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Bii
03-18-2007, 10:33 AM
I have often wondered, and would like the thoughts of others on this, whether the predominance of religion in society is actually evidence of evolution in action. Not sure if I can get down my reasoning for this coherently but I'll have a bash.

What is it that makes the human race successful? The human race succeeds because of it's ability to live in large social groups; significantly larger than any other species on the planet. The ability to live in a large social group gives a number of benefits being protection, division of labour, sharing of resources, specialism of skills etc. However, humans are inherently selfish and ultimately the aim of most people (albeit that this is largely hidden under more complex emotional issues) is to ensure 1) their survival and 2) their happiness. So, for a race which is busy looking after no.1 the development of a large interactive, inter-dependent social structure seems unlikely. Here enters religion. Religion (amongst other devices) encourages individuals to set aside their immediate needs/wants/desires with the goal of a longer term guarantee of happiness (i.e. heaven) in the afterlife. So religion gives people a moral blueprint, which also happens to be a good way to live, if you live in a large social group.

The reason I think religion or a belief in religion is evidence of evolution in action is a comparitive issues. Imagine a time, say several thousand years ago, when you had two societies. One society functioned without religion, each person served their own personal need first, and the need of society second. The second society held religious views which allowed them to work more cohesively as a social group. Which society would succeed? The likelihood is that the society with religious belief would succeed and is more likely to thrive than the society without. In evolutionary terms survival of the fittest will out, therefore the society with religious belief would come to dominate and be prevalent - as it is in our society even if there are a number of religions and those religions do not necessarily agree. This would also be consistent with the regional nature of religion (which is, I accept, diminishing due to globalisation and the spread of an information culture) as people from the same global area generally have a coherent religious system, which in many ways will carry similarities to religious systems of their neighbours.

Not sure I've explained this overly well, and I'm certainly no expert on religion or evolution! However, I wonder whether there is any point asking people the question, 'Why do you believe in God'?, when this, in some respects, may be the same as asking 'Why do you speak English', if you were born in an English speaking country. Is religion evolution in action, or something more than that?
Is athiesm the next step in evolution?

hyperborean
03-18-2007, 03:55 PM
Nice analysis, Bii. This is going to be a fun topic.

Religion does bring groups of humans together, therefore, giving our species predominance. The group always outperforms the individual.

The problem with modern society, is that it takes an organized religion to bring people together.

Lioness_Heart
03-18-2007, 04:59 PM
Wow! I'd never thought of it like that before, Bii. What you're saying seems to make sense. But the thing is, that having a religion does not necessarily fuse the social group together, nor prevent people from looking out for themselves first and foremost. There are lots of factors affecting the cohesion of a group, are there not?

*Classic*Charm*
03-18-2007, 07:04 PM
Intersting topic Bii!! This should get interesting...

I agree with you that the second society you described, the one that worked cohesively as a social group will the the more successful, but I don't think that it is becasue of their religion that this is so. Many people who don't have a faith or religion are still able to put the needs of a greater good above their own indivdual needs. I think it is the morals instilled in each person by his or her predecessors that determines whether or not that person can function within a society. Similarly, it is not a lack of religion that would be resposible for the downfall of the other society. Even without religion, there are still ties that bind that society together, and it is their inability to use those connections that make the society falter.

In fact, religion has been the cause of war and disruption for thousands of years. The people may still be able to function as a society, but I don't believe that their religion is what allows them to do so.

hyperborean
03-18-2007, 07:56 PM
In fact, religion has been the cause of war and disruption for thousands of years. The people may still be able to function as a society, but I don't believe that their religion is what allows them to do so.

Hopefully, when man reaches the next level of consciousness we won't need religion. We shall live for the earth...for the good of mankind...not for God. :)

*Classic*Charm*
03-18-2007, 09:19 PM
Hopefully, when man reaches the next level of consciousness we won't need religion. We shall live for the earth...for the good of mankind...not for God. :)

Hear Hear!!

Bii
03-19-2007, 04:59 AM
Even without religion, there are still ties that bind that society together, and it is their inability to use those connections that make the society falter. - hmm, name some? In particular name some that aren't founded in , or had their origins in some form of religion - i.e. I personally am not religious, would count myself as an athiest, but am still guided (both because it makes sense and because our laws are founded on them) by the 10 commandments. I suppose the question is, are our morals founded in religion, or did religion simply draw together the most logical moral principals, adopt them, and communicate them as their own?


The people may still be able to function as a society, but I don't believe that their religion is what allows them to do so. - in principle I agree, but this occurs after the point where religion has made a society successful, eventually people move beyond the need of a omnipotent force to guide/regulate them and find other means. I believe that the Greeks had an almost religious faith in the 'State' and their religion was secondary to this - however, they seem to be fairly unique in this respect.

JCamilo
03-19-2007, 09:24 AM
Actually the premisse of the idea is wrong. Humans are not inherently selfish.
It is a big risk to use cultural traits to show up biological traits. Darwin warned about this and the huge mistake of humanking, that thing Nazism, is caused by such mistake.


- hmm, name some? In particular name some that aren't founded in , or had their origins in some form of religion - i.e. I personally am not religious, would count myself as an athiest, but am still guided (both because it makes sense and because our laws are founded on them) by the 10 commandments. I suppose the question is, are our morals founded in religion, or did religion simply draw together the most logical moral principals, adopt them, and communicate them as their own?

