Life connected au des while technology evolves by design?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Three Theories of the Reason for Religion

When our evolutionary biopsychologies developed the perception of agency (things having intentions), it was better for our agency-perceiving to be hyperactive instead of hypoactive - if you were walking through the jungle and heard an unfamiliar sound, it was better for you to think it was a predator and be wrong than not and be wrong. Such does not mean that humans are hopelessly predisposed to superstition, simply that biologically evolved conceptual abilities engendered it - many animals are not capable of understanding concepts that are crucial to some of humans' superstitions.

Another theory is that religion evolved as a way to deal with questions that have been unanswerable for most of human history. Since exactly when in human history could a common person advance our knowledge of questions about where we came from, really normal deep questions (only recently has modern science provided answers to questions that have plagued our species since before the advent of writing or metallurgy), no matter how much effort he put into it? Should society have let him waste his life trying to answer it or discourage him with an absurd 'answer' so pervasively associated with a conceptual framework against the spirit which drives him to ask that he doesn't want to observably consider it for fear of being subjected to nonsensical preaching?

Yet another is David Sloan Wilson's group selection theory. He posited that a gene for religion evolved because it happened to mutate into existence and proliferate in a social group, enabling that social group to out-compete social groups without the gung ho gene.

I prefer the pan-conceptual brain doping answer: religion is a body of knowledge made for my associative symbolic architecture to nourish itself on. At the very least it is an idea for my amusement. Of the three theories about the origins of religion, I personally prefer the unanswerable questions theory: over time, the elders warnings that society would fall apart without faith in this system were interpreted literally; and chastity could no longer keep the devout out of the gene pool.

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