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Is God a product of Natural Selection?

CriticalThought

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I hardly take religion seriously, and there is a reason for it. I understand how humans evolved. We are pattern seeking creatures and some of our cognitive biases are encoded in our genes as a result of how we evolved.

Let me try to explain it in statistical terms. There are two types of statistical errors, a Type I error and a Type II error. Type I errors are known as false positives and Type II errors are known as false negatives. Through natural selection, humans have become far more likely to commit Type I errors.

To illustrate, think of it in terms of our ancient ancestors. A hunter is walking through the jungle and he hears a rustle in the grass, is it a tiger or the wind? Well let us consider the two types of errors he could make.

Type I error: He believes there is a tiger in the grass even though there isn't.
Type II error: He believes there is no tiger in the grass even though there is.

Hunters who commit Type I errors in this scenario face considerably less costly consequences than hunters who commit Type II errors. In other words, the humans who commit Type II errors are more likely to get eaten, to get weeded out, and thus to have fewer offspring. The people who commit more Type I errors are likely to persist.

So how does this relate to religion and God?

It is safer to believe in something that does not exist than it is to not believe in something that does.

That bit of reasoning is also known as Pascal's wager and is the basis of all superstition. To put it in terms of statistical errors...

Type I: False Positive: You believe there is a God there even though there isn’t.
Type II: False Negative: You believe there is no God even though there is.

If you commit a Type II error, then the consequence is usually eternal damnation. It makes logical sense to "play it safe" and choose to believe in something that may not exist and, as already explained, our biology is already predisposed to do so.

I don't claim ownership of this idea. Michael Shermer is one of the originators of this hypothesis.


However, the fact that superstition persists means it has served an evolutionary purpose, but as we progress as a species we are beginning to outgrow it. We begin to see tigers where there are no tigers, such as in aliens, government conspiracies, etc.

Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World: Scientific American

But if there is no God, then what is the meaning of life? Will we not all act like immoral beasts and descend into anarchy? Even if there is no God, doesn't man need this Type I error to keep him moral?

Of course, the answers to these questions are found in natural selection as well. As the environmental forces that constrained our species decreased due to our adaptation, humans became their own chief hostile force in nature. As a result, we began to develop social intelligence that allowed us to emphasize, understand, and cooperate with one another. This is evidenced in the massive changes in our brains, in particular the development of a frontal cortex which allowed us to learn and develop language, reasoning, and other fine capabilities we often take for granted. We formed tribes that competed against other tribes. That is why we are limited even today to remembering up to 150 people and forming such passionate bonds with people who share our values and beliefs. The tribal mentality is a very large part of what makes us human and our increasing social intelligence has allowed us to move from direct competition to reciprocity. It is the ability to negotiate the terms of that reciprocity that is the basis for government, trade, social contracts, and our understanding of human rights.

Of course, once again, this is not solely my hypothesis...

http://web.missouri.edu/~gearyd/Flinnetal2005.pdf

So then what of our purpose as a species if there is no inherent meaning to our existence as decided by some omnipotent supernatural deity?

Well existentialists and humanists have been working on that question for a long time and I'm particularly fond of Carl Sagan's perspective...


If that is not good enough for you, then the absurdist philosopher Albert Camus explained the options all men have quite nicely.

1. Commit suicide (no sense wasting resources if life isn't worth living).
2. Commit philosophical suicide (by committing a Type I error and buying into some supernatural deity or superstition).
3. Accept that there may not be inherent meaning to life and enjoy the fact that you exist and have the power to make your own meaning out of your experiences.

I leave the choice up to you.
 
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Johnny DooWop

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That's very long. I'm trying to write an essay on loose nuclear weapons for my graduate degree, so I didn't read the whole thing thoroughly, but I did look over it to get the grasp of your debate, and I have a few points.

First, there have actually been government consparicies (I'm not saying U.S. per se) that have been proven, including false flag terrorism, assassinations, etc., so I can't see the illogicality of suspecting there is a tiger in a bush, when you infact know there are sometimes tigers in bushes. Also, you seem pretty intelligent, so I'm sure you know that the possibility of alien life existing in the universe is so much that for any serious scientist, its a matter of when we will make contact, not if. So people who report seeing Aliens, might not be entirely crazy, and even if they are wrong about what they saw, their beliefs certainly aren't unscientific nor illogical. Under those same precepts, many scientist believe in a God. Studies show that 40% of scientist believe in God, around 45% don't, and the rest are agnostic. Scholars even believe the numbers would be higher if they worded the questions differently in the polls, such as referring to a more universal creator/deity than a God who actually listens to prayers. Alan Sandage, an extremely influential astronomer who has one the Crawford Prize said "I find it 
quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be 
some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the 
explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something 
instead of nothing." Since some of todays leading scientist believe in God, and not just "ancient nomadic men who knew less than we do" I can't see what's so illogical about believing in an unseen force that lies deep in another dimension who is responsible for the creation of the world, its present development and even its future. While it might not be true, I can't see why its illogical.

Secondly, as far as human evolution, the Darwinian model is falls short in explaining many characteristics of human beings, and I still haven't read a convincing argument that does. I saw an interview with Richard Dawkins who, is usually otherwise pretty confident in arguments, become completely stumped when asked to explain how Darwinian evolution explains human morality. His argument was incredibly weak, "genetic misfiring" lol. here's the link, its in the second part of the interview.

