Human Brain Evolved to Believe in Gods

#1
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2...ef-in-god/

EXCERPT: . . . Many mental ingredients are necessary for religion as-we-know-it. But scholars emphasize three tendencies in particular, which are pronounced in humans, but minimally expressed in other species: We seek patterns, infer intentions and learn by imitation. These are cognitive adaptations that helped our ancestors survive.

[...] The first prerequisite, pattern seeking, has obvious benefits for finding food, avoiding predators, predicting weather, etc. We constantly observe the world, trying to derive cause-and-effect relationships. And we demonstrably overdo it: wearing lucky socks to every football game, telling fortunes from palm lines, and seeing the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese.

The next prereq, inferring intentions, is known to psychologists as Theory of Mind (ToM), the understanding that others have beliefs, desires and goals, influencing their actions. ToM allows us to have sophisticated social relationships and to predict how others will behave. You couldn’t “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” without it.

Our closest primate relative, chimpanzees show some degree of ToM. [...] Humans, on the other hand, show extreme ToM, ascribing minds to inanimate or imagined things. A classic psychology experiment showed people even do this for geometric shapes. [...]

Finally, our natural tendency to over-imitate predisposes us to adopt religious practices. Rather than relying on experience and trail-and-error, humans learn most behaviors and skills from other people. Our success depends on so much cultural knowledge, accumulated over many generations, that figuring things out alone is impossible. [...] many cultures have developed methods to make toxic plants edible. They’ve passed on these ritualized techniques, without necessarily understanding why the complicated, time-consuming steps are needed. But skipping seemingly unnecessary steps would lead to gradual poisoning. Thus, copying others, even when the reasons are unapparent, can benefit survival. This mentality gets extended to religious practices; if prestigious members of your community sacrificed deer every solstice, you probably would too.

Our propensity to over-imitate is well demonstrated by experiments comparing the problem-solving strategies of human kids and chimps. Researchers performed a series of unnecessary steps to release a prize from a box with a trap door. Kids diligently repeated every step, whereas chimps skipped to the final one, the only action required to get the reward....

MORE: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2...ef-in-god/
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#2
Here’s another thought: mana "power". Religion consist in getting mana for oneself or using it for one’s benefit.

I was driving home through the redwoods the other day. I stopped at this small country store, grabbed a hot dog, and headed to a picnic table. There was a group of people parked next to the table. A few guys standing by their truck looked like they were waiting for someone. An older guy with shoulder length hair and a blonde woman approached. The guys in the truck asked him for his autograph and wanted a picture with him. I didn’t recognize him. If I had to guess, I’d say Peter Fonda with long hair, but I still don’t have clue. Could have been some old rocker but who knows? I’ve always thought of it as an odd thing that people do. Why would you want someone’s autograph or a picture just to prove that you ran into to someone famous? How does that elevate your status?

Relics of Power

From the foreskin of Jesus to the scarf of Elvis: why humans cannot resist the magical potency of charismatic objects...

Quote:...Humans have a tendency to ascribe special powers and abilities to men, women, objects and places. Throughout history and in all cultural contexts – not just religious ones – people seem to spontaneously endow certain things with special powers, and to proclaim that contact with these persons and things, even by proxy, will have miraculous effects. These things hold a special force, recognised throughout a community.

...In the early history of anthropology, this special power was referred to by the Polynesian concept of mana. Around 1900, the French scholars Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert claimed that people everywhere experience this social force, which can exert a power on the individual to conform to the rules and expectations. And as this force is felt but imperceptible, it was understood as having a supernatural origin manifesting in certain persons, objects or places.

