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Thread: Beliefs, Spirituality, and why we believe.

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    Beliefs, Spirituality, and why we believe.



    I would like to present couple of articles I wrote about beliefs, spirituality and possible origin of both. In future I will expend them and link to relevant research papers.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Why do we believe?

    We commonly use word “believe” or “beliefs” in religious context, but when we give it a good thought, it turns out that we believe mostly in everyday things, things we didn’t see, but had been told about by others.

    But first, just to make sure that we all think about same thing, here is the definition:
    Google: belief - An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.

    To observe common beliefs, let’s go back to being a very small kid. Once we learned to understand human speech, to understand our parents and siblings, a grand volume of information we took happened purely on beliefs, on blindly believing our parents. At this age we didn't have time to empirically experience most of the world by seeing, touching, hearing with our own senses. Most of new knowledge came from lips of parents. We naively (I don’t mean wrongly) believed in everything parents told us, and I don’t know an example of small kids heavily questioning parental knowledge, but rather asking many questions to suck in more and more information. With the same trust to our parents we believed in ice-cream stand around the corner, which we never saw before, that grandma is going to visit us soon, or that Santa Clause will give us presents.

    This learning process from our childhood shows us that believing is a very natural aspect of being a kid. This ability never fades away, but only gets modified during our life. Perhaps we should ask a question:
    Why believing and beliefs are so important for humans that this function is engraved in our nature from day one?

    The simplest answer that I came up with is: We need to believe parents and others to learn faster, and that the knowledge taken on beliefs is almost same valid as knowledge from personal experiences of physical world. Evolutionarily speaking, this was embraced and fortified in our ancestors by natural selection, because it improved survival of our spices by learning about danger before we could see it and loose life in process. Or learn from someone speech about a new food source. All this important knowledge without physics being there and seeing it.
    At some point in our past we developed a very good memory, when compared to other animals, chimps included. Together with this capability we developed language of thousands of words and grammar for better understanding. In short, the speech is the best tool in nature for communication and learning.

    But what would the spoken language be worth if there was no belief in words? Other words; would we continue using language if we didn't believe the person who talked to us?
    It is hard to say if belief was first or the spoken language was, or if belief grew on other human trait called Trust.
    Little animals trust their parents and follow them to pasture, water, and everywhere else.
    Whatever was the beginning of trust, the fact is that it exists and, we can easily define it. We can say that the feeling of Trust makes us believe in whatever parents say. Trust is the positive, nice, uplifting, safe feeling towards some people.
    Mr. Google:”Trust: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” I would add that, in realm of believes, “trusting parents” and “believing parents” could be one and same thing and possibly same origin.

    I would conclude that state of believing and trusting is the primal and principal state of our mind. The ability we are born with to experience and learn about the world in fastest possible way.
    The state of doubt and disbelief is the secondary, “unnatural” and learned state of our mind.

    Later in childhood, our total trust and beliefs in parental stories and teachings get dents when we learn that they don’t know everything. Like hearing from others that Santa Clause is not real, creating confusion in little brains and the first doubt. Only then with time, we learn that not everything we hear is true, and become somewhat skeptical. This is more logical and deductive process than blind trust that we are born with. We also learn that even if we trust people, people don’t remember perfectly or they can simply lie to us on purpose. Even in cases when parent s meant well, and created stories for our enjoyment and our good, our belief system gets compromised once we learn the truth.
    In mid adulthood many of us had time to analyze our learned believes and draw conclusions what we want to believe. Some of us turned to empiricism, and only believe proven by science things. For some reason, most of us didn't and still rely on others in building their understanding of our world, together with believing in spiritual beings, the way their parents did.

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    Spiritual Beliefs

    That brings us to spiritual beliefs. One of a kind beliefs that make us believe in invisible but conscious forces greater than ourselves controlling and interacting with our lives.