Religion is a consequence of social groups, not what caused social groups to happen. Feelings such as those we call love or hate are not even an exclusivity of Homo Sapiens (or even Homo). They are stronger than anything to keep sides together.
Before any society, the homo (all the genres) already organized themselves in colective groups, sharing functions, taking care of the younglings and the weaklings, mourning for the death, etc. Those things put us together and later, the religion (and political organization, and art, and philosophy appeared as a result of the society, not as cause). And in those groups, the first moral concepts are developed. Then introduced in the histories and this formed religious stories. Not the other way around.

Bii
03-19-2007, 09:48 AM
Actually the premisse of the idea is wrong. Humans are not inherently selfish. .

Perhaps you could elaborate on this - I disagree but am willing to be convinced otherwise! In general I believe that people act in a way to secure either their survival or their happiness, but happiness can be achieved in a number of obscure ways. Can you identify an act that a human being does that is not, in any way, selfishly motivated?


Religion is a consequence of social groups, not what caused social groups to happen......Before any society, the homo (all the genres) already organized themselves in colective groups, sharing functions, taking care of the younglings and the weaklings, mourning for the death, etc. Those things put us together and later, the religion (and political organization, and art, and philosophy appeared as a result of the society, not as cause).

Again, I agree but the point here is that it evidences an evolutionary pattern - i.e. humanity starts with small social groups where an immediate selfish need is satisfied by the small group. At some point a small social group developed a form of religion, a regulator and set of rules which allowed their society to flourish and grow until it dominated the societies around it. You can't escape the fact that religion is a dominant force in our current society (albeit that it appears to be, on the face of it, diminishing). My premise is that religion evolved (as you have also argued), allowed the human race to flourish and grow into an incredibly and uniquely complex society (where we are now), and my question is, will religion eventually evolve out?

JCamilo
03-19-2007, 12:55 PM
Perhaps you could elaborate on this - I disagree but am willing to be convinced otherwise! In general I believe that people act in a way to secure either their survival or their happiness, but happiness can be achieved in a number of obscure ways. Can you identify an act that a human being does that is not, in any way, selfishly motivated?

One of the main differencials of human kind is the capacity to care for childlings, to sacrifice for them, even when you are not the mother/father (many other primates already have this). The very mortherly instint is also something we can not call selfish in any way. In fact, I think it is very impossible to claim humankind is selfish or not, more like, we are both.




Again, I agree but the point here is that it evidences an evolutionary pattern - i.e. humanity starts with small social groups where an immediate selfish need is satisfied by the small group. At some point a small social group developed a form of religion, a regulator and set of rules which allowed their society to flourish and grow until it dominated the societies around it. You can't escape the fact that religion is a dominant force in our current society (albeit that it appears to be, on the face of it, diminishing). My premise is that religion evolved (as you have also argued), allowed the human race to flourish and grow into an incredibly and uniquely complex society (where we are now), and my question is, will religion eventually evolve out?

The point that biological evolution concept can not be applied with perfection to our culture. Sure, you can present an analogy, but that is just a language play thing (not saying it is not valid either, everything is a language game anyways).
There is no doubt that the formation of religion was caused by the need to organize the moral rules and tradition and such as they helped to preserve (and therefore, the survival) of determinated groups. Everything in your cultural history works in this way (nothing is useless), art, science, the army, political organization - they are all keys of society preservation.
But I would find harder to apply the rest of biological evolution (Marx always did, but such is life) even because, there is second chances in our society, cultural cicles - for example, after the XIX century who would say we would find ourselves again in the middle of a conflict that have religious roots with a mindset that seeemed to be buried long ago? That would be like a T.Rex walking alive again.

PersistantMind
03-19-2007, 08:15 PM
Religion is nothing more than a way to scare or trick people into becoming what the writer or writer's believe to be morally right. Religion was founded to organize us into a morally aware species. Atheism could be the next step in social evolution if the society is in fact based on a religion. What all societies need to do is take what is morally right from religion and mix in other obvious/unincluded morals to form a society that believes as Hyperborean put it "We shall live for the earth...for the good of mankind...not for God." Only when we believe that we will have truly mentally/emotionally evolved.

Redzeppelin
03-20-2007, 12:06 AM
Highly debatable.

Adudaewen
03-20-2007, 12:50 AM
Interesting topic Bii, I can certainly understand where you would draw that conclusion. Look at the Amish. Their's is a society based totally on religion, family and working together. And they have thrived, amazingly, in modern society by rebuking the outside world and secularism. One could definitly look at them and see that maybe they have a better understanding of life than we do. I do understand many people's views taht religion has caused a lot of damage, look at the Crusades or the turmoil in Ireland. Even what is happening now between the US and Iraq. A lot of that happens because organized religion is so rigid, it doesn't offer any tolerance of other's beliefs which is a tragedy. If we could find a way for all of us to work together, Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, even Athiests, our world could be so much better. That is what we should be trying to achieve, rather than abolishing religion all together. Whether you believe in God or not, you have to admit that having the 10 Commandments has helped by forming laws that aid our society.

hyperborean
03-20-2007, 01:55 PM
Interesting topic Bii, I can certainly understand where you would draw that conclusion. Look at the Amish. Their's is a society based totally on religion, family and working together. And they have thrived, amazingly, in modern society by rebuking the outside world and secularism. One could definitly look at them and see that maybe they have a better understanding of life than we do.

Technically, the Amish contribute nothing to society and the goal of reaching a new level of consciousness. They dig their feet in the ground and the watch the rest of humanity work hard to move forward.

