Index › Forums › Spirituality & Philosophy › The evolutionary benefit of instrumental religious truths – Discussion › Reply To: The evolutionary benefit of instrumental religious truths – Discussion
- Type: SeFi
- Development: ll--
- Attitude: Seelie
In that sense, I believe the power of prioritizing what is literally true, is more instrumental in the long run (and short run) to human society.
There are two issues here I would like to address.
One is that we don’t actually know the truth. We don’t KNOW if God exists or not. We have different views about it, that’s all.
The second is we are active creators of our reality. The world is – in great part- what we shape it to be by how we look at it. We can choose to look at it from different angles and we will see something different from each of them. And our experience vastly changes depending on what we choose to look at and how we choose to look at it. And on the stories we tell ourselves.
So, about Santa. :))) I don’t think the main issue is if he exists. I think the main issue is that children understand that :
a. there are consequences of their actions, so, there will be a difference between being naughty and being nice, as their behavior directly impacts the world around them and the world responds accordingly;
b. there is an abundance of possibilities and in order to obtain what you want it is beneficial to set a clear intention (as in the case of writing a letter to Santa, mentioning what it is that you wish);
c. there is something beyond the mundane world, there is somewhere to leap, the idea of transcendence.
The rest is a colorful story we created around these issues. You don’t have to abandon it and think the magic of Christmas is gone, you need to synthesize it and distill the message, what you were meant to learn from it.
Your behavior and hence your path change depending on your beliefs. And beliefs are not created and manipulated simply by stating scientific facts. You need stories, imagery, characters to relate to, role models etc. If the data given can not be arranged into such a story, you will not be able to extract any guidelines for your life.
But then you’d probably say stories are not the truth and I agree, they are not. They are used to bend the truth (the current situation), hence they MUST be different from the truth.
And religion has always done that, of course. Told stories to make people change their framework and their behavior. But the thing is eliminating all forms of religion is not the solution, since people still need to have a certain belief system to work with, as this is our inherent wiring.
I will give an example of an anti religious view – God is dead. :)) This is a good story, visually powerful, emotionally touching, quite convincing, though probably less fruitful than God is alive. Point is – it’s still a story. You still have the main character, God, and a dramatic action, he was killed, he is dead now. You can use it as a frame of reference (which I don’t recommend 🙂 ) but it’s still not the objective truth.
They are all stories. We can judge their utility, we can judge the agenda behind them. We can use them for growth or for destruction. But there is no escape from them anyway, hence trying to escape is, in my opinion, a fruitless endeavor. It’s better to use what we have to our advantage and weave it together in the way that makes most sense to us, being aware this is our perception of the world, by which we are constructing our own path, our own future.
Now, I don’t know if religion itself gives us an evolutionary advantage. I think you have the best advantage by choosing what is useful from different religions and putting it together into your own world view, remaining open to new discoveries and quite skeptical about factual assertions coming from a religious authority, as that is not what you need from religious authorities, you just need good stories that you can work with.
Also, you say here :
What if it leads to immortality and exploration of the stars. What if secularism leads to “heaven on earth”, by being forthright about the state of the world and addressing problems with science and innovation rather than faith in other metaphorical powers?
In my opinion, it can’t, because it does not offer what we are looking for. We don’t look for comfort, we look for transcendence and meaning. You can for sure create a good secular story, which might actually work temporarily, but then :
1. you would not be stating the pure truth, you would still be telling a story, only a secular one.
2. you would only provide meaning, not the possibility of transcendence.
I think this is part of why purely secular systems like this have failed. Communism provided meaning and based itself on a good narrative, but it cut out the idea of transcendence. We can argue it failed for other reasons though, but I am pretty sure the general spiritual dryness contributed to its demise in some former communist countries (Romania being included).