The Story of God - Life, the Universe and Everything

Humanity has been curious about the nature of the universe and our place in it for a very long time. That curiosity, as well as our large heads and the fact we are big fat copycats, might be one of the reasons we stand in such a peculiar relation to the rest of the biological world: able to manipulate our environment to our needs instead of just adapting to it.

Before the invention of the philosophical and scientific methods, however, our ancestors simply didn't know how to get objective answers to their most pressing questions: they didn't have the intellectual tools to tell the difference between reasonable hypotheses and arbitrarily made up ones. Their ignorance about the natural world led them to postulate the existence of a transcendent reality somehow separate and inaccessible from ordinary experience, and because we humans love to anthropomorphize, we imagined that this transcendence resembled our own petty wants and needs in a great variety of ways.

These arbitrary inventions go by the name of religion and spirituality, and because we lacked the intellectual sophistication to realize they were the products of our own imagination, we made the mistake of ascribing to them more reality than the reality of our actual experience and of thinking that this life is some sort of test for a future life for which we have absolutely no evidence :)

In this documentary series, Lord Robert Winston explores very sympathetically the origins of a number of such religions, including the Aztecs and their gruesome human sacrifices.

If you want to learn about the history of our emancipation from these imaginary chains, check out Jonathan Miller's documentary series Atheism: A Brief History of Disbelief.
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