Author Topic: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?  (Read 4362 times)

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Offline haudace

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #60 on: January 05, 2019, 07:48:00 PM »
I know this tangent about 'couch potato' behavior may seem obtuse...

         
There's even a "non-trivial link" between biology and a the predilection to lie on a couch watching TV, drinking beer and eating a whole bag of Doritos. Does that imply that humanity must have "evolved" that predilection because couch potato behavior is somehow advantageous to natural selection?

I am pretty sure state of rest is an evolved biological trait. Many organisms, not just humans, exhibit various degree of this behavior of being between full wakefulness and sleepiness.

I'm not talking about the simple act of resting. I'm talking about the acculturated habit of being a "couch potato." That is, lounging around for many hours per day watching television while engaging in unhealthful eating and drinking habits. There is no doubt that such a behavioral pattern has biological elements, and it's undeniably widespread in modern human culture.

The question I asked is this: given that "couch potato" behavior has biological elements and is widespread, does that indicate that it is an inherited trait which "evolved" due to some survival advantage?

But that's because I'm attempting a reductio ad absurdum against the line of reasoning that religiosity having a biological component somehow indicates that religion must have evolved as a direct consequence of some competitive advantage it conferred.

Like all human activities, 'couch potato' behavior emerges as a consequence of biological traits common to our human nature:
  • The tendency to take comfort in extended periods of rest and inactivity
  • Attentiveness to rapidly changing visual stimulation
  • The predilection to interpret series of events as narratives, as an emergent projection of self-identity
  • A taste for fatty, carb-heavy and salty foods
  • The enjoyability of substance intoxication
Genetic influences have been found for nearly all these traits (1, 2, 4, 5).

Does that indicate that some humans have a hereditary predisposition to spend all their free time lying on the couch, watching TV, eating junk foods, smoking weed and drinking beer?

Does it indicate that we humans have "evolved" the tendency to lie on the couch watching TV, eating junk foods, smoking weed and drinking beer because of some selective advantage conferred by that behavior?

Or is it more likely that the 'couch potato' lifestyle is actually an unfavorable behavior pattern, more attributable to social and cultural influences than a product of natural selection?

I don't see what's new in your question. I don't know how to answer the question you are posing, more so or differently than I already did. To me, you now sound like you are asking: we know that humans have done x. But does this really mean that humans can really do x even though we know they can do x?

You seem to have found the answers you are looking for as well per below quote:

ike all human activities, 'couch potato' behavior emerges as a consequence of biological traits common to our human nature:
  • The tendency to take comfort in extended periods of rest and inactivity
  • Attentiveness to rapidly changing visual stimulation
  • The predilection to interpret series of events as narratives, as an emergent projection of self-identity
  • A taste for fatty, carb-heavy and salty foods
  • The enjoyability of substance intoxication

In a sense, your question is absent of meaning in your reductio ad absurdum attempt. You have presented us with series of logical and natural causes for the couch potato behavior, from evolved biological traits.

(Sorry btw, I didn't read your articles).

Note that I detect too many unexplained assumptions and subjective judgments loaded into the question. 'acculturated habit' (assumption), 'spend all their free time lying on the count'(judgment), 'unfavorable behavior pattern' (judgment) etc. Processes of evolution are not particularly concerned by our human standards. Perhaps you need to frame the question more objectively, to avoid the traps of naturalistic/moralistic fallacy?

Maybe the question you need to ask is what happens to an organism or a population when there is surplus of resources? Lack of natural predators or any other typical environmental stressors animals face daily in the wild? How does that affect their behavior and why? How are evolved biological traits affected by an unexpected change in the environment? Is there an adjustment period? What are the effects of natural selection in that scenario and what traits proliferate in that adjustment period? There may be other questions worth asking too...

Quote
But that's because I'm attempting a reductio ad absurdum against the line of reasoning that religiosity having a biological component somehow indicates that religion must have evolved as a direct consequence of some competitive advantage it conferred.

I don't understand the structuring of this question.