    Firstly there is overwhelming evidence that most of people have the same spiritual beliefs as their parents. This puts spiritual believes in strong correlation (uses the same base in human mind) with common believes, described above. Without this base of beliefs and trust nobody would accept spiritual beliefs from their parents or community leaders. Manifesting itself in different form every generation, but we know it isn't. Example, Buddhist parents have Buddhist kids.
    However, there are examples of people who have spiritual beliefs, but they got changed over time. In form of different religion, non-religious believing in UFO, or just believing in greater or mystical something out there, spirits of ancestors, and all superstition. Generally speaking anything that explains the unexplainable from the past (like sickness of a child, till XX century), or will help them find better life in the future.


    This points me to the fact, that spiritual belief is more complex than common believing. It is a need to believe in extra natural. It is more like a nagging feeling to go and look for god(s). For very spiritual people it is a terrible feeling to think that there is no higher purpose in their life, or higher entity guarding and directing them. Conversely, spiritual beliefs in higher power bring peaceful feeling, purpose and order to spiritual person.

    There are more exciting elements for believers which organize religions bring to the equation. It includes belonging to the group, participating and helping each other, traditions and celebrations, singing and dancing. All of these elements are positive for the group unity and strength, therefore beneficial for group members too. Although religion brings positive aspects to the survival of its members, it has not much to do with spirituality, which I believe is hereditary, thus genetic in nature.
    Religion has beliefs reinforcing impact, but it doesn't give or teach spirituality. Otherwise it is a socio-political institution for purpose of uniting people under one banner. We know that some religious members are there only for material gains, some only because of traditions learned from parents, some like being around people and singing together, some looking for guidance and moral support in their pain.
    Beliefs, you can learn or be taught. Spirituality, you are born with, you either have it or you don’t.

    How many people are truly spiritual among us?
    Probably most, around 75%, if my observations are correct.
    By my understanding spirituality started at least 300 thousand years ago, judging by first burials of Homo Erectus. Probably coincided with speech development and ability of formulating first questions: “Where do we go after death?”, “Why do I suffer so much?”, “Why my kids are dying?”.

    I can see how evolutionary development of spirituality, bringing consoling answers and hope of paradise afterlife, could be beneficial to our ancestor’s survival, in light of their everyday hard lives. It echoes in proverb “When in fear, God is dear”, and similar ones can be found in every language. Spirituality, being such early development for Sapience, and highly beneficial one, it had time and purpose to become engraved in our DNA code. Possibly the same one, as recently found “God” gene, and perhaps more genes to be found.
    It is not an outrageous or impossible idea at all. Did you ever ask yourself a question, “Why people are the only species who like sitting around fire, while the rest of animal kingdom runs away from it?” By archaeological finds we know that people tamed fire around 1 million years ago. I don’t need to mention how beneficial fire is to our species, I hope. We sit around fire with pleasure and it is only matter of time when someone puts food into it, lol.
    I’m sure that our unusual fondness of fire is already in our DNA and it is just a matter of time to find which gene is the “Fire” one. Likewise other beneficial things from our not so far past are already found, like lactose persistent gene, or gene which helps with alcohol digestion with epicenter around Mediterranean Sea, place where beer was first invented 10k years ago.

    These few simple examples can help us understand how our past is already written inside our DNA. I don’t see a reason not to believe that beneficial and long lasting spirituality, among our species, is not contained in our DNA already, and manifest itself by giving us a good, pleasant feeling when we think about greater supernatural beings overlooking our lives. On flip side we feel uneasy, sometime scared, when lost without god, and this pushes us to find one.
    It highly resembles feeling of discomfort when we are hungry, that pushes us to find food, and very pleasant feeling when we eat and are full. If hunger is controlled by genes mostly, why can’t be the spirituality?

    In conclusion when it comes to spiritual beliefs I can see two main ingredients, and both of them in mainly genetic form. One is ability to believe, second is spirituality (need to believe in supernatural).

    Though, there might be a third ingredient in this equation: The belief or the feeling of self-importance. In sense of being necessary in god’s plan, having a purpose and being special. The Ego-centric gene? This is not necessarily a prerequisite for being a spiritual person, but it is found in most religions to the high degree.
    Last edited by LeBrok; 04-03-13 at 00:16.

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    Alright Lebrok, I'm going to bite on this one...

