Re: Religion is probably a good thing

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Oct 27 2001 - 04:26:37 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> 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.

Perhaps you should read up on Far Eastern religious history
before you claim that those who practiced religion less or in
different ways were so strongly oppressed that the meme was
enforced. Hinduism and Buddhism in particular, at least in many
of their forms, do not require fixed adherence to a single dogma
or even to belief in God or gods and goddesses. Buddhism is
even less restrictive as its primary original lines were not
theistic and certainly did not enforce Buddhist memes. Another
small problem is that some of these faiths tend toward celibacy
of the most faithful and especially the leadership. So one
wonders how these strong religion/spirituality memes would
propagate so well under such conditions.

Also, relatively socially coherent religious systems rather than
many competing superstitions and views are a fairly recent
phenomenon - more like the last 10,000 years than the last
100,000 by what evidence we have.

- samantha

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