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.”

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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.


Hi Scott, so you live in Costa Rica? Would you please tell me a little bit about the country? I've had this secret thought about moving there ever sense I heard that they are building a high speed rail system and have free health care. Is it difficult to stay there and perhaps become a citizen? How hot is it really? And lastly, could one support oneself on a reasonable pension and Social Security? I've been told the country is beautiful. Why were you chased out of here, really? Thanks, Connie
Yes, I live in Costa Rica, and have lived here for eight years.  Your comment implies some misconceptions, so I invite you to write me off-list (scott at bidstrup dot com) and I will be happy to answer them for you (or anyone else who is curious), but I think it would be inappropriate to do so here as it is off-topic.

Heh, she's just echoing your words, man.  You're the one who said you were chased out.


Easier than reverting to e-mail, you can just friend each other on here and send private messages.  Don't have to spell that out to avoid the e-mail skimming programs, either.  :-D

The "misconceptions" I was referring to relate to her questions about Costa Rica, not to me.  I should have been more specific to prevent your confusion.


I prefer email to simply friending everyone in sight, because the recent scandals with Facebook and Twitter have demonstrated that profiles and friend lists can be abused by "marketers" to which they are sold, so I am reluctant to do that.  Email is far less an issue with me as I am already dealing with email spam effectively.

Ahhhhh.  About the weather and such, yeah.  I know that the increased humidity and cloud cover help normalize the temperatures.


So, what if the rest of us want to know, too?  Certainly a thread about Costa Rica would fit somehow into Origins.  Maybe you have some nice fossils that are discovered there?

Actually, not so many fossils as you'd notice.  The geology of this place primarily volcanic, and the one mountain range in the country that isn't, is marine sediments that are so hydrothermically altered that any fossils that may have been present are long gone.  We have only one limestone deposit and it is small and has been almost entirely consumed by mining already, mostly to provide soil amendments for farmers. 


The nearest fossils of note are in Panamá, where the isthmus arose about 4 million years ago, finally separating the Caribbean from the Pacific, and some interesting fossils related to cetacean evolution have recently been found in the material being removed for the expansion of the canal.  But here...  nothing. 


Lots of interesting biology, though.  Costa Rica boasts more species of termites than any other country in the world, I am told.  137 species.  If it's wood, there's a termite here that can deal with it.




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