TED Conversations

Letitia Falk

Lab Technician/Recent MSc graduate, University of British Columbia

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

Update me on by-product theory of the evolution of religion

The last time I read anything about this was in Richard Dawkin's the God Delusion and I'm wondering if anything new has come out since then.

The two explanations that I recall were that religion could be a by-product of obedience or of love.

The idea was that religion doesn't increase fitness itself, but is the by-product of some other trait that is advantageous and has been acted on by natural selection. Just wondering if any other traits had been suggested?

Share:
  • thumb
    Oct 6 2011: Here's another idea.
    Our survival depends on our culture, right? And our culture depends on what knowledge we inherit from our ancestors. Right? Then worshipping ancestors is just feeling grateful. And we should be.
    Other animals may piss on their grandparents' graves. But we evolved to give value to what they learnt, since it is keeping us alive.

    So religion might be a by-product of this grateful feeling towards ancestors, particuliarly towards the knowledge we owe them.
    • thumb
      Oct 6 2011: In addition to your remark I must think of the role of grandparents.
      For a while I saw a report on the study of human development.
      It was about a leap of progress in our culture at the moment that we lived longer.
      Aging became a preferance for surviving as grandparents took care for the children.
      Parents had their hands free for work as grandparents could share a lot of knowledge with the kids.
      To respect elders for their wisdom is probably born at that time.
      To honor the ancestor though has a lot to do to that what you are as the result built upon the row that came before you up until the first ancestor.
    • thumb
      Oct 7 2011: Interesting point: I have to admit that my strongest desires to attend church have been driven by feelings of nostalgia, family values, tradition. Our cultural history certainly keeps religions going, but I never thought of it as a driving force behind the start of religious behavior before.
  • thumb
    Oct 4 2011: It's also a by-product of one of our most useful instincts. That of looking for a reason, a cause, to phenomena.
    Our minds are shaped to understand things that build a reality we can use.
    It was thus rational to expect that the moon was either alive, or pushed by something alive, since this is what we experience in nature.
    Religion often records the best explanation available at the time of writing. Science is knowledge acquired with a different method. Science doesn't care if a theory is counter-intuitive. You often hear a religious person saying that such and such are impossible since they seem impossible.

    So, let's say that religion is derived from our interest in the causes affecting our environment. It's limitations are that it relies too much on what fits our instinctive worldview.

    It's a lot easier to imagine a father-like figure watching over us than f***ing quantum physics.
    • thumb
      Oct 5 2011: It's also a by-product of one of our most useful instincts. That of looking for a reason, a cause, to phenomena.
      Well, in that case surely we would have already "evolved" in our understanding(as a whole organism) of the universe to dismiss religion as only myth or superstition? Science has said for decades that religion would be a thing of the past. Actually, quite the opossite is happening. I suppose its time to (quote) "Introduce a new set of facts" . Those my be just as laughable as technological advancement not going much past the lightbulb.
      Quote:
      Our minds are shaped to understand things that build a reality we can use.
      Really? And what reality might that be? Yours ? Mine? "The untimate reality"(if you have any insight into this then please enlighten me). And how do we even use it? Our minds have the fascinating ability to "shape and mold reality" but Im not so sure anyone knows how to define it? When it really starts to bend under pressure is when people no longer believe that there more too it than the exultation of the purely"rational" mind. This isnt my thought it is Einsteins, from "The World as I see it"
      Quote: It was thus rational to expect that the moon was either alive, or pushed by something alive, since this is what we experience in nature.
      No it wasn't. It wasn't rational at all. It was primitive man acting from the irrational(to the mind) to make sense of the rational. A child may look at the moon and try to pull it from the sky. Why? Because they think they can. An adult looks at the moon and doesnt try because they know they can't. And from that here is the biggest blunder (imo) someone could make. The child understood somehting inherently true about the nature of reality(as primitive man did) that is JUST if not more valid than any hypothesis of some physicist. He or she observed the trancendental (some may say irrational ) quality of the moon. A "hting can only br figured out or approximated to a certian extent- to be con....
    • thumb
      Oct 5 2011: the rest of it is a matter of opinion or imagination. Sorry. Quote:Religion often records the best explanation available at the time of writingDoes it ? Here is one among countless examples. In the Gospels in the new testament the people who claimed to have seen and spoken to the "ressurected" Christ first were women. The way fact was distinguished in that time period was eyewitness account(by a man) and verbal testimony(of a man). The testimony of a women wasn't even allowed in a court of law. So why on earth would the best explanation be to hinge the key doctrine (the resurrected Christ) on the eyewitness account a couple of prostitutes and a housemaid. Really? I mean even a terrible fiction writer would be smarter than that. The other and more reasonable explanation is that the author did not care who it was who saw him. He was instructed to write it down as it happened and so he did. Quote:So, let's say that religion is derived from our interest in the causes affecting our environment. It's limitations are that it relies too much on what fits our instinctive worldview.It's a lot easier to imagine a father-like figure watching over us than f***ing quantum physics. Well, you can say that, sure. If you come up with a cohesive philosophy-one wich the world as a whole agrees on and makes sense more ways than a few uninformed statements, speculative science and unimaginable leaps of faith in both your reason and logic then ,yeah, Im on board. Till then Ill stick with the father like figure. This theory that religous people or spiritual people are weak and ignorant - believing myth over fact only because their feather- like spirits would just shatter under such revelation -is quite outdated and very untrue. That comment is reserved for unenlightened people only.. Who are these people who you claim took "the easy way out".Ghandi, Dr King, Jesus...Im curious?
      • thumb
        Oct 5 2011: - we would have already "evolved" in our understanding(as a whole organism) of the universe to dismiss religion as only myth or superstition? Science has said for decades that religion would be a thing of the past. Actually, quite the opossite is happening.

