Darwin: No Primordial Monotheism

The HMS Beagle

I have discussed how “religion” is a relatively new concept and when taken for granted (as if it were easily defined) leads to intellectual mistakes.
See these posts:

I have also discussed how monotheistic, omnipotent deities (Allah & Yahweh) were built upon simpler gods with far less qualities. Ancient humans did not instinctively believe in gods that look anything like the monotheistic gods built up over the millenium.
See this post:

  • Arguing for a Tiny God:  In this diagram, smaller circles illustrate less qualities and simpler gods/spirits/wonder.

Informing both of these themes, I thought I’d share this quote by a well-know theologian and biologist — Charles Darwin:

“There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God. On the contrary there is ample evidence, derived not from hasty travellers, but from men who have long resided with savages, that numerous races have existed and still exist, who have no idea of one or more gods, and who have no words in their languages to express such an idea.”
— Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 65

Darwin supported the obvious view that religion evolved from very simple beginnings.  It is these simple components of the religious mind to which I often try to return our conversation. Both lofty notions of religion and of a god can confuse a dialogue.  Some would purport that their god slowly revealed himself [sic] and thus revealed his complexity, but we contend, instead, that humans slowly construed more complicated deities through evolutionary mechanisms.

Source / Notes:

  • Biology of Religion @ Scilogs — this post inspired my post
  • BTW, the HMS Beagle was a “Cherokee class” vessel British vessel many which had animal names:  Badger, Opossum, Wild Boar, Goldfinch, Beaver, Drake, Falcon, Barracouta, Weazle, Kingfisher and Ferret.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

2 responses to “Darwin: No Primordial Monotheism

  1. In what way did Michael Blume’s post inspire yours? I think I know but would like to hear your take on it.

    Also, your questions over at my place generated a very long response.

  2. His “Evolutionary Studies of Religiosity” paper. Why? I don’t know anything about the gentleman. Do you have a bone with him?

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