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Man is the subject of all major religions. Why?

Certainly man is unique. But so are any other creature in their own way. Are we blindsided by our domination of nature or are humans really the culmination of creation?

Is there merit to the belief that the universe was created for man? After all almost everyone acts like it is.

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    Mar 7 2013: One day in the garden of Eden, Eve calls out to God, Lord, I have a problem.

    What's the problem, Eve.

    Lord, I am lonely and I'm sick to death of these apples.

    Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution, I shall create a man for you.

    What's a man, Lord?

    This man will be a flawed creature with many bad habits. He'll lie, cheat and be vain; all in all, he'll give you a hard time, but he'll be bigger, faster and will like to hunt and kill things. He will look silly when he's aroused, but since you've been complaining, I'll create him in such a way that he will satisfy your physical needs. He will be witless and will revel in childish things like fighting and kicking a ball about. He won't be too smart, so he'll also need your advice to think properly.

    Sounds great, says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow. What's the catch, Lord?

    Well, you can have him with one condition.

    What's that Lord?

    As I said, he'll be proud, arrogant and self admiring, so you'll have to let him believe that I made him first. Just remember, it's our little secrete.

    You know, Woman to woman.
    • Mar 18 2013: I like the story.. I meant my question gender neutral though.
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    Mar 6 2013: I contend that man has a unique spiritual element. Man creates his universe not the other way around.
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      Mar 6 2013: Could you expand pat?
      Do you mean our beliefs and perception effectively shape the universe
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        Mar 6 2013: What is not created by a decision?
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        Mar 7 2013: The OP stated that the universe was created for man. My contention is that man creates the universe. If man did not exist this planet would not look as it does.

        Sure many contend that man is committing a transgression by existing and should practice some sort of self abnegation. My contention is the opposite and that life is not a zero sum game.
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    Mar 5 2013: They are to show man The right way.
    But I agree that humans think they own the world and that is not good one bit. They. Should respect the world
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    Mar 5 2013: Is there merit to the belief that humans invented religion in part to help explain the universe.
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      Mar 5 2013: Yes Obey, I believe that theory does indeed have merit:>)
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        Mar 6 2013: Thanks Colleen. It's funny how a lot of claims make more sense if you examine the starting premises and turn them around.

        Seems just as likely man made god concepts in his image rather than the other way around. I note more evidence for human existence than any particular god.
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          Mar 7 2013: Obey,
          It's funny, interesting, educational, insightful, etc., when certain claims are examined AT ALL....beginning with any premise.....yes? I also observe more evidence for human existence than any particular god, and I perceive evidence that humans are sometimes "blindsided by our domination of nature", as Brian suggests in the introduction to this discussion.

          I observe an incredible balance in nature, and it often appears that human attempt to dominate nature simply causes challenges for the overall balance. I think/feel it would benefit humankind, if we recognize the importance of the interconnectedness of the whole, rather than behaving as if the universe was created just for humans. I believe the universe evolves more efficiently when it is in balance:>)
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      Mar 9 2013: Can you see in the absence of light?
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      Mar 6 2013: I had a teacher (male) who had a strange theory. He used to say that women are almost an entirely different species. When I asked him why he thought so, he explained that they think and act fundamentally differently to situations compared to men. He also believed that they are way ahead in conflict resolution, management skills and generally keeping societies functional.
      Over time, I have come to accept his views to a fair extent. It is a pity that myths, stories and even languages are gender asymmetric and that should change. So Eve and rest of you women should stay and keep reminding everyone how essential you are in any discourse.
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    Mar 5 2013: Why assume the universe was created?

    I agree, even if it was, there is no evidence that it was created for humans. Actually it is almost rationally absurd to assume this now we know how big and old it is. It's been around 13 Billion years being homo sapiens existed.

    However it is understandable why primitive humans might jump to this conclusion, and perhaps to some extent modern humans. Perhaps Its in our nature to assume the universe is all about us. After all we all experience it via our own human consciousness, we are the smartest animal on this planet, our lives are all about us.

    However, it does not follow logically that the universe exists just for us.

    My understanding is we don't know if there is some purpose or intent about the universe. So it is up to us to define purpose in our own lives, and sometimes this mistakenly assumes it is all about us.

