Talk:Evolutionary psychology of religion

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Interesting misconceptions[edit]

It's very interesting how subtle misconceptions creep into this discussion. Consider for example the views attributed to Gould (before I edited them) "He believed that religion was an exaptation or a Spandrel. That is religion evolved as byproduct of psychological mechanisms that were designed for other purposes." This demonstrates the point Justin Barrett makes, that some atheists tend to deify Natural Selection. Gould certainly did not believe that evolutionary mechanisms were "designed" at all! Furthermore pretty well everything that evolves comes about because of mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. The eye is a classic example. The point that Gould and co want to make - in the teeth of all the available evidence and in defiance of the obvious logic of natural selection which is that if something is widespread and pretty well ubiquitous it almost certainly does confer an evolutionary benefit - is that religious belief does not confer any evolutionary benefit. NBeale (talk) 16:00, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Nobody is "deifying" natural selection; you seem to be confused by a common shortcut people make, in describing a process as if there were intentions, rather than having to give a full explanation every time the concept is mentioned.

Really Mister Beale, you can't think of ANY evolutionary benefits, like cohesiveness or unity of purpose (no matter how inane or idiotic) to religion? If you can't find any benefits, I think you're not trying hard enough, and were I a disingenuous person I might suggest you were doing on purpose to rationalize. Luckily I am not, So I'll just chalk it up to astoundingly bad research. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.84.111.176 (talk) 00:40, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

I agree 75.84.111.176, religion definitely confers a benefit. The reason "top-notch" scholars like Gould cannot see this is that they are blinded by their egos, ironically in the very same way that blinds the religious. Gould in particular was an avowed Marxist, and he would not consider anything that contradicted this philosophy. Basically, the scientific community is in many ways just as blind and egotistical as the laity. To you and me, it is pretty obvious how a religion can improve someone's life. We have lived it. To a professor, that's heresy! Weird, right? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Qqminuss (talkcontribs) 18:38, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Ok, so I posted a solution to the puzzle that is far more to the point than "a God module in the brain" or "a fuzzy feeling of optimism"

"Richard Dawkins suggests in The Selfish Gene that cultural memes function like genes in that they are subject to natural selection. In The God Delusion Dawkins further argues that because religious truths cannot be questioned, their very nature encourages religions to spread like "mind viruses". In such a conception, it is necessary that the individuals who are unable to question their beliefs are more biologically fit than individuals who are capable of questioning their beliefs. Thus, it could be concluded that sacred scriptures or oral traditions created a behavioral pattern that elevated biological fitness for believing individuals. Individuals who were capable of challenging such beliefs, even if the beliefs were enormously improbable, became rarer and rarer in the population. (See denialism.)


Also, any gene that contributes to denialism allows an otherwise preposterous meme to increase in frequency as long as the resulting behavior increases biological fitness. The individual simply denies that the meme is untrue, behaves as if it were, and benefits from the elevated fitness. While general intelligence and denialism are inversely related, the two are not directly related. A highly intelligent individual can become a denier, though this more rarely occurs. [15] It is worth noting that while denialism can have a genetic origin, there are other reasons someone might become a denier. For instance, a psychopath may deny climate change because he or she does not care what happens to the world or anyone else in it. However, it is fallacious to assume that all such deniers are psychopaths, and in fact, most of them probably are not. Only about 1 in 25 people in the United States suffer from anti-social personality disorder, and far fewer suffer from this malady in less individualistic cultures, such as those in East Asia. [16] One can see how a religious adherence to ideas can be beneficial to the individual by imagining, for instance, the behavioral result of denying overpopulation.[17]

Ironically, if the world ever became atheist and then if scientific evidence for the existence of God became available, scientists would hypothetically have trouble convincing a mass of deniers. More sadly, violent individuals might then commit acts of terrorism against individuals who do not ascribe to atheism. The point here is that the alternatives to be denied, sometimes referred to as heresy, are not constrained by objective reality."

It was completely removed. I'm interested in the idea that scholarly ego is the reason for our misconceptions. Did some professor just read this and think, 'no, that can't be right because I didn't think of it and no one I think is smart thought of it.' ? If so, I have a solution to the puzzle of why we can't figure out what causes religion.

