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Thread: Darwin and religion.

  1. #1 Darwin and religion. 
    ox
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    If you accept Darwinian evolution, do you subscribe to any idea that religion is an aid to the survival of one particular human species, the Homo Sapiens?

    Did any other human such as Homo Neanderthals have any sort of religion, I wonder.
    Could religion possibly help explain why only one human species still exists?
    Does religion, whatever you define it as (it need not be theistic) have some sort of placebo effect?
    In his latest book, Science In The Soul, Dawkins tackles this in a chapter called Science of Religion. He finds no evidence but mulls over a possible placebo effect.

    In the history of religious wars does the stronger group become the more likely victors with the knowledge of God on their side?


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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    If you accept Darwinian evolution, do you subscribe to any idea that religion is an aid to the survival of one particular human species, the Homo Sapiens?

    Did any other human such as Homo Neanderthals have any sort of religion, I wonder.
    Could religion possibly help explain why only one human species still exists?
    Does religion, whatever you define it as (it need not be theistic) have some sort of placebo effect?
    In his latest book, Science In The Soul, Dawkins tackles this in a chapter called Science of Religion. He finds no evidence but mulls over a possible placebo effect.

    In the history of religious wars does the stronger group become the more likely victors with the knowledge of God on their side?
    It seems to me pretty hard to ascribe an evolutionary explanation to any aspect of human culture, religion included. In Darwinian evolution there is no biological mechanism by which ideas can be inherited.

    This, surely, is why Dawkins invented the notion of the "meme", viz. a cultural equivalent to biological heredity. But that is not a Darwinian idea.


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    Darwin wasn't working his idea of evolution from genes or memes, but in the God Gene Hypothesis, spirituality does have a genetic component.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_gene

    It can lead some to go to war with religion on their side and others to be pacifist.
    What is going on in Myanmar now is a religious philosophy, Buddhism, against a theistic religion, Islam.

    In Darwinian evolution the stronger are most likely to survive, and in humans it's not just physicality.
    After the death of his youngest daughter, Annie, Darwin realised that we are the product of the cruelty of nature, and a god need not play a part.

    If memes exist they are more likely Lamarckian, but the question I'm asking is do you consider religion to be of use in human survival and evolution.
    If it is of no use then why has it not disappeared?
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    Do you mean people need to be told 'be fruitful and multiply'? Doesn't occur naturally?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    It can lead some to go to war with religion on their side and others to be pacifist.
    Does it? Can you provide a citation for that?

    In Darwinian evolution the stronger are most likely to survive
    Thats the sort of ignorant simplification that leads to people claiming evolution supports eugenics or bullying or capital punishment.

    If memes exist they are more likely Lamarckian, but the question I'm asking is do you consider religion to be of use in human survival and evolution.
    If it is of no use then why has it not disappeared?
    Traits don't have to be useful to survive, it can just be that they are not negative and don't get eliminated. Or they can survive because they are associated with some other beneficial trait (e.g. sickle cell disease, or the idea that mental illness is associated with creativity). Or spirituality might have some benefits itself (altruism, care for the environment, etc.).

    I don't know if there is any credible research into this.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    In Darwinian evolution the stronger are most likely to survive
    Actually thats not what the Theory of Evolution (please note the name) says. Its says with simplifying to level of being wrong, that the individual that has the adaptions which provide more ability to produce lots of offspring survive . There is nothing about "strongest"
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    but the question I'm asking is do you consider religion to be of use in human survival and evolution.
    I believe it did in survival... (not sure about the impact on evolution).... but religion of the first humans is not the same as todays.... Religion has had its own evolution too...
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Darwin wasn't working his idea of evolution from genes or memes, but in the God Gene Hypothesis, spirituality does have a genetic component.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_gene

    It can lead some to go to war with religion on their side and others to be pacifist.
    What is going on in Myanmar now is a religious philosophy, Buddhism, against a theistic religion, Islam.

    In Darwinian evolution the stronger are most likely to survive, and in humans it's not just physicality.
    After the death of his youngest daughter, Annie, Darwin realised that we are the product of the cruelty of nature, and a god need not play a part.

