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Author Topic:   Do Animals Believe In Supernatural Beings?
Straggler
Member (Idle past 152 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 361 of 373 (604981)
02-16-2011 1:19 PM
Reply to: Message 360 by bluegenes
02-16-2011 1:09 PM


Re: Stragglerism
Whether others are swayed by my attempted defence of what is admittedly a pretty out-there stance in this thread or not is one thing. I'm doing my best.
But as a bare minimum to take part in this thread it required that one accepts that the human brain evolved and that humans evolved from a common ancestor with chimpanzees.
If Jon can't even get that far then he should just go away.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 360 by bluegenes, posted 02-16-2011 1:09 PM bluegenes has not replied

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 362 of 373 (604982)
02-16-2011 1:22 PM
Reply to: Message 360 by bluegenes
02-16-2011 1:09 PM


Re: Stragglerism
Are you suggesting that the view that our brains evolved is unsupported by evidence?
No. I'm suggesting that the view that the intellect of our brains evolved is not only unsupported, but down-right silly.
Jon

Check out No webpage found at provided URL: Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 360 by bluegenes, posted 02-16-2011 1:09 PM bluegenes has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 363 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 1:25 PM Jon has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 152 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 363 of 373 (604984)
02-16-2011 1:25 PM
Reply to: Message 362 by Jon
02-16-2011 1:22 PM


Re: Stragglerism
What do you mean by "intellect"?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 362 by Jon, posted 02-16-2011 1:22 PM Jon has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 366 by Jon, posted 02-16-2011 1:59 PM Straggler has replied

onifre
Member (Idle past 3038 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 364 of 373 (604988)
02-16-2011 1:37 PM
Reply to: Message 349 by Straggler
02-16-2011 8:10 AM


Re: Primordial "Supernaturalism" (and Some Semantics)
This is a long one.
That's what she said!
Do you see the difference between the two classes of question or not? Will you concede that your comparison is unjustified?
Yes I do. And it seems like that comparison bothered you so I'll clarify my original reason for mentioning it. But I don't know if it is unjustified.
Telepathic abilities could be real but explained scientifically and not with any kind of supernatural forces. It would be equal to any other scientific endeavor.
Likewise, if you saw a group of chimps showing signs of religious behavior, the more than likely answer is something along the lines of human mimicry or role playing. To then try and make the case for them actually having religious beliefs, to me, is the same as trying to prove the phenomenon witnessed by the dog owner is telepathy.
What sort of religious actions are you talking about? Can you give an example?
Buring the dead is one.
By todays standards, one would guess this has religious implications, or at the least an emotional connection that perhaps also leading to a belief in the afterlife. But, and I'm not saying this is a fact, it could just be that they figured out it's best to bury the bodies in the ground, rather than leave them to the elements and bring about disease.
So there you would have an action that's religious in nature, but could very well have nothing to do with religion or any type of supernatural belief. At that point, it can be said that buring the dead is a religious behavior without any kind of belief in the supernatural.
I am talking about the evolution of the cognitive ability to ascribe a causal role to an imagined entity that ultimately lies at root of human religious behaviour.
You're not going to find that. It's almost like you're asking when did we become conscious, or when did the first thought occur? These are impossible to answer.
The best we can do is how I'm trying to help answer it, by looking at the physical evidence (ie. archeological evidence of religious behavior.)
But your position here seems to demand that there exist a point on this line where the cognitive abilities required for full scale ritualistic religious activity of the sort exhibited by modern human hunter gatherer societies suddenly just pop into existence without existing in any more primitive form in preceding ancestors.
Physical evidence for any kind of religious behavior, is what I'm looking for.
If all you're asking is, when did the first organism ascribe a causal role to something it imagined? I have no idea. If you want to claim it was a distant relative in the homo-genus, fine. If you want to claim apes can still do this, fine. If you want to claim the common ancestor between humans and chimps did this, fine.
Since we have absolutely no way of knowing this, and our posts are getting very long, you can speculate what ever you wish and I won't argue against it.
To know the answer to your question is at par with knowing when the first primate became conscious, and we just can't ever know that. The best you can do is look for physcial evidence that points to some kind of consciousness. The same too, I would say, with ascribing casual roles to imagined things. And the physical evidence for that is seen early within the homo-genus and in a more complex fashion in modern humans.
This is very much based on the sort of hunter gatherer conclusion that a dream about a dead relative preceding a natural event means that the dreamt of ancestor somehow caused that event.
Maybe, but how would you ever know that? You can't, and that's my point.
Are you aware that one of the key differences between us and Neanderthals is the size of the frontal lobe?
Yes. And are you aware that many scientist want to classify them as homo-sapiens due to the connection between genomes?
How can what you are saying make sense if Neanderthals lack the frontal lobe capabilities of modern humans?
I'm saying, just because they may show signs of religious behavior doesn't mean they have relgious beliefs. Which makes sense if they lack the emotion fucntions of the fronatal lobes. What are you saying?
So what are you saying that a significantly reduced frontal lobe didn’t stop Neanderthals having supernatural beliefs?
How do you know they had supernatural BELIEFS?
You're looking at physical evidence of religious BEHAVIOR and just speculating that they must have religious BELIEF. That's bullshit, Straggler, even if you don't like my examples of Harris and myself. It still exists that people act in religious ways while never once claiming to have religious beliefs. How do you know Neanderthals weren't doing the same thing?
I am saying that it may be possible to make reasonable speculative conclusions about the mental processes of evolutionarily closely related beings without actually speaking to them on the basis of their shared evolutionary past with us.
Reasonable, as in, not beyond the realm of possibility? Sure. But how one would prove any of that is as hard as trying to prove when exactly did primates become conscious.
And these two areas are both possessed by chimps but are less developed than in humans. As is the case with Neanderthals too. Which is consistent with the evidence of them having all the capabilities you highlight in a much less developed format than modern humans. No?
I think this bit here would sum up where I stand, as opposed to you.
That gap, that makes one less developed than in modern humans, I believe, is the difference between behavior and belief.
While it is true, and I wasn't claiming that it wasn't, that chimps have these fucntions and so too did Neaderthals, the over all function of the entire system, combined with higher cognitive emotional thinking and greater levels of awareness found in modern humans, is where I would find the separation between behaving in a religious manner, and having actual religious beliefs.
Simply finding evidence of behavior, like buring the dead, isn't evidence for belief in the afterlife, for example. Or seeing elephants carry the bones of the dead, isn't evidence of them believing in elephant souls. Or just because an ape has the cognitive wherewithall to ascribe causal roles to dead relatives, doesn't mean they have a belief in the supernatural.
I just don't see how one is evidence for the other.
- Oni

