The Evolution Of Religion

Prayer Beads

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.   😯

A To Z Challenge – L

april-challenge

I had an L of a time deciding what to write about for the letter

letter-l

I’ve decided to say a few (hah!) words about

LEVITY

noun, plural levities.

lightness of mind, character, or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness.

an instance or exhibition of this.

Anyone who has read more than a ‘few’ of my words, is probably aware that my writing – in fact my life – is crammed to the scuppers with jokes and humor and comedy. Everyone deserves a smile or two each day.  More than that, there should be a mandatory, Minimum Daily Intake of humor.

Laughing releases feel-good endorphins. It’s almost as good as sex, and group comedy is almost as good as….No it’s not, but it’s still good.  Group humor is the social lubricant that glides tension and stress away.  Sharing a couple of jokes in emails, or at lunch, or around the water cooler makes our lives and our jobs so much easier to take.

It’s all well and good to take your life, your job or your marriage seriously, but All Work And No Play – can make Jack a real pain in the ass. Anger turned outward is aggression.  Anger turned inward is depression, but anger turned sideways….is humor.   😆

Just as science-fiction helps its readers take a serious alternate view of the world and its social situations and problems, humor can accomplish the same, in a light-hearted, nonthreatening manner. Subjects and situations that are a bit too touchy or taboo to discuss or even think about – can be gently joked about, thinking initiated, and solutions suggested.

I even disagree to a certain extent with the, “lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness” portion of the above definition.  Anything, or anybody, who claims to be so important that he/it shouldn’t be joked about, is exactly what needs to have a little (or a lot) of levity applied to its thin skin.

Levity is my fall-back position. If I can’t think of something to write about….publish some jokes.  That’s why H in this series was for Humor, and J was for Jokes, to apologise for that insipid I post.  Don’t ever think just because I or someone else is telling jokes, that we are not taking the subject, or life in general, seriously.  This a serious essay, about a serious subject.

Gerry Seinfeld and a friend once spent an hour debating whether to use the word ‘a’ or ‘the’ in a joke.  He replaced the word ‘dog’ with the more specific ‘German Shepherd’ in a limp joke about a blind skydiver – and the new wording killed.

When I went to the online dictionary, to pick up the exact meaning of Levity, I came upon the following definition.  I’ve included it to show you just how hard I work to levitate all my levity to you.   That’s no joke.

Definitions for lucubrate
to work, write, or study laboriously, especially at night.
to write learnedly.