In this post I want to say that the religious are putting the cart before the horse, in a manner of speaking.
I'm thinking 'phenomenology' in a popular sense, if not the philosophical sense (shrug) inasmuchas we were all newborn babies at one point struggling to understand our world and how we relate to it. Seems to me that to study how it is that we get from there, knowing nothing, running on 'empty' as it were, to here, thinking in sentences, or at least composing thoughts into sentences.
Okay, so we maybe don't not know anything at all, but that's just part of it. How much can we be said to 'know' without the means to express it?
What I'm trying to say is that we must see things from a very personal perspective when we are very young. Simple things, like whether we are warm, or thirsty or unsure etc. obviously affected us much more than we are willing to let on now that we are older.
Guess I'm trying to get you to empathize with a baby, see it from a baby's point of view and see if we can agree that, at least for awhile, everything that happens, from the baby's perspective, is just different feelings of the baby, kind of 'directionless' 'stunned' wonder about what the heck is going on here.
At some point, the baby has to move on. Don't know about you but I still feel a little 'stunned' every now and then. Nevertheless, I suppose as the baby is developing it's sense of self and so on, it's going to be making some 'Custer decisions' about whether it enjoys the company of dad as much as mom's company, and so on. I'm gonna make a guess that the development of the sense of self is connected to the sense that there are others, and that some of those others are not familiar, and so on.
Still, not to belabor that point, but we certainly are born knowing how to be babies, having some sort of sense of what makes us feel good and what does not make us feel good.
More to my point here, I think that we grow up learning cause and effect rules for different scenarios. Drop a toy and it will fall down, throw a toy and someone might pay attention to you, kind of thing. I think that we are easily confused by cause and effect sometimes, because sometimes things are not quite as they seem.
An example relating to farmers might be that when a certain constellation is rising in the in the East, it might be time to harvest the crop. Playing the part of a wise man, I might say to a youngster, "I see Leo is rising in the East, the farmhands must be out in the fields gathering the the harvest. Why don't you go to the country and ask for a job?"
The youngster might be quite skeptical about this. What makes grandpa(or the shaman or whatever) so smart that he thinks the plants know when to be ripe by looking at the sky?
I'm sure that there are thousands of examples like this where cause and effect, when not really understood, can be understood in terms of sympathetic magic, or at least what 'signs' seem to portend what 'effects'.
Not being able to say, "The seasons are caused by the Earth revolving around the Sun, the North Pole being inclined towards it in the Summertime, on a tangent with the orbit at the Equinoxes and inclined away from it in the Wintertime.", doesn't mean that we cannot see the various constellations rising in the different seasons knowing the season from that, seemingly disparate information.
Seems to me that this is, very simply, the beginnings of the notion of sympathic magic, a hidden, or occult knowledge, which at times might have a connection like the night stars and the seasons and might just be a few coincidences together with a vivid imagination. Kind of, "We've noticed that there are significant patterns to the workings of the World therefore every pattern that I see is significant."
Seems to me that this is not too difficult to understand but that the religious rail against this, refusing to see it by means of definitions of words.
Try saying 'magic' to a Christian and he/she will automatically be affronted that you should 'accuse him/her' of 'believing in that'.
Their word for it is 'miracle', BUT, their definition of 'miracle' is 'wonder', so something as trivial as a cheque arriving in the mail when you 'need' it might be seen as something of a miracle, and is EXACTLY equal to sympathetic magic, but they are constrained to NOT equate the two in their minds.