Yes, it would be nice for all people to live in peace with each other. The problem is that people misinterpret or warp the religion they follow. The so-called "terrorists" misinterpret what Allah would actually want. Christians think that getting born again (repenting etc.) would cleanse them of the wrongs they have committed.

If Christians were all like zeppelin, then we would see some progress. He fully understands the religion he follows.

PersistantMind
03-20-2007, 06:06 PM
Highly debatable.


Well of course this is true...I was simply stating my opinion.

*Classic*Charm*
03-20-2007, 10:07 PM
- hmm, name some? In particular name some that aren't founded in , or had their origins in some form of religion - i.e. I personally am not religious, would count myself as an athiest, but am still guided (both because it makes sense and because our laws are founded on them) by the 10 commandments. I suppose the question is, are our morals founded in religion, or did religion simply draw together the most logical moral principals, adopt them, and communicate them as their own?.

You think that every connection between people in the world is based on a religious teaching? LIFE EXPERIENCE! Try experiencing the death of a loved one. That is a life experience that brings people together in their ability to empathize, and often leads to an entirely new perspective on the world. I'm pretty sure that the emotions felt when someone close to you passes away weren't founded by some religious principle. If you're talking in terms of morals, how about when said loved one is murdered. If someone I love is killed by another, the pain and grief I feel is enough to teach me not to inflict the same suffering on another, therefore, I will not kill. For me, personally, and I think for many others, the ability to empathize is a far more effective way to learn such morals than by having someone tell me that to do this is wrong.

I think that morals, whether or not they have been labeled as such, are founded in personal experience. Someone felt the consequences of imorality, and it was bad enough that they determined that those actions led to those bad feelings. It's the same way one trains a dog: dog steals food, it hears the angry voice say "no". The dog doesn't like how he feels when he hears the angry "no", so he doesn't steal food again. He doesn't learn to stop stealing food because the dog training book said he's not allowed. (Obviously this is over-simplified, but I think you catch my drift)

It is when people don't understand that others are capable of feeling the same pain and grief and other emotions as themself that societies falter. You say you're guided by the 10 commandments because they make sense- why do they make sense to you? Because you understand how your actions affect others. You know that killing someone will cause pain not only to that person, but to everyone who knew and loved them, and you'll cause pain to those around you as well. It doesn't simply "make sense' becasuse one person decided it was so.

(And by the way, I was raised Catholic, and attend a Catholic school. My belief system, however, is slightly different than the one I have been taught to accept).


- in principle I agree, but this occurs after the point where religion has made a society successful, eventually people move beyond the need of a omnipotent force to guide/regulate them and find other means. I believe that the Greeks had an almost religious faith in the 'State' and their religion was secondary to this - however, they seem to be fairly unique in this respect.

If society able to move beyond the need for an omnipotent force, why do they need it in the first place?

As for the Greeks, you say they had a religious faith in the "state". What you're saying is that they believed in the principles of their community the way others believe in the principles of religion. That disproves what you're saying that religion makes a society successful. The Greeks were able to put their faith in their relationship with each other and their similar life experiences to create a successful society. Perhaps if the whole world were able to draw from our similar experiences instead of living by what has been simply commanded of us by religion, we would have the same bond that Greek society had.

Adudaewen
03-21-2007, 12:03 AM
Technically, the Amish contribute nothing to society and the goal of reaching a new level of consciousness. They dig their feet in the ground and the watch the rest of humanity work hard to move forward.

I guess I always considered the Amish to be a society in and of themselves. They all work towards the betterment of their own society and community. All working together to achieve one goal, as one. I guess I wasn't clear in my post on that point. However, I look at them, at the peace they have and I have to admit I have felt a twinge of jealousy towards them. I consider them to be an amazing example of humanity at its best. And it is because they have dug their feet in. They found something that worked for them and the stick to it.


Yes, it would be nice for all people to live in peace with each other. The problem is that people misinterpret or warp the religion they follow. The so-called "terrorists" misinterpret what Allah would actually want. Christians think that getting born again (repenting etc.) would cleanse them of the wrongs they have committed.

On this point, I totally agree with you. The turmoil of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Crucades, bombing of abortion clinics and injury to doctors there, all of these things have stemmed directly from extremists using their religion to condone violence and the evils that followed. No religion is above the law, and violence in the name of Allah/God is still violence and is a sin according to both religions.


If Christians were all like zeppelin, then we would see some progress. He fully understands the religion he follows.

I agree. Red has a very strong grasp on his religion. I will give you the benefit of the doubt in the hope that I misunderstood your meaning, but I truly hope that you're not suggesting that I do not have an understanding of my religion since Red and I share many of the same values. It does sound like a slight, and a bit of an undercut at that.

hyperborean
03-21-2007, 01:03 PM
I consider them to be an amazing example of humanity at its best. And it is because they have dug their feet in. They found something that worked for them and the stick to it.

We still need to move forward. Their level of thinking is far more primitive than many of us on this forum.



I agree. Red has a very strong grasp on his religion. I will give you the benefit of the doubt in the hope that I misunderstood your meaning, but I truly hope that you're not suggesting that I do not have an understanding of my religion since Red and I share many of the same values. It does sound like a slight, and a bit of an undercut at that.

Sorry for leaving you out. I should have mentioned you as well ;)

JCamilo
03-21-2007, 01:46 PM
The believe in progress is a bit of myth, but well...

Evolution (the biological,Darwinist) is not about moving foward or getting better. In a way, if you survive like an amoeba you are as "good" as a mammal. If the nature (and it does not) make vallue judgments.

