Saturday, 19 February 2011
The Science of Ethics
If you can accept all of this it is not hard to see then how religion evolved. Remember that natural selection doesn't ween out traits that aren't an advantage, only those that are a disadvantage in some way. So certain "junk" traits can be picked up along the way. For example, some form of hominid, before culture had developed decides to place a feather in its hair. This trait is copied and despite the fact that it has no practical advantage, simply because it has no practical disadvantage, it is not evolved out.
Now, replication of an otherwise useless meme, combined with variance results in the evolution of this idea to a more advanced form. As this meme gets better at replicating itself it will recursively develop even better properties to encourage spread and to prevent the demise of the idea. I propose that this is how religion evolved. it got better at copying because it helps us to follow morals in our society, resulting in a more successful species. This gives us a tendency to help it replicate, analogous to a tree that wraps its seeds in fruit, the fruit is the reward, as is moral society.
Religion also has developed an immune system of sorts by evolving the concept of judgment, punishment for defying the ideas that encourage the propagation of religion. Religions are informational organisms in a symbiotic, some may say parasitic relationships with humans and our tendency to copy one another.