals and communities of any size is anchored in and established on a foundation of Self-Esteem Culture which is neatly a complete creation of humans.
The Inflated Self Esteem phenomenon, Religion, may be traced back circa 100,000 years ago, expressed in the forms of human graves.
Unbelievably even and still now, in spite of the scientific comprehension amassed todate, there are so many humans clinging to the basic human instinct that attributes to humans, religiously, higher "universal value" than to other lives, to other forms of temporary energy bubbles/packages wherever they are…
Humanity is urgently becoming faced with the vital need to re-formulate the basis of its culture and the communities-format of its organization on Earth, to anchor and build our life edifice on a science-informed rationale of convincing moral/ethical/social values.
Oct 3 2007 physorg forum
Rationality vs Faith
There are two times when I do not understand religious persons: before they explain and afterwards. They seem to think that everyone should become religious, since after all, rational observation is the most important thing to shun in life.
Obviously conversion from "faith hypnosis" to "rationality" involves a deep personal radical process. Faith-Religion, the circa 100,000 yr old biological-cultural tool of humanity, has been serving humans in various ways for many useful ends and, simultaneously, for some horrible ends. Sadly, the state of survival-balance of humanity on planet Earth is fast becoming too dangerously precarious especially due to evolving survival competition between incompatible human cultural phenotypic groups, and the only hope to avoid an approaching catasthrophe is adoption of science-based rationality.
Oct 4 2007 physorg forum
Is Monotheism A Science Progeny?
I do not view cultural-religious affairs through the eyes-conception of historians or theologians, nor do I regard them as "spiritual" matters. For me culture is a ubiquitous biological matter, selected for survival by modes of response to, and manipulation of, the environment. Thus I view and regard cultural-religious affairs through the eyes of an amateur biology-evolutionist.
In my compiled OT book Avraham, the immigrant from Ur Kasdim to Canaan, in need of a territorial god protection in Canaan, his new location, "contracted" with Yehovah a "mutual-obligation" covenent. Circa 400 years later Moses extends Avraham's covenant by "obtaining from Yehovah" a refreshed "alliance" even while still not yet resettled in the original covenant-territory, and basing this alliance on an "history-long mutual god-people committments". After additional circa 800 yrs the Judeans in exile in Baylon modify "Yehovah's territoriality", rendering Yehovah omnipresent.
However, through all the above years and through the following development of Christianity, first as a Jewish sect and later, via synthesis with hellenistic culture, as a separate religion, I do not find any record of concepts of monotheism. The Roman empire accepted Judaism as one of the several tolerated "legal" ancient religions within the empire, as the Roman religious culture recognized and accepted age-respectful polytheism.
From a point-of-view of an amateur biology-evolutionist it is rational and sensible and expected that a cultural-religious phenotype will claim for ITS god all the conceiveable and unconceiveable superlatives, for best survival prospects. I started this thread in a sincere attempt-hope to find if and when absolute explicit monotheism was initiated and how prevalent it is. I have a vague feeling that monotheism, absurdly, is a product of the scientific period and of scientific mentality.
Oct 5 2007 physorg forum
Monolatry To Monotheism: A Scientific Transformation?
R.Dawkins: "Carl Sagan put it well: … if by "God" one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying … it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity."
IMO both of them have stopped short of the cosmic lookout post. NO. Nature's patterns, physical laws and rules at all cosmic levels, have NOT always been there. They have been evolving since singularity, from nil through ever more complexity, at an ever consequent accelerating rate which is typical of an evolving system, through a metastable cosmos probably towards one of its two stable states, to then reverse its evolution back towards singularity….
Thus this their god is an "evolving god"…
In the 17th-18th centuries Western philosophy underwent a most innovative process, in response to
intensive intellectual developments in natural science, religion, and politics, changing concepts and doctrines inherited from ancient and medieval philosophy.
The 17th century scientific revolution involved changes in scientific practices and founding of new scientific societies such as the Royal Society and the Academie royale des sciences, and was accompanied with change in how natural philosophers described the knowledge that resulted from the new scientific practices.
I conjecture that it was in this era that "scientific monotheism" was seeded and began to take root, as an expression of the then revealed infinite cosmic incomprehensibility.
Of course, with a transformation from Monolatry To Scientific Monotheism the antonym of atheist is not only simply religious, and a believer is not only one who has a firm religious faith in a certain deity…
– Scientific Monotheism is An (therefore not The) unknowable undefined source of the energy that constitutes the unknowable undefined Universe.
– The unknowability of the source of cosmic energy, which is also life's matrix, leaves the choice and promotion of our purpose in life to be derived solely from our cognition.
