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Creation Science Fiction™

Exposing The Lies One Layer At A Time

Why Are So Many People Religious?

The simple answer is we have evolved to be religious. Our ancestors developed the ability to imagine things that are not there and it became a selective advantage. Imagine walking through a forest and hearing a twig snap. If you imagine there may be something threatening out there and you either retreat or proceed with caution, you are at an advantage over someone who ignores the sound. This ability to imagine allowed us to be creative when thinking about our own origins and we used that to fill in gaps in our knowledge. A recent article at PHYS ORG gives us some more clues. (1)

"Why people
 believe is a question that has plagued great thinkers for many centuries. Karl Marx, for example, called religion the "opium of the people". Sigmund Freud felt that god was an illusion and worshippers were reverting to the childhood needs of security and forgiveness.

A more recent psychological explanation is the idea that our evolution has created a "god shaped hole" or has given us a metaphorical "god engine" which can drive us to believe in a deity. Essentially this hypothesis is that religion is a by-product of a number of cognitive and social adaptations which have been extremely important in human development."

It seems many humans are predisposed to being religious, they really don't have much of a choice. Of course most people will follow the religion of their parents or whatever society they are born in, but others may seek a religion that makes more sense to them or because they feel the need to belong to a group who thinks the same way they do. They also feel a need to be part of a group and participate in group rituals.

"In addition to these psychological aspects, the ritual behaviour seen in collective worship makes us enjoy and want to repeat the experience. Dancing, singing and achieving trance-like states were prominent in many ancestral societies
 and are still exhibited by some today – including the Sentinelese people, and Australian aborigines. As well as being acts of social unity, even more formal rituals also alter brain chemistry. They increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin in the brain – chemicals that make us feel good, want to do things again and provide a closeness to others."

For many people, just the act of attending church and praying or reciting hymns together satisfies their need for ritual behavior. This is one of the reasons I am no longer an anti-theist. Once I realized that religious people are not necessarily personally responsible for their tendencies, they are prone or given to believing the way they do, it makes more sense to accept religion as a natural phenomena resulting from millions of years of our evolution. 


1. Why are people religious? A cognitive perspective



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