Why are those biological component you mentioned not evolved? If the latter are evolved, doesn't that essentially answer the question you are posing? My entire argument since the beginning has been about some humans having the predilection to be religious due to biological factors.

I also have to emphasize the following. Please do acknowledge that I think religions can't evolve as they are a human design/invention. Religiosity/religiousness/religious behavior is what I am interested in, not the cultural aspect & rituals that result from it. In my mind, religiosity is very different from religion.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 01:47:02 PM by haudace »

Offline John Albert

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #61 on: January 06, 2019, 04:19:42 PM »
I don't see what's new in your question. I don't know how to answer the question you are posing, more so or differently than I already did.

The answer you gave before only acknowledged that many animals engage in "state of rest," and you followed that up with a bunch of YouTube videos that depict animals resting in the wild.

While I do enjoy watching animal videos on YouTube, that response did not address the entirety of the 'couch potato' behavior pattern that I'd described. Being a 'couch potato' means more than just getting a little occasional down time. It means spending inordinate hours lying around, focusing one's attention on TV while overeating junk foods and (often) indulging in recreational drugs.


To me, you now sound like you are asking: we know that humans have done x. But does this really mean that humans can really do x even though we know they can do x?

This is what I'm asking:

         
Does that indicate that some humans have a hereditary predisposition to spend all their free time lying on the couch, watching TV, eating junk foods, smoking weed and drinking beer?

Does it indicate that we humans have "evolved" the tendency to lie on the couch watching TV, eating junk foods, smoking weed and drinking beer because of some selective advantage conferred by that behavior?

Or is it more likely that the 'couch potato' lifestyle is actually an unfavorable behavior pattern, more attributable to social and cultural influences than a product of natural selection?


You seem to have found the answers you are looking for

I'm asking you for your answers to these questions.


In a sense, your question is absent of meaning in your reductio ad absurdum attempt. You have presented us with series of logical and natural causes for the couch potato behavior, from evolved biological traits.

You presented a line of reasoning which inferred that because the practice of religion is related to biological processes and is widespread among human populations, it must therefore be a genetically innate trait that "evolved" in humans due to some survival advantage it must have conferred.

I'm presenting you with another example of widespread human behavior that's rooted in identifiable biological origins, and asking you if you would apply the same reasoning to that case as well:

Is 'couch potato' behavior a product of evolution? Did it evolve for some presumed survival advantage?

If you can't say that 'couch potato' behavior conveys some evolutionary advantage by dint of it being rooted in biological tendencies, then how can you say draw the same conclusions about religiosity on the same rationale?


(Sorry btw, I didn't read your articles).

Honestly, I'm not surprised.


Note that I detect too many unexplained assumptions and subjective judgments loaded into the question. 'acculturated habit' (assumption), 'spend all their free time lying on the count'(judgment), 'unfavorable behavior pattern' (judgment) etc.

The question I'm asking is whether you think the aforementioned 'couch potato' behavior pattern is explainable by the same rationale you've used to explain the origin of religiosity.

Those "unexplained assumptions" and "subjective judgments," when taken in the context of the question, are no more subjective or assumptive than your own claims about religiosity being an "evolved trait."

'Acculturated habit' is just a potential alternate explanation for the behavior patterns to which you're determined to ascribe an evolutionary narrative.

I offer the 'culture' explanation with no more or less evidence than you've shown for your evolutionary one. Of course I could very easily Google up a block of URLs to Wikipedia pages about sociology, and PubMed articles on television habits, drug dependency and eating disorders to make my point about 'couch potato' behavior. But I'll spare you that pretense, considering you haven't even bothered to look at the 3 measly links I did post.

The fact that being a 'couch potato' is an unfavorable behavior pattern is indeed a judgment, but it's uncontroversial from a medical perspective. It's a well-established fact that spending most of one's time lying around, overeating junk foods and getting drunk and stoned while watching TV is a generally unhealthy behavior. It may not be so detrimental as to prevent all 'couch potatoes' from reproducing and passing on their genes, but that only speaks to the limitations of evolution in weeding out unhealthy behaviors.