YouTube - CBC News: Sunday - Richard Dawkins (Full - Highest Quality)

Also, I actually like the concept you pointed out that it is better to believe in something that does not exist than do believe in something that does. You are on a mission to disprove God, and if you are wrong, that could mean a pretty nasty judgement day for you, while if I'm wrong, I'll just fade off into non-existence when I die, lol.
 

digsbe

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Natural selection is a product of God.
 

Johnny DooWop

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Natural selection is a product of God.

That's actually a good point. I was debating with a friend who graduated with a degree in biology, and she was saying "I believe in God, but its hard sometimes because when you really look at life and its development, its all explained by science." I said, "Yeah, but who do you think is responsible for all of that? Why are you separating science and God? God is a scientist!"
 

digsbe

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That's actually a good point. I was debating with a friend who graduated with a degree in biology, and she was saying "I believe in God, but its hard sometimes because when you really look at life and its development, its all explained by science." I said, "Yeah, but who do you think is responsible for all of that? Why are you separating science and God? God is a scientist!"

I'm a college student right now majoring in molecular biology and the way I see it is that God knows everything we do and more. We are making scientific strides but God still knows more. Science does explain a lot, but I feel God places that system in order. The laws of science, how matter reacts, genetic anomalies, all of this is a process governed by laws and order. I have somewhat of a similar philosophy regarding God and science that you have. I feel learning about science is a further discovery of how God has created/managed things.
 

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I'm a college student right now majoring in molecular biology and the way I see it is that God knows everything we do and more. We are making scientific strides but God still knows more. Science does explain a lot, but I feel God places that system in order. The laws of science, how matter reacts, genetic anomalies, all of this is a process governed by laws and order. I have somewhat of a similar philosophy regarding God and science that you have. I feel learning about science is a further discovery of how God has created/managed things.

Definitely, a lot of ultra-conservative Christians reject science. As for me, when I watch those nat geo shows on the universe or read science books, magazines or journals that talk about black holes and singularities, string theory, the higgs boson, etc, I feel like I'm getting to know more about God. That's church for me, lol.
 

CriticalThought

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Studies show that 40% of scientist believe in God, around 45% don't, and the rest are agnostic.

Scientists are human and they are certainly no less prone to making a Type I error.

I can't see what's so illogical about believing in an unseen force that lies deep in another dimension who is responsible for the creation of the world, its present development and even its future. While it might not be true, I can't see why its illogical.

It isn't illogical. That is the point. When you hear a rustle in the grass, you can believe that there is a tiger waiting in the grass or you can believe it is just the wind.

You are on a mission to disprove God, and if you are wrong, that could mean a pretty nasty judgement day for you, while if I'm wrong, I'll just fade off into non-existence when I die, lol.

I am not on a mission to prove anything. I'm an agnostic and a skeptic. My purpose is to question and to formulate my beliefs based on the best available evidence. Currently that evidence indicates that God is simply a human creation, born from our imaginations and likely exacerbated by a fear of consequence if we were to not believe in its existence. In essence, I am agnostic because I have no reason to believe that God is not superstition. Furthermore, I have no reason to fear Pascal's wager because I recognize that I am ultimately the one responsible for making meaning out of my life. And while I can respect your right to buy into what I perceive to be a Type I error, it would go against who I am to do the same simply so that I could feel "safer".

One last thought...most religions implicate a consequence (such as hell) if you don't believe in their respective God. As such, I hope you feel like a gambling man by picking the one you have over all the others. Also, I hope you don't pity too much all the children who were born into other religions and who will never worship your God due to how they were socialized from birth. Of course, you may never have taken time to consider what kind of God would allow children be born into "false" religions. I just sit back and enjoy the absurdity of it.
 
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CriticalThought

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Natural selection is a product of God.

I've implicated evidence to support my notion that God is a product of natural selection, can you provide evidence to indicate your notion that natural selection is a product of God? Perhaps you could point out somewhere in the Bible where God mentions this force?
 

Johnny DooWop

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Scientists are human and they are certainly no less prone to making a Type I error.

When you said the other night that it was "absurd" to take advice on spiritual matters from nomadic men who know less then you, you were implying (whether intentionally or not) that it would not be absurd to take advice on spiritual matters from someone who knows more than you. I'm pretty sure Alan Sandage knows more than you about science and he feels there is scientific evidence that there is a divine organizing principal behind the creation of the universe. This alone completely contradicts the notion that "Current evidence indicates that God is simply a human creation."

Of course, you may never have taken time to consider what kind of God would allow children be born into "false" religions. I just sit back and enjoy the absurdity of it.

I think it's pretty obvious that I'm not a fundamentalist Christian, so I don't worry about little Hindu kids going to hell. As for my statement about me believing in the safer option and you taking the more dangerous route, it was partly a joke, but did have some truths to it. For example, I don't believe in Buddha but I wouldn't curse him because I really don't know. I just find it interesting when atheist who claim they are so logical blaspheme God, because the most logical person would realize they can't prove God doesn't exist, and therefore blaspheming Him is an unessecary risk. (I'm not saying you're one of these people, just pointing it out)

I am still interesting in what you think about the Darwinian explanations for human morality. I hope they are more convincing than "genetic misfiring". Even before that statement Richard Dawkins argument on that point was weak. He was trying to say animals benefit by being generous to their own family members but in actuality, animals are rarely even generous to their own family members. Have you ever seen a lion pride feeding? The strongest gets to eat first and everyone else better get out of the way. The only way anyone else will get to eat is if he gets full before the carcas is gone. The only generosity I see in the animal kingdom is parents feeding their offspring, unless of course the parents get too hungry, then some of them eat their offspring.
 

