[ExI] Evolutionary psychology and religion

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Mon Dec 10 21:23:54 UTC 2007

At 01:11 PM 12/10/2007, you wrote:

>Seien wrote:
>>Two points I would make on this email. Firstly, I would have said 
>>that religion was a combination of two phenomena: antirational 
>>memes, and the use of best available explanations. In a time when 
>>people had barely any knowledge about How Things Work, the best use 
>>it seemed they could put their creativity to was inventing 
>>mythologies to explain the things they saw. In the absence of any 
>>real knowledge, this was the best available explanation for the 
>>natural phenomena they experienced. However, due to its obviously 
>>irrational qualities, religion/mythology very quickly became an 
>>antirational meme, resisting criticism through stubbornness rather 
>>than any kind of deep truth.
>This would work if religion were only about irrational and 
>unreasonable explanations for the world around you. But it is much 
>deeper. Deeply religious people will put the religion before 
>everything else - including their own lives and the lives of others. 
>Faith is more important than fact. There has to be some underlying 
>benefit to this behaviour or it wouldn;t have made it out of the 
>first few people into the general population. Maybe it's a 
>side-effect - as an overdeveloped sense of hope and there just 
>happens to be a net benefit.

You put your finger right on it.  "Before everything else - including 
their own lives and the lives of others."  So what reoccurring 
situation in the EEA could have led to conditions where this trait 
would promote genetic survival?


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