[ExI] In Europe and U.S., Nonbelievers Are Increasingly Vocal

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Fri Sep 21 16:45:13 UTC 2007

At 08:51 PM 9/20/2007, Michael wrote:


>- Suppose you could push a button and instantaneously cause everyone
>on Earth to not be a monotheist.

The advantages/disadvantages come from religion and religious like 
xenophobic memes (such as Communism).  I don't see where the number 
of gods makes any difference.

>- Is there any sheaf of risk likelihoods that would keep you from
>pushing that button?
>I'm not asking for paragraphs, I'm asking for a response of yes, no or "mu".

It's a poorly framed question so mu.

Religions (or rather the brain structures that are "infected" with 
religions) are a result of human evolutionary history, most of which 
was spent living in small, closely related bands and tribes.  Those 
tribes were at war with neighbors any time resources (i.e., food) got 
short, which happened every time the population grew to some 
ecological limit.

War was the way population was limited when something else didn't do 
it.  Current religions have to be considered in the context of our 
hunter gatherer past where xenophobic memes had more or less sway 
over the tribe depending on the perception of the need to thin out 
the neighbors so your kids could be fed.

Religions are the (memetic) descendants of tribal xenophobic 
memes.  In times of plenty (peace) religions are seed xenophobic 
memes, ready to  spread and induce war as the need is 
perceived.  (They have side effects, but that's the main one.)

Humans (obviously) have evolved brain mechanisms that hold religions 
more or less intensely depending on the perception of how good or bad 
the future will be.  Now if you asked me if the brain structure 
behind religions should be deleted at the push of a button, I would say no.

As it has been in the past, and it may be in the future, humans 
sometimes need to thin their numbers by wars induced by xenophobic 
religious memes.  In fact, you could make a case that this is the 
situation in substantial parts of the world right now.

This is not advocacy of religions or wars, just an evolutionary 
psychology view of their function.  It does imply that if you don't 
want wars, keeping population growth below economic growth for _every 
group on the planet_ is a long term requirement.

Keith Henson

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