    If 75% of people are truly Spiritual, where might that leave the remaining 25%... Would this group have anything in common? (I must admit that I'm curious about your take on this subject matter due to your comments on previous threads.) Can we grade someone else's spiritual level, or can another person grade your spiritual level? Enquiring minds want to know! :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by nordicfoyer View Post
    Alright Lebrok, I'm going to bite on this one...

    If 75% of people are truly Spiritual, where might that leave the remaining 25%... Would this group have anything in common?
    Yes, lack of spirituality.
    I know what you meant though. I don't think there are other obvious sings of spirituality. You can have emotional people as well as stoic ones in this group, also smart and dumb, ugly and beautiful.

    (I must admit that I'm curious about your take on this subject matter due to your comments on previous threads.) Can we grade someone else's spiritual level, or can another person grade your spiritual level? Enquiring minds want to know! :)
    I think it only manifests itself in form of feelings, feeling that makes you look for god and feel its presence. General feeling that there is something greater out there.

    The important part is that, as every human condition, spirituality is not evenly distributed through any population. Some people are strongly spiritual, some barely spiritual, more like a spectrum than black and white issue. This is regulated by level of feelings, making person strongly spiritual, medium or a little bit.
    Let me use parallel from gastronomy again. Try to convince a very hungry person with huge appetite not to eat, or logically explain that it is better to eat later or much less. Going against strong emotions, other words going against one's nature, is almost impossible task. That's the reason behind so many failed diets, and still so many believers, stubbornly going against evidence, or rather lack of it.
    Continuing the thought, a person with low spirituality, spirituality with less intense underlying feeling, is more susceptible to arguments or group agenda to quit religion or stop believing, or pretend not to. Though, left alone spiritual people will always drift according to their nature and start believing in super natural again.

    Possibly level of spirituality is not evenly distributed along human races or continents either. I'm not sure but possibly it is more of a combination of spirituality with strong personal general feelings/emotions. One of very visible transition of strength of spirituality runs from North Europe to center of Africa. With north Europeans being cold on emotions and religious scale, through south Europe where people are more animated and impulsive, to center of Africa where people sing, dance few times a day, thanking god for everything and in every moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    One of very visible transition of strength of spirituality runs from North Europe to center of Africa. With north Europeans being cold on emotions and religious scale, through south Europe where people are more animated and impulsive, to center of Africa where people sing, dance few times a day, thanking god for everything and in every moment.
    That's just the change in the manner of expressing oneself; but it's true northerners are usually more held back. Each place has some spiritual and some materialistic people.

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    That's a helpful analogy Lebrok, and I agree with most of it. I do think those in the North though can be just as spiritual (both in number as well as intesity) as people native to the equator, except nordic individuals are usually more reserved so it may be harder to tell on the surface.

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    LeBrok[QUOTE]It is hard to say if belief was first or the spoken language was, or if belief grew on other human trait called Trust. [QUOTE]



    I like you, would say as a child [possibly even as a baby] belief builds first on trust .

    [ In general ] , our parents meet our needs, supply us with food, cuddles, play, encouragement, love etc. Therefore our associations with them are "positive". We feel safe with them, we "trust" them.
    So naturally when they tell us something we have no reason not to believe it to be so. They are a "trusted informant ".

    Together with this capability we developed language of thousands of words and grammar for better understanding. In
    short, the speech is the best tool in nature for communication and learning.
    I agree, once we have the ability to understand and use language and make the connection that the parents have the answers, this usually kicks starts the progress of .."Who, What, Where, Why" etc [ strangely this coincides with the same time parents head more often for the aspirin!]
    Even with things the child cannot visually see, such as germs, when told to wash hands to get rid of them the child has faith to believe there are germs and will wash their hands.
    The parent may also pass on their own beliefs at this point.

    When it comes time for school, the teacher will usually be seen as the next trusted informant. What she teaches will be accepted without much question. If in doubt he will probably observe the reactions of his class friends for guidance.."endorsement"


    Lessons learned at this time may became long term beliefs..the belief it is wrong to lie or steal etc. They may not be reaccessed until later.

    Interesting post LeBrok.

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    [QUOTE=hope;403452]LeBrok[QUOTE]It is hard to say if belief was first or the spoken language was, or if belief grew on other human trait called Trust.