        This has already happened, a few centuries ago. Religion has been stripped from its authority on providing explanations about the universe... but not in all countries, allas. Is this what you meant?

        - And what reality might that be? Yours ? Mine? "The untimate reality"(if you have any insight into this then please enlighten me). And how do we even use it?

        Every living thing processes knowledge about its environment, and uses that knowledge to build its own virtual reality. There is no such thing as perceiving reality. We built a simulator of it in our nervous system and this reality is built in a way we can use. We associate stereoscopy with 3D perception and build a 3D virtual reality of the world. We also perceive a continuity in the flow of time. Yet science has dropped this parochial perception for better theories. There are more than 3 dimension, for instance, and time does not flow as explained by quantum electrodynamics. Sticking to the 3D model and the timeflow idea fails to explain certain phenomena.
        We also evolved special abilities for face recognition. We can identify a face in a glance, and there is such an area in the brain allocated for this purpose, as Oliver Sacks (a well respected neuroscientist) writes about in his latest book. Why face recognition and not something else? Because it's a piece of reality that is extremely useful for our species.

        - It was thus rational to expect that the moon was either alive, or pushed by something alive, since this is what we experience in nature.

        I agree. This is incorrect. I should have said that it was INTUITIVE to expect something alive at the cause of the moon's motion. That the earth is spinning is not intuitive. (to be continued)
      • thumb
        Oct 5 2011: My point is that modern science is successful a exponentially growing knowledge since the moment it has allowed itself to explore the counter-intuitive explanations

        -A thing can only be figured out or approximated to a certian extent the rest of it is a matter of opinion or imagination

        That is not the case. A thing can have an infinity of ever better explanations. It's not up to imagination which is trickery, since it's embeded in our parochial virtual reality. Physics are constantly being explained more acurately by ever sharper theories. What built these explanations are not wild guesses. A guess or an opinion needs to create knowledge for it to be a good explanation. Saying the moon is hollow IS an opinion, and not an explanation of anything.

        - If you come up with a cohesive philosophy-one wich the world as a whole agrees on and makes sense more ways than a few uninformed statements, speculative science and unimaginable leaps of faith in both your reason and logic then ,yeah, Im on board.

        Then you're in luck, my friend. I have such a cohesive philosophy. It requires no leap of faith, it certainly isn't speculative, not in the way you mean at least. It is not constituted by uninformed statements. Rather, it's a philosophy that values doubt and constructive criticism.
        That philosophy denies itself of any knwoledge about an ultimate truth. Instead, it keeps eternally searching for better explanations. Progress is enabled since doubt and criticism allows any theory to be challenged by one that creates more knowledge.
        This philosophy does not require faith. It requires reason.
        This philosophy has allowed laptops to be build and has allowed this conversation to take place, even though we're living in different countries. It's pretty solid, don't you think?

