Author Topic: Is belief genetic?  (Read 945 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline jss

  • Student
  • **
  • Posts: 52
  • Darwins +2/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Is belief genetic?
« on: March 04, 2012, 09:36:03 PM »
There's a theory that human beings have a sort of genetic "god plug" wired into our brains; that we have some inherent aptitude for belief in the supernatural in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Why would such a thing exist?  It could be an adaptation to facilitate socialization, especially as group size increases.  In a small tribe, if someone tries to force you to perform a task or behave in a way you don't like, it's pretty tempting (for early humans) to bash the other's brains in.  That's not conducive to societal development.  If you must perform a task because the River God Zerkes demands it, well, you can't exactly go bash in a god's head, can you?  In other words, it creates a construct where authority becomes irresistible -- people must fall in line and thus a simple society can avoid (for a while) decay into anarchy.

Offline velkyn

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 15420
  • Darwins +169/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • You're wearing the juice, aren't you?"
Re: Is belief genetic?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2012, 11:39:11 AM »
I'm not finding a good link right now, but there is the hypothesis that the brain is wired to find causes e.g. if you hear a growl, you'll pay attention to the tiger about to eat your head.   That ability is misused in trying to find a cause for weather, or earth quakes and people assign a magical "power" to it. 

I think that this , and what you've posited could be very well what works together to reinforce belief.   However, one can also say that it's genetic to die in your 50s (with no medical help), so genetics can be over-ridden. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/

Offline GodlessHeathen

  • Graduate
  • ****
  • Posts: 274
  • Darwins +9/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Absence of evidence is not evidence of existence.
Re: Is belief genetic?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 12:57:32 PM »
I'm not finding a good link right now, but there is the hypothesis that the brain is wired to find causes e.g. if you hear a growl, you'll pay attention to the tiger about to eat your head.   That ability is misused in trying to find a cause for weather, or earth quakes and people assign a magical "power" to it. 

I think that this , and what you've posited could be very well what works together to reinforce belief.   However, one can also say that it's genetic to die in your 50s (with no medical help), so genetics can be over-ridden.

Sounds like the theory Michael Shermer proposed in his book, The Believing Brain.
http://www.michaelshermer.com/the-believing-brain/
"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" (Christopher Hitchens).

Offline sun_king

  • Graduate
  • ****
  • Posts: 388
  • Darwins +25/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • We see things not as they are, but as we are

Offline velkyn

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 15420
  • Darwins +169/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • You're wearing the juice, aren't you?"
Re: Is belief genetic?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 01:17:21 PM »
ah, agent detection, that's exactly what I was looking for.  thanks, sun.
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/

Offline Graybeard

  • Global Moderator
  • ******
  • Posts: 6706
  • Darwins +534/-19
  • Gender: Male
  • Is this going somewhere?
Re: Is belief genetic?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 01:12:41 PM »
I think that anyone considering the question might wish to consider this site:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/badcock08/badcock08_index.html

I am still undecided on the entirety of the theory but the outlook on life table: Mentalistic and Mechanistic Cognition may well show control by genes.

Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”