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The Evolutionary Function of Belief

Have followed the aetheist/evolution arguments for a decade now. I am clearly in the aetheist camp but am deeply interested in understanding what the evolutionary advantage of belief is. There must be some, since belief in a god, or gods, is so pervasive. What's the evolutionary advantage of belief? Is anyone out there also curious about this. Any comments, thoughts, info, links or resources would be welcomed

A belief is not considered to be knowledge because many people believe in things without any tangible proof. That which is based in fact is not a belief it is knowledge.

Those who rely on faith instead of knowledge and reason to gain knowledge do not become scientists. Evolution is not a "belief" it is a scientific theory. Otherwise anything based on reason instead of faith would therefore be a religion. A scientific theory depends on facts based on reason and evidence. Evolution is based on reason, not belief. Those who promote "Intelligent design" say it is science, but they don't believe in the theories that science has established. "Intelligent design" is not science, but religion masquerading as science. There are some theists who don't take literally every word of the Holy Bible, and do believe the theory of evolution. The "intelligent design" concept is that a complex system can only arise out of something with high intelligence. Although complexity is difficult to define, we can reasonably expect a highly intelligent entity to be highly complex. So, it can only have arisen out of something even more intelligent and complex. It's Intelligent Design all the way down. However, we can stop at the world, to avoid an infinite regress. There is no reason why the physical universe cannot be it's own first cause. As we know from both everyday experience and highly structured scientific observations, complex systems develop from simpler systems all the time in nature (with not even low intelligence required.) Life can evolve from bacteria. And our relatively complex universe could have arisen out of the entity that is the simplest and most mindless of all--the void.

However, this isn't really, and never has been a debate about science. It's about religion. In fact, the creation story in Genesis is not the Big Bang cosmology (no matter what your bias is.) In the Bible, the universe is a firmament and Earth is fixed and immovable (not to mention flat). In reality, the universe is expanding and Earth rotates about the sun. In the Bible, Earth is created in the first "day," before the sun, moon, and stars. In reality, Earth did not form until nine billion years after the Big Bang and after the sun and many other stars. A scientific theory and statement based on "faith" are very different.

Afraid Linda must be a politician -- i.e. didn't answer the question that was asked, but instead answered something that was not asked.

The question was: "What's the evolutionary advantage of belief?" There must be some advantage, because, according to the poster, "There must be some, since belief in a god, or gods, is so pervasive."

If you go over to one of the Ricard Dawkins web sites and much around you'll find (at least I did) that he said that there was advantages to Tribalism --- i.e. a way to bind together different nomadic hunter/gather families into a coherent larger group. Fairly simple explanation. Religion was/is clearly used toward these ends. Religion is capable of providing the cultural myths that serve as a glue for tribes (and of course a useful tool for the leaders of the tribes/clans/etc...).

Thanks for for your resonse, OnlyMe. Yes, Linda misread and misinterpreted my question. I ask out of pure curiosity from an atheist perspective. Given the fact that there are so many people on the planet that ascribe to a religion which is based on a belief system, I can't help but wonder, over the course of human history, how this attribute helped the human survivability/natural selection process. Maybe it's just about the power and protection afforded by community. I'll look further into Richard's specific work in this area. I must have missed it in "The God Delusion". i'll check out his various websites.

I understood the question a lot better than you understood the answer. The advantage of clinging to (primitive) religion in this modern world is that it eliminates the tedious chore of thinking for your self. All you need do is believe what that you are told about everything. Therefore, there is no need for any further investigation. Most of them don't even read the bible, they let their favorite 'mouthpiece' tell them what the bible says and means.

It is also true that modern groupies need the approval just as much as caveman groupies.

Linda this world is not modern. Because in 2000 years they will label us ancient. In 2000 years they will laugh at us and consider us fools. The atheist of the future is no different from the atheist of today. A person who is condescending and ridicules ancient people for not knowing what we know now. Even if you had evidence proving God exists, the next generation would not believe it. Atheism seems to be a personality flaw than any type of belief or non-belief system.

That is probably the most ignorant statement I have heard in a long time. Atheism is a personality flaw?? I am not even going to reject that comment because it isn't worthy, but you sir, Mr.T, are infact, a moron.

Religion evolved in humans as a coping mechanism. Also, it was the way humans answered questions about things they didn't understand. Like where did we all come from etc? Science has answered many questions that were once answered by religion. However, science it is not a coping mechanism. If a person dies science can't comfort the relatives through a belief that they will see them again (science would only disagree) in heaven. If something good/bad happens it is usually rationalized by religious dogma. The fact is that I doubt science will ever fill the emotional need for religion in some people.

It doesn't matter to me what any other atheist famous or unknown thinks. I think that is the need in man that religion fills and why it evolved. Man invented religion in order to survive and the brain developed certain traits in order to survive. So, actually it is a very scientific rationalism for a very unscientific thing (religion.)

A fish has a mind with which it assesses its immediate situation. The fish is most probably not reasoning, but the basic apparatus for perceiving the world and deciding own actions based upon the outer and inner (e.g. hunger, fear) situation is present.

From an evolutionary perspective, a single celled organism would have come somewhen before the emergence of the fish, the human being would have come somewhen after it. To make it short (now don't clobber me): Single cell = stupid, fish = aware, human = reasoning.

The ability to summarize perception in one central system which then decides for the whole being has risen with the emergence of higher life forms.

The amount of data and the size of the decision system has become more and more complex.

A fish can believe that there is a predator in its immediate vicinity and hide accordingly. But maybe the fish was startled by something not remotely dangerous.

A human can believe that there is a creator in its immediate reality and behave accordingly. But maybe the human's decision system made the fish-mistake, only on a much more complex level.

The human brain is so powerful that it can virtually create organs within itself. I am talking about association structures here. If a mind pattern becomes complex/big enough, it is autoapplied, sometimes even against the benefit or even against the will of the owner of the mind. Example: Catchy tune.

The evolutionary function of belief: There is none.

Evolution tries all possible ways (thus on its way also building tons of walls, for example a predator species that subtracts the possibility for sheep to survive in that immediate location), nature kind of stuffs shapes of life into its 3D playground as much as possible.

Also, there is technically nothing like "knowledge" - *everything* is belief. Or how do you know (=believe without the possibility to be wrong) that you are not imagining the world around you and this text? Maybe you are God, dreaming, and this text is just a mind-effect in your "head", just a process of thinking. Maybe you are the universe and every human around you.

Of course you don't believe to be alone, neither do I, but this is basically purely emotional reasoning. You don't want to die or suffer, hence you stick to reason / things that worked out in the past, kept you safe etc.. There is of course also the positive emotion-argument: It just feels good to be together, not alone. The opposite of fear of death/suffering would be the joy to be alive, the strive for bliss.

Belief is just a game of nature. As long as it's viable, why not. If it were a problem, it would be removed. Mr Dillahunty, a tool of nature, is already on it.

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