"We've evolved to be creationists"

“We’ve evolved to be creationists”

“We’ve evolved to be creationists” is a quote from the “The Atlantic Monthly” article “Is God an Accident?”—December 2005 issue.

Paul Bloom, author of the article, informs us that “human beings come into the world with a predisposition to believe in supernatural phenomena…this predisposition is an incidental by-product of cognitive functioning gone awry”.

Paul Bloom informs us that nearly everyone on earth believes in miracles, afterlife, and the creation of the earth by some supernatural power. While doing research into infant behavior, psychologists have recently discovered that humans are born with a predisposition to believe in some supernatural actuality. These scientists conclude that this predisposition is a random happenstance of cognitive functioning gone awry. These conclusions led to the question “Is God an Accident?”–the title of the article.

I have just found the answer to a question that has baffled me for years. Why do non-believers love to talk religion? Perhaps talking about religion is much like ‘whistling past the cemetery’.

Everyone loves to talk religion because we are all born with the “gut feeling” that there is a body/mind duality. Because we “feel” that mind is a “spiritual” entity we easily accommodate heaven, soul, god etc.

Science says that this gut feeling is a result of “cognitive functioning gone awry” and religion tells us that this is a matter of faith. What do you think?

The question is one relating to nature vs. nurture, more than something innate I think. You’ll find that the majority of people who ‘believe’ something do so because it was instructed by their parents; this is why often times cultures/groups of people share the same beliefs.

I don’t think religious belief is ‘cognitive function gone awry’ - I do think it is a matter of faith; however I disagree with the notion that “everyone” shares the gut feeling : Those never exposed to religion or the idea of religion, for example. Or some who can overcome it. Many people look at the world and ask questions and want to know the “Why” of things, but just as many are content to live their lives without inquisitiveness, believing what they are told about the way of things.

When written history began five thousand years ago humans had already developed a great deal of knowledge. Much of that knowledge was of a very practical nature such as how to use animal skins for clothing, how to weave wool, how to hunt and fish etc. A large part of human knowledge was directed toward how to kill and torture fellow humans. I guess things never really change all that much.

In several parts of the world civilizations developed wherein people learned to create laws and to rule vast numbers of people. Some measure of peace and stability developed but there was yet no means for securing the people from their rulers. I guess things never really change all that much

Almost everywhere priests joined rulers in attempts to control the population. Despite these continual wars both of external and internal nature the human population managed to flourish. Egypt was probably one of the first long lasting and stable civilizations to grow up along the large rivers. Egypt survived almost unchanged for three thousand years. This success is attributed to its geographical location that gave it freedom from competition and fertile lands that were constantly replenished by the river overflowing its banks and thus depositing new fertile soil for farming.

Western philosophy emerged in the sixth century BC along the Ionian coast. A small group of scientist-philosophers began writing about their attempts to develop “rational” accounts regarding human experience. These early Pre-Socratic thinkers thought that they were dealing with fundamental elements of nature.

It is natural for humans to seek knowledge. In the “Metaphysics” Aristotle wrote “All men by nature desire to know”.

The attempt to seek knowledge presupposes that the world unfolds in a systematic pattern and that we can gain knowledge of that unfolding. Cognitive science identifies several ideas that seem to come naturally to us and labels such ideas as “Folk Theories”.

The Folk Theory of the Intelligibility of the World
The world makes systematic sense, and we can gain knowledge of it.

The Folk Theory of General Kinds
Every particular thing is a kind of thing.

The Folk Theory of Essences
Every entity has an “essence” or “nature,” that is, a collection of properties that makes it the kind of thing it is and that is the causal source of its natural behavior.

The consequences of the two theories of kinds and essences is:

The Foundational Assumption of Metaphysics
Kinds exist and are defined by essences.

We may not want our friends to know this fact but we are all metaphysicians. We, in fact, assume that things have a nature thereby we are led by the metaphysical impulse to seek knowledge at various levels of reality.

Cognitive science has uncovered these ideas they have labeled as Folk Theories. Such theories when compared to sophisticated philosophical theories are like comparing mountain music with classical music. Such theories seem to come naturally to human consciousness.

The information comes primarily from “Philosophy in the Flesh” and wku.edu/~jan.garrett/302/folkmeta.htm

Great OP, Chuck!!!
“Cognitive function gone awry” smacks of an agenda that divides us rather than unites us. The meme of “supernatural occurences” has evolved historically and has eventually come up against the hard wall of empirical science. This does not make the meme irrelevant or irrational. It is still a consideration of the majority of humans alive and has an effect on all of us.
There are, currently, some scientists who are willing to at least investigate such occurences (Laszlo). IMHO, the meme, if it were a false start, would never have persisted past the rationality of the Greeks or the authoritative dictatorship of medieval religion. That it is still here tells me that there is something to it, even if that something does not fit validation by closed experimentations.

This seems only to confirm what has been said before us: That God implants knowledge of Himself within everyone. We may have evolved to come to believe, but this may have also been the will of God directed through necessity. Doesn’t this perspective shift seem to change matters?

Some might find this interesting.

cdn.kjzz.org/news/arizona/archiv … ellong.mp3

Paul Bloom is an asshole.

Predisposition to supernatural supposition is part of survival-instinct, and the higher parts of the intuitive brain. Self-doubt kills this, absolutism misapplies it, logic is too stupid for it. It is meant to see the higher patterns and mechanisms of nature which are highly abstract and beyond the common perceptions.

An interesting idea that seems to evade every argument such as this: if people seem pre-disposed to religious belief and supernatural, could this not indicate that there may be a spiritual reality working within our phenominal reality? The evidence may suggest that evolutionarily we are predisposed to a belief in God for every number of reasons, but until God is disproven then is may simply be that humans are drawn on every level (biological, intellectual, spiritual) towards God. The evidence in no way explains away God, but may indicate that we are closer to God than merely existing within a God’s universe.

If one accepts any part of evolution as valid, then the tendency toward religious and/or spiritual belief is fairly straightforward. All of life constantly seeks information about its immediate environment. This is just as true of a simple single cell as the most complex of creatures. Survival is enhanced by gathering the greatest amount of information possible. Those organisms with the greatest amount of information have the greatest amount of flexibility in any changing environment. Gathering information necessitates exploration. In any given population, those that explore are those with the greatest likelyhood of survival and reproduction. Over generations, the curious gain greater survival and reproduction rates over the timid. It is purely an evolutionary process. Nature ‘selects’ for curiousity. This pattern is true for all organisms as they strive for the best possible information the better to survive and replicate. Humanity is unique in that it not only strives to be aware of the known, but is aware of the unknown unlike all other animals. It is the striving to know and explain what is the unknown that is the impetus behind religion. Some may say that it is “God planted”, but whether it is or is not, it isn’t necessary. It begins with curiosity which enhances surviability. The need to explain the unknown is just as easily the by product of our curiosity than anything granted by a creator. We are “religiously inclined” as a matter of evolutionary selection. God doesn’t have to have anything to do with it.

I have this ‘gut feeling’ that humans have a ‘spiritual aspect’; we have some characteristic that transcends matter. We are a step beyond all other animals. It appears to me that perhaps we all have this ‘gut feeling’ the question then becomes what we understand this spiritual aspect means.

Most people tend to say that it is god or gods or God. I suspect that each one of us must find that answer within them self. I do not think that we will depend upon reason to provide us with this answer. Understanding is our way of creating this spiritual ‘reality’. I think that we can find morality, or life, or earth, or gods, or God, etc. are possible answers.

Our big task is to find a way to blend everyone’s understanding into a way that will save our earth and our species.

You can’t derive a ought from an is.