    I like you, would say as a child [possibly even as a baby] belief builds first on trust .

    [ In general ] , our parents meet our needs, supply us with food, cuddles, play, encouragement, love etc. Therefore our associations with them are "positive". We feel safe with them, we "trust" them.
    So naturally when they tell us something we have no reason not to believe it to be so. They are a "trusted informant ".
    .
    What amazes me the most is that this Trust is already there during first contact with mother. There is no grace period in which child would test mother to see if she is trustworthy. From almost day one child is making contact with mother's eyes, mimics her smile, later repeats sounds learning to talk. Trust seams to be an automatic and unconditional phenomenon. Of course love and nourishment is highly encouraging for building more trust and bond, and proper development of kid, but it seams that we are born already trusting our mothers. This point us to genetic roots of it, and predisposition.
    It could be also seen in other mammals. They don't speak, like we do, therefore all communication and learning progresses mostly by looking at parents and their actions. Can we say: seeing is believing?
    If new born animals didn't have this unconditional trust from beginning why would they follow mothers from day one? Wouldn't they got up (like little dear or elephant minutes after birth) and roam aimlessly around, learning by themselves?
    Trust might be this primary, and genetic in nature, feeling of bond and safety (very positive emotion), prerequisite for believing, thus fast learning. A very positive evolutionary trait, I must add.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nordicfoyer View Post
    That's a helpful analogy Lebrok, and I agree with most of it. I do think those in the North though can be just as spiritual (both in number as well as intesity) as people native to the equator, except nordic individuals are usually more reserved so it may be harder to tell on the surface.
    So far I'm leaning with the later. Though, we see the effect of both at same time, spirituality and emotions, thus hard to evaluate them separately.

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    @LeBrok

    You will find very good answers regarding the language, beliefs and trust in Spiral Dynamics theory, Meme-tics by Richard Dawkins and others (my favorite is "Virus of the Mind" by ex-Microsoft programmer Richard Brodie) and writings on Ego by Susan Cook-Greuter or Eckhart Tolle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBS View Post
    @LeBrok

    You will find very good answers regarding the language, beliefs and trust in Spiral Dynamics theory, Meme-tics by Richard Dawkins and others (my favorite is "Virus of the Mind" by ex-Microsoft programmer Richard Brodie) and writings on Ego by Susan Cook-Greuter or Eckhart Tolle.
    Thanks for leads. I've never read the whole book, though many times read about memes in articles offline and online.
    I liked Dawkins approach to memes the most, but Brodie demanded too much from memes, complicated them. Well, memes are like software and he is a programmer, so it is kind of understandable. ;) This is actually easily assimilated by most people I know. They want to believe that nurture (software) is the most responsible for our behavior and feels better thinking that we are free willed people operating on ideas, and not the servants of hardware, our DNA.

    Something tells me that the later is the case though. That the DNA, hardware part, is greatly underestimated. Our programming and predispositions can easily explain why diets don't work well, although they are powerful memes and people on diet believe in them. Why 90% people overweight lose battle to food then? The explanation is in hardware, if you are programmed to like food a lot, you won't change it through memes, even most powerful ones. Implementing diet is essentially going against your nature. And it is terribly hard thing to do! Not impossible, but so damn hard.

    Take a nervous and depressed individual. He can spend whole life going to psychologist doing sessions after session, blaming parents, bad events, etc, tries to improve by learning new memes, new way of thinking to fight his "demons", and all the rest of psychological mambo-jumbo. Or he goes to the doctor gets the antidepressant pill (from long list of new pills these days/technology), it changes how his hardware works, and after a month he is a much happier easy going person.

    That's what I mean when I say that Trust, to me, looks more of a hardware programmed/DNA function. Trust is ON, when we are born. I'm also glad that we have ability to take our trust away, once we learn someone is lying. Otherwise we would be screwed, lol.

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    DNA - gets re-programmed continually in response to the environment. It is a never ending quest, otherwise we would have been extinct long time ago.