Processes of evolution are not particularly concerned by our human standards. Perhaps you need to frame the question more objectively, to avoid the traps of naturalistic/moralistic fallacy?

Again you're talking about "processes of evolution." This appears to betray a fundamental lack of understanding about the subject. What are these multiple "processes" of which you speak?

There is no moralistic or naturalistic fallacy inherent to what I said, any more than the same would apply to your own argument about religion.

All I'm doing is taking the exact same kinds of arguments you've made about religion, and recontextualizing them as an explanation for a different behavior pattern, and then asking you if they hold up as a reasonable explanation for the origins of that behavior as well.


Maybe the question you need to ask is what happens to an organism or a population when there is surplus of resources? Lack of natural predators or any other typical environmental stressors animals face daily in the wild? How does that affect their behavior and why? How are evolved biological traits affected by an unexpected change in the environment? Is there an adjustment period? What are the effects of natural selection in that scenario and what traits proliferate in that adjustment period? There may be other questions worth asking too...

Those are all very interesting questions as well. Maybe you could apply those to the question of how organized religions came to prominence around the advent of agrarian civilizations.


Why are those biological component you mentioned not evolved?

I'm not arguing that the biological components that give rise to 'couch potato' behavior aren't the product of human evolution.

What I'm contesting is your assertion that because the 'biological components' had evolved, that constitutes de facto evidence that the behavior itself had therefore evolved as a consequence of some survivability benefit.


If the latter are evolved, doesn't that essentially answer the question you are posing?

It seems obvious to me that humans did not evolve a predilection for lying around, getting stoned and watching TV as a direct result of some natural selective pressure. In that sense, 'couch potato' behavior is not an "evolved" behavior trait; it's an example of a maladaptive trait that has been allowed to flourish for lack of selective pressure against it. 

And I'm suggesting that the penchant for religiosity may be a similar kind of expression. 


I also have to emphasize the following. Please do acknowledge that I think religions can't evolve as they are a human design/invention. Religiosity/religiousness/religious behavior is what I am interested in, not the cultural aspect & rituals that result from it. In my mind, religiosity is very different from religion.

I understand that difference. But if you're going to say religiosity has evolved to specifically serve some survival benefit, you need to show some evidence of that.

At any rate, I think that religions can and do evolve, in a manner of speaking.

Given that religions aren't living beings, their evolution is not 'genetic' as such. But there's plenty of evidence throughout all of recorded history, that religions have been developed, adapted and refined through the facility of human ingenuity. The inspiration for religious ideas has been tailored to appeal to the specific needs of various cultures, and refined to be more expansive and persistent over time. Religion is, in my view, a constantly evolving technology for controlling masses of people by appealing to their imagination and emotional wants and needs.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 06:53:12 PM by John Albert »

Offline haudace

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #62 on: January 07, 2019, 12:48:23 AM »
I don't see what's new in your question. I don't know how to answer the question you are posing, more so or differently than I already did.

The answer you gave before only acknowledged that many animals engage in "state of rest," and you followed that up with a bunch of YouTube videos that depict animals resting in the wild.

While I do enjoy watching animal videos on YouTube, that response did not address the entirety of the 'couch potato' behavior pattern that I'd described. Being a 'couch potato' means more than just getting a little occasional down time. It means spending inordinate hours lying around, focusing one's attention on TV while overeating junk foods and (often) indulging in recreational drugs.

Sounds to me you are making a subjective and summary judgement on a variation of rest behavior. I'll say it again - I am only seeing moralistic fallacy in the above. I cannot engage with you in this obvious logical trap.

The stance that socially unpleasant consequences cannot exist is plain wrong and that line of thinking leads to erroneous conclusions/interpretations about realities of life. Until you fix that, this part of your argument will continue to carry no meaning. You will need to frame your argument more objectively - what you feel is undesirable has no consequence on what is.

I'm asking you for your answers to these questions.

You already answered your own argument. You found biological traits that provide the baseline for emergence of the extreme resting behavior "couch potato". You made the case perfectly without me having to lift a single finger.

