Does Religion Provide an Evolutionary Advantage?

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Based On the Research Provided do You Think Religion Provides an Evolutionary advantage?
Yes. 64%  64%  [ 7 ]
No. 36%  36%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 11

aghogday
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25 Jun 2011, 12:39 am

http://www.scilogs.eu/en/blog/biology-of-religion/2011-01-06/atheists-a-dying-breed-as-nature-favours-faithful-sunday-times-jan-02-2011-jonathan-leake-full-draft-version

Excerpt from the article below:

The research provides evidence that the non-religious are reproducing at rates lower than replacement values in over 80 countries studied, while the religious are reproducing at rates higher than replacement value, and the highest replacement values are among those that are fundamentalists.

Overpopulation is a huge problem for the whole world, but evolution doesn't care, it's only involved in reproductive success. Can religious people be convinced to have fewer children?

Non-religious people seem to be playing a crucial role in battling the problem, but if they don't reproduce they can't pass down these values to their children and if they do reproduce they add to the problem.

Does this really mean that the non-religious will always be a minority in the world population?

What, if anything, does this mean for the human species?


Quote:
For atheists it is the ultimate irony. Evolution, the process they believe is solely responsible for creating humanity, actually weeds out non-believers while favouring the religious, new research has shown.

It suggests that, over evolutionary timescales of hundreds or thousands of years, people with strong religious beliefs tend to have more children, whereas atheists have fewer children and the societies they belong to inevitably disappear.

"It is a great irony but evolution appears to discriminate against atheists and favour those with religious beliefs," said Michael Blume, a researcher at the University of Jena in Germany who carried out the study. "Most societies or communities that have espoused atheistic beliefs have not survived more than a century."



blauSamstag
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25 Jun 2011, 1:31 am

A lot of people are stupid and this makes them incapable of resolving the multitude of horrible and seemingly contradictory truths in the world that come at them from every angle.

The supernatural makes it easier for them to just ascribe the bad to "the devil" and the good to "the god".

so they can get on with passing on their genes.



aghogday
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25 Jun 2011, 2:10 am

blauSamstag wrote:
A lot of people are stupid and this makes them incapable of resolving the multitude of horrible and seemingly contradictory truths in the world that come at them from every angle.

The supernatural makes it easier for them to just ascribe the bad to "the devil" and the good to "the god".

so they can get on with passing on their genes.


Does it seem like life is easier for those that assign supernatural purpose to good and evil, and focus on reproduction?

Higher levels of intelligence is also linked to lower levels of reproduction, in both religious and non-religious people. Is the evolutionary advantage of intelligence one of supporting the successful breeders?

Are lower levels of reproduction among intelligent people a result of intelligent choices and/or related to lower levels of testosterone correlated with higher intelligence in men?

Other studies correlate atheism, higher levels of intelligence, higher than normal levels of male monogamy, and liberal political views. And beyond that other studies correlate atheism and Aspergers.

A requirement for Aspergers is at least normal intelligence, so with the exclusion of lower than normal intelligence scores, statistically groups without that exclusion would have to score an average of above normal intelligence.

Interesting, it looks like higher levels of male intelligence, male liberal points of view, male atheism, males with Aspergers, male monogamy, and lower levels of reproduction all have one common correlation. Lower levels of testosterone in men.

It brings to mind another study that suggests males use religion for reproductive advantage.



Sand
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25 Jun 2011, 3:42 am

No matter the assumed intellectual superiority of humans over other life, there is no avoidance of the eventuality of overactive reproduction becoming an irresistible target for consumption by other life such as bacteria or viruses or something unknown. Humanity is acting with all the intellect of termites and there will be a terrible retribution, whatever the religious state of the population might be.



Philologos
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25 Jun 2011, 8:29 am

There have been, I believe several suggestions that "religion" [VERY variously definedbecause the people who talk about this do not have a clear sense of the what and what for -not even thinking of why - of religion] does confer an evolutionary advantage.

Again I point out, there is a flaw in the thinking.

It is in humanity

It must be there because of evolution

It says in the theory [at least the one in the popular mind] that critters survive because they evolved traits conferring an advantage.

Therefore "religion" [whatever that may be in the eye of the beholder] must be advantageous.

