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The Scientific Delusion

I have long held the position that the religious/spiritual impulse is such a long held and widespread trait in humans, that it can only be the product of evolutionary development. Our early hominid ancestors began to exhibit this trait through rituals surrounding death and burial, separating them from the those lines that went extinct. Why it emerged is up to debate, but my theory is that its development was due to benefits as a survival mechanism, that fear of death for more than just cessation of existence enhanced that mechanism. That it became a harbinger of death threatening the survival of our species suggests that either we need to outgrow it or some other evolutionary advantage may occur to take its place.

As James Frazer notes in his classic The Golden Bough, primitive humans expressed this curiosity, fear, awe (or whatever you want to call it) of nature through ritual and sympathetic magic, our earliest precursor to science. The oldest anthropomorphic deities unearthed have generally been fertility and nature gods from whom tribes sought protection from the vagaries of weather. Organized religions, a boon to the nation state and often closely affiliated with same, have enjoyed dominance since the rise of empires. Nothing that is so comprehensively present (however manipulated) could be anything other than a natural product.

So why is it that so many supposed scientific/objective types are in such a rage over humans still tethered to a worldview that cannot be measured in pounds, miles or BTUs? One might just as well be angry at righthandedness as at those religiously inclined. As Aleister Crowley once observed, you can only replace a religion with a religion; you cannot replace it with science. Crowley’s answer, of course, was to come up with a more evolved religion, one scientifically designed to generate the maximum benefit to mankind, to replace the primitive dogmas that have encrusted around ancient belief systems. The only other sensible option is to stand on the shore with King Canute and watch the waves roll in.

People are finally getting what I’ve been going on about:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/05/belief-in-witchcraft-and-sorcery-growing-in-pacific/

http://www.salon.com/2013/06/04/do_primates_have_religion_partner/

http://www.salon.com/2013/06/23/christopher_hitchens_lies_do_atheism_no_favors/

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
senryu
Nov. 8th, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
And here's yet another angle supporting the evolutionary aspect: http://www.salon.com/2013/11/07/the_rise_of_religion_might_be_all_about_sex/
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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