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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

You won't tell us your reason(s) for saying it's wonderful? In a hundred or fewer words.
Fifty or fewer words? Twenty five or fewer? Ten?

People who share the bonds of religion--i.e., are similarly dependent on an authority figure--might indeed be more likely to cooperate.

In experiences that began about 15 years after I broke with religion, I found that people who are putting efforts into achieving a common goal, but are not in a competition that one will win and the others will all lose, do cooperate as societies. A Toastmasters club, and an employee-owned-and-operated business, are two such places.

Is "human nature" even a scientific concept?
Actually, I'd rather play golf - which reminds me of one of PJ Wodehouse's hilarious short stories about golf, in which the religion of a heathen tribe is replaced by an obsession with golf...

Your teasing anecdote pushed me into googling 'P G Wodehouse' and 'golf'. I found that he wrote many stories involving golf.  

Can you remember or relocate a title so that I can more easily pursue my search for the one that you are tempting me with? 

War is a common fact across nearly all societies.  The subjugation of women is a common fact across all societies.  Capital punishment was once nearly ubiquitous.  I suspect that the first religions began when a small number of people figured out that they could control other people by pretending to be in touch with gods, and enjoy a privileged position into the bargain.  The idea caught on among fools, who, as Mark Twain pointed out, are "a big enough majority in any" group.  Since everybody was ignorant, the priests and fools had little trouble imposing their will on the handful of people capable of critical thinking.


They haven't given up.

Craig, while you might suspect correctly, I have long suspected that religion grew slowly from belief in someone's explanations. For instance, a lightning bolt that frightened, or harmed, a group of people.

Someone explained it in a way that reduced the fear felt by those affected. Those people sought more explanations from the same person and rewarded him for his success in reducing their fear.

That person, seeing advantage for his family or his allies, then might well have shared his reward with them, which supports what you suspect. They then gained both religious and political rule.

Now, you and I have two explanations. Shall we offer them to the world and see which wins the most support? Suppose someone conjures up a third explanation?


I don't disagree with you.  That's where the fools come in because they are always ready to buy the doubtful cause fallacies that religions depend on.  Experiencing a drought?  Pray together.  Rain will come--eventually.  Did the praying cause it?  Nope.  It will rain--eventually--whether you pray or not.  Praying, like following priests, gives people the illusion of control, or at least influence.  Who decides how to pray, whether to sacrifice a goat or a dove or a virgin, or just to dance all night?  The priests who pretend, or perhaps even believe, that they are in touch with the gods.  Of course, nowadays we know how rainfall works, so we don't need mass prayers for rain.  Unless you live in Arizona or Georgia.


   Since I was a child I have never understood the herd mentality. I can remember vividly at 4 years old going sports events with my parents and not understanding why so many people were connected in some way and I wasn't. I think there is something inherent in the average persons brain chemistry that makes them connect in this way. Like sports, religion is just something people developed to fulfill that need. It's not an inherent need to have religion, religion fulfills an inherent need.

I never understood it either.  It was an equal puzzle to me.


Then, late in my 50's, I discovered that I am an Asperger's Syndrome patient, and that I am congenitally inacapable of understanding the herd mentality.  Never understood sports fanaticism, nationalism/patriotism, religious group loyalty, any of that.  It all seemed so... silly.


So now, I just kick back and marvel at all the irrationality it produces.  And enjoying the weather here in Costa Rica, after my attitude towards patriotism promptly got me chased out of the U.S. shortly after 9/11.  Pura Vida!

I relate. My ex-wife is a physical therapist who worked for a school system. For years she told me how I acted like her Autistic-Asperger's kids. She finally had me go through a psychological evaluation because my behavior was so irritating. Found something else. You should get an IQ test. Now I am a lurker in this world. Can't really connect cause no one is interested in my perspective. It's a little different than what they see on TV. It's a spectrum, and  as it goes, this medical world is still using leeches. We are just more evolved Scott.



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