Faith as a Product of Evolution

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Tumult
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Faith as a Product of Evolution

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From: http://www.positiveatheism.org/faq/faq1 ... ATISPOSATH

We try to understand that faith is a natural response in humans. Victor Stenger, in his book Physics and Psychics, raises a tough question: “If supernatural beliefs were simply the product of the unsophisticated thinking patterns of early humans, then they should have largely faded away in our scientific age. Yet every survey of people’s beliefs continues to indicate a strong majority who believe in God, angels, the devil, astrology, and various other occult and supernatural phenomena.”

A possible answer, says Stenger, comes when we consider the advent of the city, which “forced people into greater dependencies on one another.” He continues, “Humanity became social. Leaders were now needed to keep some kind of civil order, and the village shaman and temple priest, with their supposed supernatural powers, proved to be effective in keeping everyone in line.” Stenger suggests that we “call upon materialism for a reasonable hypothesis: religion evolved by a process analogous to the natural selection that produced us and every other living species. Religious belief may now be deeply programmed in our DNA. This may have happened because, at one time, such beliefs provided a survival advantage for the people who had such coded information in their genes.”

“In the early days of the human race, we were few in number and struggled in competition with other species to survive. In that precarious situation, special advantage would accrue to those people living in communities with strong tribal rules forbidding behavior patterns threatening to the survival of the community. These ranged from taboos against incest and murder to special dietary prohibitions.

“By attributing these taboos to supernatural command, the leaders and their priests could enforce them more effectively. Individuals with a genetic disposition to question or disobey the rules would be suppressed, ostracized, or even killed. So they were less likely to pass their skeptical genes on to the next generation....”

So, while recognizing that “the genetic programming in favor of supernatural belief does not have the value for survival it once had — in fact, quite the contrary,” we can, in the interim, at least recognize that the tendency toward faith is a natural product of evolution. Stenger does offer hope, though:

“Fortunately, by the same process of evolution, we humans have developed a unique quality that gives us the power to overcome our instincts. This power resides in our intellect. Only through the application of intellect to overcome the dangerous behaviors programmed in our genes can we expect to survive. And our intellect is pointing the way for us to reprogram our own genes, to rid them of the transcendental temptations that now threaten our very existence.”
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”
-Max Planck
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Air Wrench
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Re: Faith as a Product of Evolution

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Don't for get the kitty, tumult!

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Tumult
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Re: Faith as a Product of Evolution

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*bleep*??

I'm not sure what you're getting at but I certainly could make a more stylish aluminium foil hat if I felt such things were needed.

edited for grammer
Last edited by Tumult on Dec 6th, 2008, 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”
-Max Planck
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zzontar
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Re: Faith as a Product of Evolution

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“Fortunately, by the same process of evolution, we humans have developed a unique quality that gives us the power to overcome our instincts.


I don't know if that's a good thing or not... e,g. a woman might get on an elevator with a creepy guy against her instincts because she doesn't want to appear rude by not doing so. I think we should be sharpening and relying more on instincts as they're there fore a reason. Personally, the majority of times I've gone against mine by being over-analytical, it's worked against me. Regardless, it would be interesting to find out how many generations would have to pass in order to change or add an instinct.
They say you can't believe everything they say.
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Air Wrench
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Re: Faith as a Product of Evolution

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e,g. a woman might get on an elevator with a creepy guy against her instincts because she doesn't want to appear rude by not doing so.


And where else am I going to meet women?
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zzontar
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Re: Faith as a Product of Evolution

Post by zzontar »

Air Wrench wrote:
e,g. a woman might get on an elevator with a creepy guy against her instincts because she doesn't want to appear rude by not doing so.


And where else am I going to meet women?


Family reunions?
They say you can't believe everything they say.
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Air Wrench
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Re: Faith as a Product of Evolution

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Family reunions?


No, I'm not mormon.

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