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Thread: Religious and supernatural beliefs rooted in evolution

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    Arrow Religious and supernatural beliefs rooted in evolution



    Here is a very interesting read.

    Scientific American : Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World

    In short, human (and animal) brains are designed to find predictive patterns in their environment. For example, predicting that the rustle of the grass is linked to the approach of a predator. Finding meaningful patterns in meaningless noise is a concept called patternicity.

    However our brains did not evolve to discriminate between true and false patterns. The consequence for humans has been to imagine all kinds of supernatural messages in their environment. This is why some of us believe in ghosts, demons, gods, spirits of nature, UFO's, government conspiracies or other invisible forces. This is also why some people attribute magical power to some food, or believe that eating bananas or eels with enhance male fertility.

    The article explains that there is now substantial evidence from cognitive neuroscience to prove this.

    Evolution has played a major role in our innate reactions. Animals can easily be fooled by their instincts, but humans are no exception. Children typically think that the sun or the moon are alive and draw eyes and a mouth when they represent them. Education permits modern humans to know that the sun isn't alive or isn't a deity (as was believed in most ancient cultures). But false associations are still extremely common among the less scientific-minded. In fact, the more advanced a society becomes and the more complex and abstract invisible forces become. Who could have imagined stories about aliens drawing a face on Mars a few centuries ago ? Nevertheless complexity does not make them truer.
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    To start off, I'm not religious. But - I am well into Quantum Theory and firmly believe that not everything in the world can be explained by linear, Newtonian thought.

    We're an infinitesimally small part of universal existence, and just because something can't be measured, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    Think back to what the 'experts knew' when you were at school. In hindsight, much or most of it has been debunked and/or updated. So - what we 'know' now will most certainly be outdated in a similar or even less timeframe.

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    The article criticises the natural tendency to make over-simplified predictive patterns from non-scientific observations. The Quantum Theory is just the opposite as it introduces the very idea that particles at a subatomic level act in a highly unpredictable way. It uses a lot of counter-intuitive reasoning, so it is completely different from the childlike "supernatural" invisible forces criticised in the article.

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    Psychological and sociological studies have also shown that people mainly trend to what is most familiar in their lives. Curiosity for things "out-of-the-box", so to speak, is minimal. In other words, humans generally seek out what is more predictable and more associative. It has also been demonstrated that people tend to look first at differences rather than similarities in others, possibly a survival mechanism that goes back to the earliest days of human history.
    Last edited by Cambrius (The Red); 15-07-09 at 14:40.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cambria Red View Post
    Psychological and sociological studies have also shown that people mainly trend to what is most familiar in their lives. Curiosity for things "out-of-the-box", so to speak, is minimal. In other words, humans general seek out what is more predictable and more associative.
    That's funny, my mind seems to work just the opposite way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    That's funny, my mind seems to work just the opposite way.
    So does mine, it seems...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Religious and supernatural beliefs rooted in evolution
    It´s off-topic but considering my catholic upbringing and all that about hell and purgatory, turning wine to water, fishes appearing in the Dead Sea, staves becoming snakes, Jesus arrising from the dead, and all the rest of it, I have difficulty keeping religion and the supernatural apart from one another.
    Put everything back where you found it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Marple's nephew View Post
    It´s off-topic but considering my catholic upbringing and all that about hell and purgatory, turning wine to water, fishes appearing in the Dead Sea, staves becoming snakes, Jesus arrising from the dead, and all the rest of it, I have difficulty keeping religion and the supernatural apart from one another.
    Not all supernatural belief is religious. Not everything in religion is superstition - there are also moral rules, anecdotal stories, symbols, rituals, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Not all supernatural belief is religious. ...
    Don´t supernaturalists attribute "strange goings on" to something? And can´t that something be considered religious to some extent? Scientology is considered a religion (by those who do) yet it´s little more than believing in the power of money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Marple's nephew View Post
    Don´t supernaturalists attribute "strange goings on" to something? And can´t that something be considered religious to some extent? Scientology is considered a religion (by those who do) yet it´s little more than believing in the power of money.
    It is possible not to belong to any religion but believe in supernatural events. It's probably rare, but possible. It depends what you call "religion". Primitive animist societies may have no organised religion, and just believe in that thunder or an eclipse are supernatural events. Things are only supernatural as long as you can't explain or understand them. Once a rational explanation is found, it isn't supernatural anymore. That's why all children believe in the supernatural, but their beliefs decrease as they learn how nature works.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 25-07-09 at 10:50. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It is possible not to belong to any religion but believe in supernatural events. It's probably rare, but possible. It depends what you call "religion".
    The first important point!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Primitive animist societies may have no organised religion, and just believe in that thunder or an eclipse are supernatural events. Things are only supernatural as long as you can't explain or understand them. Once a rational explanation is found, it isn't supernatural anymore. That's why all children believe in the supernatural, but their beliefs decrease as they learn how nature works.
    Well, what you may have unintentionally said is that the supernatural becomes religion once "the event" is explained by religious belief. On the other hand if "God made it so" is the best they can do then the same phenomena is both "supernatural" (by those who do not accept God´s strange ways) and "religeous" (by those who think that God can do anything at all and, therefore believe such explanations are "rational"). After all, to a bible-basher the bible explains all of God´s work "rationally".