And if we think very well, the superior "mammals" are not really superior in many aspects to a lot of other animals. Evolution is not about getting better, but getting different and more suited.

Adudaewen
03-21-2007, 02:05 PM
We still need to move forward. Their level of thinking is far more primitive than many of us on this forum.

I guess that is what I always admired about them. What you see as primitive I guess I see as ideal. I admire their ability to flourish outside of the mainstream. Probably stems from my desire to have lived in a different, more simple time. As much as I love the fact that I can just hop on the internet and interact with people all around the world (like here), there is a part of me that wonders what life would be like without technology. I suppose that is the reason that I admire them.


Sorry for leaving you out. I should have mentioned you as well ;)

lol, no worries. I guess I just took it a bit more personal than I should have, and I do appologize for that. After re-reading it this morning I realized how silly my post was. :) guess I was just grouchy last night.

Bii
03-22-2007, 09:31 AM
You think that every connection between people in the world is based on a religious teaching? .

No - you've clearly misinterpreted the theory.



Try experiencing the death of a loved one. That is a life experience that brings people together in their ability to empathize, and often leads to an entirely new perspective on the world.

I have, actually. But you're point refers to small groups, not large. Think bigger picture and perhaps the theory will become clearer to you.


If someone I love is killed by another, the pain and grief I feel is enough to teach me not to inflict the same suffering on another, therefore, I will not kill. For me, personally, and I think for many others, the ability to empathize is a far more effective way to learn such morals than by having someone tell me that to do this is wrong. .

Indeed, but this is because your moral code (which in society is founded on hundreds of years of history in which religious dogma and principles have been enforced and passed down from generation to generation) makes this abhorent to you. That being said, for many people the experience of the death of a loved one could incite them to rage, revenge, and of which could incite them to kill. What holds them back? What is is that stands as the grounding point of your moral compass? Albeit that it may seem hard (and I also find it hard being a non-religious person), it is hard not to credit this to the highly prevalent religious system which exists, and has existed, in our society for so long it becomes impossible to separate this from your essential make up. Again, it is like asking the question why do I speak English, why is English the way it is, when you live in an English speaking country.



As for the Greeks, you say they had a religious faith in the "state". What you're saying is that they believed in the principles of their community the way others believe in the principles of religion. That disproves what you're saying that religion makes a society successful. The Greeks were able to put their faith in their relationship with each other and their similar life experiences to create a successful society. Perhaps if the whole world were able to draw from our similar experiences instead of living by what has been simply commanded of us by religion, we would have the same bond that Greek society had.

They had an almost religious faith in the state, that being the "State" not their community. And I considered the Greeks advanced and perhaps we have deteriorated from that position. Again, you misinterpret my point. Consider this, we live in a society which is largely dominated by religion. This is the position we are in. My question/post or whatever you'd like to call it, raises the question as to why we got here, as opposed to offering an alternative social situation. Start from where we are now and work backwards. How did we get here, and, if religion has no purpose why does it exist?

Bii
03-22-2007, 11:54 AM
One of the main differencials of human kind is the capacity to care for childlings, to sacrifice for them, even when you are not the mother/father (many other primates already have this). The very mortherly instint is also something we can not call selfish in any way. In fact, I think it is very impossible to claim humankind is selfish or not, more like, we are both.

On the face of it the rearing of young is an un-selfish act, but if you think about it it's actually one of the most selfish things you can do. The child doesn't ask for life, so the reasons for producing young can only be selfish. However, on a deeper level the rearing of young is both about survival and has self-interest as it's motivation, by having a child you pass on your genetic information; by caring for your child you increase the chances of your genetic information surviving and passing on to the next generation - this is possibly more true for women who have the capacity only to bear one child every 9 months or so, and the process of pregnancy is very draining on the body so, the greater care you take of your surviving young, the less need there is to produce more; whereas for men, they can impregnanate a number of women, so their need to care for the children is less. It is believed that this is often why babies resemble their fathers, as the resemblance secures the fathers care (as the genetic link is clear) and protection.

In terms of looking after other people's children, there is usually some 'selfish' imperative for this, perhaps because there is financial benefit, or the individual is in some need of the protection/benefits from the power of the parents (I think this is more the case in primates), or even that the individual enjoys children and therefore they do it because they like it, it makes them feel good, and therefore it is selfishly motivated.

Perhaps the use of the term "selfish" gave the wrong impression. I am not thinking necessarily conscious selfishness but more the fact that people are motivated by 1) survival and 2) happiness. If you think about the choices you make in life they are inherently motivated by these things, albeit that it is sometimes a 'lesser of two evils' choice.

JCamilo
03-22-2007, 02:14 PM
The argumentation is leading to that line that is impossible to have a non-selfish person, since every act she does will cause satisfaction - no matter if it is self-sacrifice. Obviously the word selfish lose any use to any argument in this case.
Everyone have motivation to do anything, but those motivations then do not need a set of moral laws (Just think how all animals act also because of Survival - Pleasure (replacing happiness) - do they need religion to survival? No.) In the end religion is a consequence, not the cause of human society, organization and moralization. Which is a bit of the flaw that some people are showing in their reasoning, but anyways - I would like to resume that the theory certainly holds some true, considering it is a analogy, that religion certainly develped traits that secured their survival (not humankind survival) and that it is extremelly important. And that they often adapted to the new times (either because of the philosophical/scientific changes or just political) to secure their existence.
Atheism growth in moderm society is however not an adaptation of religion, but a consequence of the weakening, therefore a "failure" of adaptation, opening space for less conversions.
More like an acceptable notion...

