Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hey,

I was wondering what exactly the evolutionary origin of religion/a believe in god is.

I have heard one argument that stuck with me. Individuals that believed a sound in the bushes would be a deadly snake or leopard or any other predator would have ran immediately versus individuals that didnt believe that would have been eaten a certain percentage of times. Thereby evolution would have favored individuals that easily believed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is just a byproduct (a spandrel) of our capabilities for abstract thought, looking for explanations, finding patterns (even if they are not there) and making stories. Not all of which are necessarily directly selected for either.

I would say they are the same things that make us interested in science or any other form of knowledge. People just express, or use, them in different ways.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends what you mean by god. If you mean a creator god, in the Abrahamic sense, then that only appeared ~500 BC - and only once in humans among the Semetic people. That's far too late to have any evolutionary basis. Therefore i think God far too new a concept to be subject to genetic evolution, though it may have stemmed from older concepts that are rooted in our neurobiology. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We also need to be clear whether we're discussing the evolution of religion or if we're discussing the evolution of belief in god(s). Those are different conversational paths.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
!

Moderator Note

Since these questions cannot really be answered in terms of evolutionary sciences (beyond just-so stories) I am moving it to psychology for now, which may be a bit more appropriate. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

First religions (hunter-gatherers)... Difficult to say. Expert paleontologists and anthropologists seem to think religion had to do with summoning the big game, while honouring them when they died or they killed one of your hunters.

The monument at Gobekli Tepe is very clear that pre-agriculture was all about animals, wild animals. Cave paintings in France (Lascaux) and Spain (Altamira) 10.000 years before, too.

Agriculturalists were mostly concerned with the Sun, the seasons and the ancestors (the ones who gained the land). The shift towards considering the ancestors as mythical, stylized, abstract figures in Ain Ghazal is very clear. They started making clay decorations of skulls and ended up depicting very abstract, impossibly stylized individuals.

People in the Bronce Age and Iron Age were more concerned with lordship. The overlord was the one who taxed you and killed you if you didn't cough up the money (grain, oil,...). Overlordship was the driving force, so I think it's no wonder that people started thinking in terms of one lord above all other lords. Akhenaton (Tutankhamon's father) was the first to be bold enough to declare one god and see himself as the human image of that god. Others followed the formula.

It's not just about fear, IMO, it's about fear and anxiety. Fear is about the past and has to do more with the snake and the wolf, that you're mentioning; anxiety is about the future: death, providing for your offspring, etc. What does the future have in store for us? I can argue and document more about this and give sources, in case anyone's interested. Fear can be handled by the amygdala in your brain. Anxiety is more complex.

32 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

Depends what you mean by god. If you mean a creator god, in the Abrahamic sense, then that only appeared ~500 BC - and only once in humans among the Semetic people. That's far too late to have any evolutionary basis. Therefore i think God far too new a concept to be subject to genetic evolution, though it may have stemmed from older concepts that are rooted in our neurobiology. 

I agree almost 100 % with this. +1

There are many more things. Probably one of the most important was the risks involved in giving birth. I almost forgot. Again, anxiety, rather than fear.

And I almost forgot and went completely off-topic. Evolutionary arguments for religion are not biological, but based on the theory of memes, by Richard Dawkins, and argued for very eloquently by Daniel Dennett. Religions are like viri, or parasites, they evolve because they do well, not because they favour their host. They clearly don't.

Edited by joigus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, iNow said:

We also need to be clear whether we're discussing the evolution of religion or if we're discussing the evolution of belief in god(s). Those are different conversational paths.

Well I definitely mean the evolution of believing in god or any entity of this sort.

 

39 minutes ago, joigus said:

And I almost forgot and went completely off-topic. Evolutionary arguments for religion are not biological, but based on the theory of memes, by Richard Dawkins, and argued for very eloquently by Daniel Dennett. Religions are like viri, or parasites, they evolve because they do well, not because they favour their host. They clearly don't.

I'm also rather new to the topic in the sense that i really try to understand evolution for a few months now. can you point me to a book of dawkins for that matter?

