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-   -   The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship (http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/forums/showthread.php?t=30750)

Strato 27th November 2017 11:25 PM

The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
One seductive meme is the notion that the further back in antiquity some 'sage' personage existed the more inherently noble and wise they were, seers, prophets as such. Implicit in this conceit is that their wisdom and knowledge, their legend great longevity from right living, has been lost and we must regain it, as a moral imperative, an inner calling and conviction some are attuned to. It follows, of course today humanity is corrupted.

The Theosophical Society bookshop is full of all this. The fash New Age, 'psychic and well-being expo' is all based on this fanciful presumption.

All Christian sects and denominations venerate their founders. Catholicism and Orthodoxy pore over the teachings and lives of their Patriarchs, Church Fathers, 'saints'. These are effectively demi gods.

The Jews were heavily into this, effectively ancestor worship, a deeply ancient, arcane proclivity in Homo Sapiens culture and cosmology, as is found in traditional societies.

This is probably the main theme in Genesis. There we have the record, an account of fictional forebears of the Jewish tribes, all living to great ages, Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Jewish people who are still adherents of Judaism are very sensible of this, their genealogy. The 'book of Chronicles' is only interesting to people who believe themselves to be the chosen race. That's what it was purposed to confirm. All propaganda. Interminable genealogies. They didn't know any better. Darwin and Wallace hadn't arrived on the scene yet. They didn't know about DNA or universal human rights. But I certainly prefer the Greeks, myself.

Yet it is understandable to hold one's ancestors in high esteem. They indeed managed to produce descendants all the way down to all those living today, oneself included. They were successful. There are a lot more ways of being dead, as Dawkins is fond of noting.

The concatenation of writings referred to as 'the Bible' is replete with moral proscriptions and laws attributed to the absolute patriarchal god, YHVH. It's always about what is forbidden, not what is permitted, except for males concerning women's rights over her own body. Men wrote it all down.

This merely reveals a theocracy, a hierarchical class system, where the helots are made their own moral overseers. YHVH is also invoked to justify every kind of crime against humanity. One wonders how many of these genocides actually took place? I think it might be the case that the Middle Eastern region has seen tribal war since the emergence out of Africa. Yet there was also trade and reciprocity amidst the ubiquitous atrocity.

Everyone was superstitious.

The Abrahamic monotheisms leave a lot to be desired.

If one wants to talk about real knowledge, for me it's the development in epistemology, science and reason since the 18th Century Enlightenment.

It could have come much earlier but for religion.

Darwinsbulldog 28th November 2017 09:14 AM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
There is a grain of truth to the "wisdom of the ancients" thing. But only a grain. Humans are social animals, and there is often a synergy between cultural and biological evolution.

You have heard of the "grandmother effect", but at least in hunter-gatherer and early agricultural societies there were benefits from have elders around. Live long enough, and you see patterns in nature, and this can often have survival value.

That, and we are born helpless, so elders really seem like all powerful gods to us.

Tribal memories, while almost always contaminated with some sort of woo, also contain very useful info. The seasons [including droughts], the behaviour and usefulness of plants or animals for food, medicine, clothing, etc, etc.

As well as long memory, we also have tribal memory in the form of stories, and later, the written word, that preserved useful info, and of course, garbage as well.

The woo was generally not too harmful, because there were many gods of limited jurisdiction, which answered mainly the "why" questions, and left the how questions available to be answered by keen observation, and reason, which gradually matured into science.

Ernst Mayr and Jarad Diamond noticed the extremely similar species info of New Guinea tribes, particularly with regard to bird species and behaviour.

But the rise of big dick gods, which there four "Omni's" [like Yahweh], began to interfere with all aspects of society, often defining what questions where blasphemous in science. But of course, there were positive aspects of religions involvement in science as well, particularly stuff that was not regarded as undermining religious dogma.

But generally I agree with you. The mystical/magical aspects of "modern" religions tend to undermine the "message" of science, which basically says we do not appear to live in a magical world. Thus, societies have wasted a lot of energy on nonsense.

It is difficult to separate cultural from religious woo. Because societies have been saturated in religions for thousands of years, it is sometimes hard to separate morals and dogma and tradition into purely cultural or religious origins.

For example, the cultural law of Hawaiians that forbids men to enter the menstrual tent on pain of death? It might be connected with some "racial memory" [an oral tradition] concerning hemorrhagic fever? Who knows? The tradition that menstruating women are not clean is pretty common across cultures. Did this misogynistic attitude have some basis in fact, some misunderstood illness that was confused with the female cycle? Or is it just a case of men being dicks? Probably a good measure of both.

