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Philosophy: The Evolution of Religion: Is It Adaptive to Believe that God Is On Your Side?

Philosophy: The Evolution of Religion: Is It Adaptive to Believe that God Is On Your Side?
Dr Michael E Pryce of Brunel University London, Senior Lecturer in Psychology also School of Culture
BRLSI 7th June 2016
Notes by William Gaskell
Religiosity more psychological, some sort of belief in a natural order.
Adaption is a biological device that is Darwinian, natural selection etc. but not all traits we see in nature are adaptions for survival.
Recommended texts:
Darwin’s Cathedral
God is Watching You - cultural views.
Artist’s image: Jean D’Arc by Odilon Redon
Over attributing agency to Universe – schizophrenia as people may think government out to get them personally or are personally communicating with extra-terrestrial beings.
The question: “How would we do that?” may be a by-product.
Link between religiosity and survival, massive correlation becomes apparent in older women.
·         Public social benefits of a community
·         Private benefits are the extraneous factor – avoiding stress
Social support is the dominant factor affecting public health, secular mimics are doing as well as religious communities. The hypothesis is that there is a correlation between private religious beliefs making people attend church to be with like-minded people. Secular alternate are these Sunday Assembly meeting groups. One question science is pondering is how can these type of groups improve their performance in society? They make unseen order seem more real and reinforce faith in their private belief systems. Religions like Buddhism would have a belief system something along the line that moral order may be directional and human progress is going somewhere.
American politicians are often on a “Mission from God” as this type of private belief helps with fitness and to achieve goals. Oliver Cromwell is cited as an example of someone who was definitely on a “mission from God”.
Thomas Huxley was one of those American mimics who sought to replicate Darwin’s voyage of discovery as an atheist type.
The health benefits of religiosity are clear vis-à-vis happiness and public health but what is unclear is how it affects fitness and goal achievement. Science could be the basis of a community through revelation of an unseen order: “What do we think is real or not?” is a question that could measure religiosity and how it varies in people.


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