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   Creationism vs Evolution Debates
     Theism=Evolutionary adaptation
       Theism selected for survival

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FreeAmerican

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The hypothesis that theism and/or religion were a Darwinian survival trait or survival advantage has much merit. I am an Atheist. But I know that worldwide I am only 20% of the world's population and only 5% here in America where I currently reside. That must mean something. In centuries past, such as the Middle Ages, Atheism was extremely rare as far as we know. Religion pervaded society.

I have postulated before, that religion is brain based. It occurs only in those humans whose brains are hard wired to process religious concepts unquestioningly. Atheists by contrast have circuits that reject religious concepts and magical thinking. We are incapable of believing in gods or invisible pink unicorns because of our brain structure as well as early programming perhaps. We now know that our brain structure is 95% determined by genetic codes in the Human Genome, while about 5% may be experience or programming altered synaptic connections. Therefore, a nucleotide code ultimately determines whether you or I will be likely believers or resistant sceptics.

Why would greater than 80% of all humans have such a gene? As a Neo-Darwinian molecular geneticist and neuroscientist, the answer seems obvious. The "religion gene" must have given the ancestors of modern humans a survival advantage. Early humans who possessed the genes survived while most of those who didn't possess it perished or failed to pass on the "sceptical gene". What advantages did the gene confer?

First we must look at religion and religious behaviour. Religion today provides a worldview, but it is also a restrictive and exclusive worldview. It sets those with the same view apart from others. This gives the group an identity, and makes others who differ, unwelcome if not dangerous. We have seen that religion is associated with suspicion of others, and quite often homicidal violence against "wrong believers". Each group creates its gods. The group members fear and hate those who reject their gods and vice versa. Religion is associated with hyper sexuality (even hyper homosexuality) that usually results in higher birth rates.

OK, so we have some early humans who have their own protective gods. They are militant and aggressive toward unbeliever tribes. They have strong group identity. The identity is as much kinship as religious. Even tribe members who are kin are banished or killed for heresy and unbelief. Religion is almost always a mind control system as well. That imposes discipline. Underlings follow orders from the shaman or the god appointed chieftain.

So, a religious tribe has identity, discipline, aggressiveness, prolific reproduction, paranoid fear and hatred toward those who are different in belief, a tendency to violence, and may be easily propelled toward attacking an unbeliever tribe by a shaman or a chieftain who also covets the extra land and female slaves taken in a war.

Suppose the tribe nearby is unreligious or weakly religious. Those people would be like modern atheists. They would be argumentative, resistant to orders (i.e. undisciplined), uninterested in risking their lives for hypothetical gods. They sadly would be under-prolific with fewer children and eventually fewer warriors.

So in a war between the two tribes, who would triumph?  Obviously the disciplined, more aggressive, mutually supportive, paranoid, violence prone, warriors who believe the gods protect them would win. The result would be that the genes of the religious tribe would be passed down. The sceptical tribe's sceptic gene would be exterminated or nearly so.

The gene that programs for religious belief essentially programs a set of behaviours not just belief in gods. The gene's effect in programming the limbic lobe of the brain produced all of the behaviours that we see today in religion: intolerance, hate, discipline, submission to leaders, willingness to risk life and limb fortribe's god (promising  Heaven or Valhalla), gullibility (which makes them pawns of their chief and shaman), and hyper sexuality.

In patients with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Marcel Mesulam has noted traits of hyper sexuality, violence, seeing/hearing god or gods, and hyper religiosity. The behaviours are very closely linked anatomically in the limbic/temporal circuits, perhaps the same circuits. Observations of religious charismatic experiences have shown autonomic phenomena similar to sexual orgasm, (pelvic thrusting movements, penile erections in males, submissive sexual postures and flushing in women Pentecostal
ecstatic states.)

It is apparent that this gene and its resultant brain hard wiring produced people with the above behavioural tendencies. Anyone who has attended a meeting of the British Humanist Association or a meeting of Evolutionary Psychologists is immediately impressed by the fact that they are all arguing with each other, can' t agree on a common statement of policy, and are as difficult to organise as herding cats. Applying such behaviour to early humans would show that they are at a great disadvantage in a conflict with a hyper religious group or tribe.

Therefore, humans with the religion gene passed it on along with its constellation of behaviours. It was a survival advantage because it facilitated the development of disciplined groups of aggressive, violent, paranoid, relatively fearless of death, gulliblefollowers of leaders, which was a successful formula.