Bii
03-22-2007, 03:30 PM
The argumentation is leading to that line that is impossible to have a non-selfish person, since every act she does will cause satisfaction - no matter if it is self-sacrifice. Obviously the word selfish lose any use to any argument in this case.

I agree, the term 'selfish' may not be appropriate due to the way it is interpreted through common use, but you've summarised my point exactly, ultimately every act is either to secure 1) survival (which is the primary goal) and 2) satisfaction or happiness. There is therefore no such thing as an 'unselfish act' - which is where religion comes in. Religion (whether you believe in it or not) encourages people to set aside their immediate desires/goals/needs etc, because there is either an all-seeing, all-knowing being which you can't escape who will punish you for your immoral ways (or anti-social, if you prefer), or you will be rewarded in the afterlife for your sacrifices, and for living an upstanding life in which you have had care for, and supported your fellow man. Ultimately both methods appeal to self-interest.


In the end religion is a consequence, not the cause of human society, organization and moralization.

Again, I agree with you. I don't think that religion is a cause of human society but rather a catalyst which has allowed society to balloon. Perhaps, if humans have an inherent capacity for faith - and by this I don't mean religious faith but rather an ability to believe in things which cannot be proven, or which they cannot fully understand (think of justice, time, perfection - these are all concepts which require some form of faith as, in essence, they don't really exist) - co-existing with a desire to flourish and develop society, that religion, in a sense, naturally follows?

JCamilo
03-22-2007, 05:07 PM
I agree, the term 'selfish' may not be appropriate due to the way it is interpreted through common use, but you've summarised my point exactly, ultimately every act is either to secure 1) survival (which is the primary goal) and 2) satisfaction or happiness. There is therefore no such thing as an 'unselfish act' - which is where religion comes in. Religion (whether you believe in it or not) encourages people to set aside their immediate desires/goals/needs etc, because there is either an all-seeing, all-knowing being which you can't escape who will punish you for your immoral ways (or anti-social, if you prefer), or you will be rewarded in the afterlife for your sacrifices, and for living an upstanding life in which you have had care for, and supported your fellow man. Ultimately both methods appeal to self-interest.

I would point that depends. Several pratices of religion do not encourage to you put aside immediate desires/goals, etc. I would say that more than often a consequence of the society they appear is the interest to preserve the tradition, which mean preserving the tradition.




Again, I agree with you. I don't think that religion is a cause of human society but rather a catalyst which has allowed society to balloon. Perhaps, if humans have an inherent capacity for faith - and by this I don't mean religious faith but rather an ability to believe in things which cannot be proven, or which they cannot fully understand (think of justice, time, perfection - these are all concepts which require some form of faith as, in essence, they don't really exist) - co-existing with a desire to flourish and develop society, that religion, in a sense, naturally follows?

Humans have the need of the "subjective part", which is where faith appeal, indeed. We will always need a system that will deal with those needs. Either be religious or artistic.

hbacharya
04-01-2007, 10:43 PM
I have often wondered, and would like the thoughts of others on this, whether the predominance of religion in society is actually evidence of evolution in action. Not sure if I can get down my reasoning for this coherently but I'll have a bash.

What is it that makes the human race successful? The human race succeeds because of it's ability to live in large social groups; significantly larger than any other species on the planet. The ability to live in a large social group gives a number of benefits being protection, division of labour, sharing of resources, specialism of skills etc. However, humans are inherently selfish and ultimately the aim of most people (albeit that this is largely hidden under more complex emotional issues) is to ensure 1) their survival and 2) their happiness. So, for a race which is busy looking after no.1 the development of a large interactive, inter-dependent social structure seems unlikely. Here enters religion. Religion (amongst other devices) encourages individuals to set aside their immediate needs/wants/desires with the goal of a longer term guarantee of happiness (i.e. heaven) in the afterlife. So religion gives people a moral blueprint, which also happens to be a good way to live, if you live in a large social group.

The reason I think religion or a belief in religion is evidence of evolution in action is a comparitive issues. Imagine a time, say several thousand years ago, when you had two societies. One society functioned without religion, each person served their own personal need first, and the need of society second. The second society held religious views which allowed them to work more cohesively as a social group. Which society would succeed? The likelihood is that the society with religious belief would succeed and is more likely to thrive than the society without. In evolutionary terms survival of the fittest will out, therefore the society with religious belief would come to dominate and be prevalent - as it is in our society even if there are a number of religions and those religions do not necessarily agree. This would also be consistent with the regional nature of religion (which is, I accept, diminishing due to globalisation and the spread of an information culture) as people from the same global area generally have a coherent religious system, which in many ways will carry similarities to religious systems of their neighbours.

Not sure I've explained this overly well, and I'm certainly no expert on religion or evolution! However, I wonder whether there is any point asking people the question, 'Why do you believe in God'?, when this, in some respects, may be the same as asking 'Why do you speak English', if you were born in an English speaking country. Is religion evolution in action, or something more than that?
Is athiesm the next step in evolution?


Your ideas are illuminating, but there are some confusions too. Here your concern for religion seems good feelings and altrusim, and if so i agree and if religiosity has to do with Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and the rest of other religions i disagree. Not that there are bad elements in those religions and in their sacred scripts. They teem with ideas that fan our senses of altruism. I hav egone thru the Bible and the Vedas in Hinduism. I got inspired. But see the people taking religions as a tool for fundametalism and fanaticism, and the fact that millions died in Europe when Hitler took Christinaity as a weapon to annihilate the entire jewish world. So is in Hinduism in India where it strs up a sensation of enimity between Hindus and Muslims. In this sense religion does not come to be a good virtue.

