(FB 1547316451 Timestamp)
THE BIOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR RELIGIOSITY? NOPE.
by Bill Joslin
The biological argument for religiosity I find is flawed. Aaron Hill presented this to me a week or two ago. The mutual exclusion of reason and commitment which is often presented as the result of selection pressures due to religion.
I’d offer an alternative hypothesis. we’ve evolved to err on the side of false positives and projected intention because this affords better risk management in regards to predation pressure. Whereas reason/investigation to ferret out a false positive would increase risk of predation.
example to illuminate what I mean. An ape in the savanah hears a rustling in the grass beside them. Assuming the rustling is a predator (projected intention) opposed to the wind and fleeing would offer, on the aggregate, a better chance of surviving than investigating to verify the initial assumption wasn’t a false positive.
This provides a selection pressure toward “faith” over reason and why reason does not come easily to us. (in other words the biology behind faith is not due to religion but rather predation pressure)
Now, to take the biological responses we’ve inherited toward projected intention and false positives as justification for religiousity et al is to jump the is-ought gap. Just because we have these predilections (the “is”) doesn’t mean we “ought” to embrace them.
The evidence is in – the incremental extrapolation of social and formal functions away from the church, religiosity and intuition allowed humans to break out of the Malthusian trap, move out from under discretionary rule and begin cultivating markets for agency across scale (individual – organizational, middle class).
In short, the placebo effect and predilection for faith doesn’t warrant embracing obfuscation of causal relations when human progress has resulted from disambiguation across multiple domains.