    There are more stars and black holes than humans. It might be argued equally the universe exists so that stars and black holes exist, given we have no idea really.
    • Mar 6 2013: OH i like that idea it made me think of another reason why religion is illogical why would a universe created for us have made us 4.5 Billion years into its existence and for us to assume that a higher being o aka god would come to us so early into our lives to where we were just raging idol praising apes is absurd if any religion were true then this higher being (which already know how we react and think to things) would come back now so he can prove those extremely unreliable manipulated books are indeed true it's kinda like big foot he only comes out when there is no way to prove it for sure

      Also you replied to my comment with what i believe was some sarcasm my good sire :P
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        Mar 6 2013: I was agreeing you.

        Pleasure and pain sensations may be similar to animals.
        The physical causes of these sensations may be similar in some cases like sex or eating.
        But the intellectual processes that may lead to pleasure or pain are often far more complex in humans.
        Not all, for example feeling part of a group not under threat is pleasurable for many mammals I assume.
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    Mar 5 2013: Brian, I do not know anyone who speaks fluent grasshopper, butterfly, or pig ... until we can communicate with other life forms ... we can only assume that you are correct.

    Until then .... I have a thumb ....

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Mar 6 2013: I agree we don't know what plants and animals consciously experience.

      Although I would be surprised if grass is having more religious thoughts than a grasshopper, given one has a brain.

      So far not much evidence for minds without a brain. religion seems to require a brain, although how well that brain is being used is debatable.

      And perhaps we know enough already about grasshopper brains to rule out religious experience.
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      Mar 6 2013: You know you have been on TED too long when you are discussing the religion of grasshoppers without blinking.
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        Mar 6 2013: Dear Obey....I'd give you a hundred thumbs for that one if I could....I cannot stop laughing!!!
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          Mar 8 2013: It was a moment of clarity. "Did I really comment about that?"
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        Mar 9 2013: You did indeed comment about that Obey...unless someone stole your identity! LOL:>)
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    Mar 5 2013: Dear Brian,
    Why is man the subject of all major religions?

    Because man wrote the books. Do you honestly think he would write the stories and leave himself out?
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      Mar 5 2013: Dear Colleen, I think 'Man' here is not gender critical. I by no means think you want to mean that either. But it may interest you that masculinity and feminism are built deep into Hindu spirituality where Nature is called Prakriti which is essentially female in sense attributed with feminine qualities like bearing fruits and progenies, tenacious, beautiful and pristine and the Physical forces are called Purusha which is essentially male in sense with qualities like potency, force, creation and destruction.
      Women had a special place in Indic religions until a sage named Manu screwed things up by relegating women to beds and kitchens.
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          Mar 5 2013: Sorry for the plight. When you come next, I shall be your guide! :)
          This may interest you.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manusm%E1%B9%9Bti
          "Woman is to make her body beautiful by adorning it with clothes and ornaments; that the man may be attracted by her. Woman is to be so worshipped that she be made a fitting decoration for the man’s bedroom." A classic male chauvinistic pig, IMO.
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        Mar 5 2013: Dear Pabitra,
        I'm simply answering the question as stated, and I believe there is some truth in what I wrote.
        Hindu spirituality began before religious texts were written by men....did it not? Perhaps that is why
        masculinity, feminism, and nature were balanced? It sounds like there was somewhat of a balance before Manu "screwed things up", to use your words?
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          Mar 5 2013: Yep. You got it. Females had the same position, if not higher, as men in war, scholarship and worship. Most Indic cultures were matriarchal. Some still are.
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        Mar 5 2013: :>)
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    Mar 5 2013: Isn't god the topic of all religions?
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    Mar 9 2013: I think humans were given all that is needed (lifespan, resources, body, knowledge, etc) for them to perform the roles they were assigned.

    Humans (and all other creatures and objects) are also assigned different amounts of power or authority. I don't know about other creatures, but many humans abuse this power. Sometimes they have to deal with the consequences (and pay the price or reap what was sown) right away, sometimes later.

    Many humans may neglect their role(s), may deny the knowledge (in the Book(s)), or may misuse the resources they were given, but no one (human or other) misses (or escapes) an assigned point for each (and all) of them when it is no longer possible for them to personally change their "resume".

    There are assigned laws which ensure keeping (and restoration of) balance of life of all objects and creatures in the universe and of the universe itself. Many laws are mandatory, but it is optional for humans whether to enforce some of them or not. Again, the consequences must be dealt with right away or later.