 

Also I'm trying to read Robert Sapolsky on the matter of how the brain works which would get right into the point that you made about fear and anxiety. But that is kind of a hard read for me as i have no scientific backround whatsoever. Any chance you can recommend any "lighter" readings on this topic for someone who is just starting to try to understand these kind of things?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, SenorDingDong said:

 I definitely mean the evolution of believing in god or any entity of this sort.

In that case, about 11 years ago I explored this in the thread below. 

Unfortunately, the forum software has been updated multiple times since then and all my YouTube video links broke. 

Any time you see a random string of letters/numbers in the middle of the post, just put it after the following to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StringGoesHere

Here’s that thread:

 

First video (which inspired the thread) goes here:

 

 

Edited by iNow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, SenorDingDong said:

I'm also rather new to the topic in the sense that i really try to understand evolution for a few months now. can you point me to a book of dawkins for that matter?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene

8 minutes ago, SenorDingDong said:

Also I'm trying to read Robert Sapolsky on the matter of how the brain works which would get right into the point that you made about fear and anxiety. But that is kind of a hard read for me as i have no scientific backround whatsoever. Any chance you can recommend any "lighter" readings on this topic for someone who is just starting to try to understand these kind of things?

What I said about fear and anxiety is taken from a great series of conferences from CARTA (Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny). The speaker is Joseph LeDoux:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmZpfBYbSSA

Any series from CARTA is worth taking a look.

12 minutes ago, iNow said:

In that case, about 11 years ago I explored this in the thread below. 

Unfortunately, the forum software has been updated multiple times since then and all my YouTube video links broke. 

Any time you see a random string of letters/numbers in the middle of the post, just put it after the following to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StringGoesHere

Here’s that thread:

 

Thanks a lot for this. +1.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Strange said:

I think it is just a byproduct (a spandrel) of our capabilities for abstract thought, looking for explanations, finding patterns (even if they are not there) and making stories.

And in the context of religion, we're imagining something that we can't otherwise sense, and I think that's the key. At an age when humans were looking beyond simple hunting and gathering, those who could use their minds to interpret things that couldn't be seen or felt would hold a special place in the society. 

15 minutes ago, SenorDingDong said:

I'm also rather new to the topic in the sense that i really try to understand evolution for a few months now.

If you're coming from a more or less religious upbringing, you may want to investigate TalkOrigins.org. They have a LOT of evolutionary material to help  cure the disease of creationism. Even if you've never been a creationist, the information is written for those new to evolution.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks a lot guys. for tonight i will stick with the conversation between richard dawkins and brian greene but tomorrow i will be looking at the carta stuff. btw joigus, i also like your posts on the fermi paradox

2 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

And in the context of religion, we're imagining something that we can't otherwise sense, and I think that's the key. At an age when humans were looking beyond simple hunting and gathering, those who could use their minds to interpret things that couldn't be seen or felt would hold a special place in the society. 

If you're coming from a more or less religious upbringing, you may want to investigate TalkOrigins.org. They have a LOT of evolutionary material to help  cure the disease of creationism. Even if you've never been a creationist, the information is written for those new to evolution.

 

no religious upbringing actually, born in east germany and raised more or less as an atheist. im just very interested in evolution especially in that of behaviours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, joigus said:

Thanks a lot for this.

Don't thank me yet. I was pretty rough in my postings 10 years ago :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, iNow said:

Don't thank me yet.

Thanks a lot for this.

I'll wait... :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, SenorDingDong said:

Hey,

I was wondering what exactly the evolutionary origin of religion/a believe in god is.

I have heard one argument that stuck with me. Individuals that believed a sound in the bushes would be a deadly snake or leopard or any other predator would have ran immediately versus individuals that didnt believe that would have been eaten a certain percentage of times. Thereby evolution would have favored individuals that easily believed.

If not too late to this topic, I've speculated about the social origins of belief in a god or gods in past discussions.  I've speculated that this aspect of religious belief likely owes its origin to ancestral reverence shared among early humans. No sources to provide but I think strong evidence could be found for the idea of ancient people wanting to remember deceased family members and respected tribal leaders thought some ceremony or symbolism.  I think it likely that belief in gods evolved from these symbolisms and ceremonies engaged by our ancient ancestors to soothe their grief and keep the memory of their fallen ancestors alive.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.