Do religions serve an EVOLUTIONARY function?

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Some science philosophers have speculated that religion is "hard wired" in us (a dumb way of saying we have a "religious instinct"). Does anyone believe that? I don't.

Other ones speculated that religion is just a means the rich used to control the masses. That seems to me they regard it as a sort of parastic phenomenon. For a human trait that has characterized the human race for well over 40,000 years, that just doesn't seem to be an adequate explanation.

What do the rest of you think?

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Some science philosophers have speculated that religion is "hard wired" in us (a dumb way of saying we have a "religious instinct"). Does anyone believe that? I don't.

Yes, I believe that religion evolved and had very good reason to do so. So too did belief in deities and higher powers:

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/37248-how-religion-hijacks-neurocortical-mechanisms-and-why-so-many-believe-in-a-deity

(Note: anywhere you see a bunch of letters in the middle of the screen, that was a Youtube vid ID. When the site here got upgraded, it fucked up all links.

Just copy that ID and put

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

in front of it so it plays).

Edited by iNow
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At the individual scale, it's a rather simple question, insofar as that all one needs to ask is "Does being a member of a religion increase an individual's reproductive success?" The answer - for a large part of the world in the past and even now is an emphatic "yes" in that at least publicly adhering to a religion increases one's potential reproductive partners, their supportive community and thus the chance of having and successfully rearing offspring. Thus, being a member of a religion increases individual reproductive success and has and in some places, still does represent a successful evolutionary strategy.

On a larger scale, does having a religious motivation increase the evolutionary success of a population? The answer again, at least in my opinion - yes. Motivated by religious ideals, populations of human have en masse been able to remove land and resources, enslave and marginalize other populations of humans, putting religious populations at an evolutionary advantage.

At a species level, it's slightly more muddy. It can be argued that certain religious ideals lead to overpopulation, unequal resource distribution, etc and so on. It can be argued that religious ideals lead to the opposite through motivation of charitable behavior, planetary custodianship etc.

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I believe they may have served their function, raising man out of the bush, but I don't see it going extinct any time soon. It's tough to say what would have happened without it. So many of them pointless mysticism with little or no social value though. Plato didn't really agree with homosexuality either.

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Why yes sir, dna kicks but, that's why it makes up little stories of why you give me your sandwich etcetera.

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My perspective was that Judaism was about fruitful multiplication of the species, in a sodom-focused culture/environment, though that is not representative of the whole world.

Edited by Realitycheck
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It can be argued that certain religious ideals lead to overpopulation, unequal resource distribution, etc and so on. It can be argued that religious ideals lead to the opposite through motivation of charitable behavior, planetary custodianship etc.

Do you know of a single mainline religion so far that did not promotive having more children? Or one that promoted planetary custodianship? Neither Islam, Christianity, the Hindu faith, or East Asian Marxism promoted either. The Chinese Marxist ideological system promotes neither, but due to Western Secular influence after the fall of the Soviet Union, Chinese Marxism substituted nationalism for its world-commune stance, birth control and Western capitalism. The adopting of the one-child policy was also a result of the Western secular influence. Marxism was able to adopt it because it had suppressed the old religion of China.

Our Secular Humanism has influenced the world and provided enough unity to set up the Global Economy, but it has proven unable to replace the old religions/ideologies. Until they are replaced with an advanced ideology, world conditions can only grow worse.

Yes, I believe that religion evolved and had very good reason to do so. So too did belief in deities and higher powers:

Absolutely. When religions were evolving into being forty to over a hundred thousand years ago, people had no scientific understand. It was then logical to believe that the "spirit"-like consciounsess we have existed in everything else as well. It was a means of explaining everything that happened. Over the milleniums since, the number of spirits that needed to be imagined declined as more natural explanations were able to be figured out. Now, science is able to provide a more or less accurate natural cause explanation for everything. In no case now is a "spirit" explanation any longer needed or better.

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