...First, it must be acknowledged that worldly success is unevenly distributed. Whether due to skill or luck, some individuals are simply more successful than others, and we are all experts in tracking these successful individuals within our own social groups. When we perceive someone as repeatedly attaining success, this is likely to coagulate into representations of a general social prestige, which involves perks in other domains: successful hunters have more sex, better food and a larger say in communal decisions, even though these are not strictly related to hunting. This experience of unevenness makes us search for a cause that will justify the social prestige and power that follows. Humans do not like coincidence and we are all very poor statisticians. So instead we tend to either essentialise the persons themselves (they contain ‘the right stuff’), or we argue that they attained this mysterious essence from outside: they are said to be ‘in luck’, ‘especially gifted’ or even have been ‘bestowed’ superhuman attention and aid. In either case, our ability to identify successful individuals and thereby predict who will be a good social partner has, as a byproduct, a proclivity to ascribe successful individuals a special essence. And we tend to believe that it is this essence – this mana – that has made exactly these individuals particularly successful.
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#3
Evolution and humanities "belief" in gods left out a subsequent point in regards to "alpha dominance", hierarchy and megalomania.

Notably a number of ancient civilizations (Rome and Egyptian being two of them) had their leaders exclaim that they were actually gods (bound in mortal vessels). From their perspectives they were gods, as they could get the people of that culture to do whatever they wanted, although it was more likely that fear, oppression and the threat of disease/starvation/war/death (yeah.. on horseback Dodgy) was used to get people to what they wanted.

As for "signature and the famous". In some beliefs/cultures (like the Vikings) a person hasn't lived until they've made a name for themselves (or died in battle), fame and notoriety increased status which aided in working out who to follow/side with in warfare/politics/society in general (The military still has rank systems). Siding with the right people increased survival (as picking the wrong side would result in death or being ostracised from such positions and/or circles.) Symbolism (artefacts) again was used to manipulate position based upon peoples faith in relaitonship to objects that referenced such people or acts.

As for Autograph hunting, autographs can make a pretty penny to collectors, they can establish that a memory is kept about the interaction with whomever it was that was met, as well as having the straight forward capacity to tell the story of such a meeting (possibly with an envelope of embellishment). IMO if I'm around people of notoriety I tend to not bother with asking them for such dust magnets, they should be entitled to get on with their lives like any other person without having to put up with catchphrases, questions or wanton disgust being thrown at them because of being publicly known.
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#4
My species is in its infancy (150000 years) thus my brain is also. When I was a young kid, I believed in Santa Claus. As I grew older that belief went by the boards. So despite being an intelligent animal, I was capable of believing in something that wasn't. If we evolved to have a brain that believes in God then does humanity have a brain that will further evolve to not believe in God? Surely it is possible and why wouldn't it be?
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#5
(Oct 16, 2018 02:46 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote: Here’s another thought: mana "power". Religion consist in getting mana for oneself or using it for one’s benefit. [...] Could have been some old rocker but who knows? I’ve always thought of it as an odd thing that people do. Why would you want someone’s autograph or a picture just to prove that you ran into to someone famous? How does that elevate your status? [...]


(Oct 16, 2018 03:52 PM)stryder Wrote: Evolution and humanities "belief" in gods left out a subsequent point in regards to "alpha dominance", hierarchy and megalomania. Notably a number of ancient civilizations (Rome and Egyptian being two of them) had their leaders exclaim that they were actually gods (bound in mortal vessels). From their perspectives they were gods, as they could get the people of that culture to do whatever they wanted [...]


Ain't it the truth? No wonder Harvey Weinstein felt entitled to the option of capriciously turning working relationships and business encounters into chest-stand practices for the other person(s). In a diminished respect even an overweight, famous film producer is probably just a couple of air-guitar playing fields away from having the status of a top billboard musician. Born in 1952, he still belongs late to an era when the expectation for a celebrity to be served by adoring devotees got cranked up to yet another notch (as if that was possible).

For classic rock star groupies who were either religious or habituated by a monotheist background, the full potential of mana and the ancient apotheosis of mortals was probably obstructed by mandates like "thou shalt have no other gods before me". Otherwise, they might have experienced an even deeper feeling of sacredness in the course of being plowed in the head by deities like Robert Plant while receiving a urine shower from a mere demigod like Richard Cole; or (on the Stones front) the sublime emotion of having their own thrown-upon-the-stage panties being the ones selected from among dozens by a Mick Jagger, to be stuffed into his pants after taking a good whiff. ("Just my size!")