    Regarding memes, it seems that you have misunderstood the whole concept. It is the other way around, we have to learn to understand what the meme is in order not to be their pray. A set of memes create our programming or Ego as some define it. If we give in to them we will never be able to get the hold of our self, in other words we will not be able to self-manage, therefore cannot hold to a diet or a healthy regimen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBS View Post
    DNA - gets re-programmed continually in response to the environment. It is a never ending quest, otherwise we would have been extinct long time ago.
    Well, lets say that expression of DNA changes with time (age of organism) and also due to environment factors, epigenetics. The former changes are programmed into DNA itself, the later are the true epigentic ones. DNA as a whole is stable through entire life, and the same copy in all body cells, disregarding small mutations during cell divisions, and damage done by free radicals.
    Jury is still out what kind of changes and how big impact environment can bring.
    For example, we know that we grow taller when our environment is reach in food. In 1850 average American was 5'7" and 146 pounds, but by 1980 it is 5'10" and 174lb. Most other examples are related to diseases rather than positive epigentic changes. The field is very young and lots to learn, let's leave it at that.

    If it comes to extinction and evolution, it doesn't work the way you suppose, by individuals adopting to new environment therefore giving new traits to next population.
    For example, if you are lactose intolerant person drinking milk everyday won't make your DNA to develop a mutation for lactose tolerance. Epigenetics doesn't work here (as in most cases) and once lactose intolerant you remain one for the rest of your life. Almost all mutations happen by accident, mistakes during first divisions of your cells. Also during production of mothers eggs of father sperm.
    Now when it happens that you lived 6000 years ago with first cow herders, and you where born with lactose persistent mutation (ability to digest milk even after puberty) , this would have given you a tremendous advantage of new food source as an adult. Increased your chance of survival and therefore for your kids and their kids. And it continues till present, because this mutation of DNA was a very beneficial one. This is how main aspect of evolution works. There are others but not relevant here.


    Regarding memes, it seems that you have misunderstood the whole concept. It is the other way around, we have to learn to understand what the meme is in order not to be their pray. A set of memes create our programming or Ego as some define it. If we give in to them we will never be able to get the hold of our self, in other words we will not be able to self-manage, therefore cannot hold to a diet or a healthy regimen.
    Why do you think there are only bad memes and we have to get rid of them?
    Without memes we wouldn't know how to start fire, make food, make tools, go to school and learn math, and run city or a nation. Well, we would be like simple animals, right? Actually, the idea about memes is a meme itself, and so are ideas about how to hold the diet, how to eat, and why we should stay healthy.

    Start believing in hardware. :)

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    There are no good or bad memes, same as there are no good or bad genes. There are simply successful and non-successful ones. Those that are successful in adapting and keeping us alive will go on, both genes and memes. I simply said that we need to understand to have insight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBS View Post
    There are no good or bad memes, same as there are no good or bad genes. There are simply successful and non-successful ones. Those that are successful in adapting and keeping us alive will go on, both genes and memes. I simply said that we need to understand to have insight.
    That's right, in grand scheme of things, nothing is good or bad, it just is.

    However, if we define good and bad in terms of benefits for the population, group of people for example, then we could use these terms to describe events or actions, as being good/beneficial, or bad/destructive to the group, or a person. In this context we could see that meme, how to build a tool, is good meme, or we could use term bad meme to describe use of cocaine.

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    MY EXPERIENCE
    I'm finding it extremely interesting that the countries where I-M253 is more prevalent (Scandinavia), they are also less religious, lack a belief in a god especially in Denmark, the location of M253s origin. For an unknown reason, the Czech Republic has virtually no religion or belief in a god. I am M253 and atheist. Now, historically Scandinavia resisted Christianity until sometime after 800 AD. This I was not aware of until a few months ago. I had no curiosity about Christianity. What factor caused a non-compliance or revulsion to conversion? The Scandinavians had their own gods. Christianity was well thought out. Two directions to take. One direction gave you "hall pass" and the other direction was a one-way trip to Satan's bouillabaisse... all from a dictator deity that loves you. Conversion for Swedes, Danes, Norse, northern Germans was accept or die. Well, who wouldn't lie on that to save their life?