– A term needs to be drawn for a concept and practice of deriving humanity's purpose and course of life. The term should not be related to theism or religion because SM is NOT founded on faith-belief, and SM's ethics code is founded on rational commitment and dedication to Life's inherent characteristic, which is cooperation for survival.
Oct 18 2007 physorg forum
Religion Defined by Science
Earlier in this thread I refered to 'god' as "IMO: Scientific Monodeity is An (therefore not The) unknowable undefined source of the energy that constitutes the unknowable undefined Universe."
I failed to find e-references to 'scientific deity' or 'scientific god' that were not related somehow to religion.
So I tried an e-search for 'Religion Defined by Science', and got a displays of a huge number of pieces of verbiag
I therefore repeat my years-ago suggestion of a 'scientific definition of religion', i.e. that "religion is a human artifactual concept that ascribes to some humans a higher value and esteem than to other living organisms".
Even though I am fully aware of the history and prevalence of the multi-functional applications of religion by/for humans and for humanity, I do not consider that the definition of the nature of religion should refer to its applications; the definition should refer only to its nature.
Oct 20 2007 physorg forum
Implications Of "Culture Is a Ubiquitous Biological Trait"
It is staggering and despairing that most of us, even most "modern" 21st century humans with much of the latest science-based biological information and comprehension available at our fingertips and PC screens, treat many "cultural" matters (such as the intellectual and art fields) as being wholly unrelated to biology, as if such "culture" subjects have arisen and evolved in a virtual "spiritual" universe unrelated to Earth's biology and have an independent existence.
Oct 25 2007 physorg forum
= a belief that there is a realm controlled by a divine spirit
A. From Merriam Webster Online
Date: 14th century
Middle English, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French espirital, spiritual, from Late Latin spiritualis, from Latin, of breathing, of wind, from spiritus.
1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal.
2: of or relating to sacred matters: ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal.
3: concerned with religious values.
4: related or joined in spirit.
5: of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena: of, relating to, or involving spiritualism.
B. From Merriam Webster Online
Date: 13th century
Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, espirit, spirit, from Latin spiritus, literally, breath, from spirare to blow, breathe.
1: an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms.
2: a supernatural being or essence: holy spirit: soul: malevolent being that is bodiless but can become visible: ghost: a malevolent being that enters and possesses a human being.
3: temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated.
4: the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person.
5: the activating or essential principle influencing a person: an inclination, impulse, or tendency of a specified kind : mood.
6: a special attitude or frame of mind: the feeling, quality, or disposition characterizing something.
7: a lively or brisk quality in a person or a person's actions.
8: a person having a character or disposition of a specified nature.
9: a mental disposition characterized by firmness or assertiveness.
C. Unsafe Cultural Tool
Do we need to adhere to imagination as a tool-means to uphold ethics, knowing very well how pliable imagination is and how it has also been and is being exploited for deleterious ends?
Oct 28 2007
Common Sense, Spiritualism And Escapism
"In philosophy, a characteristic of any system of thought that affirms the existence of immaterial reality imperceptible to the senses. So defined, spiritualism embraces a vast array of highly diversified philosophical views. Most patently, it applies to any philosophy accepting the notion of an infinite, personal God, the immortality of the soul, or the immateriality…(75 of 405 words).
Repeat: "A system of thought that affirms the existence of immaterial reality imperceptible to the senses."
2) Spiritualism (Merriam-Webster Online)
1: the view that spirit is a prime element of reality.
2: a belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living usually through a medium.
3: capitalized : a movement comprising religious organizations emphasizing spiritualism.
B. Escapism (Merriam-Webster Online)
" habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine."
C. common sense (Merriam-Webster Online)
"sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts".
By plain common sense I reckon that the above characterizations are obviously relevant regardless of personalities or of subjects or of verbiage.
Nov 19 2007 physorg forum
Culture Is Biology Is Biology
First, a confession. The long list of many things I have not yet done in my life includes reading a book by Gould or by Dawkins.
Now re the quoted Gould's "magisterium" and "supposed conflict between science and religion" and/or 'separate domains of science, religion, arts etc.,'.
Obviously Gould, and most probably many many others, have not yet assimilated the comprehension that culture is a biological entity that serves/functions for survival. Thus whereas functional sensory matters are treated 'within the domain of science' since they are deemed clearly biological processes, yet imaginary 'spiritual' domains are conjured for the not yet assimilated biological cultural matters.
It is plain and mundane that all aspects of all forms of human culture, like all aspects of cultures of all other organisms, can be investigated and characterized scientifically, even if this – sadly – might tarnish our exalted feelings towards them. However, our attitudes and emotions towards our artifacts are ours to set by our cognition.