    If memes exist they are more likely Lamarckian, but the question I'm asking is do you consider religion to be of use in human survival and evolution.
    If it is of no use then why has it not disappeared?
    Because what I'm saying to you is that evolution only discriminates on the basis of inherited characteristics that make a difference to reproductive success. Since religion is not biologically inherited and does not affect reproduction (unless you have a pogrom or something, and all that does is bump off adherents of one religion to the benefit of another), there is no reason to think it would disappear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Since religion is not biologically inherited and does not affect reproduction (unless you have a pogrom or something, and all that does is bump off adherents of one religion to the benefit of another), there is no reason to think it would disappear.
    There is some evidence that religiosity is heritable (partly, as with all these things).

    And I think one could come up with reasons why that might improve survival - perhaps engendering greater altruism or stronger sense of group identity. But it is all very speculative and I doubt there is (or can be) any good evidence for it
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    exchemist:
    Since religion is not biologically inherited and does not affect reproduction (unless you have a pogrom or something, and all that does is bump off adherents of one religion to the benefit of another),
    Adapting to survive (aggressive?)religion. I think there might be something to that.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    In Darwinian evolution the stronger are most likely to survive
    Actually thats not what the Theory of Evolution (please note the name) says. Its says with simplifying to level of being wrong, that the individual that has the adaptions which provide more ability to produce lots of offspring survive . There is nothing about "strongest"
    If you don't like strongest, would you accept the fittest are more likely to survive when faced with change to go on and multiply based on genetic advantages?
    There is always a battle for survival taking place and all species are transitional.
    Interesting how life exists in its present form is based on the past cruelty of nature in the past few billion years on this planet.

    Are you saying that evolution is theory but not fact? If so, please explain why.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    exchemist:
    Since religion is not biologically inherited and does not affect reproduction (unless you have a pogrom or something, and all that does is bump off adherents of one religion to the benefit of another),
    Adapting to survive (aggressive?)religion. I think there might be something to that.
    But a hereditary adaptation? How the hell do you work that out?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    If you don't like strongest, would you accept the fittest are more likely to survive when faced with change to go on and multiply based on genetic advantages?
    It depends how you define "fittest".

    Are you saying that evolution is theory but not fact? If so, please explain why.
    Evolution is a fact.

    The theory of evolution explains how evolution takes place.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    In Darwinian evolution the stronger are most likely to survive
    Actually thats not what the Theory of Evolution (please note the name) says. Its says with simplifying to level of being wrong, that the individual that has the adaptions which provide more ability to produce lots of offspring survive . There is nothing about "strongest"
    If you don't like strongest, would you accept the fittest are more likely to survive when faced with change to go on and multiply based on genetic advantages?
    There is always a battle for survival taking place and all species are transitional.
    Interesting how life exists in its present form is based on the past cruelty of nature in the past few billion years on this planet.

    Are you saying that evolution is theory but not fact? If so, please explain why.
    Fittest is better, when simplifying to this level, but it's still not great.


    Please tell me you did not ask that last one.

    Please look up the definitions of scientific fact and scientific theory
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post

    Fittest is better, when simplifying to this level, but it's still not great.

    "fittest" just means "most suited""best adapted" in the context of evolution ,doesn't it?

    In terms of human physiognomy it means "healthiest" ,I would say but that has nothing to do with "the survival of the fittest"(which would apply in a statistical way ,wouldn't it?)

    Even if there were no actual physical conflict between species (as Stein ,the lamb/lion man wanted ,if you remember him ) evolution would still run its course as species thrived in their appropriate niches and did less well in less favourable niches.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    "fittest" just means "most suited""best adapted" in the context of evolution ,doesn't it?

    In terms of human physiognomy it means "healthiest"
    Exactly. And that is where a lot of popular misunderstandings / misrepresentations spring from.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    exchemist:
    Since religion is not biologically inherited and does not affect reproduction (unless you have a pogrom or something, and all that does is bump off adherents of one religion to the benefit of another),
    Adapting to survive (aggressive?)religion. I think there might be something to that.
    But a hereditary adaptation? How the hell do you work that out?
    I dunno but it may depend. Is behavior a result of genetic makeup, environmental factors or a combination of both? Why do fish school, cattle herd, bees swarm, humans group? Is it all influenced by our genetic makeup? Yet I think there are some genetic links to behavior such as mental disorders, obesity, drug addiction. Depends if religion is considered a behavior governed by our genes I guess.