    I was adopted at 2 weeks after birth but grew up with siblings that were "blood siblings" with the same mother and father. We were close in age. I was 8 months older than one and 2 years older than the other. Nurturing was exactly the same. We did everything together until near adulthood. I am quite the opposite of them politically, socially, and in the spiritual which is nonsense to me. I found out my genetic heritage in mid-2013. That's just over 40 years of non-belief. I tried to become religious for a girl but it just seemed silly. I did feel a longing or connection and wished I was Scandinavian in origin as far back as age 10. This may seem "spiritual" to many but that's what I had hoped.

    Believing in a god is emotional weakness in that one is accepting that they are incapable of making decisions and therefore hand rough things off to a deity. Or accomplishments are the work of a deity and one could not have done it on their own. That a deity saved a person or person's from an accident yet spared others (grace). Then there's the fear of death and a rather greedy attempt to keep living even though one has no physical body. Islam is worse in that one gets a crapload of virgins to play with.

    I require empirical evidence, otherwise it's opinion. As Isaac Asimov said, "One can only trust reason. There's no general agreement in faith. Reason has a system of transfer. A system of rational argument following the laws of logic that people agree on. Within reason there are compelling arguments. Certain types of evidence can be argued then agreed upon. With faith there is no compelling evidence. If a person of faith has some revelation, it cannot be transferred from one person to another for questioning or argument."

    I do not fear death one bit. I'll be pissed when I think it's coming but only because I want to see rapid progress in all things and I'll miss advancing technology and social change.

    I am certain (I don't use believe) that this "god gene" will be found to be absent in M253 or a large percentage of M253 at least as well as other Y-chromosomes. I am confident that genetics will trump nurture in the degree of how humans behave.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Spiritual Beliefs

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    Quote Originally Posted by C-in-fl-usa View Post
    MY EXPERIENCE
    I'm finding it extremely interesting that the countries where I-M253 is more prevalent (Scandinavia), they are also less religious, lack a belief in a god especially in Denmark, the location of M253s origin. For an unknown reason, the Czech Republic has virtually no religion or belief in a god. I am M253 and atheist.
    By burial practices, decoration and spiritual objects, we can guess that Neanderthals were less religious people than Home Sapience in general. It could be interesting to see if Scandinavians have more Neanderthal DNA left in their genome than other populations. If indeed it is the case we might suppose that low spirituality of Neanderthals was genetically transferred to Modern Scandinavians.


    I was adopted at 2 weeks after birth but grew up with siblings that were "blood siblings" with the same mother and father. We were close in age. I was 8 months older than one and 2 years older than the other. Nurturing was exactly the same. We did everything together until near adulthood. I am quite the opposite of them politically, socially, and in the spiritual which is nonsense to me. I found out my genetic heritage in mid-2013. That's just over 40 years of non-belief. I tried to become religious for a girl but it just seemed silly. I did feel a longing or connection and wished I was Scandinavian in origin as far back as age 10. This may seem "spiritual" to many but that's what I had hoped.
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great example how strong genetics is when it comes to traits of character, inclination to certain pleasures or fears, how logic works, etc.
    My 3 kids were born almost at same time, and spent most of their life in exactly same environment, like home, school, friends, food, air, etc. From the moment they were born they behaved in different ways, so I tossed the clean slate hypothesis away. I had to convince my psychiatric doctor friend that clean slate was bulshit (obviously some profesors were teaching this still in 90s). Now she has her own kids, and understands better how things work. What blind moron invented this hypothesis anyway, gees. It is easy to believe in it when having a lonely child (nothing to compare against), or parents have very similar personalities and likewise kids.
    Anyway my kids have (now at 20s) pretty much same characters and personalities they were born with. They are not as different like people in general, but more like a spectrum between my wife and I. Whatever one would construct mixing our DNA. Similar to parents but different in their own ways from birth.

