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Will religion always be with us?

  1. Oct 2, 2009 #1
    Is it built into the human brain or merely a cultural phenomenon?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2009 #2


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    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?

    God knows !
  4. Oct 2, 2009 #3
    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?

    There is actually some literature on the evolutionary origins of religion by people like Boyer, Altran and Dennett, among others, that could be worth reading. In their view, evolution has primed our brains to be seekers of intentionality, even where none exist. Better to err on the side of caution and mistake non-intentional things for intentional things (and at most spend some extra energy) than do the opposite and risk dying, or so the general (slightly caricatured here) argument goes.
  5. Oct 2, 2009 #4


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    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?

    Is one referring to religion or theology? Religion and theology have been around for several millenia. There is no indication they are disappearing.
  6. Oct 2, 2009 #5
    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?

    Thanks for the references, Mattara. That is an interesting idea and it's new to me.

    What's the difference?
  7. Oct 2, 2009 #6


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    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?

    Could be truth too.

    I would like to remind you that our guidelines on religious discussion:
    Discussions that assert the a priori truth or falsity of religious dogmas and belief systems ... will not be tolerated.​
  8. Oct 2, 2009 #7
    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?

    Yes, I was a little worried about that. I now wish I had chosen a more neutral title like, "will religion always be with us?" If anyone knows how to change the title of a thread, please feel free. I just wanted to know what the current thinking was on this matter and I'm not a psychologist, anthropologist, etc.
  9. Oct 3, 2009 #8


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    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?


    religion -
    1 (a) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (b) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

    2 a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    3 a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    By 1b, 2 and 3, theology (specifically a belief in a god or gods) is not necessarily part of religion. So an atheist or agnostic can be religious or have religion.

    theology - 1. the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God's relation to the world

    2. a theological theory or system, e.g., a belief in a god or gods.

    Looking at etymology of religion: Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back - in other words religion can provide a moral constraint (self-restraint) on one's behavior.
  10. Oct 3, 2009 #9
    If it's "built-in" to the human brain, "it" might be fear of being alone or wanting something to believe in, or to belong to a group (which could be different than being alone).

    I've always thought of religion as that thing which can "fill the cup" - if the cup needs filled. I'm sure someone will quickly point out that knowledge and discovery can also fill the cup - to which I agree, but so can hate, despair, and extreme intolerance.
  11. Oct 3, 2009 #10
    Be careful; you may be assuming a false dichotomy here. It is very rare for humans to develop in the absence of other humans.
  12. Oct 3, 2009 #11


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    I think it will always be with us. I think it is human to seek meaning to existence. And I think seeking meaning to existence leads to religion.

    Note that there is no comment on whether this is a good or bad thing.
  13. Oct 4, 2009 #12
    Re: Will humanity ever overcome religion?

    1 and 3 are really different things.
  14. Oct 4, 2009 #13
    "will religion always be with us?"

    Yes. And constantly reinvented, in daily evolution, using every media of communication.

    Is this a multiply choice question where I only get to choose the best answer rather than right one?
  15. Oct 4, 2009 #14
    Here is something that could be interesting, although a few months old.


    Their terminology is a bit sloppy here, so assume that they mean non-religious non-theists, when they say "atheists". Perhaps this is merely a temporary wobble.
  16. Oct 4, 2009 #15
    I think people will slowly start changing their beliefs as they realize beliefs can't be chosen. I don't think beliefs are a choice. Beliefs should be based on our worldview, facts, evidence, and reasoning.
    I can give a quick demonstration on why it's silly to blindly choose beliefs: I want you to believe in Allah for 5 seconds, then I want you to believe that you're a billionaire, then tell us what it was like.
    It would be ridiculous to "believe" your a billionaire when there is no evidence to support it. Where's the cars? Where's the all the bling? Where is the mansion?
    I could say, "there is a kettle orbitting the sun right now that can;t be detected or seen in any way." You probably wouldn't believe it until there was some evidence to support that claim.

    Anyway, I think institutionalized religion will die out over the next 100 years as science sheds more and more light on where we came from.
  17. Oct 4, 2009 #16
    I thought the case for Evolution was already pretty strong - yet the debate continues.

    I think religion is puhed aside during periods of prosperity and embraced during tough economic or uncertain times.

    If most of the world's problems can be solved in the next 100 years, the religious movements may lose support.

    However, if there are difficult times ahead, like-minded people tend to herd together.
  18. Oct 4, 2009 #17


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    There are too many foregone conclusions in your statements for them to have validity.

    What are you talking about 'beliefs can't be chosen'? You assume people are having their religions thrust upon them?

    What is our 'worldview' but the things we've learned from our parents and peers?

    What is a belief but something we hold whether or not we have evidence?

    This is a spurious analogy. Religion does not occur in a vacuum; it is a community phenomenon.

    It would not be so ridiculous to believe someone is a billionaire if your parents and peers raised you to believe they are a billionaire.

    I might give it some serious consideration if a third of the population of the planet were telling me so.
    Lack of evidence of our origins is not in short supply; we have plenty enough. Beliefs are beliefs.
  19. Oct 4, 2009 #18


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    Well, I think belief in some form of personal immortality is more entrenched psychically than belief in some godly beings.

    For example, there have been belief systems wit concepts of P.I but no God to speak of, but I am unaware of belief systems of God that does not include some belied in (potential) PI as well.
  20. Oct 4, 2009 #19


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  21. Oct 4, 2009 #20
    "Is it built into the human brain or merely a cultural phenomenon?"

    Good point.

    Maybe this is a question that cannot be approached in an experimental way. How does one apply the scientific method to a nature-vs-nuture question when it comes to people? I doubt it's possible (or ethical) to create a society that's completely cut off from all other human contact and see if - after a few generations - they make a religion or two. (And in any case the results wouldn't be conclusive since the initial members would already be prejudiced one way or the other and would not be able to avoid passing this on, and who knows how long it takes for religion to come about in the first place? Maybe it needs a thousand years of incubation to appear in a form we would recognize. etc.)
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
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