Monday, November 20, 2006

My Opinion on Religion

Religion is a behavioral control mechanism that allows human beings to function in groups larger than about 150 (Dunbar's number) by exerting pressure on members of a particular culture to behave in a manner that reduces internal conflict, increases altruism within the group, embraces practices found to increase the survivability of the culture (and often status quo, and form the basis of ethical practices to keep anti-social or "cheating" behavior in check. In oral religions, interpretation of religious beliefs and practices are subject to change over the course of time and therefore allow the religion to adapt to new knowledge, environmental changes, or sociocultural change.

Written religious texts limit this ability and often form the basis of internal and extracultural strife because of an inability to adapt to change over time and the divine source of moral guidance.

As a behavioral control mechanism, religion requires three primary things: a behavioral code, a belief in judgement at some later date, and a deity that knows or can find out everything a person does. This promotes adherence to the behavioral code even when there is reason to believe no human can be watching or when there is no reason to believe any other human can hold the person responsible for their actions.

There is a belief that there is a genetic component to religious belief which makes sense in a population of humans who live almost exclusively in populations larger than 150. It also helps explain the small percentage of humans that may be considered "cheaters", natural born killers, or practitioners of Machiavellianism in human populations and potential genetic or epigenetic proximate causes for them.

As individual religions, I consider them individually and look at the differences based on their costs, tendencies, and trends. In general, as a global concept, I view religion in a cynical way and primarily as a necessary evil in many cases. I also ponder the differences in religion, spiritualism, and animism...