    Believing in a god is emotional weakness in that one is accepting that they are incapable of making decisions and therefore hand rough things off to a deity. Or accomplishments are the work of a deity and one could not have done it on their own. That a deity saved a person or person's from an accident yet spared others (grace). Then there's the fear of death and a rather greedy attempt to keep living even though one has no physical body. Islam is worse in that one gets a crapload of virgins to play with.
    Spirituality, especially when proved genetic, is so ancient and so widespread that, by evolutionary standards, it has to exist for a very good reason. Believing in supernatural may seem silly and not needed in modern age, but it exists because it was very beneficial for our ancestors.
    For example if somebody was atheist in the past, and had seen wife die during birthing, most kids dead too, suffering for nothing, life full of fleas, lice and worms eating you from inside, and hungry all the time too. Why would you suffer for nothing, with no help from gods to pray to, no reward after life for these painful sacrifices? The only logical option is to jump from the tall rock and finish your misery.
    Spiritual people had much better chance to get through misery, hoping and imagining a better future with help of ancestral spirits, believing in their special status, lucky star, and survive.


    I do not fear death one bit. I'll be pissed when I think it's coming but only because I want to see rapid progress in all things and I'll miss advancing technology and social change.
    I'm the same, any type of progress (for the better) is very exciting. Stagnation and no change is depressing. I can live 1,000 years just to see and experience progress.

    I am certain (I don't use believe) that this "god gene" will be found to be absent in M253 or a large percentage of M253 at least as well as other Y-chromosomes. I am confident that genetics will trump nurture in the degree of how humans behave.
    I would be surprised if "god gene" could be found on any of sex chromosomes. There might be a geographical correlation between God Gene and M253, but no causation.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I have to question some of the assumptions being made here. For example, archeologists have found Neanderthal graves that contain tools, animal bones, ochre and the remains of flowers, which suggests that Neanderthals did believe in some kind of afterlife. I realize that some archeologists still question whether the grave finds are meaningful, but their argument for discounting the evidence seems to be rather circular - they assume that Neanderthals couldn't have practiced meaningful burial because they assume that Neanderthals must have been primitive brutes who wouldn't have practiced meaningful burial. The evidence does seem to support the idea that Neanderthals had some sort of belief in an afterlife, although we have no way of knowing whether they believed in the kind of gods that many modern humans do.

    If you do a bit of reading about Scandinavian history, you'll find that the Scandinavians were traditionally very religious, both as Pagans and later as christians. It was only in the last half of the 20th century that most people in Norway, Denmark and Sweden lost interest in religion, and in fact the Lutheran Church is still quite powerful politically in those countries. The withering away of formal religious belief seems to have more to do with the sense of living a secure life in a social democracy than anything to do with genetics. Economic and social security seem to dull one's sense of need for the religious life. If you don't fear harm from an angry god, you probably won't pray as often.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Good points.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    I have to question some of the assumptions being made here. For example, archeologists have found Neanderthal graves that contain tools, animal bones, ochre and the remains of flowers, which suggests that Neanderthals did believe in some kind of afterlife. I realize that some archeologists still question whether the grave finds are meaningful, but their argument for discounting the evidence seems to be rather circular - they assume that Neanderthals couldn't have practiced meaningful burial because they assume that Neanderthals must have been primitive brutes who wouldn't have practiced meaningful burial. The evidence does seem to support the idea that Neanderthals had some sort of belief in an afterlife, although we have no way of knowing whether they believed in the kind of gods that many modern humans do.
    I think N were spiritual beings, just not as much as HS. According to recent hypothesis, HS advantage lied in being more social, culturally active, and I believe, more spiritual too.

    If you do a bit of reading about Scandinavian history, you'll find that the Scandinavians were traditionally very religious, both as Pagans and later as christians. It was only in the last half of the 20th century that most people in Norway, Denmark and Sweden lost interest in religion, and in fact the Lutheran Church is still quite powerful politically in those countries. The withering away of formal religious belief seems to have more to do with the sense of living a secure life in a social democracy than anything to do with genetics. Economic and social security seem to dull one's sense of need for the religious life. If you don't fear harm from an angry god, you probably won't pray as often.
    It might be the case that Scandinavians are spiritual but not participating in organized religions, after all 75% still marry in churches. The difference between North and South might stem from one group being more socially tolerant or less emotionally engaged in religion, giving impression of lesser spirituality.