Ergo if we think real hard we can postulate an advantage it might have conferred on early hominids

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More sophisticated views which allow traits which do no harm to survive as well as those which positively advantage, do not generally breed "explanations" of "religion"

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The advantages suggested are very various; the best argued I have seen suggested that a differentiation evolved between gullible "religious" and therefore easily controlled types and cynical "atheist" and therefore efficiently exploiting types.



aghogday
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25 Jun 2011, 12:45 pm

From Wiki:

Burial Ceremonies are evidence for the first religions of Man, the suggestion is belief in an afterlife served to eliminate the fear of death. Elephants are the only other animal that have a burial ritual.

[url]ipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_origin_of_religions[/url]

Quote:
Dr. Frans de Waal and Barbara King both view human morality as having grown out of primate sociality. Though morality may be a unique human trait, many social animals, such as primates, dolphins and whales, have been known to exhibit pre-moral sentiments. According to Michael Shermer, the following characteristics are shared by humans and other social animals, particularly the great apes:

"attachment and bonding, cooperation and mutual aid, sympathy and empathy, direct and indirect reciprocity, altruism and reciprocal altruism, conflict resolution and peacemaking, deception and deception detection, community concern and caring about what others think about you, and awareness of and response to the social rules of the group".[13]
De Waal contends that all social animals have had to restrain or alter their behavior for group living to be worthwhile. Pre-moral sentiments evolved in primate societies as a method of restraining individual selfishness and building more cooperative groups. For any social species, the benefits of being part of an altruistic group should outweigh the benefits of individualism. For example, lack of group cohesion could make individuals more vulnerable to attack from outsiders. Being part of a group may also improve the chances of finding food. This is evident among animals that hunt in packs to take down large or dangerous prey.


Quote:
The evolution of religion can also be explained in terms of the nature of human comprehension and the belief in the supernatural. Human contact with the environment as of all creatures is through the sensory mechanism. The greater the number of senses, the greater is the comprehension. In the case of humans, the message reaches the brain and there it is given meaning in the light of individual experience. The meaning consists of the explanation that the brain provides for the message.

When natural causes are not available for comprehending an experience, the brain has to assume imaginary causes and often these are of a supernatural kind. Shared by a group through language, the generally acceptable explanation gains credibility and becomes part of the social consensus and the group's religion.

In time, advance of scientific knowledge based on experimental validation gradually, often after initial social resistance, replaces the unsubstantiated or supernatural explanation as a part of cultural evolution. Beliefs, like the belief in God, that cannot be falsified by experiment continue to form religious belief the strength of which is drawn essentially from emotion.


The first quote seems to infer the greatest evolutionary value of religion that remains among mankind. The need for social cohesion and group security.

Egalitarian Societies provide a greater level of this for their citizens, and many no longer see religion as the only means for social cohesion and group security. Perhaps equal rights for women is the largest factor in these societies, that lead to the ability for a women to have reproductive control, and control in general over their lives. Perhaps over the long term this produces a more domesticated male, but the theories there are controversial.

I think the author of the topic reseasrch article, provides an interesting correlation between fundamentalists religions and the highest levels of birth rates. These tend to be the most patriarchal of religions, allowing less reproductive control for women. The evolutionary advantage there is clear. It allows males a greater opportunity to pass on their genes.

I think this is a major source of the conflict between the middle east and the western world. Never politically stated as such, but the egalitarian way of life that gives women reproductive freedom, risks the reproductive control that males have in those countries. From an evolutionary perspective, there is no conflict more personal than that.

I also believe it is still a conflict within the borders of the US, while not stated as such, many of the heated divisions and conflict surround a woman's reproductive freedom, whether it is abortion, social programs, evangelical religious interjection into politics, the common elements are Patriarchy/male reproductive control and egalitarianism/female reproductive freedom.

Egalitarianism, if it could flourish in every country, could significantly reduce the overpopulation problem. When women gain reproductive control, they have less children; statistics prove this. The religion of Islam, a patriarchal one, is gaining prominence in the world, no judgement of ill will toward the religion, but not likely that egalitarianism and a women's reproductive control will flourish in the world with this trend. And of course, it is not the only patriarchal religion, in the world.



Fnord
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25 Jun 2011, 12:49 pm

While religion may provide a measure of social cohesiveness for primitive cultures, it's relevance as a social tool is likely less significant in a science- and reality-based society.


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Philologos
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25 Jun 2011, 12:55 pm

And of course patriarchy [and other -archies] and egalitarianism [and other -arianisms], though they may be seen in the structures of religious organizations or the teachings of various theologies, are not byproducts of religion.

Unless we take it that gender roles and authority in a herd of caribou, a wolf pack, a band of chimpanzees, or a pod of orcas are the result of their religion?



aghogday
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25 Jun 2011, 1:13 pm

Fnord wrote:
While religion may provide a measure of social cohesiveness for primitive cultures, it's relevance as a social tool is likely less significant in a science- and reality-based society.