        In my philosophy, you'll reply with constructive criticism. If it makes any sense, if it builds up rationally, then I'll have to agree.
        • thumb
          Oct 6 2011: Ufortunatly, the entire first half of my response just got deleted on accident. I am lazy so Ill just start where I left off. In order for any philosophy to maintain any sort of intellectual integrity it must be both cohesive and applicable to ALL areas of life. Your defintion(in the second half) of your response is only concerned with the naturalist and phisiological aspects of reality. I think there are more than that. Science alone does not and cannot account for the whole. Wich is why religous affiliation remains a popular alternative. Although the importance of the naturalist stance is that it operates at the most fundamental level of all sound theory. "The practical one" There are other levels too and they must not be ignored. They are as follows. a. Materialism - balance matter with soul.b. Hedonism - balance pleasure with purpose.c. Existentialism - balance will with reason.d. Rationalism - balance reason with emotions.e. Postmodernism - balance language with reality.f. Naturalism - balance imminence with transcendenceMost religions do not do this and neither does most science. I expect if you disagree with this then you can present me with a explanation of how all of these fall under the spectrum of a purely naturalistic worldview.
      • thumb
        Oct 6 2011: Sure! From its very begining, philosophy has been struggling with the animal issue. We look different, ok, and we do very different things it seems. And yet we have the same animal needs. This is our problem. So how do we solve this? Each philosophy has its own answers.
        But there is something wrong in all of them. Something missing in their understanding of humans.
        It's the fact that humans are apes. One of the five remaining apes on this planet.
        We don't have anymore close relatives, since our planet seems to tight for more than one knowledge-creating species. But still, Chimps and Bonobos are close enough for us to bellong among them in the ape category.
        Now you're thinking that the statement of humans being apes has nothing to do with philosophy and questions like "how should I live my life?"... And yet... Let me explain.
        If humans are animals, which is obvious we are to anyone without the blindfold of egocentric beliefs, then a lot of our endeavours may be explained by ethology, the study of animal behaviour. What you get from such studies is usually wonderful understanding of otherwise puzzling issues. And then you realize that what you thought were conscious moves in your daily life are most of the time ape instincts. The distance between you and the person you talk to, the way kids play, your feelings in a traffic jam, the love a parent has to his child, the way you try to calm down someone losing his temper, the feeling of empathy...
        We have conscience, but most people make too much a deal about it. It really doesn't change all that much our ape needs and desires. Sure, a priest may choose to not have sex in his entire life. But that's a tiny minority of us, and we know what happens when they can't hold it anymore.
        I'll explain further with better examples if you wish.
        My point is that a purely naturalistic worldview brings more understanding than parochial philosophies that discard most of what we are.
        Please challenge this, if you don't agree.
        • thumb
          Oct 7 2011: Now you're thinking that the statement of humans being apes has nothing to do with philosophy and questions like "how should I live my life?".
          Ha, yes , your right. That is why I am not sure how to respond to this. :)
          I agree that we may learn somewhat about "prmitive man", from the animal kingdom.
          However, I have never spoken to anyone going through some sort of exsistential ,moral, crisis that was actually cocerned with doing this. It sounds reasonable in theory but what concerns me about it is how this would work in application. What are some examples?
        • thumb
          Oct 7 2011: Now you're thinking that the statement of humans being apes has nothing to do with philosophy and questions like "how should I live my life?"...
          Yes,that is exactly what I am thinking. :) I agree that we may learn from the animal kingdom.
          However, I have never spoken with anyone going through some sort os exsistential crisis who considered this a viable option. It would be different if Ishmael the Gorilla was hanging out at the zoo downtown. It sounds reasonable in theory but how does this work in practical application?
        • thumb

          . . 100+

          • +1
          Oct 7 2011: Gerald and Jacob, You are cracking me up with your profile photos :-) :-)

          I am reading Gerald's post:
          " been struggling with the animal issue. We look different, ok," I can't help but glance at the nude rat photo.... "and we do very different things it seems. And yet we have the same animal needs." Again my eyes wonder over to the profile photo.....then I read....." This is our problem." I crack up and I can't read further :-)

          Then I try to read Jacob's post ..."now you're thinking ....of humans being apes" ...can't help my glance going back and forth to the profile photo.....man in ape pose on tree???
          And I am rolling on the floor bursting at the seams.

