[ExI] de Waal

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sat Feb 24 15:59:00 UTC 2018

On Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 8:29 PM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com
> wrote:

*  > was left with the impression that de Waal is just as mystified as the
rest of us about the origin of religions. *
Children are born knowing nothing so there would be an obvious evolutionary
advantage if they tended to believe what their parents or authority figures
told them. Most people don't have hallucinations but some do and they will
tell children about them and they will tend to believe that its true,
particularly if the hallucination is comforting. It is obviously an
evolutionary advantage to fear death but we know someday we must face it
and that thought is unpleasant, but even if you only half believe there is
life after death that would make you feel a little less unhappy.

And it wouldn't take long for some to figure out this is a way to gain
control over other people. If I can convince you that only I am in contact
with the person (God) who can give you this life after death then you will
do what I tell you to do. The more people who believe what I say the more
powerful I become. And the best way to get people to believe what I say is
to teach them it when they are very young, so I set up religious schools.
And if I wish to remain in power I would need to violently persecute
anybody pushing a hallucination different from the hallucination I'm

But all this stems from the simple fact that genes that tend to make
children believe what authority figures tell them propagate through the
gene pool faster than genes that don’t. If this theory is correct then we
would expect to find a very strong correlation between 2 things that at
first sight seem completely unrelated, the particulars of religious belief
and geography.  And that is exactly what we do see.
 John K Clark
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