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Author Topic: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'  (Read 3096 times)

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Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #25 on: September 13, 2013, 09:12:10 PM »
I am not sure I follow, Kythia.  I am probably reading into what you posted.  Are you saying that since all cultures first had gods, there must be something to that?

Offline Rogue

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2013, 12:20:29 AM »
Oddly enough, I'm not so sure with Roman culture, since the Roman "Gods" before Greek culture permiated the society was more based on concepts than actual deities. Like there were "deities" but they were more like Lady Luck then Zeus. Since Romans were very practical, which is also why they let the Greeks teach their children despite them being their slaves....

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2013, 03:37:53 AM »
MasterMischief - yeah, in essence.  "Must be something in that" is obviously my belief, I suspect, not to put words in her mouth, that Ephiral will argue that there needn't be, but yeah, in essence.

Rogue - Sorry, I'm not certain I understand your point.  Deities based on concepts are entirely what animism is about, which is the first step of the process.

Mildly off topic
Quite honestly I'd question your assertion that Rome didn't have true polytheism before Greek culture became predominant anyway.  Even in the time of the Roman Kingdom - the Archaic Period in Greece - Rome had true polytheism.  I am admittedly not certain when Greek culture became entrenched in Roman life but I'd be pretty confident in saying it was after the rise of Athenian democracy (if I had to guess I'd say it was after the conquest of Greece in the 2nd Century BC, but as I say, I don't really know).

But yeah, Rome seems a perfect example of my argument. The belief in Numen is practically a textbook example of animism (in fact *checks* yup.  It's literally a textbook example of animism) leading to polytheism as these spirits gain personalities and "expand".

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2013, 04:36:38 AM »
Anyway, before I forget again.

@Ephiral:

Your best place to start is probably with early anthropologists.  Lot of mutton chopped Victorian natural philosophers for you.

Tylor, Edward., (1871) Primitive Culture. New York: J.P. Putnam’s Sons.

is probably your best place to start.  Frankly its a really enjoyable read even leaving aside our current convesation.  You can find both volumes on Google Books.

Spencer, Herbert (1892) A system of synthetic philosophy . London: Williams and Northgate,

touches on it.  I assume you know Spencer and hence that the book is dense and borderline unreadable. I meainly include it as Spencer is more famous than Tylor to show the secular/atheistic beginnings of the idea.

Lubbock J (1870) The Origin of Civilisation and the Primitive Condition of Man, Longmans, Green & Co., London

Has all the joys of Victorian racism to go with it as well.



After that you get into the German Religionsgeschichtliche Schule.  I've weighted resources heavily towards those in English, if you speak German though then shout as there's a lot more available.

The Dogmatics of the "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule", Troeltsch E, The American Journal of Theology  , Vol. 17, No. 1 (Jan., 1913), pp. 1-21

is essentially an overview.  It's available on JSTOR.  As is the broadly similar

From Comparative Religion to History of Religions, Haydon A, The Journal of Religion  , Vol. 2, No. 6 (Nov., 1922), pp. 577-587



Then you move to Joseph Kitagawa and the Chicago School.  Essentially, anything by Kitagawa is your winner here.  Everything else is a vague rehashing of his work.  If I were you I'd start with either:

The History of Religions or Understanding and Believing

The only non-Kitagawa work I'd really consider is:

W F Albright (1957) From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process

and my apologies to scholarship in that my copy is a photocopy and I can't be bothered to look up the publisher.  Embarrassed smilie.



Finally, despite how much of it has been discredited, no discussion would be complete without the joys of Frazer's The Golden Bough.  You really should read it.

Shameless Plug

Through online interaction I know the author of:

Chibi, A (2008), Religion: An Introduction to the Major World Faiths,   London: Studymates Ltd.

Chapter one deals with this issue and I figured I might as well plug it.  It's written for a non-technical audience and is relatively enjoyable.