CriticalThought

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When you said the other night that it was "absurd" to take advice on spiritual matters from nomadic men who know less then you, you were implying (whether intentionally or not) that it would not be absurd to take advice on spiritual matters from someone who knows more than you. I'm pretty sure Alan Sandage knows more than you about science and he feels there is scientific evidence that there is a divine organizing principal behind the creation of the universe. This alone completely contradicts the notion that "Current evidence indicates that God is simply a human creation."

He doesn't present evidence, he presents a hypothesis. He argues that the order of the universe could not possibly have come out of chaos. In other words, he is arguing teleology in that complexity implies design. As I said in my OP, humans evolved to be pattern seekers, and even scientists are capable of making a Type I error. In my OP I also listed my own world famed astronomer, Carl Sagan, for suggesting alternative views and Michael Shermer, a world class skeptic and former fundamentalist Christian. So I'm not basing my argument on just whatever I want to believe but on evidence presented by individuals considerably smarter than myself.


I think it's pretty obvious that I'm not a fundamentalist Christian, so I don't worry about little Hindu kids going to hell. As for my statement about me believing in the safer option and you taking the more dangerous route, it was partly a joke, but did have some truths to it. For example, I don't believe in Buddha but I wouldn't curse him because I really don't know. I just find it interesting when atheist who claim they are so logical blaspheme God, because the most logical person would realize they can't prove God doesn't exist, and therefore blaspheming Him is an unessecary risk. (I'm not saying you're one of these people, just pointing it out)

I'm a studier of human behavior. I do find the antics of militant atheists to be just as humorous as superstitious Christians.

I am still interesting in what you think about the Darwinian explanations for human morality. I hope they are more convincing than "genetic misfiring". Even before that statement Richard Dawkins argument on that point was weak. He was trying to say animals benefit by being generous to their own family members but in actuality, animals are rarely even generous to their own family members. Have you ever seen a lion pride feeding? The strongest gets to eat first and everyone else better get out of the way. The only way anyone else will get to eat is if he gets full before the carcas is gone. The only generosity I see in the animal kingdom is parents feeding their offspring, unless of course the parents get too hungry, then some of them eat their offspring.

I stated my views on human morality in the OP. I'll repost it for you.

But if there is no God, then what is the meaning of life? Will we not all act like immoral beasts and descend into anarchy? Even if there is no God, doesn't man need this Type I error to keep him moral?

Of course, the answers to these questions are found in natural selection as well. As the environmental forces that constrained our species decreased due to our adaptation, humans became their own chief hostile force in nature. As a result, we began to develop social intelligence that allowed us to emphasize, understand, and cooperate with one another. This is evidenced in the massive changes in our brains, in particular the development of a frontal cortex which allowed us to learn and develop language, reasoning, and other fine capabilities we often take for granted. We formed tribes that competed against other tribes. That is why we are limited even today to remembering up to 150 people and forming such passionate bonds with people who share our values and beliefs. The tribal mentality is a very large part of what makes us human and our increasing social intelligence has allowed us to move from direct competition to reciprocity. It is the ability to negotiate the terms of that reciprocity that is the basis for government, trade, social contracts, and our understanding of human rights.

Of course, once again, this is not solely my hypothesis...

http://web.missouri.edu/~gearyd/Flinnetal2005.pdf

Morality is a concept largely restricted to a few select social species on earth and its basis is on reciprocity not generosity.
 
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Johnny DooWop

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Ok, I’m done working on my project for the night and I read your first post thoroughly. First of all, you address the Type I “safety” error of believing so as not to receive punishment, as evidence for the human belief in religious systems, but I don’t see how this is adequate evidence for the explanation of the religious systems, only an explanation for believing in them after they already exist. I also have a fundamental problem with the notion that humans adopt religion to have “meaning” to life, comfort from an otherwise depressing feeling of falling into nothingness after death. But personally, I find nothing wrong with the notion of falling into nothingness after death, that actually sounds rather peaceful. Religion comes with a lot more complications, lol. I don’t see how this could develop as a crutch, to me the crutch is not believing in anything, it frees you up of having to answer to anyone, or having to be held accountable for anything you do, all truth would be relative and you could pillage, rape and plunder all you want and if you ever get caught by any authorities or opposing force you just kill yourself and becoming nothing. Doesn’t this sound like the easier plan?

“He doesn't present evidence, he presents a hypothesis. He argues that the order of the universe could not possibly have come out of chaos. In other words, he is arguing teleology in that complexity implies design. As I said in my OP, humans evolved to be pattern seekers, and even scientists are capable of making a Type I error.” Aren’t you yourself then capable of making a Type 1 error with the notion that humans developed religion as an evolutionary survival mechanism? Could you infact be seeking a pattern to explain religion, when there might be no such patter at all? According to your own logic wouldn’t it be safer for you to believe there is an evolutionary explanation for religion, when there might not be, rather than not believing in an evolutionary explanation for it, when there actually is one? How is your theory more scientifically correct than Mr Sandage’s? The theories you are proposing are by no means established facts in the fields of anthropology yet.

As for your argument on morality and natural selection, that has many loop holes. First of all, it is very arguable that it is more beneficial for humans to try and dominate each other, rather than to be generous. Economically speaking, this is what capitalism is based on and why it is such an effective economic model over communism. Even politically, most successful nations achieved their success by dominating either other nations or native peoples. Morality is not consistent, and therefore I find it hard to be categorized as a trait of natural selection. When looking at the animal kingdom, most evolutionary traits of natural selection are extremely consistent including but not limited to breeding, food selection, hunting, fighting, etc.
 