Unless you are saying the traits below, which you listed yourself, are not product of evolution:

  • The tendency to take comfort in extended periods of rest and inactivity
    Attentiveness to rapidly changing visual stimulation
    The predilection to interpret series of events as narratives, as an emergent projection of self-identity
    A taste for fatty, carb-heavy and salty foods
    The enjoyability of substance intoxication

This is also why I didn't have to read those articles. I am however confused by your suggestion that emergent phenomenon cannot be influenced by evolution...

Those "unexplained assumptions" and "subjective judgments," when taken in the context of the question, are no more subjective or assumptive than your own claims about religiosity being an "evolved trait."

Couch potato behavior does appear to have emerge out of biologically evolved trait, as extreme of a behavior as it is, much like you have yourself pointed out earlier.

'Acculturated habit' is just a potential alternate explanation for the behavior patterns to which you're determined to ascribe an evolutionary narrative.

This sounds like going back into the nature vs nurture argument all over again.

Maybe if we remove the human drama this will be easier to analyze. Let me ask you this: How do you figure termites acquired their ability to build mounds thousand times the size of their bodies? Is it evolution that did it, or is this an acculturated habit?

Yes, this is a loaded question... I have no doubt in my mind that termites evolved the ability to build mounds. In this scenario, nurture vs nature is a misnomer, these two are not mutually exclusive.

The fact that being a 'couch potato' is an unfavorable behavior pattern is indeed a judgment, but it's uncontroversial from a medical perspective. It's a well-established fact that spending most of one's time lying around, overeating junk foods and getting drunk and stoned while watching TV is a generally unhealthy behavior. It may not be so detrimental as to prevent all 'couch potatoes' from reproducing and passing on their genes, but that only speaks to the limitations of evolution in weeding out unhealthy behaviors.

Deja vu, you already tried to make this point before. It didn't really work.

You do realize evolution is defined as the transformation of living organisms (population) over time, with phenotype changes throughout many generations. Nothing in that sentence says what we classify as "unhealthy" behavior cannot evolve.

Imagine me judging a resting seal, saying its behavior could not have evolved because that behavior caused it to end up in the bear's belly.


 
Processes of evolution are not particularly concerned by our human standards. Perhaps you need to frame the question more objectively, to avoid the traps of naturalistic/moralistic fallacy?

Again you're talking about "processes of evolution." This appears to betray a fundamental lack of understanding about the subject. What are these multiple "processes" of which you speak?

Please clarify what I am misunderstanding about "processes of evolution".

Note the usage is not foreign to academia.
https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_14
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=%22processes+of+evolution%22
https://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=%22processes+of+evolution%22&hl=fr&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart


There is no moralistic or naturalistic fallacy inherent to what I said, any more than the same would apply to your own argument about religion.

Moralistic fallacy: anything that is unpleasant or socially unacceptable could not have evolved. That has been one of the repeating premise of your argument ever since the beginning of this debate.
Naturalistic fallacy: your tendency to identify immoral properties with the unnatural instead of the natural. Evolution has no moral agency, for instance we know there are creatures that evolved to consume their own kin (i.e: cannibalism or sexual cannibalism).

Maybe the question you need to ask is what happens to an organism or a population when there is surplus of resources? Lack of natural predators or any other typical environmental stressors animals face daily in the wild? How does that affect their behavior and why? How are evolved biological traits affected by an unexpected change in the environment? Is there an adjustment period? What are the effects of natural selection in that scenario and what traits proliferate in that adjustment period? There may be other questions worth asking too...

Those are all very interesting questions as well. Maybe you could apply those to the question of how organized religions came to prominence around the advent of agrarian civilizations.

Organized religions are a human design/invention, applying those questions to organized religions is a departure from evolutionary biology and entering the realm of social sciences. In many ways, granted, our evolutionary past permeates aspects of our society, but trying to explain these things with theory of evolution alone makes things too difficult.

Why are those biological component you mentioned not evolved?

I'm not arguing that the biological components that give rise to 'couch potato' behavior aren't the product of human evolution.

What I'm contesting is your assertion that because the 'biological components' had evolved, that constitutes de facto evidence that the behavior itself had therefore evolved as a consequence of some survivability benefit.

