It is likely that people have what Christians call a `religious gene'.
It need not be one gene, only that the phenomenon repeat itself in
proto-hominids and hominids without cultural requirements.
If the phenomenon requires learning, like kittens learning how to
catch and kill mice from their mothers, then it is not inborn. You
might call it a `religious tendency'. The arguments favoring genes
come from the theories of evolutionary psychology (i.e., from the
tested but not fully explored concepts; I know some Americans use the
word `theory' to mean `another unsupported opinion'; that is not what
I mean). Maybe the arguments also come from other studies; I don't
I do know that it is better to escape a saber toothed tiger than be
eaten, much better -- your genes might reproduce. Consequently, many
false visions matter less than death.
When I was young, riding in a car at night, I saw a man in the
distance standing beside the road. Only after the car came closer did
the man resolve into a cluster of trees ...
(There are many religions. They do not neccessarily depend on
illusion. For example, many argue that various religions provide not
only for long term thinking, but for sanctions when enforceable law
does not exist. A religion need not have adherents support publicly
the supernatural, which is to say, speak in favor of something other
than the natural. A culture that favors education, reseach,
development, and innovation might adopt a religion, but not the kind
that Dawkins fears, which promotes feudalism and is against
To an extent, seeing falsely is a benefit. (Too much false seeing is
madness.) You could perceive a false visit as a Visit from the
Ancestors, or as a Visit from one of the gods (as happened to St Paul,
according to Acts 14:8 - 18 (KJV)), or as a Visit from a single God or
from God's Mother, depending on your tradition. Or you could take the
laws of evolution seriously and figure that your ancestors found it
better (for you) to reproduce than be eaten ...
Robert J. Chassell GnuPG Key ID: 004B4AC8