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Evolution of Religion and Language

 
The Voice of Reason
 
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The Voice of Reason
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09 January 2013 17:36
 

Has anyone studied the similarity between the evolution of languages and religion?

I have always told my religious friends that the reason its easy to tell that religions (all of them) are false, is to think about why the world has different languages.

Different people, geographically disperse and with no means to communicate with each other (nor even know of each other’s existence), began to communicate with each other.  These different groups of people each created a lexicon of words they used to describe the world around them.  But they each came up with different words for the exact same thing.  One group calls it a “tree”, another “árbol”, another “drzewo”, and so on.  But they are, in fact, talking about the same object.

So, isn’t the origin of “different” religions the exact same?  Different groups of people trying to explain the apparent “supernatural” (i.e. unexplainable) things they saw each day?  Doesn’t that just make sense?  The reason we have English, French, German, etc. is the SAME reason we have Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.?

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has studied this or if there is a paper or article covering this.  Any info would be appreciated.

 
 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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09 January 2013 20:47
 

Suggest you introduce yourself, your initial post, and what your background my be.  No one here bows before declarations absent some reasonable verification and explication of who and what you are.  So far, you’re coming across as another damned narcissist who assumes people will respond to whatever you post because you posted it.  Wrong.

 
 
The Voice of Reason
 
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09 January 2013 21:30
 
Dennis Campbell - 09 January 2013 07:47 PM

Suggest you introduce yourself, your initial post, and what your background my be.  No one here bows before declarations absent some reasonable verification and explication of who and what you are.  So far, you’re coming across as another damned narcissist who assumes people will respond to whatever you post because you posted it.  Wrong.

Just an FYI for the future, you aren’t required to click on the “reply” button if you have nothing useful to contribute to the thread.

 
 
Skipshot
 
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09 January 2013 22:11
 

Take it easy on the new guy, Dennis.  I didn’t get the same impression from his/her new post as you did, nor does it appear the new guy is familiar with the discussions we’ve had on the subject.

So, VofR, there likely is no answer to your question because you’re asking for us to speculate on unknowable history.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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09 January 2013 22:19
 
The Voice of Reason - 09 January 2013 08:30 PM
Dennis Campbell - 09 January 2013 07:47 PM

Suggest you introduce yourself, your initial post, and what your background my be.  No one here bows before declarations absent some reasonable verification and explication of who and what you are.  So far, you’re coming across as another damned narcissist who assumes people will respond to whatever you post because you posted it.  Wrong.

Just an FYI for the future, you aren’t required to click on the “reply” button if you have nothing useful to contribute to the thread.

You’re quite right.  You’ll also notice that there aren’t masses of member here eagerly responding to your initial post.  Perhaps I’m just premature and too dismissive; if so, apologies.  It also may be possible that your thread as written is just too vague to elicit any reasoned response.  I’ve been around here for some years, and with some verified expertise, but I may still be quite off the mark in my reply.  Tell you what, I’ll put you on “ignore,” and you can deal with the flood of other respondents. 

Again, apologies if I’ve unfairly misjudged your first post.

 
 
EN
 
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09 January 2013 22:45
 
The Voice of Reason - 09 January 2013 04:36 PM

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has studied this or if there is a paper or article covering this.  Any info would be appreciated.

Our member canzen is a philosopher of language, in a sense, and may have some thoughts on this. I don’t see how the evolution of language could prove that all religion is false.  It just shows that different people groups describe it in different ways.  But that’s just my initial impression.

 
The Voice of Reason
 
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09 January 2013 23:38
 
Ecurb Noselrub - 09 January 2013 09:45 PM
The Voice of Reason - 09 January 2013 04:36 PM

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has studied this or if there is a paper or article covering this.  Any info would be appreciated.

Our member canzen is a philosopher of language, in a sense, and may have some thoughts on this. I don’t see how the evolution of language could prove that all religion is false.  It just shows that different people groups describe it in different ways.  But that’s just my initial impression.

I guess my thinking was that if they came up with different words for “tree” or “rock”, they would come up with different words for “god”.  But, unlike a tree or a rock, which is an object, and can be seen, touched, etc, the explanation that “thunder and lightning” was a “god” required the invention not only of a word for that god, but a personality, because they are inventing a “being”.  So, along with the word, they invent a personality, a story, etc for this being.  And thus, ultimately, a religion.

Well, it makes sense to me… smile  I was just wondering if this idea was something others have come across, or if its only in my own mind.

 
 
nv
 
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nv
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10 January 2013 00:34
 
The Voice of Reason - 09 January 2013 10:38 PM

  I was just wondering if this idea was something others have come across, or if its only in my own mind.

My brother-in-law is a devout (!) SDA, and the gist of what you describe aligns with his opinion on the matter—for whatever that might be worth. I don’t know if it’s just his personal opinion or that of the current SDA church leadership. My brother-in-law is also a young-earth devotee.

I haven’t seen much of can zen lately. I see him that way too, Bruce, and I miss his usually more frequent posts.

[ Edited: 10 January 2013 00:53 by nv]
 
 
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10 January 2013 01:53
 
nonverbal - 09 January 2013 11:34 PM
The Voice of Reason - 09 January 2013 10:38 PM

  I was just wondering if this idea was something others have come across, or if its only in my own mind.