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..it frees you up of having to answer to anyone, or having to be held accountable for anything you do, all truth would be relative and you could pillage, rape and plunder all you want and if you ever get caught by any authorities or opposing force you just kill yourself and becoming nothing. Doesn't this sound like the easier plan?

It sounds like an appeal to consequences of belief fallacy. The fact is people are accountable to one another. God does not punish man when he commits a crime, man does. All the people who are in prison have been put there by their fellow man. And yes, it is very culturally relative. I'm not arguing for inherent, objective moral truths, but morality is that based on human reciprocity. That is the morality that has been encoded into our genes by natural selection.

According to your own logic wouldn't it be safer for you to believe there is an evolutionary explanation for religion, when there might not be, rather than not believing in an evolutionary explanation for it, when there actually is one?

How would it be safer? What consequence would I face? You seem to fundamentally misunderstand the concept of a Type I and Type II errors. There must be a cost or consequence for choosing whether to believe or not to believe. Exactly what would be the consequence or cost to me if I did not choose to believe in a natural selection explaination to God? There is clearly a consequences for not believing in God, since I would go to hell for all eternity, so that is indicative of a Type I error, but there is no discernable consequence for choosing to believe or not believe in a natural selection explaination of God.

How is your theory more scientifically correct than Mr Sandage. The theories you are proposing are by no means established facts in the fields of anthropology yet.

It's not a theory. It's a hypothesis, just as Mr. Sandage has made a hypothesis. However, I do believe that Mr. Sagan and Mr. Shermer have presented considerably greater evidence to support my hypothesis than Mr. Sandage has presented to support his.

As for your argument on morality and natural selection, that has many loop holes. First of all, it is very arguable that it is more beneficial for humans to try and dominate each other, rather than to be generous.

Read the last line of my previous post. You don't understand my argument at all. Reciprocity is not the same as generosity. You are arguing against Dawkins not against me.
 
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Johnny DooWop

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As for the Type 1 error, you still haven't shown how this account for religious beliefs amongst humans, only that after the beliefs already exist, why some might be inclined to believe them.

I'm not arguing for inherent, objective moral truths
No, but aren't you arguing for inherent, objective evolutionary truths, the idea that morality is based on human reciprocity and that this has been encoded into our genes by natural selection. How can this be genetic, encoded evolutionary truth and also be culturally relative?



How would it be safer? What consequence would I face? You seem to fundamentally misunderstand the concept of a Type I and Type II errors. There must be a cost or consequence for choosing whether to believe or not to believe. Exactly what would be the consequence or cost to me if I did not choose to believe in a natural selection explaination to God?
If one didn't believe in the natural selection explanation, wouldn't one be more inclined to believe in the supernatural explanation? For instance if, hypothetically speaking, the natural selection explanation was proven beyond a doubt to be false, and there was no descernable natural explanation for religious beliefs in human species, wouldn't one be more inclined to believe that religious beliefs exist because they are true? Since religion repulses you, wouldn't it be a moral danger (I don't see why the dangers have to be physical) for you to be inclined to have religious beliefs? Would mental survival from the escape of religious beliefs be enough to motivate you to believe in an alternative option? Let me try to put it this way, religious people believe in God to avoid the risk of going to hell, and atheist/agnostics believe in the natural selection explanation for religious beliefs in order to avoid the risk of becoming religious.



It's not a theory. It's a hypothesis, just as Mr. Sandage has made a hypothesis.

You previously referred to it as evidence, not merely a hypothesis.

I've implicated evidence to support my notion that God is a product of natural selection



Read the last line of my previous post. You don't understand my argument at all. Reciprocity is not the same as generosity. You are arguing against Dawkins not against me.

In my last post, replace the world generosity with reciprocity. Its semantics with me, I think we are really talking about the same thing. Europeans certainly weren't interested in reciprocity when they slaughtered Native Americans in North America and Africans in the Congo and South Africa
 
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CriticalThought

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As for the Type 1 error, you still haven't shown how this account for religious beliefs amongst humans, only that after the beliefs already exist, why some might be inclined to believe them.

Ever heard of an imaginary friend? Every child has one growing up. It's a socializing agent, and a chance to practice and develop social skills. Children speak to them and they hear the imaginary friend talk back. As adults we understand that the child is talking to themselves in something of soliloquy, but the child experiences it as if the friend is real because their imagination allows them to percieve it that way.

Another thing about children is they are often indoctrinated into relgious beliefs before they develop the capacity to reason. It's no wonder that God simply takes the place of their imaginary friend.

But even adults will buy into religion long after childhood. and I indicated why in the last bit of my OP. Any creature that seeks inherent meaning is not going to find it because meaning does not exist outside of human conciousness. Meaning is simply human interpretation of why things are the way they are. There are only 3 ways that humans can deal with this existential challenge. 1. They commit suicide. 2. They commit philsophical suicide by choosing to believe in a supernatural explaination. 3. They accept that there may not be any discernable inherent meaning.

No, but aren't you arguing for inherent, objective evolutionary truths, the idea that morality is based on human reciprocity and that this has been encoded into our genes by natural selection. How can this be genetic, encoded evolutionary truth and also be culturally relative?

You left out a key word. "Moral". I am not arguing inherent, objective, moral truths. There are plenty of inherent and objective truths in this world, but no moral truth is inherent or objective. Moral truth is based on reciprocity. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." "An eye for an eye." These are the most fundamental principles of human morality and they precede Judaism and Christianity by hundreds of years. Reciprocity is encoded into our DNA, but that does not make it objectively moral.