          I have had a very difficult day today and coming to read this now...You guys are AWESOME. You really made my day. I am sending you lots of love. To you too Letitia!!
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2011: :)-That made me laugh too. The fact that our conversation made someones day is way more important than whether we are right or wrong. Thanks for keeping life in prespective Juliette.
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2011: and I am sure that rat in Geralds profile pic was definetly re-thinking his importance on the evolutionary chain.
  • Oct 4 2011: Empathy and its byproduct of anthropormorphism is a recent one.

    The idea simply goes; empathy which is required for us to understand the points of views of others, which aids in the cooperation and increased survivability of groups of individuals, can extend not just onto other people but other animals and things.

    We overextend human agenticity onto things that we don't understand - because we automatically seek to understand, even if we can't; it provides us with a sense of control and a sense of prediction, allows us to act in a manner that will hopefully spur more of what we want - so lacking a better understanding of natural forces, we overextend human agenticity onto inanimate objects and forces - the sun, the moon, the wind, rain and stars. Our ability to empathize with humans - to understand that they feel anger, or curiosity, or require appeasement, are extended onto these great natural forces.

    By doing so, we create gods, with which to empathize and devise explanations that satiate our need to understand the world.

    The great trick we end up playing on our minds is that we understand people can be inscrutable and mysterious, difficult to predict. Nonetheless, it is useful for us to predict - when combined with other cognitive deficiencies which overascribe meaning to things we are looking for and underascribe meaning where we are not looking, we end up believing in gods who control forces beyond the ken of humans, but with human like minds.
    • thumb
      Oct 4 2011: Thanks George, that was exactly what I was looking for. Do you know whose theory this is? I'd like to read more.

      I like this theory, it makes sense of the similarities in religious symbolism between different religions. It explains why many people in today's democratic societies seem to identify with "spirituality" rather than the tyrannical male god of our patriarchal past.
      • Oct 5 2011: Sorry Letitia. It's a synthesis of the information that exists in the field - I'm unable to source an author off the top of my head, because they are my own words... but I'm fairly certain they're not thoughts or concepts unique to myself.

        @ Thomas - I'm not familiar with Joseph Campbell or Carl Jung, but it doesn't surprise me to find that the ideas have been echoed by other thinkers in past and present and assuredly into the future.
        • thumb
          Oct 5 2011: Some of what you say is based on Richard Dawkins' work (i.e. The Selfish Gene, etc.) Some of it could be traced to Joseph Campbell (or Carl Jung.)
        • thumb
          Oct 6 2011: Hi George,

          You're not familiar with Campbell? Well, I think you're in for a real treat. He is (or was) a wonderful man, he died in 1987. Virtually anything he wrote will be illuminating but you might like to start with, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces."

          As for Jung, pretty much all of us are aware of his work, even if we don't know it originated with him. Concepts that he introduced include: Introvert/Extrovert*, the Archetype, the Collective Unconscious, the Complex, Synchronicity, and Individuation.

          --------
          *The Jungian concepts of introversion and extroversion have different clinical meanings than the words have come to mean in colloquial speech. In simple terms, an "introvert" defines his or her reality in terms of the "inner;" and an "extrovert" defines his or her reality in terms of the "external."
    • thumb
      Oct 4 2011: Interesting theory. We create certain myths to make sense of things we don't understand about but seek for their understanding.
    • thumb
      Oct 6 2011: Maybe it didn't occur yet to everyone that we needed the Gods to become human.

      As for convenience I set human to be a species that can interfere upon nature to serve its needs.
      By memorizing the movements of the heaven it revealed certain patterns and repetitions.
      By this predictions could be made and as corresponding patterns were seen in the environment correlations could be derived from it.
      To master fire was the first necessity to migrate to colder places but with the tale of the stars agriculture became a possibility. If unexpected things happened this could give hunger and death and it looked as if the laws of heaven was intentional disrupted. Man communicated with all forces around him of which he was used to think himself connected and part of.
      By building culture that connection was more and more broken down yet to sooth the mind and feelings the relation with the forces of nature (God) was cultivated.