By the way, I've elaborated on this idea further. You can show that religion is basically like a social technology; it allows cohesiveness well beyond the social intelligence of its believers. But unfortunately it also probably promotes lower social intelligence, like eye glasses promote poor vision. I can't get over the fact that out of billions of people, no one else has thought of this. The only conclusion is that thousands already know this is true, but they aren't the egotistical professors. Isn't the world ironic? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Qqminuss (talkcontribs) 18:29, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

I discovered that some Mormon reverted QQminusS's contributions. I have reinstated the argument until a counter-argument can be produced. It really looks like a good idea to me. 172.5.149.38 (talk) 21:46, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Ideas are always encourage in Wikipedia, but they should be backed by a credible scholarly source. I won't remove the "argument" Qqminuss' added but I will add a "citation needed" tag. MikamiLovesDeleting (talk) 08:52, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

~~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Qqminuss (talkcontribs) 18:24, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Evolution of dogmas[edit]

The idea that dogmas evolve has been condemned by religion itself, see the encyclical Pascendi and the constitution Sacrorum Antistitum, where Pope Pius X strongly condemned the notion that religion should be the product of evolution. ADM (talk) 19:17, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Combine with Evolutionary origin of religions?[edit]

These articles are basically the same, however, the one behind this page is a mere stub while http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_origin_of_religions is more filled out. It seems like removing clutter, and making one solid article rather than two partial descriptions, is in everyones' best interest.

I disagree that it's in everyone's best interests. Most people have a short attention span. Welcome to planet stupid. So, if someone stumbles upon this webpage, they may have time to read the whole thing, as opposed to the "more filled out" one, where someone will probably just get bored and decide to watch football. It's in the interest of someone who is not completely bound by reputation in the scientific community who also has something useful to add to this discussion to post it on a second, smaller page. My personal hope was that some interested academic would read the solution I posted and have a great idea of his own. After all, wasn't it he who thought of it? But I forgot that ego is more likely just to ignore outside opinions than to realize they have merit and try to steal them. World is doomed. Qqminuss (talk) 19:05, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

I personally approve of the idea of merging the two articles. They do have essentially the same subject matter (i.e. I can't really imagine how one could make a valid decision about which one of the two articles any pertinent info should go into). BreakfastJr (talk) 08:13, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Regarding two paragraphs in "Biological mechanisms causing religiosity"[edit]

I did not remove the paragraphs since I can see that, theoretically, at some point they might contribute to content of value, but I made it so that they did not show up in the main article.

The problem is that the info contained in these paragraphs is not just unsourced but is genuinely original research with non-obvious/non-intuitive ideas, and furthermore that these paragraphs read like an essay (in their general tone and, in particular, as a result of a question being posed to the reader in Wikipedia's own voice). I did do some Google searches in attempt to find a source for something like the points raised in these paragraphs, but the only one I could find was a blog post (already not really a reliable source), and it was posted by QQminusS, the editor who inserted the information into this article.

I'm not saying that absolutely every claim in Wikipedia must have a reliable source, or that these ideas are incorrect (I make no claims to their accuracy or lack thereof), or that blog posts are never reliable enough as sources (though they very rarely are). However, this article as a whole is on a very touchy subject, since it attempts to explain the potential evolutionary origins of religion, so particular care has to be taken to be very neutral in this article and to maintain an encyclopedic tone. That does not mean that we should avoid including claims that might offend people, but they should only be included if the claims were made in notable/scholarly sources and/or by notable/scholarly individuals.

This is not to say that QQminusS is less intelligent than those individuals (again, I withhold judgement in either direction); this is not about any particular editor, but the editors as a whole. Obviously, given the huge number of Wikipedia editors, there are many of them who have very unfounded ideas, and if we let all of them insert all of these ideas into articles then Wikipedia would cease to be the wonderful resource that it is, since people would have to sift through many probably-flawed ideas to get to the leading ones that reasonable, professional people have arrived at. And obviously there is no practical way in which Wikipedia officials (or administrators or whatever) could categorize all the Wikipedia editors such that only some are allowed to insert their own, original, non-intuitive ideas into articles. As such, all editors should refrain from inserting their own non-intuitive ideas into articles, even if Editor X thinks he knows better; Editor X might well be right, but he should still refrain from putting original research into Wikipedia because all those editors who don't know better do think that they know better, just like Editor X does.

And these paragraphs are even more potentially-contentious than the rest of the article, since they also link the topics of ego, psychopathy, and denialism (all quite touchy subjects in their own right) in with the evolution of religion, with each topic's potential for contentiousness magnifying that of the others.

Again, I'm not saying that QQminusS' ideas are not valid. I'm just saying that it would be a very bad precedent to allow them to be visible in the article in their current state; a much better source than QQminusS' own blog needs to be found (and that blog wasn't even cited in the paragraphs and didn't even account for the second of the two paragraphs in question)—in which case the paragraphs will probably have to be rephrased to some extent to better fit this more reliable source—or the paragraphs should remain invisible, or be removed, or at least be toned down hugely and put into a more encyclopedic tone with a greater emphasis on the fact that this is just one potential view and that it does not (at least not yet) have scientific consensus. BreakfastJr (talk) 08:58, 21 January 2014 (UTC)