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Old 12-20-2010, 04:44 PM   #150 (permalink)

feat. Otto Neurath
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Originally Posted by Someguy again View Post
simple evolution, we needed to invent it in mankinds early stages to keep us in check with the fear of a omnipresent being watching over us, but we are in the 21st century and will be growing out of it and use logic and reason to benefit humanity.

theres probably a god, but not a microinterventionist one.
I disagree with just about everything you said. Belief in god is not, so far as we know, a matter of simple evolution (usually this is a belief held by people that don't understand evolution). It's not clear to me that we ever needed to invent it, and I certainly don't think it was "invent[ed]...to keep us in check."

Obviously giving a causal explanation of religion is going to be difficult and will draw from many different disciplines, but I will give the least-reductive simple hypothesis I can propose. I will argue that it is the product of evolution, but not a necessary product of evolution. When you look at any organism, you're looking at a great deal of chance (filtered by non-random selection), so there is never a reason to assume that evolution will head towards a particular goal other than fitness (which is itself a very tricky concept).

What I would suggest is that there are psychological mechanisms that produce a wide array of behaviour. As more mechanisms are added and amplified, the behaviour produced changes. I would speculate that the very beginnings of religious belief are grounded in something simple (relatively speaking) like patternicity. What begins as a clear fitness advantage (recognizing false patterns is less harmful than failing to recognize true patterns) ends up producing a number of what might be called emergent or epiphenomenalist behaviours. A simple way of putting this might be to say that religion is not the direct product of anything, but rather a by-product of a number of psychological mechanisms which were beneficial for other reasons.

Also, I'm not sure that the question of god's existence is something you can say "probably" or "probably does not" exist, as I think that is implying some sort of probability calculation which I'd like to see the work on. Most Bayesian attempts, which I think have come closest, have utterly failed at being convincing.
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