Plus, he's Canadian so uses a lot of polar bear and maple syrup type analogies that you might find especially helpful.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2013, 04:43:17 AM »
I think that 'something' is man's tendency to anthropomorphize things.  I do not think that suggests there are gods, only that humans have difficulty thinking outside the box.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2013, 04:45:02 AM »
I suspect, and again I'm not trying to make Ephiral's argument for him, but I suspect that will be her argument as well. 

EDIT:  Sorry Mischief, that sounded a little dismissive didn't it.  Sorry about that.  All I meant to say is that
1) Yeah, I suspect Ephiral will agree with you
and
2) I'm not sure its resolvable.  Your position takes the statement "Humans have a tendency to anthropomorphise and hence came up with gods" as a starting step, mine takes "humans intuitively know that God exists and hence find evidence everywhere" as its.  The two are, to some extent, mutually excusive each being predicated on  their respective conclusions being correct - "hence no god" and "hence god". 

In brief, a load of these type of conversations eventually fall in to a "God exists" "Doesn't" "Does" "Doesn't" argument and its pretty easy to see why.  It's why, and I have no idea how successful I've been, I've been trying to "explain my viewpoint" rather than "argue my viewpoint" if you get the distinction I'm drawing.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2013, 05:03:45 AM by Kythia »

Offline Rogue

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2013, 10:54:30 AM »
Rogue - Sorry, I'm not certain I understand your point.  Deities based on concepts are entirely what animism is about, which is the first step of the process.

Mildly off topic
Quite honestly I'd question your assertion that Rome didn't have true polytheism before Greek culture became predominant anyway.  Even in the time of the Roman Kingdom - the Archaic Period in Greece - Rome had true polytheism.  I am admittedly not certain when Greek culture became entrenched in Roman life but I'd be pretty confident in saying it was after the rise of Athenian democracy (if I had to guess I'd say it was after the conquest of Greece in the 2nd Century BC, but as I say, I don't really know).

But yeah, Rome seems a perfect example of my argument. The belief in Numen is practically a textbook example of animism (in fact *checks* yup.  It's literally a textbook example of animism) leading to polytheism as these spirits gain personalities and "expand".

I apologize. I'm big on the whole most Gods being in the same or a similar form to Humans or some animal thing ((Adam and Eve being given the Form of God for instance)). Once again, last time I did research on this was about three years ago and I'm iffy on the time periods (Because that hadn't been important to my research at the time). However, while you see many cultures having carvings and statues and such to their Gods, the Romans did the bare minimum almost until first contact with Greece. And what's even more interesting is that none of them had Human or Animal form or some combination of the two, which I can't think of another culture that didn't.

I actually looked up the religion that I was thinking of and found more things. While all of the atheistic Religions have roots in Hinduism (And some are sects of Hinduism), I think the one I was considering was Jainism, which holds all souls to be equivalent and therefore the "Gods" are merely overpowered beings not actually "Gods" in the same sense. Thus, more severe practitioners making sure not to tread on bugs as they walk, because they believe them to have the same value as them. It also gives humans the ability to reach a higher level of enlightenment than those "Deities."

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2013, 12:59:25 PM »
Huh?  No need to apologise at all.

Anthropomorphised gods, with that emphasis are definitely the rule rather than the exception, yeah (it's called anthropotheism or physitheism - the first is gods having specifically human forms, the second merely a physical form.  First is a subset of the second, obviously).  Particularly in early/young religions - less so in late/old ones.  It's the gaumalar thing again, having the rhetorical and intellectual framework to conceive of an essentially unfamiliar god is conceptually a step beyond more familiar appearances.  What you see more often is a progression from a "human" god (like the J source god in the Torah who wanders about in the Garden of Eden and looks for Adam and Eve because he can't find them) to an ineffable one (E source god.  Fiat Lux, and it was.  No human aspects there - god didn't need to rub two sticks together, say, to create light.  He simply willed it in to existence)

It's not utterly unheard of, though.  Some of the types of Kami in Shinto are similar, though others do have physical forms.

