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Author Topic:   The evolution of religion?
ogon
Member (Idle past 4707 days)
Posts: 70
Joined: 05-13-2007


Message 1 of 69 (403893)
06-05-2007 5:24 PM


Much of human life in all corners of the Earth, over vast periods of time, has believed in the supernatural. Whether it be spiritual ancestors, weather gods, suns gods, messiahs. Whether it be primitive Africans, native Americans, sacrificing Aztecs, Christians. Belief in the supernatural I believe ultimately developed throughout the world into what we would now call religion.

Is religion then judged to be part of mans evolution? If mankind evolved in ways that guaranteed his survival, hunting, gathering, reproducing, what role did the belief in the supernatural and subsequently religion play in this evolution?

Is it only now with the establishment of science that religion is seen as a tail no longer needed or used? Or am I way off course?

ogon

Edited by ogon, : made question more specific


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Message 2 of 69 (403992)
06-06-2007 9:13 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
Dr Adequate
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Message 3 of 69 (403996)
06-06-2007 9:31 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by ogon
06-05-2007 5:24 PM


Make Of This What You Will
"A pigeon is brought to a stable state of hunger by reducing it to 75 percent of its weight when well fed. It is put into an experimental cage for a few minutes each day. A food hopper attached to the cage may be swung into place so that the pigeon can eat from it. A solenoid and a timing relay hold the hopper in place for five sec. at each reinforcement.

If a clock is now arranged to present the food hopper at regular intervals with no reference whatsoever to the bird's behavior, operant conditioning usually takes place. In six out of eight cases the resulting responses were so clearly defined that two observers could agree perfectly in counting instances. One bird was conditioned to turn counter-clockwise about the cage, making two or three turns between reinforcements. Another repeatedly thrust its head into one of the upper corners of the cage. A third developed a 'tossing' response, as if placing its head beneath an invisible bar and lifting it repeatedly. Two birds developed a pendulum motion of the head and body, in which the head was extended forward and swung from right to left with a sharp movement followed by a somewhat slower return. The body generally followed the movement and a few steps might be taken when it was extensive. Another bird was conditioned to make incomplete pecking or brushing movements directed toward but not touching the floor. None of these responses appeared in any noticeable strength during adaptation to the cage or until the food hopper was periodically presented. In the remaining two cases, conditioned responses were not clearly marked."

--- B. F. Skinner, 'Superstition' in the Pigeon (emphasis in the original)

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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RAZD
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Posts: 20714
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Message 4 of 69 (404012)
06-06-2007 10:20 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Dr Adequate
06-06-2007 9:31 AM


Re: Make Of This What You Will
Good ol' Skinner, the behavioral psychologist that placed his own kids in glass boxes, of Walden II utopia notoriety, and who trained pigeons to guide missiles to their targets (from inside) for the US army (the first "smart bombs"?). I would say the pigeons were trained to repeat motions they had been doing (randomly) between the hopper feedings.


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we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAAmericanOZen[Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.

This message is a reply to:
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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16111
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 5 of 69 (404015)
06-06-2007 10:27 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by RAZD
06-06-2007 10:20 AM


Re: Make Of This What You Will
Good ol' Skinner, the behavioral psychologist that placed his own kids in glass boxes, of Walden II utopia notoriety, and who trained pigeons to guide missiles to their targets (from inside) for the US army (the first "smart bombs"?).

C'mon, you've got to admire the man who invented the pigeon-guided missile.

I would say the pigeons were trained to repeat motions they had been doing (randomly) between the hopper feedings.

So does he. Do you keep your kids in glass boxes, or some more conventional style of playpen?

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 2176 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 6 of 69 (404021)
06-06-2007 10:53 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Dr Adequate
06-06-2007 10:27 AM


Re: Make Of This What You Will
Dang duplicate. What's with this board today?

But as long as I'm retyping: the research of Moreau as well as Skinner may be of relevance here.

_____

Edited by Archer Opterix, : duplicate.


Archer

All species are transitional.


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 2176 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 7 of 69 (404023)
06-06-2007 10:54 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Dr Adequate
06-06-2007 10:27 AM


Re: Make Of This What You Will
Dr A:
C'mon, you've got to admire the man who invented the pigeon-guided missile.

You've got to admire anyone who finds a use for pigeons at all.


Archer

All species are transitional.


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RAZD
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Message 8 of 69 (404034)
06-06-2007 11:43 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by ogon
06-05-2007 5:24 PM


possible alternative view
Some similar previous threads:

http://< !--UB www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=35&t=160&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=35&t=160&m=1">www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=35&t=160&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=35&t=160&m=1">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=35&t=160&m=1< !--UE-->
http://< !--UB www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=537&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=537&m=1">www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=537&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=537&m=1">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=537&m=1< !--UE-->

Much of human life in all corners of the Earth, over vast periods of time, has believed in the supernatural.

And no two original beliefs are the same. On the other hand the ascetic "religious experience" is fairly universal. Thus if god(s) are true, then they are unknowable (deism), OR there are no god(s).