If one didn't believe in the natural selection explanation, wouldn't one be more inclined to believe in the supernatural explanation? For instance if, hypothetically speaking, the natural selection explanation was proven beyond a doubt to be false, and there was no descernable natural explanation for religious beliefs in human species, wouldn't one be more inclined to believe that religious beliefs exist because they are true? Since religion repulses you, wouldn't it be a moral danger (I don't see why the dangers have to be physical) for you to be inclined to have religious beliefs? Would mental survival from the escape of religious beliefs be enough to motivate you to believe in an alternative option? Let me try to put it this way, religious people in God to avoid the risk of going to hell, and atheist/agnostics believe in the natural selection explanation for religious beliefs in order to avoid the risk of becoming religious.

Ah, you are asking whether philosophical suicide is enough of a consequence to me to choose a natural selection theory over a belief in God.

I think I would fear an eternal damnation in hell considerably more than committing philsophical suicide. It would be considerably easier to turn to Christianity and ask for repetance. I'm in a country that is over 70% Christian and which largely looks down on people who are not Christians. I think I would benefit considerably more being a Christian than an agnotic.

You previously referred to it as evidence, not merely a hypothesis.

I said it was supported by evidence. A hypothesis can be supported by evidence. If it is supported by enough evidence then it can be considred a theory.

In my last post, replace the world generosity with reciprocity. Its semantics with me, I think we are really talking about the same thing. Europeans certainly weren't interested in reciprocity when they slaughtered Native Americans in North America and Africans in the Congo and South Africa

No we are not. In fact the statement "most successful nations achieved their success by dominating either other nations" demonstrate a profound ignorance of what reciprocity is. How can a nation even exists if there is no reciprocity between its people?
 

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I hardly take religion seriously, and there is a reason for it. I understand how humans evolved. We are pattern seeking creatures and some of our cognitive biases are encoded in our genes as a result of how we evolved.

Let me try to explain it in statistical terms. There are two types of statistical errors, a Type I error and a Type II error. Type I errors are known as false positives and Type II errors are known as false negatives. Through natural selection, humans have become far more likely to commit Type I errors.

To illustrate, think of it in terms of our ancient ancestors. A hunter is walking through the jungle and he hears a rustle in the grass, is it a tiger or the wind? Well let us consider the two types of errors he could make.

Type I error: He believes there is a tiger in the grass even though there isn't.
Type II error: He believes there is no tiger in the grass even though there is.

Hunters who commit Type I errors in this scenario face considerably less costly consequences than hunters who commit Type II errors. In other words, the humans who commit Type II errors are more likely to get eaten, to get weeded out, and thus to have fewer offspring. The people who commit more Type I errors are likely to persist.

So how does this relate to religion and God?

It is safer to believe in something that does not exist than it is to not believe in something that does.

That bit of reasoning is also known as Pascal's wager and is the basis of all superstition. To put it in terms of statistical errors...

Type I: False Positive: You believe there is a God there even though there isn’t.
Type II: False Negative: You believe there is no God even though there is.

If you commit a Type II error, then the consequence is usually eternal damnation. It makes logical sense to "play it safe" and choose to believe in something that may not exist and, as already explained, our biology is already predisposed to do so.

I don't claim ownership of this idea. Michael Shermer is one of the originators of this hypothesis.


However, the fact that superstition persists means it has served an evolutionary purpose, but as we progress as a species we are beginning to outgrow it. We begin to see tigers where there are no tigers, such as in aliens, government conspiracies, etc.

Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World: Scientific American

But if there is no God, then what is the meaning of life? Will we not all act like immoral beasts and descend into anarchy? Even if there is no God, doesn't man need this Type I error to keep him moral?

Of course, the answers to these questions are found in natural selection as well. As the environmental forces that constrained our species decreased due to our adaptation, humans became their own chief hostile force in nature. As a result, we began to develop social intelligence that allowed us to emphasize, understand, and cooperate with one another. This is evidenced in the massive changes in our brains, in particular the development of a frontal cortex which allowed us to learn and develop language, reasoning, and other fine capabilities we often take for granted. We formed tribes that competed against other tribes. That is why we are limited even today to remembering up to 150 people and forming such passionate bonds with people who share our values and beliefs. The tribal mentality is a very large part of what makes us human and our increasing social intelligence has allowed us to move from direct competition to reciprocity. It is the ability to negotiate the terms of that reciprocity that is the basis for government, trade, social contracts, and our understanding of human rights.

Of course, once again, this is not solely my hypothesis...

http://web.missouri.edu/~gearyd/Flinnetal2005.pdf

So then what of our purpose as a species if there is no inherent meaning to our existence as decided by some omnipotent supernatural deity?

Well existentialists and humanists have been working on that question for a long time and I'm particularly fond of Carl Sagan's perspective...


If that is not good enough for you, then the absurdist philosopher Albert Camus explained the options all men have quite nicely.

1. Commit suicide (no sense wasting resources if life isn't worth living).
2. Commit philosophical suicide (by committing a Type I error and buying into some supernatural deity or superstition).
3. Accept that there may not be inherent meaning to life and enjoy the fact that you exist and have the power to make your own meaning out of your experiences.

I leave the choice up to you.

This is an interesting theory. Basically, people who don't pay attention to the world around them and/or assume that there are no dangers in it are preferentially eliminated before producing offspring. Is that about the size of it?

Sounds reasonable.
 

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Ever heard of an imaginary friend? Every child has one growing up. It's a socializing agent, and a chance to practice and develop social skills. Children speak to them and they hear the imaginary friend talk back. As adults we understand that the child is talking to themselves in something of soliloquy, but the child experiences it as if the friend is real because their imagination allows them to percieve it that way.