Therefore, I am born of a strict orthodx Hindu parents, yet I do not feel I belong to it. I am not attrached to it.

setPhree
04-11-2007, 10:57 PM
A well-posed and intriguing question I must say-- a strong thesis and excellent argument. The only question I have is how did you come to the conclusion that atheism is the next step on the evolutionary ladder? Perhaps a different, non-theistic philosophy/worldview (rationalism, humanism?)... but atheism in and of itself, according to your own argument, would just land Us back to where the human race started. In other words, climbing down the evolutionary ladder.

Whatever the next step is, I do not believe that any non-theistic philosophy/worldview is yet unified enough to replace long-developed and established theistic/supernatural religions. I do agree that We will eventually move away from organized religion (maybe We've already started) to a more human-centered/scientific view but the crossover will be so slow and gradual, due to religions' built-in defense against all such opposition, that the change will be undetectable except in hindsight.

hyperborean
04-12-2007, 10:24 PM
http://www.adherents.com/images/rel_pie.gif

16% of world population is "non religious". interesting statistic...maybe more and more people are considering that "god is dead".

Reccura
04-12-2007, 11:58 PM
http://www.adherents.com/images/rel_pie.gif

16% of world population is "non religious". interesting statistic...maybe more and more people are considering that "god is dead".

http://www.netpakistani.com/wallpapers/wallpapers/Nature/Nature-25.jpg


http://wp.li.ru/natura/nature_277.jpg


http://www.netpakistani.com/wallpapers/wallpapers/Nature/Nature-29.jpg


http://www.my-cool-wallpapers.com/nature/images/nature0001.jpg


God is not dead. See those pictures? Every little thing has to be created, computers are created, telephones were created and invented, and the same thing goes for the first humans in this world. We are created.

toni
04-13-2007, 12:16 AM
16% of world population is "non religious". interesting statistic...

But, as Shouty puts it, there are 3 kinds of lies,
lies, damn lies, and statistics.


maybe more and more people are considering that "god is dead".

Do you admit that He was alive?

Thorwench
04-13-2007, 03:18 AM
When I studied we learned that in Confuzianism religion and morals merge into a very unique system that does not have to rely on a deity (I state this as something I have been taught because I am no expert on Confuzianism and there may be someone who knows much better). When in the 18th century the philosopher Christian Wolff gave a public lecture in Halle on Chinese philosophy and their ability to come up with morals (by putting society above the individual) without needing a deity he was chucked out of Prussia for endangering state supporting religion and therefore the state which, in his case, was the king of Prussia. His contemporaries to my knowledge never disputed that the Chinese had such a system but thought Wolff's teachings dangerous because they feared that he and people like him would and could remove God entirely. An obvious question would be if religion's role in society is much more geared at the formation and upholding of political and social structures than usually admitted. I would think that people do not need religion to live in and to form successful societies (although it sometimes my help), they could always find non-religious values or beliefs (like the belief in the socially responsible state) to define their society. However, it may be that religion is useful and may even be indispensible in holding PARTICULAR societies, particular social structures together. We all know that in the middle ages the christian church taught the holy order of society: the farmer on the bottom, kings and cardinals on top. Anyone going against this gog given order was not only a trouble maker but was seen as a heretic (and they often really were). This could give rise to the understanding that religion can have very much an anti-evolutionist character.

hbacharya
04-14-2007, 05:01 AM
A well-posed and intriguing question I must say-- a strong thesis and excellent argument. The only question I have is how did you come to the conclusion that atheism is the next step on the evolutionary ladder? Perhaps a different, non-theistic philosophy/worldview (rationalism, humanism?)... but atheism in and of itself, according to your own argument, would just land Us back to where the human race started. In other words, climbing down the evolutionary ladder.

Whatever the next step is, I do not believe that any non-theistic philosophy/worldview is yet unified enough to replace long-developed and established theistic/supernatural religions. I do agree that We will eventually move away from organized religion (maybe We've already started) to a more human-centered/scientific view but the crossover will be so slow and gradual, due to religions' built-in defense against all such opposition, that the change will be undetectable except in

hindsight.

Established and long developed religions are what deride us morally and humanistcally, in fact it is religions that derail us from a right course. Hitler was a staunch Christian. He sided with Christianity to strip the world ofthe Jews. Everwehre it is religions, Islamis, Hindus, Christians, buddhists are in perpetual and unending clash with one another, and their reponse is unimaginable if their religioous sentiments are hurt, the single most powerful sentiment. Even within Christianity there are ceaseless conflicts among different sects. Yet we attach ourselves to it. It is like we know smoking is injurious to health, and alcoholism and prostitution are vices. Yet the addiction is too strong. I am not a Marxist, and will never be in fact, yet somewhere his quote that religion is an opium is germane here.

I beleive in humanism. given a choice, charity and religion, beleiveing in god or doing philanthrophic activities. I beleive that those who are atheisits and do not hold any religious beleifs yet are dedicated to chartiable works i like such persons, rather than popes, ministers, and all the rest of hypocrites.

Honesty is the highest virtue, and humanity an dto serve human beings is the greatest duty, and I have not been able to engage in any humanitarin works. I am highly intereswted in this. i do not know I have to depart from this world without doing something worth doing. If there is religion. this is the religion I belong to, and if there are any gods, it is people.