Is religion then judged to be part of mans evolution? If mankind evolved in ways that guaranteed his survival, hunting, gathering, reproducing, what role did the belief in the supernatural and subsequently religion play in this evolution?

We may be asking this question the wrong way. Religious belief could also be a side product of some other evolved behavior. In Message 105 I posted some thoughts in a different direction:

I have also been toying with the concept that instinctual group behavior (with social group behavior being partly instinctual) is part of the cause of religious behavior: religions appeal to the instinctual level to form and mold group behavior under a group leader or leaders, and that externalizing this to leaders outside the normal group limits may have been crucial to early human survival. Thus the instinctual basis is the reason we have evolved religions. This should be a new thread, and I haven't really put it together yet (my energy level is low these days).

Thus the drive to form a religion is based on instinctual behavior for group social species and (evolved or learned) codes of behavior, similar to many animal species we know. Thus you would have

Leader Person (A) has religious experience
Group (A) (with Person (A)) forms a religion around the experience

Successful formulations increase group bond and inter-individual behavior to the benefit of the group. The religions evolve over time to add elements not in the original vision, by leaders, for group control.

Group (A) divides or mingle with non-religion group and form new groups with common basis allowing inter-group behavior to the benefit of the groups involved.

Thus you end up with evolved religion, but the question of god(s) unresolved.

Is it only now with the establishment of science that religion is seen as a tail no longer needed or used? Or am I way off course?

I would say "with the establishment of rational thinking that religion ... etc". I think (personal opinion) that formal religions are no longer needed, and that they interfere with real spiritual growth or possibilities, because they are hindered by the dogma based on those added crowd control elements.

{ABE}

There is also some medical evidence that a spiritual attitude, independent of any specific religion, is beneficial to the overall health of the individual, and this would select for individuals that had spiritual\religious experiences.

{/abe}

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : added


Join the effort to unravel AIDS/HIV, unfold Proteomes, fight Cancer,
compare Fiocruz Genome and fight Muscular Dystrophy with Team EvC! (click)


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAAmericanOZen[Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 9 of 69 (404036)
06-06-2007 11:45 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Archer Opteryx
06-06-2007 10:54 AM


Re: Make Of This What You Will
You've got to admire anyone who finds a use for pigeons at all.

Not to squabble, but I think there is at least one good use ... :D

Edited by RAZD, : No reason given.


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jar
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Message 10 of 69 (404043)
06-06-2007 12:25 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ogon
06-05-2007 5:24 PM


What place religion?
You have to remember that religions are totally separate from the question of "Is there a GOD?"

Religions, all religions, are human constructs. Like all human constructs, they do evolve. But that does not address the question of whether or not there is a GOD.

If GOD exists, She exists regardless of any beliefs that It does not exist.

If GOD doesn't exist, It doesn't exist regardless of any beliefs that He does exist.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 45 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 11 of 69 (404045)
06-06-2007 12:34 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ogon
06-05-2007 5:24 PM


Is religion then judged to be part of mans evolution? If mankind evolved in ways that guaranteed his survival, hunting, gathering, reproducing, what role did the belief in the supernatural and subsequently religion play in this evolution?

Possibly none. Just because we see religion all over the place doesn't mean that religion provides some adaptive benefit to humans. Tapeworms are adapted to live in our intestines, but provide absolutely no benefit to us for being there.

Religion could be a similar parasite.


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ogon
Member (Idle past 4707 days)
Posts: 70
Joined: 05-13-2007


Message 12 of 69 (404087)
06-06-2007 3:19 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Dr Adequate
06-06-2007 9:31 AM


Re: Make Of This What You Will
I have to admit it Doc, I just don't get this one?

ogon


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Replies to this message:
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ogon
Member (Idle past 4707 days)
Posts: 70
Joined: 05-13-2007


Message 13 of 69 (404088)
06-06-2007 3:23 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by RAZD
06-06-2007 11:43 AM


Re: possible alternative view
Could you explain what having a spiritual attitude involves and how does one then promote spiritual growth?

ogon


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 14 of 69 (404103)
06-06-2007 4:21 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by ogon
06-06-2007 3:23 PM


Re: possible alternative view
... what having a spiritual attitude involves ...

Meditation, study of a wide variety of spiritual texts (expose self to different views), setting time aside for personal introspection.

... how does one then promote spiritual growth?

It is a personal journey, and no-one can tell you what your path is. Getting rid of dogma (walls) lets those paths go where they will.

Enjoy.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16111
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 15 of 69 (404106)
06-06-2007 5:05 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by ogon
06-06-2007 3:19 PM


Re: Make Of This What You Will
I have to admit it Doc, I just don't get this one?

The point is that when the pigeons were placed in a situation where their actions could not affect their environment, they adopted a set of entirely pointless rituals which they thought (insofar as a pigeon can be said to think, Skinner would turn in his grave) did effect their environment.

We might compare this to such things as prayers for rain, sun dances, intercessionary prayers for the sick, and so forth (if these things do in fact serve no function).

You may reply that humans are not as dumb as pigeons, and of course I agree, but we are just about as intuitively poor at knowing when there is and when there isn't evidence of a causal correlation when presented with statistical data.


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