Can you please explain how the "biological component" and the "behavior" are independent from each other?

'couch potato' behavior is not an "evolved" behavior trait; it's an example of a maladaptive trait that has been allowed to flourish for lack of selective pressure against it. 
 

Sounds to me you are crudely but surely describing genetic drifting, which is a mechanism of evolution.

I understand that difference. But if you're going to say religiosity has evolved to specifically serve some survival benefit, you need to show some evidence of that.

Here you go.

https://sguforums.com/index.php/topic,50869.msg9596679.html#msg9596679

At any rate, I think that religions can and do evolve, in a manner of speaking.

Then why are we even having this debate, you sealioning you?

Given that religions aren't living beings, their evolution is not 'genetic' as such. But there's plenty of evidence throughout all of recorded history, that religions have been developed, adapted and refined through the facility of human ingenuity. The inspiration for religious ideas has been tailored to appeal to the specific needs of various cultures, and refined to be more expansive and persistent over time. Religion is, in my view, a constantly evolving technology for controlling masses of people by appealing to their imagination and emotional wants and needs.

To religion or to religiosity, that is the question...
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 12:51:44 AM by haudace »

Offline haudace

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #63 on: January 07, 2019, 01:14:09 PM »
Quote

         
Quote
Religiousness is only slightly heritable in 16-year-olds (.11 for girls and .22 for boys in a large Finnish twin study) and strongly influenced by shared environment (.60 in girls and .45 in boys). Religiousness is moderately heritable in adults (.30 to .45) and also shows some shared environmental influence. Good data on sex differences in heritability of religiousness in adults are not available. Membership in a specific religious denomination is largely due to environmental factors.

         


How come you never responded to this? Why did you ignore my counterpoints to your claims about religiosity and brain damage, the vaunted health benefits of religion, and your compositional error about religion being evolved?

I am not sure you understood the point of the article, which is what happens when you quote mine carelessly. The article, read in its entirety, supports my argument. It has been included in the list of urls. So, thank you... I guess?

This aligns with my definitions I have identified here.

Religion = system of beliefs. I concur this is not evolved, it's a human invention (in the same way that cars are not evolved).

Religious rituals = also part of religion. This too is not evolved - human invention.

Religiousness or religiosity = any predilection to religious thinking, personality trait, cognitive impact are biological. The biology behind these traits is evolved.



Quote
Okay, so PubMed and NCBI link to a bunch of studies tagged with the keywords "religion," "spirituality," and "religiosity." So what? PubMed and NCBI are just search engines for accessing journals related to medicine and biology. Just because academic studies about religion exist, that does not represent de facto evidence for any particular scientific claim about religion. 

If you understand the point of the website https://lmgtfy.com/, you will understand why those links are relevant :). This is also how I found the links on NCBI studies on religiousness **shrugs**.



Quote
PubMed and NCBI, like Google or any other search engine, can be used to access to top-notch clinical and academic material. But right alongside the good stuff, you may also get some really shoddy research and even a few heavily biased articles from ideological and profit-driven charlatans. That's why it's lazy and a little dishonest to just post search results willy-nilly on the offhand chance that one of them may contain some factoid that may be construed as support for your viewpoint.

If only you weren't generalizing and ignoring the specific NCBI publications pertinent to this conversation that I have posted prior.

It doesn't help anyone to dismiss all the articles that contradict your view point as shoddy, charlatan, profit-driven, heavily biased articles. This is all you attacking the characters of publishers, not the substance of what they have written. And this is NCBI, not TMZ, readily dismissing its contents because they offend your personal feelings is not a convincing tactic. When at odds, follow the scientific method of refuting an article: peer review, repeated, or is there better/alternate explanations of what is being observed etc.

Also I found the others using this same tactic, some of which I even found using google search engine. Which is a tactic EVERYONE uses to find information online. Accusing me of dishonesty and laziness for doing typical things for online research is uncalled for.