Jainism is pretty interesting, one of those things that make defining "religion" a fucking nightmare.  Implicit in mine and Ephiral's discussion has been a definition that's essentially "we both know what we mean by the word".  Not to give the impression I'm trying to rule Jainism out, I fully accept it as a religion.  Just saying that a definition of religion that includes Jainism but excludes communism or football is pretty tough to pin down. 

But even in Jainism you have the duty of chaturvimshati  (which, embarrassingly, I had to Wikipedia.  Could not remember that word for the life of me...), the tirthankara are a little more than just ascended humans - particularly the early ones.  And look at their role - they use their supernatural powers for the benefit of people who are sincerely seeking to become more like the way they think humans should be.  That's not meaningfully different from the Christian God manifesting Grace in order for worshippers to achieve Salvation. 

The principle difference is becoming a god oneself - apothosis - which I'll grant seems weird to western ears.  It's not totally alien to Christian theology (maybe the other Abrahamics, though I strongly doubt it.  Can't say for sure though), Ireneaus' work is couched in explicitly deified terms.

But yeah, as you say Jainism grew from a theistic origin.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #33 on: September 18, 2013, 09:57:56 AM »
2) I'm not sure its resolvable.

Yes, pretty much everything boils down to 'Yeah!/Nu uh!'.

I think a large part of what convinces me of the negative position is that man has a history of making up gods.  In the absence of anything else, wolf has been cried one too many times.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #34 on: September 18, 2013, 10:02:41 AM »
Well, this is kinda my point.  Man only has a history of making up gods if you take as your premise that gods are made up rather than incomplete glimpses of the divine.  Both our arguments, really, assume their respective conclusions.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #35 on: September 18, 2013, 10:16:57 AM »
It seems to me that logic applies equally well to anything ever thought up.  Unicorns must exists because why else would someone every dream up unicorns and no one can prove there aren't unicorns.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #36 on: September 18, 2013, 10:43:57 AM »
One specific place and time dreamt up unicorns (and dragons, and yetis, and <insert mythological creature here>).  Everyone, everywhere has dreamt up gods.  For me, that puts them in a different category.

Offline Rogue

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #37 on: September 18, 2013, 11:31:41 AM »
One specific place and time dreamt up unicorns (and dragons, and yetis, and <insert mythological creature here>).  Everyone, everywhere has dreamt up gods.  For me, that puts them in a different category.

Quite a few cultures have dreamed up Dragons. And while they take different shapes, they're all still Dragons. Just my opinion.

Also, pretty much every culture has Demons. Now these demons might be nothing a like. :) Does that mean that Demons fall under this rule as well?

Because Gods have taken quite a few different shapes and sizes. Most of them human because Humans are quite egocentric and enjoy thinking that the universe was created by something that was bigger than everything.


It's like why there are a lot of flood myths... because these places have floods. Why are there a lot of creation myth stories? Because everyone was created and likes to understand/come up with a reason why.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #38 on: September 18, 2013, 11:37:51 AM »
Europe and China have dreamt up dragons, and the only thing they have in common is that, in English, we call them both dragons.  As I say in the thread, if we used different names for them, no one would bat an eyelid.  Ditto for demons - you flat out say they're nothing alike in various cultural incarnations. 

You're getting tied up on the words we use in English to describe something.  Look at the nature of the thing itself.  Or even just look at the fact that in other languages these things don't have the same name at all.  It makes it clear(er) you're talking about different things, rather than simply saying "these two different things are nothing alike but we call them both demons in English so they must be the same thing"

Offline Rogue

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #39 on: September 18, 2013, 11:44:13 AM »
Actually, I'm going based off the nature of the things. The things that we call demons in English are all responsible for negative things that happen. That's why the English translation became Demon, because at the base nature of the thing it's a demon.

