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What do we think of this !? 
It can explain why Melanesian frog worship is on a par with the superstitions of christianity and other religions. 
"Belief in gods is part of human nature" ---an Oxford study suggests
Some brief extracts:
The project involved 57 academics in 20 countries around the world, and spanned disciplines including anthropology, psychology, and philosophy.
It wanted to establish whether belief in divine beings and an afterlife were ideas simply learned from society or integral to human nature.
Professor Roger Trigg from Oxford said the research showed that religion was “not just something for a peculiar few to do on Sundays instead of playing golf”.
“We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of human nature across different societies. This suggests that attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived because human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts, like the existence of supernatural agents or gods, and the possibility of an afterlife or pre-life.”
Dr Justin Barrett, from the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, who directed the project, said faith may persist in diverse cultures across the world because people who share the bonds of religion “might be more likely to cooperate as societies . . . Interestingly, we found that religion is less likely to thrive in populations living in cities in developed nations where there is already a strong social support network.”

Tags: Origins of religion

Views: 309

Replies to This Discussion

Indeed, when asked such a question from a believer in an afterlife, respond by asking

"tell me what do you propose doing in the first thousand years of your afterlife, and then the next million, then the next billion . . . Some people do not even know what to do now on a single wet Sunday afternoon." 

yup, it sure is easier - says a lot about a lot of people. . .

hi Scott -  

what you say is true - except that way back in pre-history, mankind did make up spirituality as reasons for events - no rain, too much rain, floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, death - just look at any 'tribal' religion.  has there ever been a tribe found anywhere that does not have some sort of 'religion'?  As a child i made up my own, as we were areligious - it involved a very strong connection with the earth and its spirits.  as an adult, i have studied Judaism, paganism, Buddha, and, of course, atheism.   But, i still have that connection to earth which i will never lose and i don't want to.  there's a group on this site called Naturalism - it has a lot of followers.  when i look at stars at night, i see astronomy and the wonder and beauty of it.


there is a dragon hidden in this nebula in Orion - (from an astronomy site):


This is pretty much what we already know.  Religion served a purpose during the founding of society, when it was more tribal.  Its a function that plays off of our psychological development, and certainly would work well if you are looking to stabilize a small population among many~ but the most important part of that story is the last paragraph, and how that ties in with the rest.  Yes, it has served a purpose~ but that is within a context which is no longer valid, and the evidence suggests that it is only needed for less developed communities.  I would view it as the starter kit;  gives a group of people the basic needs to retain and enforce social order.  As that order develops and progresses, it's no longer necessary.  That would seem to be why the most (socially) advanced countries are also the least religious.  It has served its purpose, and now needs to be discarded.


It'll be interesting to see how the religious take this study, and infer their own results.  I would put its message into a perspective such as this~  Throughout the entire natal development of a human, we do not breathe air.  Our lungs are developed for birth, but until that point our bodies get oxygen through the umbilical cord.  Religion is our umbilical cord, and it is high time that people see we have already been birthed~ its time to start breathing on our own, and to stop holding onto the comfortable memories of the womb.

I like your metaphor, Park. Although, I think an appendix might be better. Like religion we no longer need it at all, not even before birth. We no longer eat rocks and wood and don't have a need for the vestigial organ, but it can become inflamed and like religion, cause morbidity and mortality.
I like your starter kit analogy, Park.

So, are those who perpetuate their religious views, are they not at some arrested stage of development? We as humans still have the reptilian cerebellum, necessary also for humans that presently exist. I wonder how many non-theists were actually hardcore Xian fundamentalists, before they evolved? For me, when there are scientists who claim to believe in the Xian god, I have to question what the implications are for that kind of thing. For example, where scientific knowledge is concerned these folks have to suspend their rationality to believe in something, as in an invisible god, other than the feedback of their senses, which is what science is based on.

So, would it be like this for a scientist who believes in God?

1)All things are knowable.

2)The world is based on cause and effect relationships.

3)Senses are reality.

4)The principles of nature are consistent and have a logical pattern.

5)God exists, trumping 1-4 above.

I guess I have misgivings about that notion of a scientist who is a believer in god.

I could see this as an advantageous evolutionary trait for young children. When the world is a complete mystery, adults are the equivalent of gods. This type of trust and reliance would keep the child from wondering off and reduce its stress. I wonder if our predisposition to believe in gods is in any way, a remnant of an evolved trait meant to help us bond with our parents?


J. Anderson (Andy) Thomson Jr., M.D., is a psychiatrist who wrote the book “Why We Believe In God(s)” His current research interest is evolutionary psychology and using its principles to understand depression, suicide terrorism, and religious belief. He will be speaking at an event that I'm hosting on Sunday, so maybe I'll have more insight on the subject afterwards. You can find a video of one of his presentations here.

A similar possible evolutionary trait was described in "The God delusion."  However, it was proposed that children have evolved a natural propensity to believe whatever their parents or adults tell them.  This would be useful for avoiding danger.  "Don't play with that big scary lion."  But as a side-effect, children will also believe, "God will punish you if you're bad."


I'm not sure about this but it does seem a plausible reason as to why we still have religion when it is no longer needed.

maybe it isn't children developed the propensity to believe, that adults develop the ability to rationalize and then not believe, and that belief itself is the default position.
I think there needs to be more of a discussion around symbolic thought and Theory of Mind in this context of essential belief. The same "prescience" that allows your brain to form words without being consciously aware of them I hypothesize has something to do with this observation of belief as an essential quality. There's something about tacit-ness regarding social constructions that are linked - I believe - to this thing in the brain/consciousness that assumes our reality around us. I could be way off. I'm really just thinking out loud here. I know what I'm saying leaves the door open for Believers to say, "see? we were created this way", but surely there's another explaination for I would have problems with a creator who created his creation with the intrinsic quality of belief. It just makes that creator all the more sinister.
that seems somewhat over complicated...  Although certain aspects may have a precedence.  Really though, it does seem that humans developed with a propensity to believe by default~ it would likely be much more advantageous at a young age~ then as the complexes of the mind become more intricate, reason developed, leading us out of belief.  The whole thing about it being a survival development just seems as though we are ignoring the possibility that believing the stimuli that our brain receives might be the natural course of events, and that a mind has to grow out of it; not that we had to develop belief.  it only needs to be slightly more beneficial for that to have been the default, and from how I see it, it likely would greatly outweigh the benefits of not believing by default.


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