Does religion have an evolutionary advantage
Anyone who wants to bring religion and evolution together must prove that religious thinking has a positive selection value. So religious people should be helped by their faith to survive and reproduce. James Dow, evolutionary anthropologist at Oakland University in Rochester, now wants to have scientifically proven this - using a computer program:
"I wrote this computer program because I was only able to use mathematical functions that were difficult to do justice to the complexity of religious development."
Dow named his simulation program "Evogod", a combination of "Evolution" and "God". In Evogod, artificial beings act, which have the essential properties of living beings that are subject to evolution. For example, they want to eat, reproduce, communicate and keep learning. And they can inherit personality traits. A small minority of these agents also endowed Dow with genes that gave them religious beliefs. Whereby he defined religion in a very general way. Dow:
"For me, religious thinking has to do with the communication of information that cannot be proven. For example, you believe in ghosts or gods that you cannot see, touch or feel, but you are certain that they exist. That is one of the core elements of all religions. And I am convinced that the human brain is subject to the laws of evolution and that religious need is part of this fundamental evolution of the brains. "
How would Evogod's agent minority, fascinated by the supernatural, develop? Eventually she was faced with an overwhelming majority of agents who really only believed in verifiable information about the natural environment. James Dow went through a few scenarios and came to the following conclusion:
"There was only a decisive change in evolution when I stated in Evogod that the unbelievers turned to the believers and found them attractive. Then a balance was established between the two groups. The number of people who were willing to Believing in unprovable entities then increased permanently. "
When religious and non-religious people communicate with each other and the non-religious people expect a benefit from it, then religious thought spreads according to the laws of evolution. That is the teaching of Evogod. The attraction of the religious is evidently really only that one believes in a supernatural truth. For religious thought did not flourish if the artificial agents were to treat religious teachings like natural knowledge. Evogod essentially shows that religion and evolution are compatible with one another. However, it does not explain how the religious need arises, nor why it becomes attractive to non-religious people. The most plausible - if only speculative - explanation for this looks to James Dow:
"It is likely that people can trust those who submit to a god or a spirit. Because they demonstrate their willingness to subordinate themselves to a central group ideal. Trustworthiness, so the hypothesis, could be the reason why the People turn to devout people and also support them. "
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