The actual origin of religion is a hotly debated topic in anthropoligical circles. We don’t know exactly when or how it happened. We know that it pre-dated the invention of writing, but not by how much. And we don’t know what the first religious beliefs were – do cave paintings represent a recording of a successful hunt, or a devotion to the aurochs spirits?
It is generally – though not universally – accepted that the ritualisation of death and burial, and the invention of the funeral, mark the earliest evidence of a belief in an afterlife or a spirit world. We know nothing of what was believed, but the care and attention which our ancestors paid to the arrangement of the dead, the things they buried with them and the markers left at gravesites – all of these imply a developing spirituality. We cannot say exactly where it happened, but somewhere in this process, the idea of God was invented.
With all due respect to my guest poster of last week, I have to disagree with her in many points.
While I do think that it is possible for science and faith to coexist, I don’t think they can do so as equals. I think it’s only possible to do so if one of the two is ascendant over the other.
There are, naturally, two ways this can go: faith over science or science over faith.
Recently, I was contacted by Aileen Stillman, who wanted to write a guest post on this site. As Aileen is both a scientist and a Christian, I thought her perspective on matters of faith and doubt might be interesting, so I agreed. Here’s what she sent me:
The world of the Blues Brothers presents an interesting challenge to the agnostic, at least as a thought experiment.
As a great fan of the movie, I have long stated that I would cheerfully attend any church that was as much fun to go to as the Triple Rock Baptist Church. And let’s face it, you probably would too – a free James Brown performance once a week (or perhaps more often) is nothing to sneeze at. Continue reading
I don’t actually have a problem with the idea of laying down one’s life for something you believe in – I can think of several causes I would be proud to give mine for – but there are certain times and places where I do have a problem with it.