This message is a reply to:
 Message 349 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 8:10 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 368 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 2:28 PM onifre has not replied

onifre
Member (Idle past 3038 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 365 of 373 (604995)
02-16-2011 1:51 PM
Reply to: Message 354 by Straggler
02-16-2011 12:37 PM


Re: Some Fascinating Links
I am unaware of any significant cognitive abilities in dogs.
Source
Source
quote:
Like us, our canine friends are able to form abstract concepts. Friederike Range and colleagues from the University of Vienna in Austria have shown for the first time that dogs can classify complex color photographs and place them into categories in the same way that humans do. And the dogs successfully demonstrate their learning through the use of computer automated touch-screens, eliminating potential human influence. The study (1) has just been published online in Animal Cognition, a Springer publication.
That was very interesting to read about elephants.
- Oni

This message is a reply to:
 Message 354 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 12:37 PM Straggler has not replied

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 366 of 373 (605000)
02-16-2011 1:59 PM
Reply to: Message 363 by Straggler
02-16-2011 1:25 PM


Re: Stragglerism
What do you mean by "intellect"?
Smarts; intelligence; common sense; reasoning; cognition; abstract thinking....
Pretty much the same thing you mean by 'cognitive abilities', only without the presuppositional baggage that all humans are so endowed.
Jon

Check out No webpage found at provided URL: Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 363 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 1:25 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 367 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 2:08 PM Jon has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 152 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 367 of 373 (605004)
02-16-2011 2:08 PM
Reply to: Message 366 by Jon
02-16-2011 1:59 PM


Re: Stragglerism
Jon writes:
Smarts; intelligence; common sense; reasoning; cognition; abstract thinking....
So the ability for these things didn't evolve as far as you are concerned.
I see you've set aside this special time to publicly humiliate yourself.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 366 by Jon, posted 02-16-2011 1:59 PM Jon has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 369 by Jon, posted 02-16-2011 2:29 PM Straggler has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 152 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 368 of 373 (605011)
02-16-2011 2:28 PM
Reply to: Message 364 by onifre
02-16-2011 1:37 PM


