Index › Forums › Spirituality & Philosophy › The evolutionary benefit of instrumental religious truths – Discussion › Reply To: The evolutionary benefit of instrumental religious truths – Discussion
- Type: NeTi
- Development: ll-l
- Attitude: Adaptive
The fact that we are primarily culturally informed tells us that culture serves the genetic interests almost all of the time.
I think this statement of Weinstein’s is less true than it has ever been. Most of the billions of human beings that exist on the planet today live in artificial environments so far removed from natural selectors that it boggles the mind. I question the value found in continuing to marry genetics primarily shaped by natural selection with far less stable cultural changes. Nature has never heard of subsidies. Selfishness endures beyond the millions of minor genetic mutations, a greed that tells us we can accomplish anything, that any costs of ‘progress’ will always be offset by its boons. Even if there was the will for it, we possess no way to measure potential gains against the destruction of so many thousands of unaccounted for variables. There’s no need to hold a vote about whether humanity wants technology and improved quality-of-life regardless of cost, regardless of perceptions of scarcity or abundance; our actions are more than loud enough.
This is very much related to Harari’s statement that, “What made both of these societies work was the fact that within each of them everyone believed in the same set of imagined underlying principles. In a similar vein, money is a fiction that depends on the trust that we collectively put in it.” Money is just as much an abstraction, as much a shared myth as God, but money can be quantified; this allows money to be the absolute, universal measure of human value today. I would argue that, in practicality, belief in God and religion has already been subsumed by a larger belief in money. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Agnostics/Atheists worship Capitalism in shared temples.
The question secularists should be asking (in terms of converting individuals to secularism) is, “What do religious individuals believe they are gaining from investing in religion that secularism is not perceived as offering?” Religious priority appears to offer a stable sense of individual and collective purpose. This feeds into the issue of human religious institutions’ inherently slow-moving machinery. I believe that many individuals intuit that cultural changes lack the promise of stability that the slow-moving world religions offer. Culture is not a stable source of identity or meaning; secular cultural practices reflect the times, they don’t promise to transcend them as religions do. I am of the opinion that widespread access to psychedelics could be a feasible, individually low-effort avenue to undermine religious myths and expose the absurd and beautiful meaninglessness of individual human experience; no surprise then that the few religions that do allow for psychedelics do so only in explicitly religious contexts 😉
How can one be convinced to give up the promise of stability for the reality of instability, absent direct experience that shows the latter to be preferable to the former? Perhaps the study of ex-cult members could be a really useful guidepost here, as the most common pattern I’ve noticed for these individuals is [believer in major religion/ believer in a cult that promises greater meaning/ disillusionment and transition to primarily secular existence].