Non-dualistic explanation of how "sacred texts" are generated by very human brains

I apologize if a discussion of this is buried inside one of the other discussions here.

I see a lot of discussion on the contradictions and inhumane ideas contained in sacred texts. By arguing about these things, I feel we are really no different than other sectarians who base their sects on emphasizing some parts of their respective canon and ignoring others. From an atheist point of view, should the emphasis be that there are contradictions in god's word or should it be that these words are not god's but were generated by very human brains?

I would like to discuss the capacity of certain human brains to generate text that seems to be of other-worldly origins. This is more than just tracing the historical origins of the text and the "intellectual context" in which they arose (the nomadic-herders-had-no-concept-of-astrophysics-or-cause-and-effect-etc arguments).

Some explanations include temporal lobe epilepsy, brain tumor, substance induced hallucinations (auditory and visual), shamanic habits and traditions, exaggerated histories, and just plain folktales. There is so much out there that someone considers to be of other-worldly origin. What makes some of it so much more convincing than others?

In this line of thought perhaps the apocryphal and non-canonical texts can serve as examples of how some works had better staying power than others. The existence of these works leaves open the argument of why they were excluded from the canon. Parallels could be drawn between how the A-list sacred texts persist in the same way that overtly fictional works and other philosophical tomes do (not discounting the societal compulsion that support the sacred texts).

I am off track here?

Tags: brain, human, origins, sacred, text

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I see an analogy between your question and natural evolution:

Prokaryotes -> myriads of intermediate steps -> Homo Sapiens.
Isn't that fascinating, and even mysterious?

"Where do I come from?" -> myriads of intermediate steps -> Sacred texts.
Same question.
I like your argument about apocryphal works. Be aware if you want to debate fundies though, that they will most likely bring out the argument that god will ensure that his word is preserved. There are, of course, numerous answers to this, not least of which would be how come apocryphal works have also been preserved?

Look at poetry for some examples of how the human brain can be induced to create sublime texts. Coleridge's Kublai Khan was the result of an opium dream and his own poetic sensibilities. He had been reading histories about Kublai Khan at the time and even many of the images in the poem can be linked to books he was reading at the time. The poem is very good and while no one would claim it as the word of god it is certainly almost other-worldly.

I was actually thinking about this yesterday when I woke up. Searching for contradictions can be slightly rewarding and listing strong arguments for them is a tempting endeavor, but growing up a fundie in a church with a strong exagetical pastor and a degree in English literature tell me that it may backfire. Many deeply religious people have already apologized their ways around these very questions many times. It's part of the process of self-delusion. They have intricate ways of interpreting their text and they are probably more familiar with it than you are. After all, most of them read it every day and study it, well, religiously! They may even pull out their favorite trump card, the original greek or hebrew of the passages in question. Good luck arguing with people who claim a knowledge of an ancient language!

I like your strategy for dealing with it. While you may be able to convince them that humans can produce sublime texts that seem to be inspired by god, how do you plan on convincing them that theirs was produced without the inspiration of god?


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