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Re: Some "theories" on the origin of religion!

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  • Robert
    Culotta s article is not readily accessible, but here s another link and excerpts from her introduction to the article (EMPHASIS ADDED):
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 10, 2011
      Culotta's article is not readily accessible, but here's another link and excerpts from her introduction to the article (EMPHASIS ADDED):


      > On the Origin of Religion
      > Elizabeth Culotta
      > In the 11th essay in Science's series in honor
      > of the Year of Darwin, Elizabeth Culotta explores
      > the human propensity to believe in unseen deities.
      > but POTENTIAL ANSWERS ARE EMERGING from both the
      > archaeological record and studies of the mind
      > itself.


      --- In Maury_and_Baty@yahoogroups.com, "Robert" <rlbaty@...> wrote:

      While I believe the following also supports my opinions in the matter, it also
      is a very good, short essay that explains what Todd and the JREF groupies were
      attempting to put forth. In the final analysis, however, it admits to not being
      able to demonstrate that the origin of the idea/concept of God lies within the
      imaginative powers of man, supplemented by reason; devoid of revelation.



      On the Origin of Religion
      by Elizabeth Culotta
      November 5, 2009

      Every human society has had its gods, whether worshiped from Gothic cathedrals
      or Mayan pyramids. In all cultures, humans pour resources into elaborate
      religious buildings and rituals. But religion offers no obvious boost to
      survival and reproduction.

      So how and why did it arise?

      In my Origins essay this month, I follow two very different
      disciplines—archaeology and cognitive psychology—as they attempt to understand
      this puzzle.

      To Charles Darwin himself, the origin of belief in gods was no mystery.

      > "As soon as the important faculties of the
      > imagination, wonder, and curiosity, together
      > with some power of reasoning, had become
      > partially developed, man would … have vaguely
      > speculated on his own existence,"

      he wrote in The Descent of Man.

      In the past 15 years, a growing number of researchers have followed Darwin's
      lead and explored the hypothesis that religion springs naturally from the normal
      workings of the human mind.

      This new field,

      > the cognitive science of religion,

      draws on

      > psychology,
      > anthropology, and
      > neuroscience

      to understand the mental building blocks of religious thought.

      > "There are functional properties of our cognitive
      > systems that lean toward a belief in supernatural
      > agents, to something like a god,"

      says experimental psychologist Justin Barrett of Oxford University.

      Barrett and others see the roots of religion in our sophisticated social
      cognition. Humans, they say, have a tendency to see signs of "agents"—minds like
      our own—at work in the world.

      > "We have a tremendous capacity to imbue
      > even inanimate things with beliefs, desires,
      > emotions, and consciousness, … and this is
      > at the core of many religious beliefs,"

      says Yale psychologist Paul Bloom.

      Meanwhile, archaeologists seeking signs of ancient religion focus on its
      inextricable link to another cognitive ability, symbolic behavior. They too
      stress religion's social component. "Religion is a particular form of a larger,
      social symbolic behavior," says archaeologist Colin Renfrew of the University of
      Cambridge, U.K. So archaeologists explore early religion by excavating sites
      that reveal the beginnings of symbolic behavior and of complex society.

      These fields are developing chiefly in parallel, and there remains a yawning gap
      between the material evidence of the archaeological record and the theoretical
      models of psychologists. Yet there have been some stirrings of interdisciplinary
      activity, and all agree that the field is experiencing a surge of interest and
      new evidence, with perhaps the best yet to come.

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