Another thing about children is they are often indoctrinated into relgious beliefs before they develop the capacity to reason. It's no wonder that God simply takes the place of their imaginary friend.

But even adults will buy into religion long after childhood. and I indicated why in the last bit of my OP. Any creature that seeks inherent meaning is not going to find it because meaning does not exist outside of human conciousness. Meaning is simply human interpretation of why things are the way they are. There are only 3 ways that humans can deal with this existential challenge. 1. They commit suicide. 2. They commit philsophical suicide by choosing to believe in a supernatural explaination. 3. They accept that there may not be any discernable inherent meaning.

Well, you certainly have your ideology laid out, but personally, I just don’t think its a convincing hypothesis as it has very little, if any evidence. Natural selection is largely if not solely based on survival mechanisms, and I don’t see how an imaginary friend is a part of a survival mechanism. Besides that, we should also find similar percentage of children with imaginary friends to percentage of adults with spiritual beliefs, if that were an underlying cause. However only two-thirds of children have imaginary friends yet over 97% of people in the world believe in God. And also, the studies showing 2/3 of children having imaginary friends are just in the U.S., I can’t imagine this statistic being universal as African children, Chinese children, etc. are very different from American children psychologically speaking. Then we’d have to prove that human children have always had imaginary friends, and that this isn’t a modern phenomenon due to increased social interactions most profoundly with the introduction of the radio and television.

As for your other explanation, humans developing religious beliefs to find a deeper meaning in life, I find that lacking as well. Its seems that idealization is a rather new trend while religion still remains an old one. The idea that most of us want to have purpose in our careers, accomplish something meaningful within our lifetimes, fall in true love, etc. seem to be modern desires. Evidence of this is simply looking at present day native tribes or cultures who aren’t too far removed from their native origins. There is no such thing as having a purpose in a career, you simply feed your family, and love has nothing to do with their marriages, they are simple social functions developed for the breeding of children. Humans searching for deeper meaning in life seems to have developed first amongst the Greek philosophers and religion came thousands of years before that. Even then, these desires for meaning which appeared with the Greeks, for the next thousand or so years, were only found amongst the most advanced civilizations and the most educated peoples of those civilizations. Most everyone else, including the native tribes in Africa, the Americas, Oceania, etc., and also European and Asia medieval peasants, simply wanted to work and breed.

I think Shermer’s argument fails to be convincing in the scientific/anthropologic realm also, that is, to say these type 1 errors are present in the majority of humans due to natural selection. Cognitive traits in humans still aren’t solely explainable by natural selection. You can look at a grand father, his son and his son’s son and it will be very apparent that while one might be physically aggressive, the next might be passive and the next might be somewhere in the middle and so on. Cognitive traits don’t work like alleles. So its hard to conceive that even though more of the men who believed there were Tigers in the bushes survived to reach an age where they could breed more children than the men who believed there was wind in the bushes and frequently died from Tiger attacks, that those type 1 errors were consistently passed down to their children. From what we see today in the study of psychology, cognitive traits aren’t consistently passed down to children. Even Socrates himself noticed this, in that he “argued that successful fathers do not necessarily produce successful sons and that moral excellence was more a matter of divine bequest than parental upbringing.” Socrates
What is more compelling is that, if these men who believed there was only wind in the bushes, did in fact die off at a faster rate from Tiger attacks than the men who believed there were Tigers in the bushes, weren’t the latter right! If a person was seeking to live by the most logical reasoning possible, wouldn't he then chose to be a type 1 errorer, since this has shown to ensure survival?

Ah, you are asking whether philosophical suicide is enough of a consequence to me to choose a natural selection theory over a belief in God.

I think I would fear an eternal damnation in hell considerably more than committing philsophical suicide. It would be considerably easier to turn to Christianity and ask for repetance. I'm in a country that is over 70% Christian and which largely looks down on people who are not Christians. I think I would benefit considerably more being a Christian than an agnotic.

And this is why its hard for me to believe religion is a product of human desire for a better meaning, because depending on who you ask, that varies. I think it would be easier to not be religious, I could sleep with all the women I wanted to, rob banks, and if/when the police ever came to arrest me I’d kill myself and drift away into nothingness with no consequences for my actions. You however, think it would be easier to live under moral guidelines, constantly struggling to resist the things you most want, constantly feeling guilt when you give in, wondering if you’re doing enough to help others such as volunteer work and giving money to the needy, etc. etc. (Anyone who thinks its easy being religious, probably isn't religious.)


No we are not. In fact the statement "most successful nations achieved their success by dominating either other nations" demonstrate a profound ignorance of what reciprocity is. How can a nation even exists if there is no reciprocity between its people?

Ok, I see what you’re saying and for what you’re saying you are right, reciprocity benefits communities and society. However, I will extend that particular part of the debate and ask how you would explain genorousity according to natural selection, the reason why some people risk their lives to save the lives of other people, even if they know you they will never come into contact with that person again. This is certainly not present in the animal kingdom and isn’t a survival mechanism.
 
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FederalRepublic

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I've implicated evidence to support my notion that God is a product of natural selection, can you provide evidence to indicate your notion that natural selection is a product of God? Perhaps you could point out somewhere in the Bible where God mentions this force?

Actually, you've presented evidence as to why people are willing to believe in and/or fear some things they cannot see or explain. You haven't presented evidence that God is a product of natural selection. If that were the case, it highlights a fallacy in your example because there would never be a tiger in the bush and, therefore, no natural selection would take place.
 

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Natural selection is largely if not solely based on survival mechanisms, and I don’t see how an imaginary friend is a part of a survival mechanism.