I agree. However, it is evident that religion remains a social tool in non-egalitarian societies. Statistics provide evidence for this. While science is a significant part of Society in the US, it remains an overwhelmingly religious society.

Egalitarian societies in Europe have much lower rates of religious participation, but they also have far more social safety nets for their citizens, and National traditions for social cohesion. Evidently, many people in the US, find this in their religion.

There are many other potential reasons, but this is one that is clearly measurable.



aghogday
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25 Jun 2011, 1:25 pm

Philologos wrote:
And of course patriarchy [and other -archies] and egalitarianism [and other -arianisms], though they may be seen in the structures of religious organizations or the teachings of various theologies, are not byproducts of religion.

Unless we take it that gender roles and authority in a herd of caribou, a wolf pack, a band of chimpanzees, or a pod of orcas are the result of their religion?


I agree, I think the origin of patriarchy and egalitarianism in societies are complex and associated with biology, cultural structure, environmental resources; a myriad of factors other than religion.



ruveyn
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25 Jun 2011, 1:27 pm

If reciprocal altruism is advantegeous to species survival, the religion is a boost since it promotes such altruism.

ruveyn



Fnord
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25 Jun 2011, 1:31 pm

aghogday wrote:
Fnord wrote:
While religion may provide a measure of social cohesiveness for primitive cultures, it's relevance as a social tool is likely less significant in a science- and reality-based society.

I agree. However, it is evident that religion remains a social tool in non-egalitarian societies. Statistics provide evidence for this. While science is a significant part of Society in the US, it remains an overwhelmingly religious society.

Egalitarian societies in Europe have much lower rates of religious participation, but they also have far more social safety nets for their citizens, and National traditions for social cohesion. Evidently, many people in the US, find this in their religion.

There are many other potential reasons, but this is one that is clearly measurable.

No disagreement with this. It seems that the more altruistic, egalitarian, and socially-conscious a culture is, the less "need" there is for religion.

Religion is a form of mind control, using arbitrary doctrines to instill fear, to limit free thought, and to separate "Us" from "Them". These practices are antipathic to a progressive and free-thinking society.

When people are kept in a state of fear or anxiety, they are less likely to think clearly, and more likely to be controlled.

People should not be told what to think, but trained in methods of inquiry and reasoning instead. Religions do not encourage inquiry, unless it would expand on their particular mythologies, and a reasoning mind could easily find reason to discard religious doctrine as meaningless and un-necessarily restrictive.

Religious institutions may preach "Universal Fellowship", but the fine print always seems to define this as applicable only among like-minded believers. In truth, religions tend to divide the people against each other, based solely on apparent belief and public behavior. A person that asks questions, investigates claims, and proposes alternate concepts will soon find that his or her company is no longer sought by "true" believers, who will accuse the inquirer of everything from immoral behavior to mental illness.

In the current age, religious institutions may cause more harm than good.


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aghogday
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25 Jun 2011, 2:57 pm

Fnord wrote:
aghogday wrote:
Fnord wrote:
While religion may provide a measure of social cohesiveness for primitive cultures, it's relevance as a social tool is likely less significant in a science- and reality-based society.

I agree. However, it is evident that religion remains a social tool in non-egalitarian societies. Statistics provide evidence for this. While science is a significant part of Society in the US, it remains an overwhelmingly religious society.

Egalitarian societies in Europe have much lower rates of religious participation, but they also have far more social safety nets for their citizens, and National traditions for social cohesion. Evidently, many people in the US, find this in their religion.

There are many other potential reasons, but this is one that is clearly measurable.

No disagreement with this. It seems that the more altruistic, egalitarian, and socially-conscious a culture is, the less "need" there is for religion.

Religion is a form of mind control, using arbitrary doctrines to instill fear, to limit free thought, and to separate "Us" from "Them". These practices are antipathic to a progressive and free-thinking society.

When people are kept in a state of fear or anxiety, they are less likely to think clearly, and more likely to be controlled.

People should not be told what to think, but trained in methods of inquiry and reasoning instead. Religions do not encourage inquiry, unless it would expand on their particular mythologies, and a reasoning mind could easily find reason to discard religious doctrine as meaningless and un-necessarily restrictive.

