X-Message-Number: 31440
Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 10:53:25 -0700
Subject: Paranoid view of religion
From: Keith Henson <>

Although not as universal as walking and talking, the psychological
traits that enable humans to acquire a religion are species wide and
typical.  And like walking and talking they were acquired after our
line split from the chimps and bonobos.

These observation and evolutionary principles require that the
psychological traits behind religions were under positive selection
pressure at some time in the past.

An equivalent statement is that in the past having the psychological
traits for religions led to a reproductive advantage over those who
did not have the traits.

"Reproductive advantage" needs to be considered from the viewpoint of
genes.  If you are not familiar with the concept Google William
Hamilton and "inclusive fitness."

On these theoretical grounds I have proposed that the psychological
traits that cause religions to exist comes from the ability to be
infected with xenophobic memes when a group anticipates hard times
a-coming.  These memes synchronized a tribe's warriors for a do or die
attempt to kill of neighbors and take their resources.  The
psychological mechanisms were strongly selected in our violent past
where population growth was checked by warfare.

If you want to read the long form of this journal article, Google for
"Evolutionary psychology, memes, and the origin of war."


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