    It depends what you call "rational". The second important point.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 25-07-09 at 10:50. Reason: quote spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Marple's nephew View Post
    It depends what you call "rational". The second important point.
    A religious explanation ("God made it so") is not a rational explanation. God(s) could be considered as (a) supernatural being(s) because he/they don't follow the laws of Nature. Thunder and lightning may seem supernatural until you understand the concept of electricity and electrical discharge in clouds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    A religious explanation ("God made it so") is not a rational explanation. God(s) could be considered as (a) supernatural being(s) because he/they don't follow the laws of Nature. Thunder and lightning may seem supernatural until you understand the concept of electricity and electrical discharge in clouds.
    Your reply indicates that you didn´t really understand "The second important point" - that is, "It depends what you call rational". .

    Your definition of the word is yours, merely yours. It reflects what you call rational. The difference is no less important than the point you, yourself, made .... "It depends what you call "religion".

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    Religious and supernatural beliefs rooted in evolution

    What was the dominate religion in those nations before the rise of Atheism?I bet that would produce some very interesting results. Note: A good portion of those countries are not in the WEST. A little History about Singapore or Japan may help explain something about the drop in religious beliefs in some nations

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary View Post
    What was the dominate religion in those nations before the rise of Atheism?I bet that would produce some very interesting results. Note: A good portion of those countries are not in the WEST. A little History about Singapore or Japan may help explain something about the drop in religious beliefs in some nations
    Our modern world is experiencing the decline of religion in prosperous, urban populations but traditional religious practices are still thriving in rural areas, and novel, cult-like religions and apocalyptical beliefs seem to thrive in poor urban areas. The philosophers of classical Rome noticed these tendencies as well. Belief in religion seems to decline where people have social and economic stability but little contact with the natural world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Marple's nephew View Post
    Your reply indicates that you didn´t really understand "The second important point" - that is, "It depends what you call rational". .

    Your definition of the word is yours, merely yours. It reflects what you call rational. The difference is no less important than the point you, yourself, made .... "It depends what you call "religion".
    Language is not infinitely flexible and words do have meaning. My dictionary defines religion as "belief in or worship of god or gods", so there are a lot of superstitions that are not religious in nature. My dictionary defines "rational" as "sensible, reasonable; reasoned out" or as "based on reasoning". If some people think it's reasonable to believe that the universe was created by an angry old bearded invisible man in the sky who's great enough to create billions of stars and small enough to care about the behaviour of individuals, I would like to point out that modern medicine can now cure such problems.

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    Well. I first apologise for the lack of Space between the text ,but this seems to be a browser problem I have so far (enter button fails) . As I see it religion like monotheism is 100% political at its roots (explained later here, referring to roman emperor Constantine having made christian monotheism formal, and earlier pharaos of Egypt being worshipped as gods) . This while superstition is something else and more chaotic or nuanced. Today these 2 factors combine much. However the fear of the rational mind of anything new or out of our control, may also prevent humans from seeing something strange as real. Then we may (in weakness) rationalize it in 2 ways: 1 Denial 2 Superstition/fantasy interpretation. Both methods are mixed or separately used by both religious people and atheists, at the either denial of the unknown, or in the fear that their classic religion is challenged (like the priests burning witches) . When it comes to belief in Space aliens on Earth, this I believe was also 100% political, as an invention to cover up physics and technology science for war in USA. The motive: Do not give away anything to spies from the enemy... In this sense, having the people believe that all modern designs of Aircraft is aliens, the Public will lose the interest in exposing anything of Advanced science. Already Germany actually before the war constructed simple versions of flying saucers, but didn't have time to make them functional when Germany was losing the war. An example is the Haunebu 2. The scientists however fled to USA and Russia to continue their work. A typical example is the crashes of Lockheed experimental planes in the 60s, where the military would always pick up the wreckages under heavy secrecy. The fear was that the russians would get hold of anything. Many ex-military have witnessed to this. And then you have the population speculating. But superstitious speculation is perfect for a cold war. Many today known Aircraft designs like the Stealth fighter, b2 bomber, Deltawing, were all so outlandish in looks that the average man believed them to be extra-terrestrial. As for religion in old times: First of all, general religion and general superstition have very different history. Let's take religion first. Religion is mostly political in its origin, as late as especially the time of Constantine of the old Roman empire. It was not until the expansion of the abrahamic religions, like islam, jewish and christian religions, that "one God" was believed in and worshipped, and it was also highly organized into a formal belief system of historical Middle east and Europe. The reason probably being tactical. Under an untouchable God, anything that goes wrong and enrages the Public, will also make the current King untouchable, if the population believes that a god is the punishing cause of loss in war, or famine. If we look at the possible inspiration, the old Egypt had pharaos with immense power, and they were worshipped heavily in ceremonial context. Before religions existed, most people had the worship of "deities" of nature, which was connected to the superstition of the human creativity. But in elder nomadic cultures, the deities of nature were even not deities, but a general respect for the forces and parts of nature, balancing ecosystems and giving opportunity to the Public. For a simple group of people living like nomads, this awe for nature served as a functional situation,as they would not cross over into unsustainable life. As for the more mystical part of superstition ,there is also another side that is interesting, for example ghostlike shapes coming into photographs. Most of it is wrong interpretations, but there are cases where the shapes are very concrete, like in the case of now popular image of "Little Doreen" . Google for Kim Davison Mirror 1915 to get the newspaper article and photo (I haven't posted enough posts here yet to give links, a dumb regulation but so it is) . On the photo is clearly a shape of a person, whitish. Not being there when they took the bath. It could be fraud but then one has to check , do they make any Money on it, and can it be verified as a hoax technically. However: Modern knowledge of physics do not at all rule out existence of "half-life" or other dimensional lifeform. This because all thoughts, feelings, organic material and rays of all kinds, are all "physical", as a combination of wave pattern functions. For example, your pc receives signals that are wave patterns. How they resonnate to your pc gives you internet access. This is a specific combinatory effect of physical entities. Some are unseen but still there. Others might even be seen but harder to explain, as we did not make them or know them ,or cannot study it in a controlled environment.
    Last edited by BaltoHeritageNorway; 14-03-15 at 04:12. Reason: technical failures

