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):
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.
I wouldn't say this has as much to do with age even. It's more like gullibility is a survival trait in a pre-civilized, pack species.
It doesn't mean that adults will automatically gain reason as they mature. I know plenty of adults who are gullible as hell. It just doesn't factor in as heavily, for survival purposes, in adults, since they have more experience to rely upon. Children lack the experience to know what's dangerous and what isn't, so they gain a survival advantage by accepting what the adults tell them at face value. So, gullible people survive at a higher rate and pass their genes on.
Or, here's another point. Gullibility in a child will help them survive, since a pack species is genetically predisposed to take care of their children. Gullibility may in fact have a negative influence on the survival of adults, but it doesn't matter. Once someone hits 15 or 20 years old, they've probably already parented several children, in a pre-civilized society. After that point, it doesn't matter if they die or not. The pack will take care of their children, and their genes will survive, because of pack mentality.
That's one of the reasons that we have so many diseases in old age. There's no evolutionary selection against them. Once someone is beyond child-rearing age, Evolution doesn't give a damn.
I agree john, to "I think many people are not emotionally mature enough to face that their lives might end nor accept that they might be mistreated without ultimate justice. Accordingly, I think the applicable dynamic is that, in a state of denial that their lives could end or they could on a permanent basis be treated unfairly, they turn to religion for the comfort of assurance it provides to the contrary." Kari Marie Norgaard studied the social organization of denial. Social groups, such as religious groups, create ontological stability and meaning, helping us to control feelings such as helplessness.
I think the safety nets in developed urban areas are more important than emotional hardening. Research suggests that religion rises as people feel more anxiety without safety nets. Emotional hardening happens in all settings.