    That is what I think according to what I know (so far), which is very little. (Also, I'm fully committed to my beliefs, especially my religious beliefs.)
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    Mar 7 2013: I believe that it is not that the universe was created for man, but that we are co-creators. We are the smallest/slowest self reflecting entity. We are created in gods image because god/universe did not have an image before man.
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    Mar 6 2013: Such is the consequence of the Abrahamic religions.
  • Mar 6 2013: yes I understand that but we are still feeling exactly what animals are feeling but we feel it for drastic different reasons and also humans DO get the feeling of safety in a herd/group ever walk into a forest late at night with no flashlight and nobody else? haha probably not humans naturally feel safer in numbers and it does trace back to herd mentality
  • Mar 5 2013: well for one it's Because man was the first one to get a bigger brain and one thing that has been proven over an over again is that man is not satisfied with simply saying "i dunno" so we put god in place of the unknown just like every religion has always done for all time
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    Mar 5 2013: Religion is a distinctly human construct for initiating group interaction with a perceived spiritual being. Are you asking why Dogs, for example, have not developed their own churches? Doesn't the fact that Man alone engages in worship answer your question about his position at the top of the biological ladder?
    • Mar 5 2013: Religion can be explained as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.

      So since man is not alone in this universe I wonder why are all the religions centered on mankind? I realize animals don't have the mental capacities as us but that doesn' make them any less part of creation, nature, or purpose.

      And if as you say religion is distinctly human construct doesn't that imply it's man made? If it is man made what is so spiritual about it?
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        Mar 5 2013: A definition of religion must include the concept of some creator/controller spirit being(s). Yours does not. Your definition fits Science quite well. Do you consider Science a Religion?
        I have no comment about all religions being "centered on mankind"except to say it is almost certainly not true. Just for one example I think Hinduism elevates some animals to godlike objects of worship. That does not seem to be man-centered to me.
        The phrase "human construct" does not merely imply something is man-made, it insists upon it.
        Your last question is convoluted. Why not ask, "If Art is a human construct what is so arty about it?". Or, "If Agriculture is a human construct what is so agricultural about it?".
        • Mar 6 2013: For a generalized definition, I recognize religion as a way humans answer the big questions. Why are we here, what purpose is there in life, how did it all begin? Since religion has no way of proving answers besides supposed prophets, old texts, or a nice story; there is faith. Science may be subject to the limitations of humans but at least its not just taking someones word for it. So yes science could be a religion.

          Look at the Abrahamic religions, estimated half the world's population are followers. So half of the world's population believes the arrogant stance that humans are special in this universe. I believe this is very culturally significant.
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          Mar 6 2013: That's a pretty broad definition of religion Brian. Suggest its missing some key elements that would down the field.

          You say religion has no way of proving many of its claims, but science does.

          I agree some religious views reinforce how special we are. A personal relationship with the creator of the universe seems kind of optimistic. Its hard to see your own mp.
        • Mar 6 2013: ObeyNo1,
          Science is refutable. Religous faith does not require verification.

          Religion is kind of silly because anyone could make a religion. If I wanted to worship comic book superheros as gods or say I have a strong affinity to trees who's to say I don't have religion.

          What is mp?
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          Mar 8 2013: Brian, the sentence is a typo and I can not recall the final point I was trying to make. Must have been too busy discussing grasshopper religions above. I hate typing on a tablet.

          I think even most theists agree religions are essentially man made. Just they believe theirs is divinely inspired. Paul was a driving force behind the spread and formulation of Christianity as something more than a messianic apocalyptic Jewish subgroup.

          In fact most contemporary religions were started by men. A couple by women e.g. Christian Science and perhaps Hinduism. Scientology is one of the most obviously fabricated in my opinion.

          Funny how we generally look for sufficient evidence in most spheres of life when trying to understand things, except religion. Although I guess people may build a rationale about how their beliefs are supported because of subjective personal experiences and all the apologetics, creation "science", cognitive bias etc.

          After all, the existence of the universe is proof of god right?
          And the bible saying Jesus resurrected is sufficient proof it happened?
          It's not like the people writing the scriptures would or could invent things?
          If you accept a man came back from the dead then automatically everything else in the bible about it is true, right? The biblical interpretation must be correct, its not like it would be just another mystery.

          If Jesus resurrected then god must exist? Jesus must be god? Everything Jesus is attributed to have said is true. All the letters following his death must be 100% correct?

          No other possibilities should be considered including we don't know? Right?

          No need for Jesus to actually write down his thoughts while he was alive. No need to have other compelling historical evidence of any of the stories, even the zombie saints walking about didn't need a mention in other contemporary sources?

