Tags: Polls | Religion | feral | genetic | homo | sapiens

Religious Thought Encompasses Biological Foundations

Religious Thought Encompasses Biological Foundations

By Tuesday, 10 April 2018 11:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

It is known from the oldest great Great Mother goddess figurines cast in clay around 25,000 B.C. that our ancestors had a deity or deities to whom they might send thanks even at that early date. One of the first things early humans must have done when they finally exited caves was to kneel down in worship since it’s estimated that there have been some tens of thousands of religions to have come and gone over the last few tens of thousands of years.

Six billion adherents of every religion on Earth today share that intrinsic tenet with their ancient forebears, and recent studies — including those on adult twins raised apart —suggest there may be a real genetic component to faith, contributing perhaps 40 percent of the variability in a person’s religiousness (Journal of Personality, vol. 73, p. 471).

All species have a basic genetic predisposition to restrain their feral nature, among their own kind anyway. No life of any higher order could exist without some concept of "gentleness" among animals of the same breed diluting the overarching survival of the fittest.

Females of almost all mammals, for example, don’t either eat or abandon their offspring but instead devote care and protection, often at risk to their own lives. Great numbers of species — even among the most ferocious and bellicose — give members of their own kind grudging passes wishing to avoid conflict and only rarely fight to the death.

Many creatures even go so far as to show indulgence toward wounded or sick members of their troupe or pride. Animals though can’t be assumed to be acting nicely to one another, but rather following a biological compulsion establishing a group bond beneficial for the furtherance of the species as a whole.

Homo sapiens — the most social, most advanced and most successful of all animalia — should be subject as well to this universal code of life, and religion may well serve as a wholly reasonable manifestation of that imperative.

Notwithstanding that atheists and agnostics can be as moral, upright and virtuous as anyone, the very concepts of morality, uprightness and virtue were born at the same moment that religion came to be, and not before. These are abstractions whose existence is the direct result and invention of religious and spiritual thought.

Hardly any society has ever existed in which there is no sacred proscription against murder, robbery, assault and other misdeeds, codes born in the oldest mists of antiquity. It’s self-evident that as soon as early humans began to form close-knit clans to face together the never-ending onslaughts of nature, disease, wild animals and every other peril of life on this planet they must have quickly seen to extinguishing the cause of their greatest danger: themselves.

Marriage, for instance, arose as a rite of every religion because turmoil and conflict would have reigned before its inception. Jealousy, violation, indiscretion, betrayal, heartache and animosity were the woes it addressed.

Nuptials, moreover, provided for the recognized paternity of children, bestowing upon them the status of highly prized legal heirs of the future. Lying, also proscribed by all religions, likewise doesn’t offend sacred precepts so much as it harms truthfulness and therefore justice, and without that every foundation of even the most basic civilized culture—courts, commerce, industry, trade, money, rewards, punishments, and all else—immediately vanishes.

The case is made that ancestral gods were anything but paragons of virtue, and therefore Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese and other ancient peoples held different ideas of what was good or bad, shameful or honorable, decent or despicable, with religion having little to do with being righteous. However, while the list of heavens and hells in the afterlife of ancient cultures is too long to catalogue here, gaining admission into quite a number of them was based on a life of either iniquity or integrity.

No matter the flagrant misdemeanors of Zeus, and even though Marduk and Odin did whatever they pleased, still very few people have fashioned their behavior after the conduct of gods, and still remained outside of lunatic asylums or prisons. But, at end, disavowing religion as key to understanding humanity’s moral compass necessitates that mankind’s age-old embrace of ethics and spirituality devolve into just some bizarre foible of the human race — hardly plausible.

Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Baha’i and others are well-aware of what our world would look like without what their faiths have contributed to the foundation of society. According to the Pew Research Center though, society is becoming less thankful. 84 percent of countries in Europe, Pew asserts, harassed religious groups in 2015, and 53 percent used some sort of force against them. With the seemingly nonstop assault on religion fashionable now — reflected in those numbers — perhaps the prudent among us shouldn’t be cheering.

David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Hardly any society has ever existed in which there is no sacred proscription against murder, robbery, assault and other misdeeds, codes born in the oldest mists of antiquity.
feral, genetic, homo, sapiens
Tuesday, 10 April 2018 11:32 AM
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