As for Dragons.... Native American Dragon is right here. Also doesn't look anything like our dragon but that's not the point. The point is different cultures end up giving their creatures different appearances. Following that same logic, the Red Panda (a raccoon I believe) looks nothing like an American Raccoon. Does it stand to reason that Animals from different cultures would look different?

On the other hand, Humans all look kinda the same around the world. So the Gods at the top of the hierarchy all look like humans which are at the top of the food chain. Correlation or causation?

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #40 on: September 18, 2013, 11:48:51 AM »
Actually, I'm going based off the nature of the things. The things that we call demons in English are all responsible for negative things that happen. That's why the English translation became Demon, because at the base nature of the thing it's a demon.

Demons in Abrahamic religions aren't responsible for all bad things.  Nor are they in Shinto.  Or Hinduism.  or, actually, I can't think of a case where they are (though I do suspect there are some).

Quote
As for Dragons.... Native American Dragon is right here. Also doesn't look anything like our dragon but that's not the point. The point is different cultures end up giving their creatures different appearances. Following that same logic, the Red Panda (a raccoon I believe) looks nothing like an American Raccoon. Does it stand to reason that Animals from different cultures would look different?

See, I can't understand your point here.  What does that Dragon have in common with the one that St George fought?  Why are you insisting they are the same thing?  Other than the fact we've used the same word?  What properties does it share with the European dragon that makes you think they're one and the same?

Quote
On the other hand, Humans all look kinda the same around the world. So the Gods at the top of the hierarchy all look like humans which are at the top of the food chain. Correlation or causation?

Here, again, I don't understand.  We've talked earlier on this very page about gods who don't look like humans.  Neither correlation nor causation, simply made up statement.

Offline Rogue

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #41 on: September 18, 2013, 01:29:15 PM »
Demons in Abrahamic religions aren't responsible for all bad things.  Nor are they in Shinto.  Or Hinduism.  or, actually, I can't think of a case where they are (though I do suspect there are some).
See, I disagree. Demons, in general, represent the negatives of the world. Maybe they're not directly responsible but they definitely represent them.

For instance:
Quote from: Wikipedia article on Oni
The word "oni" is sometimes speculated to be derived from on, the on'yomi reading of a character (隠) meaning to hide or conceal, as oni were originally invisible spirits or gods which caused disasters, disease, and other unpleasant things. These nebulous beings could also take on a variety of forms to deceive (and often devour) humans. Thus the Chinese character 鬼 (Mandarin Pinyin: guǐ; Jyutping: gwai2) meaning "ghost" came to be used for these formless creatures.

From my understanding of Abrahamic religion's Demons, they are sent to corrupt people and lead them to do evil as the Devil's servants.

So that's Shinto/Japanese demons and Abrahamic religions covered. Asura from Hindu cultures fulfill a similar role to Devil's/Satan.

I could probably go into every culture and find something that is the cause of negative things/is something meant to fight the Deities.

See, I can't understand your point here.  What does that Dragon have in common with the one that St George fought?  Why are you insisting they are the same thing?  Other than the fact we've used the same word?  What properties does it share with the European dragon that makes you think they're one and the same?

It's easier in Western and Asian cultures as the two dragons are reptilian in nature though it's typical in Western mythos for the Dragons to breath fire but in Eastern mythos for the Dragons to have many elements, perhaps because random fires were more common in the western areas where these dragons came to be. What's actually amusing is the etymology of the word Dragon which comes from Greek δράκων (drákōn), "dragon, serpent of huge size, water-snake". Much closer to the Eastern Dragon than a typical Western Dragon.

Also, I was merely pointing out another culture that has what we'd call a "Dragon." It's reptilian in nature. Those aren't feathers if you look at the art near the tips of the wings. Instead of elongating the feathers, as native american artists would to represent the long feathers a bird has at the end of a wing, there are spikes, much more indicative of reptiles.

