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Why we are born to believe in God

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
Gordon975
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Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Gordon975 » July 22nd, 2018, 6:39 am

I would like to propose a topic for discussion which may explain the existence of god in so many diverse and unrelated cultures and suggest that a belief in the supernatural and therefore god is something we are born with.

The following quoted from the UK news paper the Daily Mail from 2009 :
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ogist.html
Humans are programmed to believe in God because it gives them a better chance of survival, researchers claim. A study into the way children's brains develop suggests that during the process of evolution those with religious tendencies began to benefit from their beliefs - possibly by working in groups to ensure the future of their community. The findings of Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggest that magical and supernatural beliefs are hardwired into our brains from birth, and that religions are therefore tapping into a powerful psychological force.

All in the mind: Scientists have claimed we are born to believe in God.

His work is supported by other researchers who have found evidence linking religious feelings and experience to particular regions of the brain. They suggest people are programmed to receive a feeling of spirituality from electrical activity in these areas. The findings challenge atheists such as Richard Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, who has long argued that religious beliefs result from poor education and childhood 'indoctrination'.

Professor Hood believes it is futile to try to get people to abandon their beliefs because these come from such a 'fundamental level'. 'Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs about how the world works,' he said. 'As they grow up they overlay these beliefs with more rational approaches but the tendency to illogical supernatural beliefs remains as religion.' The professor, sees organised religion as just part of a spectrum of supernatural beliefs.

In one study he found even ardent atheists balked at the idea of accepting an organ transplant from a murderer, because of a superstitious belief that an individual's personality could be stored in his or her organs. To reinforce his point, Professor Hood produced a blue cardigan during a lecture and invited the audience to put it on, for a £10 reward. This prompted a sea of raised hands to volunteer. He then said that the notorious murderer Fred West wore the cardigan, causing most to put their hand down. Although it was merely a stunt - the cardigan was not West's - the professor said this showed that even the most rational of people can be irrationally made to feel uncomfortable. Another experiment involved asking subjects to cut up a treasured photograph. When his team then measured their sweat production - which is what lie-detector tests monitor - there was a jump in the reading. This did not occur when destroying an object of less sentimental significance. 'This shows how superstition is hardwired into our brains,' he added.

The Rev Michael Reiss, professor of science education at London University's Institute of Education and an Anglican priest, said he saw no reason why such research should undermine religious belief. 'We are evolved creatures and the whole point about humanity is that we are rooted in the natural world.'

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Thinking critical » July 25th, 2018, 7:18 am

I do not except the premise and fail to see how any study could conclusively demonstrate that neonates have a cognitive predisposition to believe in gods.
The article misrepresents the fundamental nature of the human condition to be naturally curious about the environment and to make assumptions to explain things we fail to understand.
Infants consistently attribute agency to phenomena which lays beyond the scope of their reasoning capacity in order to make sense of the world. Children are clearly fascinated by the idea of magical places and supernatural powers, this is evident from the wild imaginations and crazy stories our kids come up with.
This article is exploiting this fact and attempting to merge ideas of super natural and magical with common religious definitions of the same words to insinuate that being attracted to the idea of the supernatural is equivalent to having a predisposition to believe in supernatural beings such as gods.

Religion (maybe not intentionally) tends to use this human condition to its advantage by recruiting and indoctrinating children from a young age before they're old enough to realise just how fragile and easily influenced their minds are.
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Count Lucanor » July 25th, 2018, 9:50 pm

Gordon975 wrote:
July 22nd, 2018, 6:39 am
I would like to propose a topic for discussion which may explain the existence of god in so many diverse and unrelated cultures and suggest that a belief in the supernatural and therefore god is something we are born with.

