[ExI] Origin of Religions was Terrorist? Who can tell?

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Tue Sep 9 19:16:42 UTC 2008

At 11:02 AM 9/9/2008, Damien wrote:
>At 12:26 AM 9/9/2008 -0700, Keith wrote of:
>>people who do not understand why human evolved the trait to have 
>>religions at all.
>>Roughly religions are xenophobic memes that gain influence in 
>>populations when they are under stress and perceive a bleak 
>>future.  In the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness, they 
>>served to synch a tribe's warriors into a frenzy to go out and kill neighbors.
>>As long as the income per capita is rising this mechanism is turned 
>>off.  But when it is turned on, we did not evolved to resist it.
>This assertion seems to me poorly phrased or maybe conceptualized.

Longer version was printed 
http://www.mankindquarterly.org/summer2006_henson.html I can send you 
a copy of the .pdf if you want.

If you have a better analysis of the selection forces that drove the 
psychological characteristics that result in what we see as religions 
don't keep it a secret.

>It's a bit like saying "Music is a xenophobic meme that evolved

Music is not a meme.  A particular song is a meme.

>to bind bands of cousins together and arouse their bloodlust when 
>they went out to kill other bands."

>Or "Language is a xenophobic meme

Language is not usually considered a meme either.  A meme is an 
element of culture.  It may be expressed in language, but that's not necessary.

>that evolved to let bands of cousins communicate more efficiently 
>when they went out to kill neighbors." That is surely a subset of 
>what religion, music and language do, and one of the drivers for 
>their retention. But all these behaviors and tropisms also and more 
>importantly sustain bonding between unrelated peoples and between 
>individuals and their ecological setting that is quite independent 
>of warlike uses. To put it mildly.

At the time people evolved behaviors about how they treated those 
around them, there wasn't much of a distinction between "people you 
grew up with" and "relative."  Since people don't have built in gene 
analyzers, the best genes could do to make automatic inclusive 
fitness life or death calculations is to assume that a tribe member 
was a relative.

But to get selection for some trait at all, you need the environment 
to have serious survival effects on gene frequencies.  People 
generally have filled the world to beyond capacity for all the time 
they existed.  Fighting between groups who exploited the environment 
was a major source of selection.  See Azar Gat on this subject.  Or 
consider the Old Testament.

I freely admit this topic is not politically correct.


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