December 14, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Did Man Invent God?

A new study claims that religions with “moralizing gods” arise primarily in affluent nations.

This idea is bouncing around the science news:

  • Wealth may have driven the rise of today’s religions (Science Magazine)
  • Affluence, not political complexity, explains rise of moralizing world religions (Science Daily)

The idea is based on a paper by Pascal Boyer and 3 others in Current Biology, “Increased Affluence Explains the Emergence of Ascetic Wisdoms and Moralizing Religions.”  Their thesis is that “Buddhism, Jainism, Brahmanism, Daoism, Second Temple Judaism, and Stoicism, with later offshoots, such as Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam” all arose about the same time when the world was having an economic boom.

It’s obvious this can be dismissed, because it’s just one of many evolutionary notions that come around from time to time.  For instance, PNAS hoisted this flag up a bit earlier: moralizing high gods evolved because of “the relative effects of resource abundance, ecological risk, cultural diffusion, shared ancestry, and political complexity.”  In any case, correlation is not causation.  People’s beliefs are too comple, with deep historical roots in many cases, to attribute to single causes or a few causes.  Intelligent beings have ways of scrambling tidy theories.

This is just more in the old Darwinist genre of explaining away religion as a product of societal evolution, usually with subplots of some charismatic leader duping the masses.  Sometimes that happens.  But it’s true of all worldviews, including scientific ones, so that scientist refutes his own position; theists could turn this idea around, and say that Scientism is a product of unguided evolutionary processes, and therefore is self-refuting.  Don’t let academics exercise a Yoda Complex.

To Darwinians and materialists, all religions are equally fictitious and equally stupid.  They never consider the fact that there was a real Creator who has spoken, but fallen humans have corrupted their inborn knowledge of God (Romans 1) and invented false gods to rationalize their sin.  Judaism and Christianity did not arise during some affluent period when the others come into prominence; they go back to the Genesis and the Garden of Eden.  Evolutionary “scientists” act oblivious to the real effects of the Fall.  What about ancient “moralizing religions” in ancient civilizations?  Paganism is as old as the antediluvian world.  It spread abroad after the Flood at the Tower of Babel.  The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 shows how it spread.  This is history, not mental constructs or social construction.

The fact that some false religions arose contemporaneously does not mean that all religions are false or even comparable.  There can be only one Truth, but falsehoods are infinite.  The Lord of creation is not some invented “moralizing god” to be compared with Buddhism, Islam or anything else.  He is the explanation for reality, including the universe, the Earth, life, man’s mind, and eternity.  Evolutionists have no answers for these things.  The true God has revealed himself.  He is to be heeded and obeyed, for He has spoken in propositional language in His word, as well as in creation and in our consciences.  Let God be true, and every man a liar.


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  • Agema says:

    Well. The article is dumb but the analysis is bad. Really. If a nation is affluent, people afford more time to write scriptures (most scriptures are written in hand). The more scriptures there are, the more zeal is inspired to the population. Regarding claims of prehistoric religions they are bullshit for the most part, since they rely of figures which the archeologists claim are Gods and Goddesses just because religious figures are made in stone and they think they made Gods in stone. Afghanistan, Ethiopia and all other places are affluent now. Yeah right. Try providing cooler insight into the review. The quality will improve.

    • Editor says:

      Here’s the point, Agema: it’s a self-refuting claim. Materialist philosophy also arises in affluent times. Keep your comments civil, please; we don’t need your conclusory opinions. Make an argument if you disagree, not blanket charges.

  • Agema says:

    Well, I stated that the article on which the review is based upon is dumb, but the review is flawed. How could you state that someone practices faith? Well, by looking at the remains of their dwelling. Since you can’t interview the dead in this lifetime for writing your dissertation with plenty of uncertainties you can use archeological evidence as a proxy. How do you know that a certain household is wealthy? They probably left more stuff than the rest. The problem is faith in God is not correlated with the amount of golden rosary beads, except for Catholics and Orthodox. The second issue is that the archeological evidence can not attribute faith to the corresponding person (the slave might be religious while the slave master may be an atheist). Also, wealthy cultures tend to have more surviving literary works than poor ones and thus preserve their religious accounts better than poor villages.
    The article presents a false correlation, which would in fact be mediated by literacy. You can’t preserve the scripture if no one is literate. It is like correlating lawyer’s fees with the rate of copyright claims.

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