Religious institutions may preach "Universal Fellowship", but the fine print always seems to define this as applicable only among like-minded believers. In truth, religions tend to divide the people against each other, based solely on apparent belief and public behavior. A person that asks questions, investigates claims, and proposes alternate concepts will soon find that his or her company is no longer sought by "true" believers, who will accuse the inquirer of everything from immoral behavior to mental illness.

In the current age, religious institutions may cause more harm than good.


I see all these negative aspects in religion, and I think the only solution is healthier societies. Egalitarianism, I think is a solution, to provide higher levels of societal health, but does the problem go deeper than that? Is it even possible to have a high level of societal health in a heterogenous culture? What are the long term prospects of a culture that is extremely heterogenous? If we refuse to cooperate to provide greater levels of societal health for the citizenary are we destined to become a third world country?

While many homogenous cultures are egalitarian ones, there are those in the Middle East where religion and state control are intertwined and religion exerts a great deal of control and oppression over segments of the society. With the advantage that this way of life provides for male reproductive control, I'm not sure that change is possible, unless economical survival requires it.

Perhaps, if the world can move away from oil as the major requirement for energy, these countries will be required to join the rest of the world in a larger economic endeavor, and a more egalatarian way of life may be possible.

While religion still allows an evolutionary advantage for those that obtain a survival benefit from it; some of the negative impacts may be reduced by the benefits of world economy and the need for cooperation between countries. Lower levels of overpopulation may be a result of it, if additional women in the world gain freedoms in life, including reproductive control.

The odds, I think, are with the Muslim religion, close to 23 percent of the World is Muslim; as a group my understanding is the religion is increasing in size twice as fast as other religions and is spreading through the entire world. I'm not sure there is any way around those statistics. If those increases continue it won't be too far in the future, where half of the inhabitants of the world are Muslim. That is a huge, eventual influence, in the cultural direction of societies around the world.

Can anyone venture a guess of the cultural differences in a World comprised of 50 percent.
Muslims?

However, there is now evidence that the alarmist increases of the past are being tempered by the greater freedoms women of Muslim faith enjoy in countries outside the middle east. The Muslim faith is still the fastest growing religion, but there is evidence it is slowing in correlation with the freedoms provided in other countries.

Maybe the direction the world economy takes, will make the eventual difference, in a slowing of population, overall. Alternate energy sources, could be a significant factor, I think.



Last edited by aghogday on 25 Jun 2011, 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Philologos
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25 Jun 2011, 3:19 pm

ruveyn wrote:
If reciprocal altruism is advantegeous to species survival, the religion is a boost since it promotes such altruism.

ruveyn


Some religions may promote altruism at the species level.

But many religions operate strictly at the level of the tribe / nation.

Nor is social cohesion - a common theme in religions - necessarily the same as altruism.



aghogday
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25 Jun 2011, 4:09 pm

Philologos wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
If reciprocal altruism is advantegeous to species survival, the religion is a boost since it promotes such altruism.

ruveyn


Some religions may promote altruism at the species level.

But many religions operate strictly at the level of the tribe / nation.

Nor is social cohesion - a common theme in religions - necessarily the same as altruism.


I agree, interesting now with the advent of birthcontrol, abortion, and additional freedoms for women to gain independence in life, that some of the religions that aren't seen as particularly altruistic, have higher levels of reproduction, because they "strongly" discourage the exercise of many methods of reproductive control that allow the reproductive freedom not to reproduce.

Success in reproduction, is usually what counts in evolutionary advantage. While social cohesion and altruism mean a survival advantage for individuals, without the reproduction, evolutionary advantage is not as apparent.

So, a highly altruistic, social cohesive, egalitarian religion, that encourages equality and reproductive freedom, may result in less reproductive success, than the strict totalitarian national religion that causes hardship in the lives of those people that are born into it.

But, within the larger picture, controlling the human population of the world may result in less hardship for all, not just humans.

And still, on the other hand, if the population is reduced too much in the countries where reproductive control is exercised, that may lead to hardships too, within those countries.

I think the overall population increase in the World is the area of most concern, among all these factors.

Population reduction in the animal kingdom often presents an advantage in survival, and there is evidence that there are evolutionary mechanisms built in that allow for efficient means of population reduction.

We now have the cultural ability to do it.

While one would think that there is only evolutionary advantage in reproductive success, if reproductive control enhances the overall success of the species, the reproductive control becomes the evolutionary advantage.

From a small picture, within the family unit, religion can provide an evolutionary advantage in reproductive success, but in the big picture at this point in time, it may serve as an overall evolutionary disadvantage, because it can reduce the opportunities for birthcontrol, in a world where overpopulation may be a larger danger than optimal reproductive success.