Here, again, I don't understand.  We've talked earlier on this very page about gods who don't look like humans.  Neither correlation nor causation, simply made up statement.
This is strictly the result of being rushed out of a room and not fully finishing/revising my thought so I'm not contradicting myself... >.>

On the other hand, Humans all look kinda the same around the world. So the Gods at the top of the hierarchy all look like humans which are at the top of the food chain. Correlation or causation?

Basically, what I was going to go for was the Humanistic qualities of most deities around the world, whether they're fully human or not. Most non-human deities have human parts still. And most of those religions died out (in the case of Egyption mythology) or were in religions where the humans in question had a high amount of respect for animals in general. And even then, most have humanistic qualities.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #42 on: September 18, 2013, 01:50:38 PM »
See, I disagree. Demons, in general, represent the negatives of the world. Maybe they're not directly responsible but they definitely represent them.

Yes, this is in part my fault.  I managed to misread your statement as "responsible for all bad things" instead of "all responsible for bad things."  Sorry about that.  Wish I could (truthfully) claim I was dyslexic or something to make that not my fault, but I'm gonna have to fall back on "idiot".

However.  This:

Quote
Demons, in general, represent the negatives of the world. Maybe they're not directly responsible but they definitely represent them.

is somehow both so broad as to be meaningless and yet at the same time not broad enough.  In order:

Sure.  If you define "demon" as "evil spirit" then yes, they're commonplace so far as I know.  And if you define "unicorn" as "mythological beast" then they're also universal.    But you're lumping together a whole load of utterly unrelated stuff by doing so, by making your sole criteria "evil spirit."  It's like, errrr, its like claiming that everyone believes in UFOs because you've defined UFOs as "something or other from somewhere else".

And yet, on the same time, how do you explain the cultures where evil is an act of a polytheistic deity?  Zoroastrianism springs very readily to mind.  Your definition fails there as well unless you're claiming Ahriman is a demon rather than a deity. 

So even by an overbroad definition of Demon, your argument about universality fails.

Quote

It's easier in Western and Asian cultures as the two dragons are reptilian in nature though it's typical in Western mythos for the Dragons to breath fire but in Eastern mythos for the Dragons to have many elements, perhaps because random fires were more common in the western areas where these dragons came to be. What's actually amusing is the etymology of the word Dragon which comes from Greek δράκων (drákōn), "dragon, serpent of huge size, water-snake". Much closer to the Eastern Dragon than a typical Western Dragon.

Also, I was merely pointing out another culture that has what we'd call a "Dragon." It's reptilian in nature. Those aren't feathers if you look at the art near the tips of the wings. Instead of elongating the feathers, as native american artists would to represent the long feathers a bird has at the end of a wing, there are spikes, much more indicative of reptiles.

Fine, all fine.  But I ask again, what traits does a dragon have that makes you think these two (I'll allow you not to cover the North American one if you like) are the same thing.  For example, books have pages with symbols on them.  Nothing (within that definition which obviously includes magazines) that is like that isn't a book, nothing that is a book isn't like that.  What do you think a dragon is?  It seems to me that your definition is little more than "mythical reptile"

Quote
This is strictly the result of being rushed out of a room and not fully finishing/revising my thought so I'm not contradicting myself... >.>

heh, can't count the number of times I've done the same thing.

Quote
Basically, what I was going to go for was the Humanistic qualities of most deities around the world, whether they're fully human or not. Most non-human deities have human parts still. And most of those religions died out (in the case of Egyption mythology) or were in religions where the humans in question had a high amount of respect for animals in general. And even then, most have humanistic qualities.

Most.

