|©Mitchell Diamond 2017|
Darwins Apple: The Evolutionary Biology of Religion
This web site presents my book, Darwins Apple: The Evolutionary Biology of Religion. To check out Darwins Apple:
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Art by Stan Engel©
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Northern California Regional Director, American Atheists
Coordinator, East Bay Atheists, Berkeley
Susan McLean Sacramento Freethinkers, Atheists & Nonbelievers
Redwood City Universalist Unitarians
In the midst of modern societys ongoing scientific and technological revolution, religion persists and is practiced by most people in the world. Even people who claim to be agnostic or atheist engage in irrational activities such as listening to music, looking at art, or, despite their overt beliefs to the contrary, anthropomorphizing things in their lives: naming ones car, cursing a truculent computer for being disagreeable, bestowing human intentions to pets. To the detached observer (think Mr. Spock), religious behavior is a bizarre and senseless activity particularly from an evolutionary point of view. Religion seemingly fulfills no functional or useful objective. Yet after tens of thousands of years, it continues to be an essential part of peoples lives. I propose a new hypothesis for the origin and purpose of religion that, as far as I am aware, has never been advanced before. My hypothesis may be difficult for many people to accept because it challenges long-held assumptions about our place in the world—that human consciousness is a cognitive gift that controls or dictates our everyday actions. While the science undermining this is quite overwhelming, this notion conflicts with peoples sense of their own volition, control, and purpose. Because some people who normally champion science will decline to accept this possibility that humans are not so special and are, in reality, far more like other animals, this book will test their faith that science truly does explain the world.
If you are one of those who believes that science and evolution explain the derivation of life forms on earth as Richard Dawkins does, do you also believe that humans evolved similarly and that all human characteristics, including behavior, derive from evolution as well, even religion as Richard Dawkins doesnt believe? If we think in typical terms about features that contribute to an organisms evolutionary success—obtaining food, avoiding predators, finding mates—religion is a conundrum. It doesnt directly do any of those things. While some claim religion supports these survival strategies, religious behaviors do so with non-utilitarian, evolutionarily expensive rituals. The creation of and participation in rituals of music, dance (and other forms of physical movement), visual art, mythology (narratives, fiction), and prayer is ubiquitous yet doesnt discernibly contribute to survival and reproductive success.
Nevertheless, the task is not to abandon evolution and glom on to alternatives like byproduct explanations (only slightly more credible than intelligent design). Rather the goal is to unconditionally revisit and reconsider religion within the incontrovertible theory of evolution. Many academics are, in fact, doing that today, but the results are insufficient. We still lack an overall theory of religion. I urge you to consider the theory espoused here and critique it as appropriate.
Thank you for looking at my ideas. I welcome your feedback.
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