[Paleopsych] religion

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 24 20:19:55 UTC 2005

Lynn says:
>>Religion is clearly an adaptive force.<< 

--Probably true. But what makes it so? The ability to
feel certain, to override doubt, to avoid the
paralysis of indecision? The feeling of being part of
a group dedicated to a common goal? I'm sure both
would change the biochemical habits of the brains

I'm not sure I'd classify an isolated mystic in the
same category as a "team player" whose religion is
deeply enmeshed with group morality and conformity.
They may both have a religious belief, but their
behavior may be vastly different. Can patriotism be
considered a kind of religion, with a flag as its
deity and military/economic/social/religious
authorities as prophets? Some have called Soviet-style
Communism a "religion". For dictionary purposes,
religion may involve a deity, invisible forces and so
on, but we've seen that the religious FEELING, the
behavior attached to faith, can be found in groups
lacking a deity but using some "sacred" symbol as its

Is religion inherently "politically correct", based on
conformity to one belief? Does it lose its power when
free inquiry and interpretation are encouraged? Or is
belief only a flag added to an already moving force,
the synchronization of bodies, beneath the level of

For anthropological purposes, it might make some sense
to classify religious and nonreligious groups by the
particular forms of entrainment, role modeling, and
conformity enforcement found in them. Under that kind
of classification, a religious group that is very
diverse and individualistic would be qualitatively
different from a religious group that enforces
conformity and engages in "spiritual battle" against
impurity. An atheist group which does the latter would
be classified with the religious group, while an
atheist group populated by diversity generators would
be grouped with liberal religious groups. This might
undermine the traditional "religious vs. nonreligious"
polarity, but it makes more sense to me from a
behavioral standpoint. Any thoughts?

>>BTW, I don't want to hear arguments that religion is
behind most wars. That is a pretty tired argument that
was thoroughly debunked by the 20th Century.<<

--No doubt, religious belief isn't necessary in order
for a group to see another group as evil and worthy of
extermination. It might help a little, however, if you
believe your group is endorsed by a deity who hates
your enemy as much as you do. But, as I mentioned,
that deity can be replaced by the spirit of the group,
if that spirit is unquestioned and has its own
momentum. Perhaps that's what a deity really is, the
hidden face of the power of the group.


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