Natural selection is the process whereby those who reproduce most will pass on their genes.

Besides that, we should also find similar percentage of children with imaginary friends to percentage of adults with spiritual beliefs, if that were an underlying cause. However only two-thirds of children have imaginary friends yet over 97% of people in the world believe in God. And also, the studies showing 2/3 of children having imaginary friends are just in the U.S., I can’t imagine this statistic being universal as African children, Chinese children, etc. are very different from American children psychologically speaking. Then we’d have to prove that human children have always had imaginary friends, and that this isn’t a modern phenomenon due to increased social interactions most profoundly with the introduction of the radio and television.

You are speculating. For one, the number of people who believe in God is around 80%, for two, you are assuming that only 2/3 of children have imaginary friends. However, I cannot prove that all children across all time and in all cultures have imaginary friends. It's fascinating that you require such a burden of proof from me, but require so little for your own belief system.

As for your other explanation, humans developing religious beliefs to find a deeper meaning in life, I find that lacking as well. Its seems that idealization is a rather new trend while religion still remains an old one. The idea that most of us want to have purpose in our careers, accomplish something meaningful within our lifetimes, fall in true love, etc. seem to be modern desires. Evidence of this is simply looking at present day native tribes or cultures who aren’t too far removed from their native origins. There is no such thing as having a purpose in a career, you simply feed your family, and love has nothing to do with their marriages, they are simple social functions developed for the breeding of children. Humans searching for deeper meaning in life seems to have developed first amongst the Greek philosophers and religion came thousands of years before that. Even then, these desires for meaning which appeared with the Greeks, for the next thousand or so years, were only found amongst the most advanced civilizations and the most educated peoples of those civilizations. Most everyone else, including the native tribes in Africa, the Americas, Oceania, etc., and also European and Asia medieval peasants, simply wanted to work and breed.

To the contrary. The very development of religion is proof that man seeks meaning in his existence. In order to understand why he is here he created Gods. Animism is the first form of religious belief and it exemplifies man ascribing meaning to inanimate objects and animals. As they say, if you wish to understand why I do not believe in your God, then simply question why you do not believe in all the Gods that preceded the one you believe in.

I think Shermer’s argument fails to be convincing in the scientific/anthropologic realm also, that is, to say these type 1 errors are present in the majority of humans due to natural selection. Cognitive traits in humans still aren’t solely explainable by natural selection. You can look at a grand father, his son and his son’s son and it will be very apparent that while one might be physically aggressive, the next might be passive and the next might be somewhere in the middle and so on. Cognitive traits don’t work like alleles. So its hard to conceive that even though more of the men who believed there were Tigers in the bushes survived to reach an age where they could breed more children than the men who believed there was wind in the bushes and frequently died from Tiger attacks, that those type 1 errors were consistently passed down to their children. From what we see today in the study of psychology, cognitive traits aren’t consistently passed down to children. Even Socrates himself noticed this, in that he “argued that successful fathers do not necessarily produce successful sons and that moral excellence was more a matter of divine bequest than parental upbringing.” Socrates

I'm not arguing about all cognitive traits nor is Shermer. We are talking about one cognitive trait. And the fact that 80% of the world is religious is pretty strong evidence that the basis of it is genetic. People are biologically predisposed to believe in things that do not exist simply in case they do.

What is more compelling is that, if these men who believed there was only wind in the bushes, did in fact die off at a faster rate from Tiger attacks than the men who believed there were Tigers in the bushes, weren’t the latter right! If a person was seeking to live by the most logical reasoning possible, wouldn't he then chose to be a type 1 errorer, since this has shown to ensure survival?

Uh what? You have had absolutely no clue what I have been talking about since the beginning, have you? The people who chose Type 1 were the most likely to survive and pass on their genes. That is why superstition is such a universal human trait. If you didn't understand that much, then it was absolutely pointless up until now for me to discuss this with you. No offense, but it is starting to feel like I'm trying to explain this to a teenager

Ok, I see what you’re saying and for what you’re saying you are right, reciprocity benefits communities and society. However, I will extend that particular part of the debate and ask how you would explain genorousity according to natural selection, the reason why some people risk their lives to save the lives of other people, even if they know you they will never come into contact with that person again. This is certainly not present in the animal kingdom and isn’t a survival mechanism.

I'm sorry, but I'm not Richard Dawkins. I'm not here to debate generosity. Furthermore, I'm feeling a bit perturbed that I have been discussing this with you and you don't even seem to understand the premise of my position. I would recommend you watch the video of Shermer in hopes you might understand but I was extremely disappointed to read that you missed out on understanding the Type I and Type II errors.
 
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Actually, you've presented evidence as to why people are willing to believe in and/or fear some things they cannot see or explain. You haven't presented evidence that God is a product of natural selection. If that were the case, it highlights a fallacy in your example because there would never be a tiger in the bush and, therefore, no natural selection would take place.

Follow my logic...

1. People who believed in things that did not exist for the sake that they could were more likely to survive and reproduce.
2. Those people went on to create religion because they were more prone to believe in things that did not exist. (superstition)
3. God therefore was indirectly the result of natural selection.
 
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CriticalThought

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This is an interesting theory. Basically, people who don't pay attention to the world around them and/or assume that there are no dangers in it are preferentially eliminated before producing offspring. Is that about the size of it?

Sounds reasonable.

Um...no. It has nothing to do with "paying attention". Both examples recognized that there was a noise in the grass. The difference was one chose to believe in something that could not be seen and the other chose to believe that it was nothing. The one that chose to believe it was nothing was at a disadvantage because if it did turn out to be something, they got eaten. The one that believed in something that could not be seen, was more likely to survive and have offspring that carried the same trait.
 