I don't give a stuff about "most".  Again, we return to the book definition.  "Human or near human" forms no part of the definition of a god purely because there are so many examples of things that are unarguably gods that aren't human or near human.  My argument is entirely about universality.  And besides, you seem to be ignoring the huge number of gods that are the sun, the moon, mountains, rivers, and other natural features.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2013, 02:09:56 PM by Kythia »

Offline Rogue

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #43 on: September 18, 2013, 02:28:15 PM »
I don't give a stuff about "most".  Again, we return to the book definition.  "Human or near human" forms no part of the definition of a god purely because there are so many examples of things that are unarguably gods that aren't human or near human.  My argument is entirely about universality.  And besides, you seem to be ignoring the huge number of gods that are the sun, the moon, mountains, rivers, and other natural features.

I'm actually not. I looked up a vast number of deities before I posted that just to make sure and everyone that I'd found that had a physical description was human in nature. If you would like to point me in the right direction for ones that are Gods that are only one of those things please do. :)

heh, can't count the number of times I've done the same thing.
Yay! I'm not alone! :)

Fine, all fine.  But I ask again, what traits does a dragon have that makes you think these two (I'll allow you not to cover the North American one if you like) are the same thing.  For example, books have pages with symbols on them.  Nothing (within that definition which obviously includes magazines) that is like that isn't a book, nothing that is a book isn't like that.  What do you think a dragon is?  It seems to me that your definition is little more than "mythical reptile"

Because I grew up learning about different cultures at the same time, Dragons to me are Mythical creatures who are reptilian in nature, generally larger than a human, and have some form of magic attached to them. Really broad, yes, but it doesn't help that I grew up thinking of both Eastern Dragons and Western Dragons as dragons. To me, it's kinda like how Red Pandas are Weasels (which I just looked up to double check. Raccoon was an old definition...  :-[ ). They don't look a like! But they are.

And yet, on the same time, how do you explain the cultures where evil is an act of a polytheistic deity?  Zoroastrianism springs very readily to mind.  Your definition fails there as well unless you're claiming Ahriman is a demon rather than a deity. 

So even by an overbroad definition of Demon, your argument about universality fails.
I actually double checked Zoroastrianism and they actually put Ahriman on the same level as Lucifer/Satan, not it's own level. I believe this to be an argument in the theological world though, so I will still answer my thoughts on this.

In a past time, I believe that Lucifer/Satan would be put on the same level as Ahriman. But it depends on how equivalent the cultures find Evil and Good.

Most monotheistic cultures want their Benevolent Deities to be stronger than Malevolent lesser beings. In some polytheistic cases, Deities seem to be souped up humans with just supernatural powers (Zeus/ the Greek pantheon for instance). The Greek Gods were famous almost for how human they were. Jealousy and hate and human emotion seemed to drip from their stories. So it made sense in most cases that the deities were both good and bad since humans were both good and bad.

But then you look at cultures such as Hinduism where certain sects believe that all of the Gods are actually different aspects of the one God, representing a multifaceted God. Yet this isn't typical of a God that you'd see, because most monotheistic Deities are either malevolent or benevolent.

In my opinion, most evil deities are souped up demons. Or it's the other way, where demons are lesser versions of deities.

Unicorns/mythical beasts are different to me and I understand where you're coming from. But keep in mind, most places didn't have horses. So horses are a thing that came from Europe... where unicorns come from.

Creatures and God are also very different to me. God/Gods typically rule entire universes or worlds, not one area. Mythical creatures, to me, would evolve independently of each other and could therefore be extremely different. Also, some are specific to certain environments... Kappas for instance are only in Japan. It's not uncommon for certain species to be specific to a specific set of islands, especially without contact with others. Mythical creatures are much more... creature than supernatural in a lot of cases. And a lot of deities are either shapeshifters or look relatively human or don't appear on earth at all. So one could argue the existence or former existence of mythological creatures to me, even though I don't believe in them due to lack of evidence and because of how connected to earth they are they would leave some evidence.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #44 on: September 18, 2013, 02:56:43 PM »
Quote
I'm actually not. I looked up a vast number of deities before I posted that just to make sure and everyone that I'd found that had a physical description was human in nature. If you would like to point me in the right direction for ones that are Gods that are only one of those things please do. :)

Hmmm.  That's what Totemism is.  From 20 seconds on wikipedia:

The Birhor from East India: "According to one imperfect list of 37 clans, 12 are based on animals, 10 on plants, 8 on Hindu castes and localities, and the rest on objects."