The following quoted from the UK news paper the Daily Mail from 2009 :
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ogist.html
Humans are programmed to believe in God because it gives them a better chance of survival, researchers claim. A study into the way children's brains develop suggests that during the process of evolution those with religious tendencies began to benefit from their beliefs - possibly by working in groups to ensure the future of their community. The findings of Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggest that magical and supernatural beliefs are hardwired into our brains from birth, and that religions are therefore tapping into a powerful psychological force.
The only program I see here is the program of Evolutionary Psychology and its main tenet: that every aspect of human behavior is associated to specific-purpose functions of brain "modules". Since Evolutionary Psychology has become very popular, everything seems to come down to the easy task of proposing evolutionary strategies and linking them to pre-wired modules in the brain. It doesn't work that way.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Belindi » July 25th, 2018, 9:56 pm

Gordon975, don't you think that it's necessary to define 'God' before you can say that it's innate?

Is belief in anything innate? Chomsky said that deep structure of grammar is innate however there are many concepts that are commonly labelled "God" which are pretty obviously learned concepts. And 'belief' also needs parsing. What is it to believe something?

One can believe that one needs a drink of water: or that hedgehogs have fleas: or that the ghost was more than hallucination: or that your dog will live to be fifteen years old: or that God is another name for good: or that God is a name for the original creator: or that you will bake a cake tomorrow: or that there is ontological order or symmetry.

What sort of 'believe' do you mean? Is it a belief about intentions, or a belief about what exists?

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Greta » July 26th, 2018, 12:10 am

If any of us were raised by wolves, would we believe in God? At first people equated powerful forces of nature and animals with gods.

So the God meme is obviously not intrinsic; rather, it was successful in terms of group selection. At some point religious groups would have been more committed, organised and prepared to make sacrifices than the competition.

So, with their non-theistic competitors dead or subjugated, the winners wrote the history - and that slanted version might give the wrongful impression that humans are born with the notion of their monotheist conceptions.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Spectrum » July 26th, 2018, 7:19 am

I totally agree DNA wise humans had evolved with a very strong propensity to believe in a God [as normally defined] to facilitate survival and deal with an existential crisis. See my signature below.
Without a God to believe, the majority who are theistic inclined will be paralyzed and possibly go mad or die. So theism is adaptive and the majority who survived were thus theistic prone [presently a fact].

Whilst a belief in God or other deities facilitate survival, it has its pros and cons.
The point is since the beginning of theism the pros [survival, psychological security against Angst] of theism has always outweigh it cons, i.e. the terrible evils committed and inspired by their religion doctrines itself [note Islam] or the religious institutions [churches, sects, etc].

At present the trend is the negative cons of theism & religions are slowly outweighing its pros of psychological security.
In addition, theism is driven in the brain by a existential virus, i.e. a zombie virus that control the brain of its theist host.
The future potential threat is such that Islam which is inherently evil will have no hesitation to exterminate the human species if they have access to cheap powerful WMDs since regardless of what happen to the human species, they will be rewarded with eternal life in paradise [with virgins for some].

The propensity to theism is merely a temporary tool to manage the existential crisis and promote survival of the species. In recent years the rate of non-theism has significant accelerated with the presence of higher percentage of the non-religious and non-theists and lesser theists and the religious as shown by dwindling attendances in churches etc.

Humans by nature are continuing to evolve with a different rates of progress between the primal brain and the cortical human brain. The higher human brain is evolving with increasing intelligent, wisdom and moral functions.

On this basis, humanity should strive to wean off theism and religions to get rid of religious-based evils and violence and replace them with fool proof spiritual self-development methods to deal with the inherent existential crisis.

Yes, human beings had evolved with a belief in God to facilitate its survival and progress but theism and religions are merely relative and optimal to the time and circumstances. But because theism and religion carry with it a critical potential threat, from now on humanity must strive to weaned them off gradually and replaced them with fool proof alternatives.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by LuckyR » July 26th, 2018, 12:16 pm

No need to invoke DNA to explain the god myth that every primitive culture creates.

It is a combination of two psychological tendencies of the human mind: First once the mind appreciates the ability to compare (to appreciate greater and lesser), any human will note that animals are lesser than humans on the intellect scale and since there isn't an example of "greater" the human mind will make one up. Secondly, human psychology is comforted by explanations for events. Thus when primitive man cannot explain physically various natural observations, they will create a metaphysical explanation, which are the realm of myth, with or without deities.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Belindi » July 26th, 2018, 12:25 pm

Were not the earliest gods the ancestors of the family or tribe?