Strato 28th November 2017 04:20 PM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
During the countless millennia prior to modern scholarship, science, mobility and communications, human evolution exploded in the direction of development of the mental faculties, cognition, imagination, art, sense of time and pattern recognition, reflection upon the mental interplay between the human subjective and objective reality, social dynamics and morality. Concurrent with and driving these was the development of language and selection for this faculty and instinct.

With the advent of settled civilization came metallurgy and writing, division of labour and castes. Life became more complex and demanding, and harder.

Origin myths like Eden and Adam and Eve are indicative of the evolution of the human imagination, deployed to answer the questions which presented themselves to the awoken consciousness. Genesis is romantic and dramaturgical. It is also cautionary, didactic.

The bible is replete with moral proscriptions on sex and the consequences of transgression or non conformity. Unity is requisite for military mastery and survival in a violent, hostile world. Hence the invented god satisfies more than the need to propose a divine creator and sustainer of 'we the chosen people,' the environment and living things, but the fearful absolutism attributed to him is a reflection of the need to enforce unity, conformity, the social status quo.

The notion that the 'Patriarchs' in a long past dispensation lived to nearly a thousand years, less with the passing generations as sin corrupted the world, and that they spoke with Yahweh is romanticism indicative of human story telling. We evolved with romanticism and story telling. It was selected for.

We all wish to do our ancestors proud, I'm sure. We have evolved to. We need to remain critical of the tendency to hold them in profound esteem.

The Aztec practice of sacrificing virgins by the thousands isn't necessarily something to romanticise.

Neil Young in Cortez the Killer off Zuma (which record I do love) sings emotionally of the emperor Montezuma and the Aztecs,

Cortez The Killer

He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.

On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls he often wondered
With the secrets of the worlds.

And his subjects
gathered 'round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colors
For the angry gods to see.

And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood
straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.


Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them
to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up
with their bare hands
What we still can't do today.

And I know she's living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can't remember when
Or how I lost my way.

He came dancing across the water
Cortez, Cortez
What a killer

This critical thinking thing is a real impediment to my erstwhile hippie susceptibility to the na´ve romanticism and self loathing, need for redemption. I think I know too much. I became inured to being me. :confused:

I have been often told by believers that my Christian experience was mere 'head knowledge.' :facepalm:

Goldenmane 28th November 2017 08:35 PM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
There's a lot of this in the martial arts world.

Strato 28th November 2017 09:47 PM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
It is a common theme in gaming, in Star Wars, Lord of the Rings.

The Irreverent Mr Black 28th November 2017 10:07 PM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
A corollary of the Good Old Days fallacy?

See also: Why are we susceptible to the “Good Old Days” fallacy?

Why The 'Good Old Days' Weren't That Good

Strato 28th November 2017 11:22 PM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
Thanks Mr. Black. I see I have to watch that.

Although this time is heralded as the Golden Age of Instrument Building, the hard rock maple and mahogany was better in the old days as it was from old trees, not plantation trees.

But that was unsustainable. We have grown to appreciate that for our betterment and the planet's slower devastation.

Music today is mainly pentatonic. They don't make them like Danny Gatton, the world's greatest unknown guitar player and the fastest player alive anymore, do they? Danny shot himself. Depression. He also restored old cars, built hot rods. A passion. And also Indian archaeology.

The internal combustion engine will disappear this century. Electric cars will have to include simulated engine roar for Calder Park or Bathurst.

There will still have to be Calder Park and Bathurst. :confused:


The Irreverent Mr Black 28th November 2017 11:31 PM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
Danny's version of Harlem Nocturne is unbefuckinglievable. That man had more tone nuances in one song than some guys get in a career.

On the other hand, I was cursing about some non-functional bells on a piece of xmas tat I bought to decorate the household's festive skellington...

Turns out the bells work fine. I've just lost a few more Hz up top.

Strato 28th November 2017 11:53 PM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 
I don't know what would be worse, not hearing the overtones or finding them a bit much.

I am hoping this new tinnitus affliction will subside to more tolerable levels.

The Irreverent Mr Black 29th November 2017 07:08 AM

Re: The Wisdom of the Ancients/ Ancestor Worship
 

The afrorementioned Mr Gatton.


8:25 - live - with vision.


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