    Interesting example is Russia, where after 80 years of indoctrinated atheism 75% people declares believing in supernatural today. On par with some other countries where atheism was never taught in schools, churches burned, clergy prosecuted, etc.
    I don't see any other explanation than spirituality having strong genetic base.
    Spirituality is not an idea or a mem, it is a feeling.

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    I don't know if scientists will ever find the "god gene" that some of them talk about, but there does seem to be something in our DNA that makes us feel the need for spiritual experience. But I think there's a big social component in the difference we currently see between northern and southern Europe in terms of whether or not they still embrace traditional religion, in that the more secure we feel socially and materially, the less need we feel for supernatural assistance. If I was an unemployed person living in Greece or Spain right now, I'd probably be praying for some supernatural being to come rescue me, because there probably wouldn't seem to be any other source of help. And the average Russian probably wants to find a god or a magic genie to help them out right now.

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    We will know more when we reach the level where we will be able to understand quantum and entanglement. This is an interesting read: http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/01/dis...sciousness.php
    Last edited by FBS; 09-02-14 at 21:50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    I don't know if scientists will ever find the "god gene" that some of them talk about, but there does seem to be something in our DNA that makes us feel the need for spiritual experience.
    If there was one gene all people would have exactly same spirituality, or complete lack of one. Sort of one gene involvement in rare human conditions. If you don't have this one special gene you never going to get it regardless of environmental factors. In case of spirituality I'm expecting conglomeration of few factoring, complementing, contributing genes. Spirituality might manifest itself as predispositions to be awe and amazed by something unusual; fear/hair standing reaction by something unexpected and unexplainable; ability to feel presence of third party (spirits, "out of body feelings");extrapolation of human traits, feelings, and character on non human entities; extrapolation of human control of environment (tools) on natural phenomena (who controls thunder, sun rain?), good vivid imagination, desire to explain things; bad estimating/probability calculation skills (all things have same chance of happening); or even involvement of some enabling genes like strong trust (blindly believing parents and authority figures), or strong mimicking desire (follow the group), how strongly certain emotions are felt. The bigger amount of these complementing genes the stronger the spirituality. Similar to number of genes one needs for whitest skin colour, for example.

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    I suppose that would explain why there's such a difference in what different people think of as spirituality. Some people think of spirituality as meditation and floating off into positive thoughts in order to unite with a kindly universe, while others think of spirituality in terms of an angry sky god who's going to punish most people, so they want to be one of the "good kids" who don't get beaten by their angry god. I can see a lot of that being rooted in childhood experiences, except that what people have experienced doesn't in fact always seem to determine those different attitudes. So it makes sense that there are probably a multiplicity of genes involved in spirituality, and some people have some gene mutations and not others, and some people have certain genetic switches activated by life experiences while other people have the same genetic switches but they aren't activated because of different life experiences. That kind of gene difference and gene activation/non-activation might explain some of these differences. As with many other things, genetics probably have a great deal to do with it but life experience helps shape what role those genes have in our lives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBS View Post
    We will know more when we reach the level the we will be able to understand quantum and entanglement. This is an interseting read: http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/01/dis...sciousness.php
    I find it possible that our nervous system uses "weird" quantum phenomena. However I doubt that it links us to some cosmic conscience. At our state of knowledge logic is easily explainable based on our artificial intelligence progress in computing, best examples are Deep Blue and Watson beating best people in chess and Jeopardy games. We have much harder times explaining emotions though. Well, we know that they are essential at guiding us, and any creature with neuronal network, through life. We still don't know how it is that we feel something at all, what makes emotions to manifest themselves in a form of feelings/sensation. The sense of touch would be easier to explain, but how you explain pleasure or pain?. It would be impossible to even explain emotions to entities without feelings, like artificial intelligence. Either you feel them therefore you can understand/imagine them, or you don't have them and you'll never get it.
    Concept of emotions is so murky for science right now that we can't even create hypothesis how to design an electronic circuit to give machnes any sensation, not mentioning pleasure or pain. Perhaps it is a good thing, last thing we need is to hurt computer's feelings, or even worse, robots demanding equality with men. Without feelings machines don't care and never will, therefore they always will be perfect slaves.

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