Author and Activist
I read what your God-believing colleague wrote. I'm a Duch humanosopher and the origins of our God belief is my speciallity.
Normal animals don't believe in concepts. God is one of the many consequences of our earliest ancestors becoming linguistic. I name them here OEAs, living in little bands of bonobo-like apemen somewhere in what is now Ethiopia, in a woodland environment. When? I suppose some 4.5 million years ago.
Linguisticallity means that they, then still normal animals, began to enrich their body language communication with names for things. That started with sign symbols. Not for things that they got aware with their senses, in a stimulus/reponse way, but things that they had in mind.
Think of the Hints game: showing what you have in mind with gestures. At least: this is my speculation, my 'informed guess' ... better speculation than the 'sudden gen mutation' of most scientists. [A humanosopher is not a scientist, it is a philosopher who gathers as much scientific data as possible, to use it for our Big Story]
It started with nothing, and it remained many generations a little. But the initial girls' game was an enrichment of their communication so it stayed and it expanded. And it changed the OEAs. Because having names for things does something to an animal. It does five things.
Aarch!! This becomes a much too long post for a blog! Can you do something yourselve? On my website www.humanosophy.org I tell this story much better than I can do this here in a nutshell. And I have to go to bed now.
Can I have a response from you, Philip? I promise you an interesting discussion. Because you are an interesting man.