Quote
So out of all these URLs, where's the one that provides evidence for your claims about religion being a genetic human trait?  Where's the one that provides evidence that religion emerged in humans as a consequence of some natural selective advantage?

All of them are a collection of evidence for my argument.

This one, which you posted, actually come pretty close to showing more concretely genetic influence of religiosity. It shows religiousness is heritable to some degree. The only problem I have with this I have not been able to determine if it has been peer reviewed and replicated.
http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/dmessinger/c_c/rsrcs/rdgs/temperament/bouchard.04.curdir.pdf

This one you didn't post but it's related the the link above. Again, I don't know if it's been peer reviewed or replicated.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00316.x?purchase_referrer=en.wikipedia.org&tracking_action=preview_click&r3_referer=wol&show_checkout=1
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 01:38:14 PM by haudace »

Offline John Albert

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #64 on: January 07, 2019, 07:58:37 PM »
Sounds to me you are making a subjective and summary judgement on a variation of rest behavior. I'll say it again - I am only seeing moralistic fallacy in the above. I cannot engage with you in this obvious logical trap.

Really? That's your only takeaway?

The behavior I'm describing is not "a variation on rest behavior." It's a behavior pattern that has objectively been identified as bad for human health. It has nothing whatsoever to do with morality. It has even been found to increase the risk of deadly diseases, such as Type II diabetes in children.

This is not a subjective morality issue. It is a matter of human health and survivability.


The stance that socially unpleasant consequences cannot exist is plain wrong

Well then it's a good thing that's not a stance that I have ever taken in my entire life.


I'm asking you for your answers to these questions.

You already answered your own argument. You found biological traits that provide the baseline for emergence of the extreme resting behavior "couch potato". You made the case perfectly without me having to lift a single finger.

First of all... "extreme resting behavior"?!? Really?

Thanks, I got quite a laugh out of that one. "Last time I went to the doctor, he told me my junk food diet and shiftless lifestyle was unhealthy. So I got into extreme resting!" 

Anyway, which "case" do you think I have made?

Do you really believe that lying around and getting no exercise, overeating unhealthy foods, and consuming recreational drugs is a superior lifestyle which emerged through natural selection because of some survival benefit it confers?

You don't think that evolution can ever allow for the emergence of detrimental, dangerous or unhealthy behaviors?


Unless you are saying the traits below, which you listed yourself, are not product of evolution:

  • The tendency to take comfort in extended periods of rest and inactivity
    Attentiveness to rapidly changing visual stimulation
    The predilection to interpret series of events as narratives, as an emergent projection of self-identity
    A taste for fatty, carb-heavy and salty foods
    The enjoyability of substance intoxication

Yes, I'm saying there's evidence that at least 4 out of those 5 are at least partially determined by genetics. But just because genetic traits can determine behavior patterns, that doesn't mean that evolution employs some kind of magical "processes" to ensure that all behavior patterns convey survivability benefits.

Sometimes destructive behavior patterns develop in spite of natural selection. The emergence of religion might well be one such case.


I am however confused by your suggestion that emergent phenomenon cannot be influenced by evolution...

Have I suggested that emergent phenomenon cannot be influenced by evolution? Where do you get that idea? That's certainly not what I'm trying to say.

What I'm saying is, some behaviors may emerge despite the fact that they don't confer any evolutionary advantage. After all, natural selection can only weed out the bad traits that actively threaten an organism's ability to pass on their genes. That's why some unfavorable or maladaptive behaviors can still propagate despite the process of evolution, if those behaviors don't prevent reproduction.

Do you understand that?


Couch potato behavior does appear to have emerge out of biologically evolved trait, as extreme of a behavior as it is, much like you have yourself pointed out earlier.

Thank you for acknowledging that.

But even if 'couch potato behavior' has emerged out of biologically evolved traits, that does not require that it must be an inherently beneficial behavior pattern, does it? Do you acknowledge that sometimes unhealthy or dangerous behavior patterns can develop in spite of evolution?


'Acculturated habit' is just a potential alternate explanation for the behavior patterns to which you're determined to ascribe an evolutionary narrative.

This sounds like going back into the nature vs nurture argument all over again.

