[ExI] Evolutionary psychology and religion

Seien seienchan at gmail.com
Mon Dec 10 23:51:17 UTC 2007

On 10/12/2007, Kevin Freels <kevin at kevinfreels.com> wrote:

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.

Well, *now* faith is more important than fact, because of the
self-preserving nature of memes (like genes). At the time, if it was the
best available explanation, then, well, that was the benefit: it was the
best available explanation. Also, as you rightly say, it gave a sense of
hope and possibly even made people psychosomatically do better and be more
productive and confident if they felt the gods were with them. (This might
be bad for them in the case of rushing into battle, or good in terms of,
say, engineering new and potentially dangerous technology or something, but
that doesn't matter to the meme of course).

On 10/12/2007, hkhenson <hkhenson at rogers.com> wrote:
> At 01:11 PM 12/10/2007, you wrote:
> 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?
why should it promote genetic survival? If Religion is an antirational meme,
it will behave in ways that promote its *memetic* survival. If there's a
gene that makes people more likely to be fanatics, well, okay. I don't see
necessarily why this gene can't behave in a self-promoting way anyway,
although my knowledge of genetics is pretty poor compared to my
understanding of meme theory. But WRT the meme, Religion is one of the
strongest antirational memeplexes next to parenting and romance, so we're
likely to see a lot of self-preservation behaviour from this meme. Memes are
not dependent on genes to explain the ways they behave.

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