      A lot of study has been done on what was needed to live in the cold climate zone of Europe and Asia. If one didn't think over it before one wouldn't expect it to be so much. Extensive knowledge has to be developed and learned; about clothing, plants, hunting methods, medication, seasons, gardening and so on. To live in these places demanded as least as much knowledge as would be today equivalent with high school.
  • thumb
    Oct 7 2011: hi ... sorry i dint read the entire posts ... am in a bit hurry .. am studying something ... but just wanna send a youtube link ... see it ... we can discuss it in this thread or a new thread
    its a talk by a renowned scholar ... student of different religions of the world ..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2s14T6x5AM
  • thumb
    Oct 5 2011: Patternicity may have helped foster up the first religions. http://www.michaelshermer.com/2008/12/patternicity/
    • thumb
      Oct 6 2011: I've seen that Michael participate a few discussions and cannot take his contribution very seriously.
      He doesn't listen and just ventilates his narrow opinion, almost like a creationist.
      • thumb
        Oct 6 2011: Judge the argument, not the man.
        • thumb
          Oct 7 2011: Hi Matthieu
          I looked into the page and its the same story I heard him tell a few times now.
          What he says can apply to certain people under certain circumstances but it’s no explanation at large for the observation of unknown phenomena.

          I don’t see many strange things but once I saw an UFO myself and how can his story relate to that observation as I tell you what happened?

          I came home from work. At that time I was just 20 years and just married and the way I thought about the world was pretty much like you do now.
          It was late afternoon and beautiful weather with a blue sky. As I looked outside I was stunned. High in the sky was a ball that radiated a lot of light. Every few seconds the color changed, from orange to yellow then red and blue. At first I thought of the sun but the sun was visible in another direction.

          Then I thought: am I dreaming, need I squeeze my arm? Then I called my wife and asked her to look outside. She was surprised and I asked her what she saw. Her description was identical to what I saw.
          After minutes it moved with a speed that I couldn’t hardly follow with my eyes and stood fixed on another place. This happened a second time and the third time it vanished over the roof to the other side.

          Because it was unknown I couldn’t estimate size or distance of the object and stayed amazed.

          Do you think this story fits the description of Patternicity?
      • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Oct 7 2011: Only if by UFO you mean an alien vessel. If that is the case, you're letting the UFOlogy folklore color your experience. I once saw a bunch of really fast lights in the sky and my friend and I joked that we'd seen a UFO (it takes a lot to convince sceptics). Turns out they were Chinese lanterns. Apparently there are some famous UFO cases including these.
  • thumb
    Oct 5 2011: The brain is an information and pattern-recognition system. It's current capacities were "selected for" for the contribution they made to our survival.

    It did not (and does not) matter if these capacities were (or are) rational, as long as they gave us a survival advantage.

    One such attribute is to react to "something" (anything) as if it were dangerous, even if it isn't. It makes sense to run away from a noise and THEN figure out it was only a branch falling from a tree, than to stick around long enough to find out it was a tiger.

    Another such attribute is to notice patterns that lead to desired outcomes and then repeat them: If I move "this way" and then wiggle "that way" I get what I want (food, sex, territory, status, whatever.)

    When we put these two things together, we have the foundation of superstitious behaviour as a "by product" of evolutionary adaptation. (When I prayed to Janus, by two-faced brother-in-law fell down and broke his leg - and my wife thought I was "the man!" Good deal.)
    • thumb
      Oct 5 2011: So this and Matthieu's link about patternicity attribute the evolution of religion to fear and superstition as early adaptations to unknown dangers? I wonder if this can be linked to environment: does experiencing more unpredictable and dangerous environments as a child for example, prime the brain to be more superstitious later on in life. And if the by-product religion actually causes a decrease in fitness, can we expect this trait to disappear over time provided our environment becomes safer?
      • thumb
        Oct 5 2011: It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value. - Stephen Hawking.

        When we are talking about "priming the brain" (to do anything,) we need to be mindful of our timeframes. A brain primed (by evolution) to favour false-positives can be easily primed, by conditioning, to be ... well, anything.

        One, evolution, takes millennia; the other, conditioning, takes minutes.

        “Give me the child until he is seven and I'll give you the man” - St. Francis Xavier.

        When we add "memes" to the equation we have virtually all time-scales covered.

        ---------
        QUOTE: "So this and Matthieu's link about patternicity attribute the evolution of religion to fear and superstition as early adaptations to unknown dangers?"

        Maybe. I didn't follow the link.

