Re: Religion is probably a good thing

From: Steve Nichols (
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 09:59:46 MDT

> Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 04:56:49 -0400
> From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
> Subject: Re: Religion is probably a good thing
> I think that the strongest force promoting religion, in the ancestral
> environment, was the social reprisal that tended to be visited on the
> nonreligious. Social reprisals are visited on people who are a *little
> less* religious - people who fall behind in the competition - not just
> people from different religions. If you'd grown up in any time prior to
> the seventeenth century, or anywhere except the First World, this would
> probably be the first thought that passed through your mind. Even in a
> purely memetic environment - with no God module - memes that 'logically'
> require enforcement will tend to propagate. This environmental condition
> has been maintained for at least a hundred thousand years and probably
> more like a million. So now there are God modules. Innate advantage?
> Seems unlikely. Social advantage only. Disadvantage in an absolute
> sense.
> - -- -- -- -- --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
If this is just a way of saying religion is a repressive and regressive
force used in archaic times and societies to keep people in line, I
tend to agree. But there also was a "carrot" as well as a stick, and
the delusions must make a big percentage of people happy for the
greater society to expend energy perpetuating these mythologies.
Otherwise why not just use direct social reprisals or hit them with
big sticks?

Steve Nichols

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