"Nature vs nurture" seems to be the main substance of this entire debate.

You're putting it down to mostly 'nature' (evolution); I'm saying it's a mixture of both, but slightly more attributable to 'nurture' (environmental influences).

I say this because human experience, acculturation and learning determines the arrangement of neural pathways, which appear far more influential on human behavior than genetics alone. In addition to that, epigenetic factors can determine whether a given allele ends up being expressed in the phenome.
 

Let me ask you this: How do you figure termites acquired their ability to build mounds thousand times the size of their bodies? Is it evolution that did it, or is this an acculturated habit?

Okay so now we're comparing the complex cultural behavior of humans with the simple autonomic behavior of hive insects. That's what this discussion has come down to. Great.

Couldn't you have at least picked chimpanzees or wolves, at least some form of mammals? No matter, I can work with this.

How do you think the termites developed their ability to build mounds in the first place? Do you think termite evolution was guided by some unseen intelligence? Or maybe it developed through gradual behavioral changes that eventually became ingrained into their genome over countless generations? 


In this scenario, nurture vs nature is a misnomer, these two are not mutually exclusive.

The two are never mutually exclusive. That's what I've been trying to say.

Which is why it's rather an extraordinary claim to say that human beings "evolved" a predilection for religiosity because religion conveyed some survival benefit.

It never comes down to just evolution, and evolution isn't some set of "processes" geared toward producing flawless organisms. Sometimes an organism can "evolve" a set of traits that occasionally combine to inhibit survivabilty, but those traits can still persist because they don't stop most individuals from being able to reproduce.


You do realize evolution is defined as the transformation of living organisms (population) over time, with phenotype changes throughout many generations. Nothing in that sentence says what we classify as "unhealthy" behavior cannot evolve.

Right. But to the converse, just because some behavior has "evolved," that doesn't mean it necessarily "evolved" due to some survival benefit.

In the case of 'couch potato' behavior, it may have emerged simply because natural selection didn't weed it out. And the same might also be true of religion. Religiosity could be a proclivity for maladaptive behavior (religion) that persists in spite of evolution, because it doesn't necessarily threaten every religious individual's chances of reproduction.

Just because religion is widespread and persistent, that doesn't necessarily mean it evolved because of some inherent survival benefit.


There is no moralistic or naturalistic fallacy inherent to what I said, any more than the same would apply to your own argument about religion.

Moralistic fallacy: anything that is unpleasant or socially unacceptable could not have evolved. That has been one of the repeating premise of your argument ever since the beginning of this debate.

Nothing about morality has ever been a premise of my argument in this thread. Either you're misunderstanding my arguments, or you're mischaracterizing them to make them seem nonviable.


Organized religions are a human design/invention, applying those questions to organized religions is a departure from evolutionary biology and entering the realm of social sciences. In many ways, granted, our evolutionary past permeates aspects of our society, but trying to explain these things with theory of evolution alone makes things too difficult.

Exactly.

Which is why it's not quite reasonable to argue, sans evidence, that the human inclination for religiosity is a genetic trait that evolved due to some survivability benefit.


Can you please explain how the "biological component" and the "behavior" are independent from each other?

The "behavior" is the observable outward activity of the organism. The "biological component" is the combination of neural circuits, endogenous influences, and other physical processes that give rise to the behavior.


At any rate, I think that religions can and do evolve, in a manner of speaking.

Then why are we even having this debate, you sealioning you?

Given that religions aren't living beings, their evolution is not 'genetic' as such. But there's plenty of evidence throughout all of recorded history, that religions have been developed, adapted and refined through the facility of human ingenuity. The inspiration for religious ideas has been tailored to appeal to the specific needs of various cultures, and refined to be more expansive and persistent over time. Religion is, in my view, a constantly evolving technology for controlling masses of people by appealing to their imagination and emotional wants and needs.

To religion or to religiosity, that is the question...

When I used the word "evolution" in that statement, I did not mean that religion evolved via Darwin's theory of Natural Selection.