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    Quote Originally Posted by BaltoHeritageNorway View Post
    Do not give away anything to spies from the enemy... In this sense, having the people believe that all modern designs of Aircraft is aliens, the Public will lose the interest in exposing anything of Advanced science.
    General public doesn't like science anyway and doesn't care for new technology unless they can buy it in stores. On other hand, spies and foreign scientists would love to get info on new technology regardless if source is terrestrial or not. Actually, if technology is of Alien origin, it would be way more advanced than people could make at this time, therefore even more attractive for foreign interests. It doesn't seem that Alien coverup was invented by US government. There are enough of superstitious folks and conspiracy theorists around to invent countless bizarre things.

    Most of it is wrong interpretations, but there are cases where the shapes are very concrete, like in the case of now popular image of "Little Doreen" . Google for Kim Davison Mirror 1915 to get the newspaper article and photo (I haven't posted enough posts here yet to give links, a dumb regulation but so it is) . On the photo is clearly a shape of a person, whitish. Not being there when they took the bath. It could be fraud but then one has to check , do they make any Money on it, and can it be verified as a hoax technically. However: Modern knowledge of physics do not at all rule out existence of "half-life" or other dimensional lifeform. This because all thoughts, feelings, organic material and rays of all kinds, are all "physical", as a combination of wave pattern functions. For example, your pc receives signals that are wave patterns. How they resonnate to your pc gives you internet access. This is a specific combinatory effect of physical entities. Some are unseen but still there. Others might even be seen but harder to explain, as we did not make them or know them ,or cannot study it in a controlled environment.
    Modern knowledge can't also rule out an ice cream tree on a plant in far far away galaxy. It doesn't mean the ice cream tree or the spirit world exists.

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    There seems to be three stages in the history of human "knowledge":
    Superstition (I believe it's true because I decided it was so)
    The empirical approach (It's true because it works - though I can't explain how)
    Science (It's true because it always works. The experiment can be repeated over and over. The causes/consequences are predictable)
    As science moves on, superstition recedes (Galileo, Copernicus...)
    Yet however hard we try, I doubt we'll ever be able to explain everything. In the meantime, there will be room for superstitions to thrive.

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    The other day in the forum before the question are the Russians of Europeans? Someone said among other characterists that they were Orthodox Christians.


    Religions are also a sign of identity, the Christian church, despite some mistakes, has been and is a sign of European identity, which would be of Europe without Christian humanism, it would be something else.


    The Christian religion in Europe of departure eliminated the ritual sacrifices so common in the Celtic world and do not know if in general in the Indo-European world, because the Romans also did their thing in circuses, before becoming Christian, therefore the human person acquires a value and a dignity not known before Christianity, a fundamental point as a European value.

    What can we say about Protestant Christianity as a basis for many values ​​that gave rise to the industrial revolution and the modern world?


    Therefore, the Christian religion, whether Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, provides a set of values ​​and historical experiences that are at the base of the European social architecture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    Language is not infinitely flexible and words do have meaning. My dictionary defines religion as "belief in or worship of god or gods", so there are a lot of superstitions that are not religious in nature. My dictionary defines "rational" as "sensible, reasonable; reasoned out" or as "based on reasoning". If some people think it's reasonable to believe that the universe was created by an angry old bearded invisible man in the sky who's great enough to create billions of stars and small enough to care about the behaviour of individuals, I would like to point out that modern medicine can now cure such problems.
    Ι'm atheist but you seem to have in mind certain religions.

    Some people may believe in non-personal gods or even in non omnipotent gods,
    or some may define gods as powerful beings that do not defy the 'laws of nature' or they may see nature as god.

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