RE: Religion is probably a good thing

From: Clint O'Dell (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 15:32:38 MDT

Because of the emotional attachment to beliefs religion is probably a bad thing. For centuries stories have been told of religious leaders torturing and murdering people of different religions. Religion may help some people rule but it is also the cause of their death. The argument isn't an objective one. What occurs in nature doesn't decide subjective morals as good things or bad things.

Clint O'Dell

-----Original Message-----

From: Lee Daniel Crocker []

Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2001 3:42 PM


Subject: Re: Religion is probably a good thing

> So if the brain has built in hardware for creating these feelings, which

> tend to produce religion in societies (and we can see why epileptic

> "prophets" in olden times would be exactly the people expected to write

> stuff like the Bible and other religious documents), it must have evolved

> for a reason. People with this hardware are more likely to survive and

> reproduce. Societies of these people are more likely to outcompete other

> groups of people who don't have it. Perhaps it allows these groups of

> people to "stop worrying" and get on with work that might help them

> survive? Or is religion just a fluke- the brain hardware only seems to

> generate feelings of deep meaning and "joy", perhaps feeling attached

> to your surroundings and people helped those people and societies do

> better, and later on those feelings got interpreted by individuals to

> be significant- boom, you get religions.

What seems to me the most apparent evolutionary benefit of a sense of

ethics and/or religious belief is that is provides a shortcut to

reasoning about long-term interests over short-term ones. It takes

relatively simple hardware to reason that if you steal a piece of

fruit you won't be hungry. But it takes more effort to reason that

if you steal it, the person you stole it from will be angry and his

anger will reduce your fitness. If instead you have the ability to

"feel bad" about theft, you are motivated to follow your long-term

interests in conflict with immediate goals. Likewise for feelings

of love/attachment, religious ritual, etc.

(Now, the ability to have those same "theft is bad" feelings about

growing your own fruit on your own land after your neighbor

discovered how seems like it would require some indoctrination

beyond what is hard wired :-)


Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>

"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,

are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified

for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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