[ExI] de Waal

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 22 15:48:28 UTC 2018

So at some time in our evolutionary past, the
trait for religion (or something linked with it) must have been
valuable to our genes.  keith

I don't think you even have to go so far as to attribute anything to
genetics.  A baby starts learning that there are hierarchies in the world
from the first.  Later he learns that there are higher authorities than his
parents, such as their parents or bosses.  By simple projection, there can
be figures higher than that and even quoted, such as "Well, Grandpa used to
say........"  What are the authorities for the highest figures in the
tribe:  gods.

So acceptance of a god or gods is just the extension of acceptance of
earthly authority.  No need for a push from genetics.

A far more difficult thing, in my opinion, is the origin of the concept of
the immortal soul.  I am working on that one.

bill w

On Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 7:29 PM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com>

> Frans de Waal (who should be universally recognized on this list)
> spoke yesterday at San Diego State University.
> http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news_story.aspx?sid=77098
> It was, as you would expect, an interesting talk.  However, I was left
> with the impression that de Waal is just as mystified as the rest of
> us about the origin of religions.  Not the recent state kinds, but
> where the human tendency to have religions came from in the first
> place.
> In some ways, it is trivial to answer.  All characteristics of living
> things come from evolution.  Evolution depends on selective
> reproductive success.  So at some time in our evolutionary past, the
> trait for religion (or something linked with it) must have been
> valuable to our genes.
> At this point in the argument, I usually throw in an example such as
> capture-bonding.  The direct selected effect is what we saw in the
> Patty Hearst kidnapping long ago and the more recent Elizabeth Smart
> case in SLC.  The indirect effects of capture-bonding selection are
> things like battered spouse syndrome, fraternity hazing, and army
> basic training.
> It has been said that evolutionary psychology is a bunch of just-so
> stories.  That's not really the case, it has sound underpinnings, but
> if you can't do a "just-so" evolutionary story for how some trait came
> to exist, then the chances of the trait having an evolutionary origin
> is not good.  A fair number of theories have gone down that way.
> The tendency toward religions is not universal, it is around 50%.
> It's a bit hard to relate the religious tendency percentage to the
> number of people capable of capture-bonding, but my totally crude
> estimate is close to 90%.  That would mean that the selective force
> for religious tendency has been selected to roughly the same degree as
> the tendency for people to display capture-bonding.  We can put rough
> numbers on the selective force if we use the data from the Yanamano.
> There around 10% of the women per generation were captured from
> neighbors.  So whatever droved the selection for religious tendencies,
> it was roughly the same as that that drove selection for
> capture-bonding
> With me so far?
> Keith
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