IS EVOLUTION WORKING AGAINST US?

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IS EVOLUTION WORKING AGAINST US?

Post  Aussie John on Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:04 am

I have never been able to use logical argument to dissuade anyone from a strongly held belief. Believe me when I say that I have belted my head against a brick wall in the attempt.
I strongly suspect that it is in fact an evolutionary pressure that supports the believer in the maintenance of their particular status quo.
In a way, it makes sense. If you grow up in an environment that is completely accepting of who you are and you have never been threatened in any way, then where is the motivation for you to change?
In evolutionary terms, change must have been very high on the list of things to avoid. Even now, change requires that an adaptation be made, some small, some large. In any adaptation there is involved some degree of chaos, a period of time where there is vulnerability. If you are living on an edge, as we must have been during a very long evolutionary process, the last thing you need is any confusion anywhere in your life.
There is much more to be said on this subject. Lets see if others have anything to add.

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Re: IS EVOLUTION WORKING AGAINST US?

Post  2buckchuck on Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:34 pm

Aussie John wrote:I have never been able to use logical argument to dissuade anyone from a strongly held belief. Believe me when I say that I have belted my head against a brick wall in the attempt.
I know what you mean. But take heart - out of all those arguments where neither side conceded an inch, if you listen to those people later, it's possible that some of them actually have been persuaded by your arguments. They just had to go back and think about it for a while. I know this ... because that's precisely how my mind has been changed during an argument in which I failed to concede an inch!

Aussie John wrote:I strongly suspect that it is in fact an evolutionary pressure that supports the believer in the maintenance of their particular status quo.
In a way, it makes sense. If you grow up in an environment that is completely accepting of who you are and you have never been threatened in any way, then where is the motivation for you to change?
In evolutionary terms, change must have been very high on the list of things to avoid. Even now, change requires that an adaptation be made, some small, some large. In any adaptation there is involved some degree of chaos, a period of time where there is vulnerability. If you are living on an edge, as we must have been during a very long evolutionary process, the last thing you need is any confusion anywhere in your life.
There is much more to be said on this subject. Lets see if others have anything to add.

You may be right, but I'm no evolutionary biologist, so I can't say much. The ubiquity of religion in human history is suggestive that there might well be some evolutionary advantage to have such a belief system (where the actual belief system is not so important apparently, since religions have been in constant flux throughout recorded history), but ... I think the jury is still out on that one.
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AN EVOLUTIONARY ADVANTAGE IN A BELIEF SYSTEM

Post  Aussie John on Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:05 am

The concept of God could only have come from an early ancestor using a rationalization to resolve a problem. This statement only makes sense if you imagine yourself existing in an environment that existed 12000+ years ago. Try to see yourself walking across an open field with a friend who is 20 meters to your right. He is struck by lightning and is killed. You have absolutely no idea of science. You do however have the ability to ask why.
What choice would you have, except to use a rationalization to come up with any answer your creative mind sees fit to invent? The big problem is that we still use rationalizations in the same way now as we did then.
If I were to define 'rationalization' in evolutionary terms, it would go something like this;
‘Its purpose is to provide an immediate answer which will assuage consciousness and prevent further lines of inquiry into reasons beyond the immediate explanation. In addition, the rationalisation, by its very nature, is reactive and does not contain much by way of reasoned input. It does this for no other reason beyond expediency'.
I sincerely hope that someone will either challenge this idea or at least comment on it. Bearing in mind that 12000 years is a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. Our appearance would not have changed and neither would our neural pathways.


Last edited by Aussie John on Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:38 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Poor English - Rushed.)

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Re: IS EVOLUTION WORKING AGAINST US?

Post  2buckchuck on Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:09 am

Perhaps what I'm thinking is related to your suggestion - it seems to me that an advantage having a belief in a deity confers is the comfort and security blanket it offers when experiencing bad times. There's a sense that one can do something (pray, sacrifice goats, or whatever) about the sometimes threatening things that happen in this world. That we atheists see this as delusional doesn't negate that religion brings comfort to many when their life is troubled. That sense of comfort may help them to survive difficult times.

Another possible evolutionary advantage would be the unity achieved through belief in a common ideology - the "us vs. them" aspect of religion that provides a common cause. Of course this also tends to degenerate into violence against "them", as history suggests (and is thoroughly documented in the 'sacred' texts). It's a kind of religious Darwinism at work here - only the fittest religions survive - which would be somewhat ironic.
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Re: IS EVOLUTION WORKING AGAINST US?

Post  Aussie John on Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:53 am

Hi 2buckchuck
Please check out my response to you. I have posted it as a new topic entitled 'AN EVOLUTIONARY ADVANTAGE IN A BELIEF SYSTEM'?

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Re: IS EVOLUTION WORKING AGAINST US?

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