First, a warning: this is a link to a good science article, but it’s hosted on the Suicide Girls site, which contains many pictures of young ladies with attitude and tattoos in a state of deshabille. You may discover you are blocked at work. But do persevere! It will be worth it even if you have no interest in naked women!
Anyway, one of the broad points of dissension in the discussion of the evolution of religion can be split along one general question: was religion directly adaptive in the evolution of humans, or was it more of a side-effect of other useful cognitive and social properties? I’m on the side of the side-effect gang, and so this article on the evolution of religion jibes nicely with my position. And I really like this simple analogy:
The reason religion is so successful is that it taps into our primal-brains in much the same way that a Big Mac does — only more so. Religion gained its foothold by hijacking the need to give purpose at a time when humans had only their imagination — as opposed to the evidence and reason that we have today — to fathom their world. Spirits and demons were the explanation for illnesses that we now know are caused by bacterial diseases and genetic disorders. The whims of the gods were why earthquakes, volcanos, floods and droughts occurred. Our ancestors were driven to sacrifice everything from goats to one another to satisfy those gods.
Greasy, fatty, substanceless, and not at all good for you…but it tastes so good, and it’s cheap and readily available everywhere. That’s religion and fast food.
So read the whole thing, even if you do have to wait until you get home tonight.