        Even though its roots may be found in our evolutionary adaptations, I think there is more to religion than can be explained by the concept of "by product."
      • Oct 5 2011: It would seem that on average, our susceptibility to religion will never be removed - as it is a persistent meme piggybacks off multiple other useful cognitive mechanisms, including patternicity, empathy, belief persistence, listening to authority (think about what happens to a child that doesn't listen to his parents on the matter of eating poisoned berries), etc.

        Moreover, there is a natural tension in the development of our brains between the cost of accuracy and the efficiency of accuracy - that is to say, it's computationally and thus resource heavy (blood/energy flow wise - which in itself are derived from our access to environmental resources (food))... this natural tension means that accuracy doesn't just ratchet up because it means it helps us survive better - accuracy needs to ratchet up at the cost of efficiency, both which helps us survive better.

        The only way to free ourselves of religiosity is to do so via removing or supplanting all the memes relating to religion - through enlightenment and education. Of course such a solution is limited in the sense that it needs memes that actively quash superstition and religiosity to be rife throughout a culture - should the culture fall, for whatever reason, then so too do those memes - without a fundamental change in the way our brains operate, superstition and religiosity will once again arise.
  • thumb
    Oct 4 2011: With all respect for Richard Dawkins I don't think he much studied religion enough to see it for what it is.

    For many centuries religion was the mean for a select group to hold power over the peoples.
    Until the twentieth century Christianity, Islam and Judaism were the only religions and everything else was superstition. After more study into Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism and Taoism they were also called religions but they are not. They are a common practice of tradition, devotion and wisdom that doesn’t reside under an overhead of scripture, dogma protected by an institution of scholars or God representatives.

    So today if one uses the word religion it represents everything that willingly or unwillingly determines the behavior and conviction of groups of people in relation to what they refer to as their origin.

    In the original sense of religion (Christianity) it really was a byproduct of human aspiration that offered the opportunity for the ruling class to hijack this for controlling the people by fear and mobilize them for their causes.

    This you could call the God delusion but has nothing to do with the intent of any human being to feel an intense relation to nature and devotion for its existence.

    This devotion is important for our survival as it is obvious today that all that lack all respect but their own greed are devastating this planet, that which is our place in the universe.
    • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Oct 5 2011: Hinduism not a religion? It's always been a religion. A polytheistic religion at that. Let's not also forget that the famous Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythologies were religions before we agreed they were myths. Not that how you qualify religion has any bearing on Dawkin's book which sets out to argue a specific belief in a higher being (whether you call that religion or not has no bearing on his arguments or conclusion).

      I absolutely love how you critique Richard Dawkins' lack of theological knowledge yet you seem to have it all figured out.

      Ed, maybe you'd like to provide some sort of evidence that backs your claims, happy hunting.
      • thumb
        Oct 5 2011: I suspect you didn't read all that I wrote.
        If you do you can see how the use of the word religion has changed over time. Today we call Hinduism a religion what it is really not.
        A religion is a dead thing like a dead language. Something has been written and every member tries to make sense of it but it doesn't change. (Thora, Bible, Qur’an)
        All other traditions because that’s what it really has to be called are like living languages. The image that a people pictures of itself and the practice of daily live is interwoven.

        Veda's or the Bhagavat Ghitha are no laws but wisdom culminated into myths and saga's etc.
        Those traditions vary as language does in all kinds of dialects.
        Hinduism can be seen as the mixture of three languages that in some places can be the tradition as it was of old and on other places almost as the Brahmans imported it from the North.

        In Hinduism everybody can compose his own religious picture out of all concepts available and there really are as many God's as there are people that live in that tradition.
      • thumb
        Oct 5 2011: I know what R. Dawkins tries to convey yet I like to give it a twist.
        Supernatural beings don't exist in the way as it is understood by Westerners that are brought up in a society that is permeated by Christianity. For all other people being is natural but linked up in an inextricable web of forces. They sometimes personify those forces and archetypes that Westerners misinterpret as Gods.
        • thumb
          Oct 5 2011: Interesting, I will have to look into that. I have a friend who comes from a Hindu background, I will ask him about it.

          Having said that. given that ritualistic behavior came about in our ancestors before they moved out of Africa, it isn't such a stretch of the imagination to believe that superstition has a common ancestry to be found in early Sapiens. This would be the kind of time for the behavior to develop as a by-product, regardless of the subtleties of language in which we presently engage in.