Psychology Of Junk Food <=> Psychology Of Religion: Both Hijack Innate Drives For Profit.

Some may think I'm stating that religion is junk food for the mind.

Well, not quite right.

I'm drawing from comments made by psychologists and neurologists whose work I've been studying.

Essentially it is the confirmation of a quote from Arthur C. Clarke:

"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion."

Which, when the junk food phenomenon of today is looked at, we can say that an equal tragedy is the hijacking of our innate sustenance drive by junk food companies.

When we look at how humans are susceptible to junk food craving, due to innate taste triggers that in our hunter gatherer past, were useful for driving us towards balance in our dietary needs to maintain biological homeostasis. 

As hunter gatherers we were attracted to sweet tasting fruit for supply of our vitamin C and other products, attracted to fats, because fat is associated with meat for protein and we sought salty substances, such as barks, leaves (especially of salt bush) to maintain our blood and cell salinity levels.

Fats, sugars and salts were thus attractive to hominids to assist in maintaining a balanced dietary intake.

Yet, these in combination and alone in unnatural quantities are extremely attractive and can possibly create their own addictions, such as my late grandfather who could not sit down to a meal without piling copious quantities of salt on it and myself for a long time where I would have 3 teaspoons of sugar to a cup of tea and 5 in coffee and I found them unbearable at the time without that amount of sugar.

The realization of this need and that sugar, fat and salt could be used to attract people to cheaply produced, with low or even no nutritional benefits, led to what we now know as the Junk Food Boom.

Similarly with religion.

As Dr. Paul Bloom and his researchers have discovered, much of our ability to pick good people from bad people is innate, as even 6 month old babies can accurately discern between individuals who are kind and helpful and those who are unhelpful, they can also pick these human traits in objects that don't resemble humans, thus demonstrating that humans have a natural, innate tendency to see intelligent agency in everything.  Thus the tendency to see a cloud moving across the sky and think that it is being pushed by a human like being/agent is likely innate in hominids and possibly even some higher apes.

Maybe even whales and dolphins consider observed phenomenon as being influenced by a higher whale or dolphin. 

We evolved these Empathy and Group Ethics/Morality for our social survival as a group dependent social animal.

As hominids and higher apes that had strong social cohesion, empathy and higher group participation were able to defeat and dominate those who did not perform cohesively.

The evolution of group cohesion, required development of empathy and an ethical framework, thus the evolution of morality.  

Biological evolution started the ball rolling, but it was only after hominids developed the added structures in the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, supermarginal and angular gyri, etc.. that we developed language, abstraction and a complex set of ethical frameworks.

So you could say that with the development of language, our social evolution skyrocketed a thousand fold.

You could say that in the last 200,000 years, we have evolved mentally, far more than we had in the 20 million years prior.

Religion continually claims this ownership of our evolved Ethics/Morality.

They had hijacked our ethics for thousands of years, but gradually, through science and a realization of the truth behind morality and religion, rationality is gradually taking ownership of morality away from Religion.


The junk food industry hijacks our evolved biological survival traits for profit, where Religion hijacks our evolved psychological survival traits for power and profit.

Thus, the psychology of Religion is equivalent to the psychology of Junk Food.

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Comment by Čenek Sekavec on December 28, 2015 at 8:06pm

What do you mean by "evolved biological survival traits for profit"?  Specifically could you please define profit as used in this context and explain in how it is related to evolution, or even biology? I had recalled learning that the primary source is social, not biological.

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on December 27, 2015 at 7:45pm
Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on December 27, 2015 at 3:10pm

Here are some articles and references you may find interesting.

Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

 edited by Raymond F. Paloutzian, Crystal L. Park: 

Here is an excerpt from:  "Services Marketing"  By K. Rama Moahana Rao

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on December 8, 2014 at 8:18am

The psychology of religion is also identical to the psychology of dysfunctional relationships. Some people just keep coming back for more abuse. And trying to ween people off of junk food, abusive relationships or religion involves the same set of challenges.

Comment by Randall Smith on December 8, 2014 at 7:15am

Both a good blog and comment (from Freethinker).



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