The Kpelle of West Africa: "Kpelle totems include animals, plants, and natural phenomena."

and that's bypassing the ones that only use animals, which still pass your "not human in nature" test. 

Quote
Because I grew up learning about different cultures at the same time, Dragons to me are Mythical creatures who are reptilian in nature, generally larger than a human, and have some form of magic attached to them. Really broad, yes, but it doesn't help that I grew up thinking of both Eastern Dragons and Western Dragons as dragons. To me, it's kinda like how Red Pandas are Weasels (which I just looked up to double check. Raccoon was an old definition...  :-[ ). They don't look a like! But they are.

So a Naga is a dragon?  The Feathered Serpent of Mesoamerican mythology?  The World Serpent of Norse mythology?  The biblical Leviathan?

Quote from Rogue spoilered for space
I actually double checked Zoroastrianism and they actually put Ahriman on the same level as Lucifer/Satan, not it's own level. I believe this to be an argument in the theological world though, so I will still answer my thoughts on this.

In a past time, I believe that Lucifer/Satan would be put on the same level as Ahriman. But it depends on how equivalent the cultures find Evil and Good.

Most monotheistic cultures want their Benevolent Deities to be stronger than Malevolent lesser beings. In some polytheistic cases, Deities seem to be souped up humans with just supernatural powers (Zeus/ the Greek pantheon for instance). The Greek Gods were famous almost for how human they were. Jealousy and hate and human emotion seemed to drip from their stories. So it made sense in most cases that the deities were both good and bad since humans were both good and bad.

But then you look at cultures such as Hinduism where certain sects believe that all of the Gods are actually different aspects of the one God, representing a multifaceted God. Yet this isn't typical of a God that you'd see, because most monotheistic Deities are either malevolent or benevolent.

In my opinion, most evil deities are souped up demons. Or it's the other way, where demons are lesser versions of deities.

Unicorns/mythical beasts are different to me and I understand where you're coming from. But keep in mind, most places didn't have horses. So horses are a thing that came from Europe... where unicorns come from.

Creatures and God are also very different to me. God/Gods typically rule entire universes or worlds, not one area. Mythical creatures, to me, would evolve independently of each other and could therefore be extremely different. Also, some are specific to certain environments... Kappas for instance are only in Japan. It's not uncommon for certain species to be specific to a specific set of islands, especially without contact with others. Mythical creatures are much more... creature than supernatural in a lot of cases. And a lot of deities are either shapeshifters or look relatively human or don't appear on earth at all. So one could argue the existence or former existence of mythological creatures to me, even though I don't believe in them due to lack of evidence and because of how connected to earth they are they would leave some evidence.

OK.  I'm honestly not clear on the distinction you're drawing between "creatures" and "gods" or on a few other specifics of your point, but I think I grab the general gist.

It seems to me we're using the word "god" slightly differently.  I would argue you are attaching a load of baggage to the word that doesn't belong there, and that there are examples of things that are unarguably gods that would be ruled out by your definitions (Ganga, goddess of the Ganges, rules one area for example). 

It also seems that, towards the end, you're agreeing with my point about universality of gods and corresponding lack of universality of creatures - have I read you right?  If so, awesome.  We agree.

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Re: Religion and Science - Ephiral and Kythia chattin'
« Reply #45 on: September 18, 2013, 03:59:59 PM »
*laughs* Yes, I agree on the universality of deities in general. I don't agree that this actually makes an argument for Deities existing. :/ Especially since I can logic out similarly that magical creatures can evolve independently of each other. Because places such as Australia exist.