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Does the fact that there was prehistoric religion and that humans have displayed religious behaviour by worshipping gods long before the creation/rise of the Abrahamic religions (and the other major religious groups such as Hinduism, Buddhism and so forth) prove the fact all these religions are man made, thus false and hence a god does not exist?

Supposing if god did exist, why did the religion that that god came from only came about in more recent times (few thousand years back), and not since the beginning of time?. For example, I claim I am a follower of Religion ABC and I believe in the god of Religion ABC. If Religion ABC only came about 50 years ago, I have to ask, if Religion ABC was real, why was it only formed 50 years ago and not from the beginning of time? Logic tells me that religion ABC is man-made.

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    Isn't that a bit of a straw-man? Who would dispute that religions are man-made? (Would anybody dispute this counterfactual: 'If humans never evolved, there would be no religion'?) At least since Feuerbach the point of contention in the "man-made" debate has been the concept of god, not religion (e.g. god is man-made in the sense of being a psychological projection of mankind). Would you mind rephrasing your question? – DBK Mar 10 '13 at 11:27
  • @DBK: I think it goes back well before that. Look at Marcus Aurelious meditations and Lucretious De Rerum Natura. Its also apparent (in a different mode) in other traditions: In Hinduism (if one can use that word), Brahman as opposed to avatars. – Mozibur Ullah Mar 17 '13 at 9:50
  • For modern anthropology religion is in complete continuity with magical thinking and is a cultural product. The psychological basis of religious belief is the nearly universal human tendency to attribute human characteristics to nonhuman things and events. On what possible grounds can it be asserted that seemingly radically different concepts of Gods are, at bottom, the same concept? If there is common concept, what would it take for an idea of the divine not to be part of that concept? Why is there more disbelief among scientists than in general population? – Annotations Jul 19 '13 at 23:13
  • For this to be true though, you'd have to prove as false the assertions of the Abrahamic faiths that their beliefs were in existence before Abraham all the way down to the dawn of man - remember, the Genesis account describes God relating to the very first people, regardless of your view of the level of literal interpretation needed. This would show that the formalised religious part of these faiths is an extension of something that was already there since the dawn of humanity. – CCarter Nov 12 '15 at 11:34
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Does the fact that there was prehistoric religion and that humans have displayed religious behaviour by worshipping gods long before the creation/rise of the Abrahamic religions (and the other major religious groups such as Hinduism, Buddhism and so forth) prove the fact all these religions are man made, thus false and hence a god does not exist?

Clearly not. Does the discovery of the Pythagorean Theorem by Pythagoras mean that it is man-made, and therefore false?

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    I share your point, but the analogy is IMO a bit off the mark. The concept of truth in OP's question is about existence, truth in your example is about validity/proof. Also, there are cases where "being man-made" would be a potential counter-argument to a certain existence claim, don't you think? (See e.g. the argument by Feuerbach.) – DBK Mar 10 '13 at 11:35
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    I think that there is a difference between "creating" and "discovering" something; religious people would say that their founders discovered the existence of the god, rather than invented it. – Michael Dorfman Mar 11 '13 at 9:48
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    @DBK:*Platonists* will say they've discovered the Real Line whereas fictionalists will say that they invented it. – Mozibur Ullah Mar 17 '13 at 9:47
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Does the fact that there was prehistoric religion ... prove the fact all these religions are man made, thus false and hence a god does not exist?

It highlights the fact that religion is a human phenomenon--that is, it is something that we do, not a property of the (rest of the) universe--but this says nothing about its correctness.

There is no logical reason why we must be wrong every time regarding our religious beliefs (but given the number of times we now believe we've gotten it wrong, it is wise to harbor a deep suspicion that maybe we're wrong yet again).

People also thought all sorts of incompatible things about matter, and those Greeks who invented atomism didn't have very good evidence for it, but they were basically right.

Supposing if god did exist, why did the religion that that god came from only came about in more recent times?

Maybe there was a minimum level of civilization required to sustain an accurate belief--too early and it's futile because oral traditions keep getting scrambled. Or any of zillions of other reasons. The point is that you cannot conclude anything definite from this. It is a little peculiar; it is probably a little more expected if there is no eternal God and just bands of humans making stuff up (usually without realizing that they're just making it up, I imagine). But you can just toss that into your gigantic intuitive Bayesian probability calculation along with all the other factors. It's not a deal-breaker.

Decisions about the truth or falsity of religious belief are subtler affairs than you propose, if approached rationally.

