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Chris Ke-Sihai

Speculative Thinker, TEDxMonga

TEDCRED 200+

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What is the evolutionary benefit conferred by religion?

As an anti-religious, pro-scientific younger guy, I always characterised religion as simply a mass delusion - something that was parasitical upon society.

Religious people that I know tended to argue with me about how their religion helped in some or other way, which doesn't answer the question of whether their particular beliefs were correct. But it does lead to an interesting question.

If religion is bad for you, why does most of history revolve around groups of people who shared a religion? Where are the great atheistic states that thrived and prospered without the chains of superstition holding them back? If being religious is in any way a disadvantage, doesn't evolutionary theory say that people and civilisations without religion should have an advantage?

Without arguing that there is or isn't a god, surely we can agree that the behavioural strategy that is most beneficial should become the dominant one? Non-religious people OUGHT TO out-compete the religious ones, atheistic civilisations should have more resources than those burdened by priests.

I'm still not religious, but having a hard time explaining why I'm right. Would I be better off, as an average human being, if I embraced Jesus or Islam or danced around naked at Stonehenge on midsummers?

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  • Apr 21 2011: I think it (religion) may have helped the small hunter/gatherer groups in our earlier days. Later it has become a habit and a social excuse for others to separate groups. Belief that a 'being' created us and is acting as a "middle-manager" for our daily lives is a bit of a concern to me - mostly because we work so hard to make certain our lives go on as need be. Throwing our hands up to the sky and asking for the strength to go on really does seem misplaced.

    To answer your question: IT DOESN'T GIVE ANY BENEFIT ANY LONGER! The so-called holy books we use. (The BIBLE, The Koran) are all old bronze age texts. We've lost large parts of the Bible and priests and monks decided which books should or shouldn't be included in the Bible. How can they be divinely inspired if some guy decided whether they fit or not? Frankly, it's embarrassing that any of our modern societies give them any credence at all.

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