Led Zeppelin: There was a whole lotta love on tour: In his unauthorised biography *Hammer of the Gods*, Stephen Davis explains how one could catch fish out of the window of Cole's room. He then quotes Cole as saying: "These birds were coming up to my suite wanting to fvck, and me and Bonzo [the drummer, John Bonham] were quite serious about catching these fish." Cole then describes the "victim": "She might have been hit by the shark a few times for disobeying orders, but she didn't get hurt." Let's hope she saw it the same way.

[...] As Plant has said: "I was young when I first went to America. I was 19 years old, and I went crazy. I met The GTOs and my mind just snapped. I'm from a nowhere town in the Midlands and here were these girls with bare breasts blatantly coming on, and of course we went crazy". The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously) were an LA clique led by Pamela des Barres (then called Miss Pamela). "When you saw Led Zeppelin play," she relates in her book Let's Spend the Night Together, "it was all over bar the orgasm".

There were many other regular groupies who hooked up with Zeppelin when they arrived in the USA and, particularly, Los Angeles (the Hyatt House hotel there became known as the Riot House). Cynthia Plaster Caster, for instance, specialised in casts of the erect penises of rock stars. She describes how, while she fellated Plant, Cole urinated on her. Bebe Buell, a Playboy Playmate, told Playboy magazine that her time with Page was a meeting of minds, and how she felt Page's habit of "spewing saliva" into her mouth during sex was "his way of putting some of himself in me".


As a lower rep band / inner circle trying to rub some glitter off the rising to stardom ones like Zeppelin, the GTOs didn't really qualify as "off the street" type groupies. Nor Caster and Buell. Still, the overall account paints a picture for how the eager conventional worshipers could receive all they desired from the "gods" and more, as well as the underage girls and any unfortunate bystanders mistaken for fan-atics by substance-addled members of this or that superstar band.

~

(Oct 16, 2018 07:04 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: If we evolved to have a brain that believes in God then does humanity have a brain that will further evolve to not believe in God? Surely it is possible and why wouldn't it be?


Any extraterrestrial visitors who saw hunter-gatherer culture millennia ago might have been hard-pressed to imagine their skills culminating in the technological civilization of today. Even the first pictures smeared on cave walls and boulders probably had a symbolic joint spiritual/practical purpose. Crazy, abstract imagination incrementally wandering and developing into unexpected, concrete realizations.

~
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#6
Ah, the things atheists must tell themselves to justify some inconvenient facts:

It’s natural to believe in the supernatural. Consider how many people worldwide belong to a religion: nearly 6 billion, or 84 percent of the global population, and these figures are expected to rise in the coming decades. In the U.S., surveys show 90 percent of adults believe in some higher power, spiritual force or God with a capital G. Even self-proclaimed atheists have supernatural leanings. The same study found all atheists reject God, but one-in-five accept higher powers or spiritual forces.
- http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2...8ZSYJdReUk


A stop motion film of geometric shapes moving around, created by a person, doesn't really demonstrate a completely superfluous theory of mind. Children trusting adults to teach them by example, until their reasoning skills have developed further, doesn't really make a sweeping statement about imitation either.

It’s natural to believe in the supernatural. Consider how many people worldwide belong to a religion: nearly 6 billion, or 84 percent of the global population, and these figures are expected to rise in the coming decades.
- http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2...8ZSYJdReUk


If these figures are expected to rise, it's not likely that a move away from religious belief is the natural evolution.
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#7
(Oct 16, 2018 09:28 PM)C C Wrote: [...] As Plant has said: "I was young when I first went to America. I was 19 years old, and I went crazy. I met The GTOs and my mind just snapped. I'm from a nowhere town in the Midlands and here were these girls with bare breasts blatantly coming on, and of course we went crazy". The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously) were an LA clique led by Pamela des Barres (then called Miss Pamela). "When you saw Led Zeppelin play," she relates in her book Let's Spend the Night Together, "it was all over bar the orgasm".