My brother-in-law is a devout (!) SDA, and the gist of what you describe aligns with his opinion on the matter—for whatever that might be worth. I don’t know if it’s just his personal opinion or that of the current SDA church leadership. My brother-in-law is also a young-earth devotee.

I haven’t seen much of can zen lately. I see him that way too, Bruce, and I miss his usually more frequent posts.

I find it somewhat odd that a theist would believe that religion was invented along side words yet still believe in a “god” anyway, but I guess not much of religion makes any sense to start with.

Its my opinion that early man’s constant state of conflict, trying to survive the harshness of the world and each other, would have caused them to seek out a way to manipulate other men.  I think the pagan worship of the natural world (land, rivers, sky, trees) made sense at first (like I said, their way of explaining the unexplainable), and I think the evolution (pun intended) of “religion” came about as man started to use those invented gods to gain control over each other.  After all, if lightning could burn a tree, and lightning was from a “god”, any man claiming to “know” that god or be a servant of it would immediately gain control over those who believed it.

 
 
nv
 
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10 January 2013 01:56
 

Okay, but not every theist is odd.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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10 January 2013 04:42
 

I don’t think culture generally develops with quite the isolation you describe. At least it hasn’t for some time. The various languages and religions we see today are, in fact, inbred cousins of one another several times over. And language, in particular, can be seen to reflect this. Much of this is fairly well documented and much can be inferred by common patterns. Dominant forms of these things from region to region have a lot more to do with the political and military success of various groups. Often nations have multiple languages, religions and whatnot existing within their borders but some reflect the dominant paradigm and so are more prominent. Its largely the story of war.

Theistic religion is even more entangled. The majority of faiths that celebrate or worship deities (within the scope of my own famliarity) can trace a lineage back to egyptian and mesopotamian traditions. Sometimes resembling older confessions quite remarkably. This does nothing to credit them factually. But I think it does say something about how humans transmit and repeat popular concepts.

As always, I’m a total amateur in these regards and bow to anyone with real credentials.

 
cunjevoi
 
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10 January 2013 11:00
 

I think it’s a fair analogy - albeit overly simplistic. It would be interesting to see what common areas of the brain are involved in language and religious thought. Steven Pinker comes to mind as someone who is knowledgable in both areas. You may be already familiar with his work but that’s who I recommend. Check this clip out anyway.

P.S. Welcome VR. I also suggest you provide a little background information in the “Introductions” section of “General Discussions”.
Cheers mate.

 
The Voice of Reason
 
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10 January 2013 12:11
 
cunjevoi - 10 January 2013 10:00 AM

I think it’s a fair analogy - albeit overly simplistic. It would be interesting to see what common areas of the brain are involved in language and religious thought. Steven Pinker comes to mind as someone who is knowledgable in both areas. You may be already familiar with his work but that’s who I recommend. Check this clip out anyway.

P.S. Welcome VR. I also suggest you provide a little background information in the “Introductions” section of “General Discussions”.
Cheers mate.

Thanks, that was an interesting video.

As far as an introduction, I feel uncomfortable doing that.  I don’t mind starting threads on interesting topics of discussion, but it feels too egotistical to start a thread about myself.  I am not a “look at me!” kind of poster.  I’m not criticizing that sub-forum or its purpose, but its just not for me.

 
 
saralynn
 
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10 January 2013 12:48
 

Your observations about the development of language/religion seem reasonable to me.

The Voice of Reason: As far as an introduction, I feel uncomfortable doing that.  I don’t mind starting threads on interesting topics of discussion, but it feels too egotistical to start a thread about myself.  I am not a “look at me!” kind of poster.  I’m not criticizing that sub-forum or its purpose, but its just not for me.

A bit amusing to note that you are too humble to provide an introduction, yet you refer to yourself as “The Voice of Reason’, with an Avatar of…..is that Socrates?  I’m not sure. I’ve read that Socrates was rather unattractive, but I pictured him being unattractive in a different way.

Oh well.  Welcome.

[ Edited: 10 January 2013 12:59 by saralynn]
 
The Voice of Reason
 
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10 January 2013 13:07
 
saralynn - 10 January 2013 11:48 AM

Your observations about the development of language/religion seem reasonable to me.

The Voice of Reason: As far as an introduction, I feel uncomfortable doing that.  I don’t mind starting threads on interesting topics of discussion, but it feels too egotistical to start a thread about myself.  I am not a “look at me!” kind of poster.  I’m not criticizing that sub-forum or its purpose, but its just not for me.

A bit amusing to note that you are too humble to provide an introduction, yet you refer to yourself as “The Voice of Reason’, with an Avatar of…..is that Socrates?  I’m not sure. I’ve read that Socrates was rather unattractive, but I pictured him being unattractive in a different way.

Oh well.  Welcome.

Thanks.  The forum handle is one I’ve used on other forums (political ones for the most part), where ... shall we say… far less rational people are commonplace.  It seemed like a good handle at the time (many years ago) and I’ve used it ever since.  I guess I am not very original.

 
 
EN
 
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10 January 2013 14:19
 

I’ve decided to change my name to The Voice of God.  How’s that for humility.

 
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