    Personally, when I think of life I think of it in general, encompassing all species and forms. So IMHO life doesn't care how it gets done, its survival is more important than individual species. Don't know why I think this, I'm not prone to believing (my behavior?) in a mystical version of life or anything else for that matter. So I guess I take a more natural approach to genetics which could take the environment out of the equation. Does adaptation shape environment or the environment shape adaptation? One animal's adaptation could very well change the environment for another. We're kind of unique, we can do both and is one reason why I think evolution has reached a critical stage and where it goes from here I can't say. However, nature & myself being what we are means I can be open about it, ready to discard notions when something more appealing or correct comes along.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Why do fish school, cattle herd, bees swarm, humans group? Is it all influenced by our genetic makeup? Yet I think there are some genetic links to behavior such as mental disorders, obesity, drug addiction. Depends if religion is considered a behavior governed by our genes I guess.
    Every life form is subject to predation, and that includes humans. I imagine that humans who faced past dangers might have attributed their survival to prayer which still underpins most religion.
    The dangers are now considerably less from wild animals and more from other humans.
    In time the survivors gain better genes but I don't know if any could be put down to religion.

    The reason given for why humans group in cities is that they provide more opportunity for work, charity, and survival than rural areas.
    I suppose you could argue that better genes allow for more sophisticated religious practices.
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    How exactly would "better" (no such thing so bollocks already) provide for more "sophisticated" religious practices.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    May I point out that Homo sapiens has 250.000 years old approximately and the oldest religious activity dates from 40.000 bC...
    Religious practices had had a meaningful (debateable) implicance on survival... and a great impact on societies and their dynamics... but not really on the evolution of humans as we know it...
    Unless we are considering gene migration as actual evolution without notorious changes... (like the Amish... or certain groups of Jewish where particular genetic diseases are more common).
    But I'm sure Ox is emphasizing on actual evolution of human from primate to human
    Last edited by M_Gabriela; September 18th, 2017 at 01:50 PM.
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    I don't think we'll ever really know.

    Though I do think it's quite likely there is a strong connection between spirituality and most certainly some religious groups and survival. It's not in the least bit hard to imagine the strong evolutionary forcing of Abrahamic religious demands for the death penalty for a huge range of behaviors, many of which center on sexuality---nothing could be clearer. A strong weeding out of the most violent men and sexually permissive females--both traits which in likelihood have a good share of genetic components.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Though I do think it's quite likely there is a strong connection between spirituality and most certainly some religious groups and survival. It's not in the least bit hard to imagine the strong evolutionary forcing of Abrahamic religious demands for the death penalty for a huge range of behaviors, many of which center on sexuality---nothing could be clearer. A strong weeding out of the most violent men and sexually permissive females--both traits which in likelihood have a good share of genetic components.
    Darwin's dangerous point is that humans are animals, and they are not made in the image of any god. Religion tries to distance this idea.

    On a TV documentary:
    Dawkins: We are animals.
    Christian: I'm a human being.

    The fact we are most in denial of is that we are animals first with just two basic instincts for food and sex, and humans second as a consequence of evolution which Abrahamic religion denies.
    Dawkins considers the placebo of religion which no doubt helps deny what we really are. Whether this is of zero value or a positive or negative, I'm not sure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    with just two basic instincts for food and sex
    Even Maslow's (defective and incomplete) hierarchy of needs includes more than that. I think it is fairly obvious that religion/spirituality is an inherent part of human nature (an instinct, if you like).
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I think it is fairly obvious that religion/spirituality is an inherent part of human nature (an instinct, if you like).
    How do you go about proving that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I think it is fairly obvious that religion/spirituality is an inherent part of human nature (an instinct, if you like).
    How do you go about proving that?
    Well, because this is a science forum, I wouldn't attempt to prove it. However, I'm sure one could look for evidence for or against the hypothesis.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post


    Well, because this is a science forum, I wouldn't attempt to prove it. However, I'm sure one could look for evidence for or against the hypothesis.
    Since we are not talking proof, I would disagree and suggest that ritual is more of an instinct that religious customs per se.

    We have a need to repeat our observations to reinforce them (the scientific method ,practically) and these repetitions ,in a social setting might have morphed into ritual (hear ,hear do I hear you say. )

    So a tendency to slide into religious beliefs may be hard wired down the generations (where those religious cultures have by then been established) but nothing so specific as religiosity itself in my opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I think it is fairly obvious that religion/spirituality is an inherent part of human nature (an instinct, if you like).
    I think one way to find evidence for or against this idea would be to understand how the religious or spiritual experience plays out in the human brain.
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