I may sound arrogant. I do not care. Yet this beleif is implanted in me.

Bii
04-14-2007, 03:01 PM
The only question I have is how did you come to the conclusion that atheism is the next step on the evolutionary ladder?

Actually I've been giving this some thought and I'm not so sure that athiesm would be the next step. The reason I thought this to begin with was that I supposed, rather than it being a backward step, that humans would eventually be able to develop and live by a moral structure which allowed a large social group to exist because it was understood to be right for the individual rather than fear of consequences in the afterlife. However, on reflection I am beginning to think that faith is something humans could not live without, and if faith exists then some religion in some form must also naturally exist. I can't imagine that people could live without faith (and by faith I don't necessarily mean religious faith - people have faith in lots of things including science, the existence of gravity, that the sun will rise each morning, that they will be here tomorrow etc).

So - will religion last forever?.......

JCamilo
04-14-2007, 04:24 PM
Actually, you must consider - Faith is actually the feeling of exaltation, mystery, etc. (Maybe I lack a bette word, but take it not as what faith is but what is the Need we relate with it).
There is nothing that replaces this use?
Yes.
Look to the crowd watching a Football Game - Look the admiration for a great artwork.
So, not perhaps, lots of people can live without faith without mising the "subjective" part our mind so much needs.

hyperborean
04-15-2007, 04:06 PM
God is not dead. See those pictures? Every little thing has to be created, computers are created, telephones were created and invented, and the same thing goes for the first humans in this world. We are created.

So you posting random pictures of Earth means what? I'm not sure you understand what I meant by "god is dead".

I'm surprised you misinterpreted it...especially because "neo" is your avatar. I guess you don't know what the Matrix is really about either.

Bii
04-15-2007, 04:17 PM
Actually, you must consider - Faith is actually the feeling of exaltation, mystery, etc. (Maybe I lack a bette word, but take it not as what faith is but what is the Need we relate with it).
There is nothing that replaces this use?
Yes.
Look to the crowd watching a Football Game - Look the admiration for a great artwork.
So, not perhaps, lots of people can live without faith without mising the "subjective" part our mind so much needs.

I understand your view but I was referring more to the ability of people to have faith - and by this I don't mean religious faith but rather the ability to believe in something without the proof, or evidence, or true understanding. Humans have an enormous amount of faith, faith that there will be a tomorrow, faith in justice, faith in beauty, faith in football (?!), faith in science, faith in other people, faith in the state, faith in their heroes, the list is pretty much endless. If people have faith then there will always be an environment in which religion will flourish.

Dante Wodehouse
04-15-2007, 04:51 PM
What is it that makes the human race successful? The human race succeeds because of it's ability to live in large social groups; significantly larger than any other species on the planet. The ability to live in a large social group gives a number of benefits being protection, division of labour, sharing of resources, specialism of skills etc. However, humans are inherently selfish and ultimately the aim of most people (albeit that this is largely hidden under more complex emotional issues) is to ensure 1) their survival and 2) their happiness. So, for a race which is busy looking after no.1 the development of a large interactive, inter-dependent social structure seems unlikely. Here enters religion. Religion (amongst other devices) encourages individuals to set aside their immediate needs/wants/desires with the goal of a longer term guarantee of happiness (i.e. heaven) in the afterlife. So religion gives people a moral blueprint, which also happens to be a good way to live, if you live in a large social group.

Ants, bees, and in some instances prairie dogs all live in larger communities than humans.

Bii
04-16-2007, 03:52 AM
Ants, bees, and in some instances prairie dogs all live in larger communities than humans.

Do you have some data to back that up? Current population is approx. 6.7 billion.

Also, in respect of ants and bees in particular their colonies are 'ruled' by a 'queen' - perhaps this is bee or ant equivalent to religion?

Do bees and ants have a concept of the future?

Are bees and ants self-motivated?

Are bees and ants like people?

JCamilo
04-16-2007, 01:43 PM
But you do not have faith because there is a religion, religions are created because you have faith.
And we do not lose the capacity to have faith - Idealism does not depend on religion for example.

Dante Wodehouse
04-16-2007, 01:52 PM
Do you have some data to back that up? Current population is approx. 6.7 billion.

Also, in respect of ants and bees in particular their colonies are 'ruled' by a 'queen' - perhaps this is bee or ant equivalent to religion?

Do bees and ants have a concept of the future?

Are bees and ants self-motivated?

Are bees and ants like people?

Yes, ant and bee populations exceed 6.7 billion by a huge margin. Obviously, no one has totaled them, but they have more hives/hills than humans have cities, and each hive/hill houses millions of ants/bees . Prarie dog populations do not. I was just talking about communities, not about overall size, in which case Prarie dog colonies are (as I have heard) about the size of a medium city as regards population. Also, ants and bees are not like people, but you just said any species, not just people. We are unique, so saying 'we can live in larger communities than any other species like us' is creating a category with one contestant. A queen cannot be compared to a religion; the queen does nothing but reproduce. Because the queen is the sole ant/bee capable of this, it is the hive/hill's sole means of becoming larger, and therefore is protected as the 'queen'.

Bii
04-16-2007, 03:30 PM
But you do not have faith because there is a religion, religions are created because you have faith.
And we do not lose the capacity to have faith - Idealism does not depend on religion for example.

I entirely agree, faith comes first but the existence of faith, or the ability to have faith, fosters an environment in which religion can grow, albeit that this doesn't mean that everyone is religious, but rather that if everyone has faith, then some of those people will have religion. And your second point puts across exactly what I was trying to get at, but a bit more succinctly!

