Re: Earth to God? - Religion based on instinct?

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 17 Jun 1997 14:08:01 +0200 (MET DST)

On Tue, 17 Jun 1997, Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko wrote:

> Behaving like there is "somebody out there" to watch after you, may
> be an instinct among all young animals. Many genetically programmed
> emotional expressions - such as crying - are directly based on the
> expectation that there is some Benevolent Observer/Caregiver out
> there who would notice you and do some "magic" to improve things.
- - -
> There is such a big evolutionary advantage in having this Reliance
> on Big Benevolent Force mechanism that it seems to be the most
> important surviving technique for an infant.

I don't think your model needs to assume any real evolutionary
advantage to this behavior/mental model. Animals build simple mental
models of their environment, and it is likely their parents (and
other friendly animals) are included (there is an evolutionary
advantage to have such a model during *childhood*). As the animal
grows up and leaves its parents, the mental model remains and under
some circumstances it becomes actual even if there are no parents
present. It doesn't give a big advantage, or a big disadvantage, so
evolution will not lead to some system making animals forget their
parents explicitly.

Actually, I like Sasha's model, it makes a lot of sense although I
think he is overestimating the evolutionary pressure on having the
"Big Helper".

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y