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by LuckyR » July 26th, 2018, 12:39 pm

Belindi wrote:
July 26th, 2018, 12:25 pm
Were not the earliest gods the ancestors of the family or tribe?
I wasn't there at the time, but I bet you are correct.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Greta » July 26th, 2018, 6:31 pm

Spectrum wrote:
July 26th, 2018, 7:19 am
I totally agree DNA wise humans had evolved with a very strong propensity to believe in a God
Really? So it's not about group selection and environment?

Which are the "God genes"? I was not aware of their discovery.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Spectrum » July 27th, 2018, 12:30 am

Greta wrote:
July 26th, 2018, 6:31 pm
Spectrum wrote:
July 26th, 2018, 7:19 am
I totally agree DNA wise humans had evolved with a very strong propensity to believe in a God
Really? So it's not about group selection and environment?

Which are the "God genes"? I was not aware of their discovery.
There are no specific God genes.
The DNA is responsible for certain primary functions in the brain and body such that when the RNA activates, certain eddies create existence turbulence [zombie parasites] that compel the majority to believe in a God.

Thus for some where the RNAs activate differently some are not compel to cling to a God, i.e. the non-theists which is on an increasing trend.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Gordon975 » July 27th, 2018, 2:21 am

Perhaps one of the main differences between most animals and the human animal is that the human possesses an intellect. In an animal with no or a very simple intellect the brain is there to look after the body so that is can fulfil its roll of reproductive natural selection and so raise the next generation of its kind. In an animal that has evolved an intellect, like the human one, the body is a vehicle to enable the brain and its associated intellect to survive.

No animal is aware of its eventual death apart from the human one.

The human is an animal with intellect and a means of communicating knowledge and knows that one day it will die, however the intellect can never accept its own demise it has evolved from a primitive state where its purpose was to enable the existence and survival of its attached body at all costs, and so, achieve species survival within an environment through reproductive natural selection while having no knowledge of the bodies and its own eventual death. Along with evolutionary improvements to intellect has had to evolve an excuse or explanation for its eventual demise and in lieu of scientific explanations an excuse or reason for other events.

The brain of any creature is an organ like all others, designed to enable a creature to survive so that it may achieve its strategic roll through reproductive natural selection and so adapt to an environment. With intellect comes the ability to adapt via science and technology, this is a quick solution to achieve adaptation to environmental change but means that the human that has evolved through the slow process of reproductive natural selection can be left with instincts and a conscience that are partly redundant in their role of enabling survival.

There is a contradiction that exists in that, we believe in God, which may enable our intellect to survive and be happy, but this same intellect is able through science and observation of the facts to deny the existence of Gods and the supernatural. Therefore it may be argued there are no atheists and that there are very few people who genuinely do not believe that God exists, even though they may deny the existence of a higher spirit and afterlife etc based on our modern day understanding of science and our place in the cosmos.

The conflict within our own minds as the result of being able to deny the existence of God is one that perhaps leads to many forms of human mental anxiety.

There are two ways in which humans can evolve to exist within an environment one is through the process of reproductive natural selection choosing the correct individuals to exist within an environment; the other is through adaptation to a changing environment through intellect.

If to achieve existence in an environment through the process of reproductive natural selection instincts and conscience have evolved to protect our intellect from its concern with death and other events by suggesting the existence of a God and afterlife and it subsequently, through its logic and inquisitive nature, deduces that God is just a myth, the consequences of the resulting contradiction are potentially very serious.

Perhaps we are creatures that are evolving to the point that we do not need to believe in God, however this will probably, if it ever happens, take many tens if not hundreds of millennia, through the process of reproductive natural selection, to be genuinely achieved.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Spectrum » July 27th, 2018, 3:59 am

Gordon975 wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 2:21 am


There is a contradiction that exists in that, we believe in God, which may enable our intellect to survive and be happy, but this same intellect is able through science and observation of the facts to deny the existence of Gods and the supernatural. Therefore it may be argued there are no atheists and that there are very few people who genuinely do not believe that God exists, even though they may deny the existence of a higher spirit and afterlife etc based on our modern day understanding of science and our place in the cosmos.