Those with the more recessive sceptical genetic codes have only prospered in modern times with Enlightenment influenced constitutions. Yet, even then they remain a minority in all but a handful of West European and East Asian countries. And perhaps the smaller minority of sceptical gene carriers have been allowed to survive in very religious countries like the USA is because we are useful to the society in providing nearly all of their scientists, physicians, psychologists, and inventers. In those professions the sceptical gene provides an adaptive advantage that religious gene carriers lack.

This is my personal hypothesis. That is it is based on history and the observed personal traits of fanatically religious people. As yet I have not found the gene I suspect is there. I am trying to study the DNA of people who are strongly religious compared to that of confirmed Atheists.

FreeAmerican










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"The man who follows is a slave. The man who thinks is free." Robert G. Ingersoll
 


Posts: 42 | Posted: 9:56 PM on April 9, 2003 | IP
Hammer_of_God

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It is true that many people were persecuted for their beliefs, but I must say AGAIN that you are targeting only the Catholic religion...

Find me baptists who would kill people who didn't believe them...Catholosism is not Christianity...Baptist is however...

that is what I believe...


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Life is either an adventure, or nothing...
 


Posts: 24 | Posted: 4:14 PM on April 15, 2003 | IP
ufthak

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I don't know if you have read it, but there is a book by Pascal Boyer that deals with religion in an evolutionary context, called "Religion Explained"...anyways, isn't it a little to simplistic to think that a gene for a trait like this could be narrowed to a single loci on a chromosome?
 


Posts: 28 | Posted: 10:16 PM on April 15, 2003 | IP
FreeAmerican

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Quote from ufthak at 10:16 PM on April 15, 2003 :
I don't know if you have read it, but there is a book by Pascal Boyer that deals with religion in an evolutionary context, called "Religion Explained"...anyways, isn't it a little to simplistic to think that a gene for a trait like this could be narrowed to a single loci on a chromosome?


You are right. I didn't mean to imply that one single simple 4part nucleotide sequence is responsible. It makes more sense that several genes are necessary for religion or  for the opposite, the inability to believe.

There are certainly several HOX genes in brain development. There are regulatory genes and genes for certain synaptic pathways (seratonin, adrenergic, cholinergic, Dopaminergic, and gabaergic in their synaptic neurochemicals.)

Then there are genes that regulate the interconnections of the various circuits. The Circuits may be parts of several systems. The limbic connections from amygdala, hippocampus, cingulate may be parts of grander circuits like religion, sexuality, violence, and emotions all of which share some  of these circuits. It could be well several hundred connected genes doing this.

Now that the final stages of the genome project was completed this month, the study of gene functions will be the next phase. But a single gene may act entirely different singly than one from a groups of genes. It is analogous to Sodium a corrosive metal mixed with Chlorine a toxic gas unite to make common"table salt" critical for life to survive.

Genes do the same thing. Groups of genes have properties different from single isolated genes. Thanks for pointing out my error in not explaining that.

FreeAmerican





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"The man who follows is a slave. The man who thinks is free." Robert G. Ingersoll
 


Posts: 42 | Posted: 03:20 AM on April 16, 2003 | IP
ufthak

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Sorry to be nitpicky again, but it was my understanding that the HOX genes play a role in the development of body segments, not synaptic pathways.  Of course though, I could be wrong on this.  Could you please clarify? Thnx.
 


Posts: 28 | Posted: 01:51 AM on April 17, 2003 | IP
smiles

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This will be handled in priority of idiocy.

1)  The majority of the KKK is baptist.  I know they were just playing with 'negros', but hanging them by the neck does cause death.  

2)  I'm a Roman Catholic which means if I was alive 500 years ago, I would be referred to as a Christian.  Somehow the Catholic church is not Christian because a branch that broke off says that?  If i tell my mom she's not white, only I am, would she laugh.

Now to the fun part.  The beloved chromosone.  I have just earned myself a PhD.  I disagree with FreeAmerican, so I am a doctor now?  

Also, am I to understand that every scientist disagrees with every other scientist?  What is this gene that causes a permanent case of the terrible two's?

I have to say that your 'gene' that makes people believe in God resembles the doctrine of predeterminisn.  Your theory abounds with the language of free will, and yet attempts to refute it.  It has no philosophical validity.

So.  You get a group of scientists together.  They argue.  This proves they don't have the religion gene.

Next you get a group of religious people together.  They are aggressive and hate each other, but they DO have the religion gene.  

Explain.

I also happen to know scientists who believe in God.  How did they slip by?

Smiles
 


Posts: 1 | Posted: 7:02 PM on May 9, 2003 | IP
    
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