Evolution of Religion

According to univironmental determinism, the universal mechanism of evolution, all things in the universe have evolved from other things. Religion also must be a product of evolution. In "The God Delusion" Dawkins says that religion is a secondary or vestigial adaptation that exists despite its inherent illogic and great energy draw on the species. I don't think so. The prevalence and dominance of religion in all societies speaks to its great importance that must be fundamental to early human evolution. Besides having an answer for our existence, its primary purpose is to instill and enforce loyalty. This is why logic is secondary in the minds of theists. Absurdities within a religion are accepted as a matter of course through religious "education." If everyone around you believes the same stuff (the creation of something from nothing, matterless motion, three gods in one, wine is blood, etc.), it becomes real to you and certainly not absurd or illogical. The religions of other tribes, however, may be so different as to be considered absurd. One takes a big chance leaving the safety of one's tribe in an attempt to join some other tribe that may not be accepting of outsiders having absurd, untrustworthy ideas. The loyalty obviously is necessary for defense against other groups that may forcefully attempt to take scarce resources for themselves. Thus, warfare, religion, and nationalism go hand-in-hand. During the Cold War the US, for example, found it necessary to add reference to god in the pledge of allegiance on June 14, 1954, to adopt "IN GOD WE TRUST" as the national motto in 1956 and to include it on all currency in 1957, despite the prohibitions of the founding fathers. This was not so much because believers would forget, but as a warning to those who did not so believe. The disloyalty of unbelief is regarded with suspicion and invitations to "love it or leave it." The loyalty of belief results in confirmation by the highest officials, medals for valor, and the proper burial of the fallen. The current religious wars are products of the economic globalization that has broken the isolation under which various religions were produced. The new contacts between religions expose the contradictions between the various absurdities, but the still stronger loyalties of each nationality supply the solders and materiel necessary for war. But, as explained in "The Scientific Worldview," such economic competition "by other means" eventually produces cooperation and peace via annihilation or merger. The diminution of warfare, religion, and nationalism destroys the need for tribal loyalty, substituting global loyalty in its stead.


googlymoogly said...

The supremacy of religion does not necessarily end with globalization. Indeed, the insidious materialism that follows the "globalization" (another name for imperialism) of the West seems to call for a still-greater religious need.

I recommend reading a book called "The Power of Myth" by the great American anthropologist Joseph Campbell. He describes the need for a "global religion" in response to globalization.

Glenn Borchardt said...

I suppose you are right. Determinism is nothing without indeterminism. I am not sure, however, that I really want to see the battles that would be required for Christianity and Islam to settle their differences in order to become a single religion. Perhaps both will be replaced by some kind of New Age claptrap.

To check out Campbell, go to:
If you are a determinist, be sure to sort by the lowest ratings, so you won't waste your time.