Finally, an eminent scientist is setting out to prove that the rise of religion was caused by evolution.
In humans’ mysterious journey to become intelligent, socializing creatures like no other in the animal world, religion was the innovation which played an essential role. We needed something to literally stop everyone from killing everyone else, just out of grumpiness.
How did we manage it? Did humor help? Exercise? Storytelling? Singing? Dance?
CAUTION, CONFORMITY CONFIRMATION
Religion is a complex, multi-tentacled Hydra, which draws from many psychological inputs, to ensure the survival of (most of) the race. It creates an US and a THEM. Anything we recognize as US, we deem safe and acceptable. THEM, on the other hand, are not family, clan or village, fit to be driven out.
Each species of primate can manage to keep up a special bond with a certain number of others of the same species. This goes up as brain size increases, from monkeys to apes. Humans can maintain significantly more social ties than brain size alone, seems to explain. Most of us keep a surprisingly large number of social ties, including 5 with intimate friends, 50 with good friends, 150 with friends, and 1500 with people we can recognize by name.
Reading this, I immediately knew that I was well below the standard. Of my 5 most intimate friends, I’ve only physically met two of them. I am friendly with 50 to 150 people, but they are store clerks, Osteopaths, etc. While they may like me, or put up with me and my silliness, I doubt that they regard themselves as my ‘friend,’ and I barely remember the names of the people who reside in the same house with me. 1500??!
It is well known that repetitive actions like pacing the floor, or twiddling thumbs, lower anxiety. The Jews and Muslims have prayer beads, and Catholics have their rosary – the same thing, with a cross attached, although most Protestants have given it up. Buddhist monks spin prayer wheels, and all of these focus the mind to help achieve a calm, Zen-like state.
Religions have taken all the calming practices, and made them into group activities. If everyone bows, kneels (in the same direction), waves their hands, etc, at the same time, each person feels less aggressive and more accepting, and everybody feels part of the group.
A couple of other calming activities are singing – think hymns – and dancing, although Christianity has largely got away from that. It smacks too much of ‘having fun.’ Anyone forced to observe me singing or dancing, would not be calm or friendly.
Another couple of aggression/tension reducers surprised me. Not ‘group’ actions, because not everyone performs them simultaneously, they are humor and story-telling. Presenting funny or spell-binding tales to a rapt group, especially youngsters, binds them into a less war-like group.
My singing and dancing may be banned in some States, and I can’t remember who my friends are, but apparently, my blog-posts and jokes make others less likely to assault me. Hey! I’m religious, and I didn’t even know it. 😯