..
Perhaps we are creatures that are evolving to the point that we do not need to believe in God, however this will probably, if it ever happens, take many tens if not hundreds of millennia, through the process of reproductive natural selection, to be genuinely achieved.
I agree with most of the other points except the above.

Note there were non-theists thousands of years ago and since 2500 years ago where Buddhism is fundamentally non-theistic [now numbering nearly 500 million]. The communists [most are forced] are also non-theistic albeit now loosening up.

In the Buddhism, the way to live with no God is the ability from training the mind to suppress and modulate [not eliminate] the primal existential impulses that compel one to cling to theism for psychological security.

Fact is the potential threat of evil and violence from theism especially Islam [glaringly evident] is too great to be ignored. Christianity on the other hand is not violent but its dogmatic doctrines [creationism, abortion, etc.] are a hindrance to humanity's overall progress. Other theistic and non-theistic religion has their associated negative baggage.

DNA wise humanity will not be able to eliminate the intricate machinery that compel humans to believe in God for survival sake.
However, riding on the experience of Buddhism and other non-theistic approaches there are opportunities [given the current of the exponential expansion of knowledge and technology] to built stronger inhibitors to suppress and modulate these potential negative impulse to expedite optimal non-theistic strategies for the overall well being of humanity.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Gordon975 » July 27th, 2018, 5:02 am

Spectrum Wrote:
Buddhism is fundamentally non-theistic
Although this is true they do believe in reincarnation, which may be in response to the individual humans inability to accept the eventual death of the intellect with the body of which it is part.
The communists [most are forced] are also non-theistic albeit now loosening up.
In communist totalitarian regimes an expression of a belief in god is often repressed although this does not mean that as individuals citizens don’t believe in a deity.
Fact is the potential threat of evil and violence from theism especially Islam [glaringly evident] is too great to be ignored. Christianity on the other hand is not violent
Both Islam and Christianity express as part of their core values their belief in a philosophy of peace and reconciliation however, individuals twist religious texts to achieve their political dogmas and so end up with such aberrations as the Islamic state, the Holocaust and worse.
DNA wise humanity will not be able to eliminate the intricate machinery that compel humans to believe in God for survival sake.
I think you are probably right.

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Re: Why we are born to believe in God

Post by Spectrum » July 27th, 2018, 5:25 am

Gordon975 wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 5:02 am
Spectrum Wrote:
Buddhism is fundamentally non-theistic
Although this is true they do believe in reincarnation, which may be in response to the individual humans inability to accept the eventual death of the intellect with the body of which it is part.
Hindus believe in reincarnation, SOME Buddhists believe in rebirth which is not a core Buddhist doctrine.
Fact is the potential threat of evil and violence from theism especially Islam [glaringly evident] is too great to be ignored. Christianity on the other hand is not violent
Both Islam and Christianity express as part of their core values their belief in a philosophy of peace and reconciliation however, individuals twist religious texts to achieve their political dogmas and so end up with such aberrations as the Islamic state, the Holocaust and worse.
If individuals twist the religious texts at least we still have the actual texts as a ground to find what is really written on the texts.

If Jesus commanded Christians to 'love their enemies' as an overriding pacifist maxim, there is no two ways on Judgment Day, Jesus will accept those who killed their enemies. The most he can do is to mitigate hell punishment for those who have ethically justified reasons.

I am quite sure you have not read the Quran thoroughly.
In the Quran, Muslims are exhorted to fight and war [including kill] against non-Muslims and in such acts they could get some higher fold rewards over ordinary acts of merit.

Note these from the terrorists themselves and these are supported by verses in the Quran;
1. Because you are disbelievers
"We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers;
you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices."

It reads:
2. "What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred,
this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list.

"The fact is,
even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to HATE you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam."

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-new ... ns-8533563
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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