Bii
04-16-2007, 03:45 PM
Yes, ant and bee populations exceed 6.7 billion by a huge margin. Obviously, no one has totaled them, but they have more hives/hills than humans have cities, and each hive/hill houses millions of ants/bees . Prarie dog populations do not. I was just talking about communities, not about overall size, in which case Prarie dog colonies are (as I have heard) about the size of a medium city as regards population. Also, ants and bees are not like people, but you just said any species, not just people. We are unique, so saying 'we can live in larger communities than any other species like us' is creating a category with one contestant. A queen cannot be compared to a religion; the queen does nothing but reproduce. Because the queen is the sole ant/bee capable of this, it is the hive/hill's sole means of becoming larger, and therefore is protected as the 'queen'.

You have an interesting point here, and now I wish I had the ability to look into the mind of an ant to see how it is that their societies are held together. My question, though, as to whether ants are like poeple still stands. We assume, I think, that ant communities are held together by instinct (in the absence of any more compelling evidence) - are our communities held together by 'instinct' also, but we dress it up as something else? If this is the case then it still doesn't explain the prevalence and existence of religion in our society. I can think of only two reasons why this situation would occur, this is either that:

1. There is a God, or
2. There is an evolutionary advantage to religion.

Unless you have some other thoughts? I suppose it is possible that there can be religion and neither of the above is true (look at the appendix - that still exists in every human but serves no valuable purpose!) but it seems strange that something can be so overwhelmingly intrinsic to our society and be there for no good reason whatsover.

Your point has definitely given me something to think about, and my hypothesis seems to need some amendment - not having taken account of the insects perhaps it is safer to say that humans are the most prevalent mammal, as opposed to species, but I'm not convinced this fits either?

I suppose the key point I'm trying to get to the bottom of here is : we live in a society dominated by religion - why did religion take such a stronghold and bring us to where we are today?

sam96
04-18-2007, 12:30 PM
Well,What you r saying depends on the way u c religion.I mean,If u only regard religion as believing or not believing in god.Then,Religion isn't really evolution in any way.
But,If u c it as regulations that somewhat organize your life then it means evolution(just making sure i get it :p)
About the 2 societies,The first maybe more appropriately for a while.I mean,The other society will at a certain time need regulations and rules to organize its' "matters".
I think that the second society will have more suitable rules.For it is less likely to have inflexible or "not fully comprehended" rules or be used in an "exploiting" manner as religion might be used by certain people.

P.S.
I may have lost the point as usual :D.

blackowl
04-23-2007, 08:39 PM
bii,
may i ask you to search the histories of religion. if you do so you will be faced selfishness of human being and also pls check maya's their religions totaly different as philosopy and their social lifes so interesting. also check budha. it is not a religion and if you are understand it very well you will look yourself from air (to everything) and you will critisize your as if you are another person

cuppajoe_9
04-26-2007, 01:29 AM
Interesting essay (http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=w4r1q7lrr4rkng6hmkzv96zbmg3rg2db) dealing partly with that topic. Your analysis of it seems to depend on group selection, a notion which Richard Dawkins effectively did away with when he published The Selfish Gene.

blackowl
04-27-2007, 08:37 PM
1:) if anyone not atheist how can join to discuss any matter at philosopycial littarature. if some one doing so, is her/his aimed to make everyone believer!

2:) I need explanation, if someone atheist but not materialist. is it new religion!

3:)human been created many gods. for air, land, sea, fire etc When this things solved and when intangible words entered to language especially MAN act very fast and created intangible god that no one can impruve that it is not been

4:) It was (god - or religions) was revulationist but for that time only!!! we are not living at hat time!

5:) The right of judgement of god been using against people to make them afraid of god, of course it is good istrument to exploit people very well both economic and morally

6:) Although I am atheist I do beleive religions are our culture and we must give respect and save all of them. But importand point is the war against culture been acting in cotrol of cotrolling religious cultures and day by day with using religion; continentals becoming anemy eachother. just with this analysis we can understand modernisim of the west (emperialism)

7:) I would not like to discuss the religions but it th biggest weapon of exploiters. the head men of religion supporting this war because they know in pure religion there are no place for them.

8:) Pls everyone open your eyes. when the Soviet Block callapsed emperialist started to take rights back. with this purpose showing that third world counties people raising unemployment with western countries and with this occasion putting christianism against islam. meanwhile you can see bush or other presidents kissing muserref (pakistan president)

9:) cultures been created as long as human been history. without culture and society human been is not human been. this is beggest problem of the west.
(pls not misundertood)

10:)while creating culture human being used this materals of; Brain, five sense, nature and society. If onyone of this elements short pls guess what go'na happen and consider today social life in cities

JSabines
01-18-2009, 08:26 PM
First of all, I am more an atheist than a believer I am only a believer when my fears take control of all my thinking.
Funny that I found this thread since I was looking information to supports my theory that gods are hardwired in the brains of our ancestors, then somebody creates religion.
Imagine that you were in that times when you have so little control over nature, if you have a way to pass control of that elements to someone almighty then you can relax and function better that is why I think those who had the "god gene" survive.

billyjack
01-18-2009, 09:37 PM
and if you want to look at religion natural selectively, it could be argued that the "god gene" is now an overspecialized, archaic trait that doesnt correspond to our modern intellectual environment. its the human appendix, the oversized canines on the saber tooth tiger. worked for a bit, but now its just cumbersome and threatening our survival