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 – U

april-challenge

When NBC convinced Johnny Carson to move his Tonight show from New York City to California, the changeover happened quite quickly.   His Burbank studio was ready far before he had a chance to buy or rent accommodations on the Left Coast.

He was put up for almost two months in a luxury suite at a ritzy local hotel. I don’t know if it was just having to live in unfamiliar, if posh, surroundings; if there was some friction between him and hotel staff and management; or if it was just an easy target for the gag-writers jokes.

Every night for weeks, there was a snide comment, and the Sheraton Universal was changed and referred to in his monologues as the Sheraton Unspeakable, the Sheraton Unreasonable, the Sheraton Uninhabitable, the Sheraton Untenable, the Sheraton Unbearable.

It was almost amazing how many U-shaped insults were crafted.  Finally, one night it became simply the Sheraton Unique, and we come to the word for this post about

letter-u

I recently composed a post about how huge percentages of the population have an overwhelming compulsion for conformity. They must be like everyone else, and everybody else must be exactly like them.

When the grandson was small, he was diagnosed with a variety of food allergies. Several of them caused behavioral problems, something the non-plagued are often not aware of.  Certain chemicals and compounds in food can cause physical and neurological stress, in turn causing moodiness, edginess, irritability, anger and lack of focus.

As a child it was relatively easy for his mother to watch his intake and ensure that he took his medication. As he neared puberty, and his character was developing, he regressed to sullen disinterest, if not disobedience, more so than most tweens.  Careful cross-examination revealed that he was sneaking foods from classmates, and not taking his pills.

When he was asked why he was doing this, even knowing his allergies, his answer was that he didn’t want to have allergies. He didn’t want a restrictive diet.  He didn’t want to take pills.  He just wanted to be like everyone else.

It didn’t take long to prove to him that ‘everyone else’ wasn’t like ‘everyone else.’ His Mom and his Grandma had to avoid certain foods and take medications.  When he looked closer, he found classmates with similar restrictions and needs.

Grandma, the chef, pointed out that the spelt-based cookies, cakes, bread and rolls, even the spelt-crust pizza, with lactose-free cheese and tamarind sauce, instead of tomato, were treats that no-one else got to have. Did he want her to stop making them for him?  The way to a man’s head, as well as his heart, is often through his stomach.

As a knowledgeable adult he can control the allergic affects, although he is still careful. As well as being a friendly, caring young man, he is largely indistinguishable from the rest of the herd, but he takes pride in knowing that he, like all the rest of us, is one-of-a-kind.  He is unique!  I don’t know why more of us can’t embrace that.