Re: Primordial "Supernaturalism" (and Some Semantics)
Oni on comparing telepathic dogs with primordial belief in chimps writes:
But I don't know if it is unjustified.
I think I have demonstrated that the question being asked in this thread is evidentially legitimate in exactly the same way that the question of life on other planets is evidentially legitimate. There is no direct evidence for either. But there is a good evidential basis from which the question is derived.
Oni writes:
Straggler writes:
I am talking about the evolution of the cognitive ability to ascribe a causal role to an imagined entity that ultimately lies at root of human religious behaviour.
You're not going to find that.
I never said it would be easy. I said that the question was a legitimate one.
Oni writes:
It's almost like you're asking when did we become conscious, or when did the first thought occur?
It's more like asking what cognitive abilities are required for primordial supernatural beliefs and when in our evolutionary past these abilities are likely to have arisen. The evolution of brain physiology. Evolutionary psychology. Anthropology. Exactly the sort of questions I have been asking in this thread in fact. The question is very similar in nature to the question "When did humans evolve language?" in that sense.
Oni writes:
It's almost like you're asking when did we become conscious, or when did the first thought occur?
I think how and when consciousness evolved is an equally valid and interesting question. Likewise the ability to "think" (although I fear that would end up more a semantic argument about what it means to "think"). Likewise the human ability and proclivity for language. All hard questions. But that doesn't make them pointless.
Oni writes:
These are impossible to answer.
I think impossible is too strong a term. Who knows what neurological advances might tell us? Or if cloned versions of our ancient ancient ancestors might one day shed some light? But yeah - It's all a bit sci-fi in terms of the necessary steps to really gain concrete answers in these areas. But we can study our closest living relatives and evaluate just how different or similar the inner workings of their minds are likely to be to some extent. As e have discussed.
Oni writes:
But how one would prove any of that is as hard as trying to prove when exactly did primates become conscious.
We're not trying to "prove" anything. We're seeking the best physically evidence based answers we can achieve. I don't see difficulty to answer as a reason to ignore a question.
Oni writes:
Physical evidence for any kind of religious behavior, is what I'm looking for.
Then you are seeking the best physical evidence to answer a different question to the one I asked. A legitimate question. But not the one I asked.
Oni writes:
Or just because an ape has the cognitive wherewithall to ascribe causal roles to dead relatives, doesn't mean they have a belief in the supernatural.
A dead relative is considered to have caused a storm (for example) and you wouldn't call that supernatural belief in essence? What would you call it?
Oni on neanderthals writes:
How do you know they had supernatural BELIEFS?
I don't KNOW. But I would strongly suggest that neanderthals experiencing spirituality and exhibiting religious behaviours did so for reasons that are closer to the reasons and motivations of hunter gatherer human societies than those of you and Sam Harris. Engaged in a daily struggle for survival in a hostile and seemingly inexplicable environment constantly trying to ascribe cause to aspects of nature (e.g. the weather) by imbuing inanimate objects and elemental forces with conscious intent of the type they had themselves. In other words a primitive form of supernaturalism.
But no. I don't KNOW this. That much I will concede.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 364 by onifre, posted 02-16-2011 1:37 PM onifre has not replied

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 369 of 373 (605013)
02-16-2011 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 367 by Straggler
02-16-2011 2:08 PM


Re: Stragglerism
So the ability for these things didn't evolve as far as you are concerned.
What is your evidence that it did?
Jon

Check out No webpage found at provided URL: Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 367 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 2:08 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 370 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 2:33 PM Jon has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 152 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 370 of 373 (605015)
02-16-2011 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 369 by Jon
02-16-2011 2:29 PM


Re: Stragglerism
From Message 361
Straggler writes:
But as a bare minimum to take part in this thread it required that one accepts that the human brain evolved and that humans evolved from a common ancestor with chimpanzees.
If Jon can't even get that far then he should just go away.
Go away Jon.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 369 by Jon, posted 02-16-2011 2:29 PM Jon has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 371 by Jon, posted 02-16-2011 2:41 PM Straggler has replied

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 371 of 373 (605019)
02-16-2011 2:41 PM
Reply to: Message 370 by Straggler
02-16-2011 2:33 PM


Re: Stragglerism
LOL. Too dang funny. I'll take it you've not a shred of evidence, then.

Check out No webpage found at provided URL: Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 370 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 2:33 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 372 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2011 2:49 PM Jon has not replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 152 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 372 of 373 (605021)
02-16-2011 2:49 PM
Reply to: Message 371 by Jon
02-16-2011 2:41 PM


Re: Stragglerism
Straggler to Jon previously writes:
If I throw a stick will you go away?
(***Straggler throws a stick***)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 371 by Jon, posted 02-16-2011 2:41 PM Jon has not replied

AdminModulous
Administrator
Posts: 897
Joined: 03-02-2006


Message 373 of 373 (605034)
02-16-2011 3:43 PM


The thread:
it closes

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