  • +1 but I don't know if the Greeks were 'basically right'. In modern particle physics, the concept of an atom would be unrecognisable to the Greeks. – adrianos Mar 13 '13 at 14:24
  • @adrianos - Well, the atomists were way more right than the others. As Asimov said, "When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together." – Rex Kerr Mar 13 '13 at 14:30
  • @adrianos: I agree: the field of an atom is over all spacetime etc. It's more that the various schools of materialist thought had a number of parallels with modern materialism. – Mozibur Ullah Mar 17 '13 at 9:58
  • @Kerr: But if we append the word local to the flat-earthers they would be right not only about the earth, (its locally flat) but also spacetime (its locally flat too), and also smooth manifold theory (they're basically spaces that are locally flat). – Mozibur Ullah Mar 17 '13 at 10:01
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    @adrianos - In the same sense that they were right about celestial geometry, yes, I'd expect many would. Which is to say that they had a key aspect of rightness that others had missed. (See Asimov quote above.) – Rex Kerr Mar 19 '13 at 18:17
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All that can possibly be said is that religions are man-made. That doesn't mean that God is man-made. Every idea we humans create is based on the universe around us. It's only humans (AFAIK) whom have the capability to question the reason for their existence and pursue answers to the universe.

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    "All that can possibly be said is that religions are man-made" How do you reach this conclusion? What if God gave a detailed list of instructions about beliefs, rituals and practices? That is, for instance, what Islam is about (afaik). – luchonacho yesterday
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Religions are largely systems of representation: a worldivew you prescribe to in order to make sense of what goes on around you. There is a similarity between religion and how human language works. "Dog" is a sound I make to signify the animal we know as a dog. The sound "Dog" has nothing to do with animal itself--you could just as well call it "Frog" so long as that was what your language community agreed to call it.

Religious practice, likewise, is derived from the community for which it has significance. For that community, it possesses a power to organize the world in a sensible way, but the "truth" of it stops there. Its meanings don't extend to the planet or the universe itself except in the minds of its adherents, just as it's only true a dog is a "dog" in the minds of people who speak English.

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Does ... religions are man made... and hence a god does not exist?

Supposing if god did exist, why did [today's popular religions] only came about in more recent times (few thousand years back), and not since the beginning of time? ...

Everyone knows that telescopes are man-made.

The rings of Saturn were first discovered (by observing an image) in 1610, using a telescope that everyone knows was built by Galileo.

The canals of Mars were first discovered (by observing an image) in 1877, again using a telescope.

The rings of Uranus were first discovered (but not imaged) in 1977, again using a telescope -- while that telescope was carried by a jet airplane, another man-made object.

The rings of Neptune were first discovered (but not imaged) in 1984, again using a telescope.

Why did the idea that these things exist only come about in more recent times (a few hundred years back), and not since the beginning of time?

The above logical argument leads to the conclusion that neither the canals nor the rings ever really existed.

(This is a counter-example like the one Michael Dorfman provided, but perhaps it will seem more relevant to those who think that mathematicians sometimes invent things, rather than discover them).

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Does the fact that there was prehistoric religion and that humans have displayed religious behaviour by worshipping gods long before the creation/rise of the Abrahamic religions (and the other major religious groups such as Hinduism, Buddhism and so forth) prove the fact all these religions are man made, thus false and hence a god does not exist?

The existence of different beliefs about something doesn't mean none of them is true (e.g. is capitalism good?). Related, ignorance about something doesn't mean that something doesn't exist (black-holes in XII century). Unless you are a logical empiricists (only things that can be measured exist), nothing denies the possibility of something unmeasurable to exist, and people having different opinions about it.

Supposing if god did exist, why did the religion that that god came from only came about in more recent times (few thousand years back), and not since the beginning of time?. For example, I claim I am a follower of Religion ABC and I believe in the god of Religion ABC. If Religion ABC only came about 50 years ago, I have to ask, if Religion ABC was real, why was it only formed 50 years ago and not from the beginning of time? Logic tells me that religion ABC is man-made.

(I think that by logic you don't really mean Logic, in the sense of a conclusion that necessarily derives from premises; otherwise it would be interesting to see the argument written down in full).

Say only the God of Religion X exist. What constraint is there in such existence for such God to wait until year T to reveal itself to the world? This is actually the case of Abrahamic-monotheistic religions. There was Abraham, living in Chaldea. There were "false" gods around him. One day, the true God called Abraham and revealed to him. This is the beginning of the Jews and of Judaism, a history of God-revealing-itself-to-humans that Christians believe finished with Jesus. Check this answer and the cited text for further references.

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