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Follow my logic...

1. People who believed in things that did not exist for the sake that they could were more likely to survive and reproduce.
2. Those people went on to create religion because they were more prone to believe in things that did not exist. (superstition)
3. God therefore was indirectly the result of natural selection.

I followed your logic in the first post. You are saying something a little different here. People who believed that there could be a tiger in the woods survived longer because sometimes there was a tiger in the woods. They didn't create the tiger...
 

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Um...no. It has nothing to do with "paying attention". Both examples recognized that there was a noise in the grass. The difference was one chose to believe in something that could not be seen and the other chose to believe that it was nothing. The one that chose to believe it was nothing was at a disadvantage because if it did turn out to be something, they got eaten. The one that believed in something that could not be seen, was more likely to survive and have offspring that carried the same trait.

Sure it does. The people who heard the sound and ignored it got eaten. That's the same as not paying attention as far as I'm concerned.
 

molten_dragon

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This really only works if belief is a choice, which I don't agree with. I don't believe in god. I could pretend I did. I could go to church every sunday and live my life the way the bible says I should, and put on a very convincing show of being a good christian. But it would be a lie. In my heart, I still wouldn't be a believer. I couldn't force myself to believe if I wanted to. I suspect most people are probably the same way.
 

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Natural selection is the process whereby those who reproduce most will pass on their genes.

Umm, yes but like I said, it is based on survival mechanisms. "Natural selection is the process by which traits become more or less common in a population due to consistent effects upon the survival or reproduction of their bearers."- Wikipedia

You are speculating.
And just what the f**k do you think you're doing? Imaginary friends as a precursor to religious belief?

For one, the number of people who believe in God is around 80%, for two, you are assuming that only 2/3 of children have imaginary friends.

Touche. The study I was referring to was talking about Americans belief in God. OnPolitics -- What Americans Think

As for children and their imaginary friends when the f**k did I ever assume anything? uwnews.org | Two-thirds of school-age children have an imaginary companion by age 7 | University of Washington News and Information

However, I cannot prove that all children across all time and in all cultures have imaginary friends.

This isn't your argument that imaginary friends are precursors to religion, dare I say, mere speculation?


To the contrary. The very development of religion is proof that man seeks meaning in his existence.

Logical fallacy. This is circular reasoning. Now you are sounding like a Christian "The very development of religion/the Bible is proof that God exist". And be very careful when using the word proof during a debate. Science is based on theories. There's no proof of God, there is no disproof of God, and there certainly isn't any proof that man created God simply to find meaning in his existence.


I'm not arguing about all cognitive traits nor is Shermer. We are talking about one cognitive trait. And the fact that 80% of the world is religious is pretty strong evidence that the basis of it is genetic. People are biologically predisposed to believe in things that do not exist simply in case they do.

More logical fallacies. That's you saying "A man ran 100 mph." And I respond with "Science hasn't shown men can run 100 mph" and you saying "I'm not arguing about all men, I am talking about one man. And that fact that somehow he got from point A to point B, which is a distance of 100 mile, in one hour, is strong evidence that he can run 100 mph." Well to that I would say, first science needs to show that men can run 100 mph hour, and for our debate, first science needs to show that cognitive traits are passed down in the same way as phenotypes.


Uh what? You have had absolutely no clue what I have been talking about since the beginning, have you? The people who chose Type 1 were the most likely to survive and pass on their genes. That is why superstition is such a universal human trait. If you didn't understand that much, then it was absolutely pointless up until now for me to discuss this with you. No offense, but it is starting to feel like I'm trying to explain this to a teenager
Umm, my statement was laced with humor. Take that stick out of you a** and relax. Don't turn this into a name calling match. I was merely pointing out the irony that these type 1 believers you criticize so much, are in fact the evolutionary survivors. Since they were right about tigers being in the bushes sometimes, could they not be right about the existence of a hell?


I'm sorry, but I'm not Richard Dawkins. I'm not here to debate generosity.

Nice way to dodge that one. Do I have start a new thread on that topic?

Furthermore, I'm feeling a bit perturbed that I have been discussing this with you and you don't even seem to understand the premise of my position. I would recommend you watch the video of Shermer in hopes you might understand but I was extremely disappointed to read that you missed out on understanding the Type I and Type II errors.

Oh I'm SOOOOO sorry you're feeling "perturbed"! HAHA!! Are you British? Pretentious much? I understand that weak little argument JUST FINE. I can't help that it sucks and that you get frustrated when people point out the many loop holes, assumptions, speculation and logical fallacies in your argument. Go back to debating the Neo-Cons about homo marriage, you were much better at that.
 

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Wow, your true colors came out.

My argument is a hypothesis. That means I accept its fallibility. Given you never took the time to even review any of the evidence I used to support it and you hardly seemed to understand the argument to begin with, I'm not particularly convinced that you were capable of making any decent counterarguments.

Your views on natural selection, science, and logical fallacies are also a bit immature. I mean seriously, how is anything I said comparable to "A man can 100 miles an hour." I think your beliefs may have been a tad threatened by our discussion asd so you began to grasp of straws and invent nonexistent reasons why you didn't like my argument. Arguing "this is a logical fallacy" without identifying what fallacy it is is typically a sign of someone who is simply trying to discredit an argument and no longer disprove it.

Of course, you were correct about one thing. There certainly isn't any proof that man created God simply to find meaning in his existence. However, I consider it strong evidence.
 
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