There were many other regular groupies who hooked up with Zeppelin when they arrived in the USA and, particularly, Los Angeles (the Hyatt House hotel there became known as the Riot House). Cynthia Plaster Caster, for instance, specialised in casts of the erect penises of rock stars. She describes how, while she fellated Plant, Cole urinated on her. Bebe Buell, a Playboy Playmate, told Playboy magazine that her time with Page was a meeting of minds, and how she felt Page's habit of "spewing saliva" into her mouth during sex was "his way of putting some of himself in me".

My first time in a bar, I went to get a drink with some girls after work. Another couple that they knew came to sit with us. The waiter put a drink in front of me. I didn’t know where it came from. My girlfriend said that her friend’s husband bought it. He didn’t buy everyone at the table a drink, though, so I was a little confused. Next thing I know, his wife scoots over next to me and tells me that he said that I was his ideal girl. Now, I’m really confused. This is not going well for a shy person. Yeah, awkward as hell. She asked me if I’d go sit by him. Uh, no. I thanked him for the drink and then said that I had to go. They followed me out and asked if I’d be interested in sleeping with them. Funny thing is, though, that’s happened to me more than once.

Another couple that were always invited to the same dinner parties asked me the same thing. He’d brag about their sex life and talk about it in great detail to the whole group. Me? I would have been pissed (no pun intended). That’s grounds for divorce in my book. One time, I couldn’t believe it. He was telling everyone about how they we’re having sex in the backyard, and how she was giving him a golden shower, while their neighbor was watching. I asked him why he liked it. He didn’t know. I asked if it had something to do with the idea of it being a taboo. He thought that might be it. She’s really submissive. She lets him do whatever he wants and he just keeps taking it up a notch. So, I got the heebie jeebies when they asked me to join them. “Oh, hell no!”

That’s probably why famous people are so freaking. That whole power thing really gets to your head. If someone peed on me, or spit in my mouth, I’d coldcock him.



(Oct 16, 2018 10:41 PM)Syne Wrote: Ah, the things atheists must tell themselves to justify some inconvenient facts:

Uh, yeah, no one is interested in another pissing contest but I could hook you up with someone.  Wink
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#8
(Oct 16, 2018 11:22 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote:
(Oct 16, 2018 10:41 PM)Syne Wrote: Ah, the things atheists must tell themselves to justify some inconvenient facts:

Uh, yeah, no one is interested in another pissing contest but I could hook you up with someone.  Wink

Interesting how you arduously avoided my substantial comments in that post...and even the quotes from CC's OP source.
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#9
Quote:From the foreskin of Jesus

What's the recent tabulation? How many miles?  Christ was incredibly well hung, if those high sale figures are to be believed. 

If they really have his prepuce then why aren't they doing DNA checks? These little chunks of human endowment have divine genetic information contained within. Would be first scientific proof of God....er...maybe.
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#10
(Oct 17, 2018 03:44 AM)Zinjanthropos Wrote:
Quote:From the foreskin of Jesus

What's the recent tabulation? How many miles?  Christ was incredibly well hung, if those high sale figures are to be believed. 

If they really have his prepuce then why aren't they doing DNA checks? These little chunks of human endowment have divine genetic information contained within. Would be first scientific proof of God....er...maybe.

Speaking of foreskin, you know how C C was talking about dry sex? Well, I think you can safely say that micro-tears contribute to sexually transmitted diseases. Micro-tears usually happen when the vagina isn’t well lubricated.

I don’t know whose idea it was. The history isn’t clear but just think about how ridiculous it is that we’ve allowed male circumcision to become the norm. Not only have you lost specialized erogenous nerve endings but a protective sheath, as well.  This sheath provides a gentle gliding mechanism that minimizes friction to the vagina. No need for vaginal rejuvenation because the foreskin contributes significantly to the sexual response of the intact male.

Various miraculous powers have been ascribed to the holy prepuce but technically those powers were…uh-um, severed?

Do you think that’s where that idiom "cutting the head off of the snake" came from?  Big Grin
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