May 13, 2010

Which Came First the Imagination of the Religion?

All things can speculatively be linked to religion just like all things can speculatively be linked to sex. Can we say that Egyption, Greek or Norse mythology are how the people of those times were able to conceive god? The problem is that even if those people imagined a god different than the gods imagined by Christianity, Islam, Judaism... etc., they're still using their imagination. I think it's a farther imaginative leap to imagine the Christian god as Zeus than imagining that Zeus is the cause for lighting by hurling it from Olympus Mons. So the question is: how can you determine if the religion is the cause of imagination if all the beliefs in god(s) are so varied? Given that there is no reasonable evidence for any kind of god, the idea that imagination comes from god is a farther leap than saying religion comes from imagination.

Humans don't often come up with a completely original concept of anything, mostly we just build upon existing knowledge and concepts. We see something and say "what if it worked this way instead?" Even as a huge fan of Einstein, I doubt he would have developed the theory of relativity without the work of Newton (whom I'm also a huge fan), and Newton would have been farther behind if first mathematics hadn't been built up to point it was when he started... etc. So the idea that people build upon things isn't necessarily because of religion, in fact Galileo might have something different to say about imaginative discovery and religion. Galileo came up with his concept of how the planets move in spite of the religious teachings, not because of.

We use stories to instill and explain the importance of acting certain ways, not exclusively for that purpose but I'm going down a more specific road here. I hardly think that Dr. Seuss was in the business of writing religious stories, I would have to say that the stories are very secular. There is no mention of god, no mention of sin, just story explanations of good and bad things that happen to the characters in the stories because of the actions that they took (or sometimes didn't take). To imagine a world of imagination without religion, just look at all the things created without references to religion or religious principles.