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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

Hmm, are you guys getting more technical training, rather than a broad-based college education?  What tends to make more educated people less religious is all of the secondary classes ... stuff like the philosophy classes, world history, literature ... things that make people look at things from a different perspective than the one they were raised with.
Joseph, you said, "...the added stress and worries of living in a faster-paced urban environment, but the same doesn't seem to be the case, here in America." I recently saw a TV program about urbanization which claimed that when the size of a city doubled, many demographics went up 15% such as disease, crime, income, the outlay for police, and even the pace of walking. This seems to be a function of city scale.
What about religiosity, though?  That seems to move inversely with city size, in the studies I've seen.

Seems like a little bit of confirmation bias going on, and the idea is not exactly a new one.  I've always maintained a god belief derives mostly from the fact that, a) we don't know how stuff works, and b) we're scared of death.

Add to that the fact that we like life as easy as possible, and that it's nice to feel part of an inclusive group, and we a) suppress our ignorance by pretending we know the answers, and b) suppress our fear by pretending death isn't going to happen ... then we just hang around a bunch of others who feel the same way to get that warm, fuzzy feeling of being one of a precious few who've got it right.

For the most part, humans are insecure, fearful and ignorant, and many are content to just put a plaster over those problems with religion rather than treat the underlying injuries with rationality.

Brazil is the biggest "catholic" country in the world and it's a place where injustice is spread out and it's also one of the most corrupted countries in the world. If the belief in these superstions would bring this marvelous world that the research says, wouldn't Brazil be one of the best countries to live in?? And it's far from being...



i remember hearing this as a factor for the evolution of a "soul"


animals that are self-aware (this means intelligence that we evolved) have problems dealing with the everyday struggles


but if we think that we carry a precious cargo inside of us (soul), we will be more likely to survive, to fight harder to survive


but i wonder if this has gotten published yet (real science publications)

While reading the extracts, I was thinking that the conditions of life that many people know predispose them to fear and unhappiness. Then I saw the final sentence about developed nations and strong social support networks.

American capitalism is about as cruel as the ancient regimes I've seen described, and I'm certain that people then wanted to escape those regimes' cruelties. It may be that humans are predisposed more to happiness and an absence of fear. Is anyone researching such a hypothesis?

Capitalism, another name for glorified feudalism(according to Karl Marx), a system which has the resources in the hands of a few, and in which the greater population's labor is exploited for the gain of the few in charge.

Huh, that almost sounds like the present day system. Power in the hands of a few wealthy corporatists and their minions, uh...investors. If religion is so necessary for happiness, we're in trouble. Many Xians in Africa believe there are witches in the form of innocent children for which the solution is to burn them alive, beat them, destroy them for Xians to be protected. So, too, some of these same Xians believe that albinos have spiritual power, and dismembering their bodies and retaining the body parts, gives the Xian greater powers. Religions seem to be a tribal thing, a kind of insecurity driven insanity.

Raymond writes: Capitalism, another name for glorified feudalism(according to Karl Marx), a system which has the resources in the hands of a few, and in which the greater population's labor is exploited for the gain of the few in charge.


Well, in our modern culture, capitalism (and the market materialism that it fosters) has come to replace theological religion as the religion of choice in many peoples' minds.  Salvation is material; going to Wal Mart and having a choice of five different models of widget among three different brands (probably all from China) - to them, that is both liberty and salvation at the same time.


Many people no longer view witches and goblins as real, but they support and pursue economic theories that are equally untenable, and occupy a similar place in their faith and affections.  Here is a pretty good article that touches on why and how the capitalists came to encourage and exploit that replacement of the theological religions with the material, and more importantly, what can and should be done about it from a political perspective:

Hi Scott. I've been having great mental fun reading this "discussion". All was going swell(!) until I read your entry. Your attachment isn't just an "article", it's a BOOK!! Have to finish it tomorrow it's so long. I do recommend it though. It sure explains today's troubles. Thanks for the "book"!
I'm not sure this conclusion means very much. Are they saying that just as the human fetus develops, you can see former stages of evolution. At one point the fetus is at the stage of a one celled ameoba, then mutlicellular, and gradually becomes more sophisticated as to an amphibian, then reptile, then mammal, then to more specifc human characteristics. Do they mean to imply that it is a necessary development in humans that will be eventually phased out? Or will it go on indefinitely, as nipples in males, why are nipples there in males except as a holdover of a previous stage that just got perpetuated??? Like the prostate gland in males, or the tract of the vagus nerve in humans that makes unnecessary excursions. These are remnants of earlier stages of the evolution of life. Like the brain's optic center being in the back of the head, the cerebellum being actual reptilian, but necessary for humans as he/she exists presently. Let's hope that atheism doesn't become a religion unto itself as the supernatural ones have.

Oh good grief, they're looking at small children for heaven's sakes.  A lot of three year olds still wet their pants, is capable person going to wear a diaper all their life?  Three year olds believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus too.  But one day they will grow out of these beliefs and move on with their lives.  Little kids believe what they see on the tv is real even if it is a cartoon.  One day, children grow up and realize Blue on Blue's Clues is not a real dog.  For some reason many adults cling to their religious beliefs even without any physical reinforcement like presents or multiple episodes of Scooby Doo that go on for years upon years. 


Most of the big religions have one book that they plug into every week (or day if they're really religious).  They make all kinds of excuses for their book which doesn't make much sense or really apply to modern life, but they make it fit.  Spongebob Squarepants makes more sense than the bible or the Koran. 


People living in rural areas are very dependent on a small group of people for friendship and emotional support.  In addition, often in rural areas everyone in town is related in some way.  It's hard to judge how atheistic someone might be when admitting a lack of faith might be socially and emotionally devastating. 


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