          If the bible or the quran says so then it must be true - although I guess I have to pick one. Maybe the Jews were right?
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        Mar 5 2013: @ Charles Curt RE: " I don't even know why. . . "
        It was a misunderstanding. I thought the guy was conducting a serious conversation. My bad. As to your comment, isn't the corporate/social/political aspect an intrinsic part of religion? A euphoric dog does not look for others to join in the "worship" and then give the group a name, and establish a doctrinal statement, and apply for tax exemption as a church.
    • Mar 5 2013: How do you know what a dog finds spiritual or not.
      Have you ever seen a dog rolling in the grass...seems spiritual to me
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        Mar 5 2013: Is that your response to the points I offered? I've had dogs all my life and have yet to see a bunch of them form a denomination and take-up collections of dogbones for the clergy hounds. Surely you are not serious about this question?
        • Mar 5 2013: I don't even know why you responded to him about that haha but think about it its actually not a bad thought what is the difference between human enjoyment of religion different from a dog loving his master? or a cat addicted to cat nip? is it possibly the same core or base feelings and ideas animals have are the same as humans with religion but FAR less complex??
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          Mar 6 2013: To Charles, the difference may be the level of complexity.
        • Mar 6 2013: To Charles and Edward.
          My only reason for commenting is that there is no reason to anthropomorphize human ways of approaching an idea on to animals. They may have their own processes that we do not and can not understand.
          There is too much linear thinking in the world.
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          Mar 6 2013: Perhaps Yes and no gordon.
          We have similarities and differences in physiology, perceptions, mind etc I guess.
          Depending on the attribute we may be close in some ways e.g hunger, and way down the continuum say for mathematical ability or abstract thought.
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    Mar 5 2013: Man is NOT the subject of many Indic religions. They are not unique in any way compared to other creations, considered average, fallible, confused and clueless about the grand drama. They need help and guidance by divine agents, called Avatars, which are ten in number.
    The whole idea is man made of course but made by men who seem to be extremely intelligent. The ten Avatars in Sanatan Dharma (principle Indic religion which scholars believe is the source of Hinduism) follow clear evolutionary suggestions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashavatara
    The avatars start from aquarian, then becomes amphibian, then lutarious, then arboreal, then biped savage, then biped civilized etc etc. The end is Kalki, which is a machine of destruction. The message is clear and man is not at it's center in any unique way.
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    Mar 5 2013: There are really only two options; 1) We & the universe are a cosmic accident or 2) We are a special creation by a superior being. Of those in the 2) camp, most believe we have some sort of relationship with the superior being which other creatures lack.
    I believe we are God's children, & the universe was created for us. That is why we are central to most major religions.

    :-)
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      Mar 6 2013: False dichotomy for starters.

      Those may be the only 2 explanations you can think of. I can think of others, and the truth might be something none of us have imagined.

      E.g. There could have been a committee of creator beings. No reason to assume one.
      Why assume a being. Could be some unconscious force.

      And then we get into the loop was the superior being a cosmic accident or brute fact or created.

      While 1 and 2 are options, we really are looking at this from a position of great ignorance.
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    Mar 5 2013: in buddhism, man is only one of the 6 life forms in samsara.
  • Mar 5 2013: I suppose you have to see this in the light of the human evolution. The first signs of religion were found as early as the stone ages. Back than religion was most likely used as a way to explain phenomena we now explain through the use of science. (This is just a theory, though) Besides that, we must also look into the psychology of humans in that age (this is tricky since it is all just speculation). Man has allways felt the need to feel 'safe', this (especially in the old days) resulted in religion because it gave the illusion of safety. The protection of God(s) is a psychological trick of the human mind to create sense, direction to a life in a world that could not be explained.
    As humanity evolved and people actually started to 'investigate' the world around them religion already had taken hold of them. It is a reference that has become so strong that it is part of our most fundamental reference framework. Religion does not only tackle the explanation of events and phenomena but also the moral code, the ethics by which man should live (according to them). This is why religion is so important.

    As for man to be the subject of all major religions... I suppose it depends on how you interpret the question. In essence Theodore is right in asking wether God isn't the topic of all religion but at the same time, in most religion God or gods are modelled after humans. We give God human characteristics or a human face because the idea of God as an abstract force is frightening to us. In the christian faith God is frequently given the role of 'father'. This originated in what I have mentioned above: protection. A fatherfigure is a figure of protection. Basically it comes down to this: man wants protection, man wants to belong to something because of that.

    The idea that the universe was created for man is simple an exponent of that because in a way the universe could be God's gift to man...