I meant that religion is a human technology that has been purposefully refined by humans over the course of human history. This technology has "evolved" by iterative redesign, similar to how other human technologies such as architecture, entertainment, and governments have "evolved."

History has shown that the penchant for religiosity has been exploited by unscrupulous individuals with a vested interest in deceiving the public for some desired purpose. The con game that started by kings of Paleolithic city-states demanding worship by claiming divine status, has been tweaked, refined and expanded over 5 millennia. Now the newest, latest religions leverage tried-and-true modern scams like "self-help" psychobabble, co-option of pop culture narratives, and Hollywood star power to draw in followers and bilk them out of fortunes.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 12:00:13 PM by John Albert »

Offline John Albert

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #65 on: January 07, 2019, 08:28:45 PM »
Quote

         
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Religiousness is only slightly heritable in 16-year-olds (.11 for girls and .22 for boys in a large Finnish twin study) and strongly influenced by shared environment (.60 in girls and .45 in boys). Religiousness is moderately heritable in adults (.30 to .45) and also shows some shared environmental influence. Good data on sex differences in heritability of religiousness in adults are not available. Membership in a specific religious denomination is largely due to environmental factors.

         


How come you never responded to this? Why did you ignore my counterpoints to your claims about religiosity and brain damage, the vaunted health benefits of religion, and your compositional error about religion being evolved?

I am not sure you understood the point of the article, which is what happens when you quote mine carelessly. The article, read in its entirety, supports my argument.

It has been included in the list of urls. So, thank you... I guess?

No, it really doesn't. It shows exactly what I said about the hereditary twin studies; that the heritability of behavioral traits is variable, variously defined, difficult to control for, and mostly moderate. The heritability of religiosity in particular is described as moderate, with a significant shared environmental effect.

Adding it to your list of ambiguous URLs and claiming "victory" doesn't really win you anything. All it does is hurt your intellectual honesty.


Religiousness or religiosity = any predilection to religious thinking, personality trait, cognitive impact are biological. The biology behind these traits is evolved.

So you're still doubling down on rewriting a custom definition for a word in order to literally insert your conclusion into it? How you can do something so blatantly dishonest without feeling embarrassed?   


Quote
Okay, so PubMed and NCBI link to a bunch of studies tagged with the keywords "religion," "spirituality," and "religiosity." So what? PubMed and NCBI are just search engines for accessing journals related to medicine and biology. Just because academic studies about religion exist, that does not represent de facto evidence for any particular scientific claim about religion. 

If you understand the point of the website https://lmgtfy.com/, you will understand why those links are relevant :). This is also how I found the links on NCBI studies on religiousness **shrugs**.

So being pointlessly snarky is the reason why you think those links are relevant?

I suppose snark is the best you can come up with in the absence of real evidence. Some people do worse, but it's certainly nothing to brag about.


Quote
PubMed and NCBI, like Google or any other search engine, can be used to access to top-notch clinical and academic material. But right alongside the good stuff, you may also get some really shoddy research and even a few heavily biased articles from ideological and profit-driven charlatans. That's why it's lazy and a little dishonest to just post search results willy-nilly on the offhand chance that one of them may contain some factoid that may be construed as support for your viewpoint.

If only you weren't generalizing and ignoring the specific NCBI publications pertinent to this conversation that I have posted prior.

It doesn't help anyone to dismiss all the articles that contradict your view point as shoddy, charlatan, profit-driven, heavily biased articles.

I haven't done that. All I did was point out that when somebody asks for evidence, you should provide specific evidence to support your claims instead of a block of links that only vaguely address the subject of discussion.

Anybody can type keywords into a search engine and copy-paste a bunch of random links. 


This is all you attacking the characters of publishers, not the substance of what they have written.

Nope, it's me pointing out a few inconvenient facts about the lazy use of academic search engines like PubMed and NCBI to gin up specious support for Internet arguments.


And this is NCBI, not TMZ, readily dismissing its contents because they offend your personal feelings is not a convincing tactic.

I did not dismiss all of NCBI. You really do love making these strawman arguments, don't you?


Quote
So out of all these URLs, where's the one that provides evidence for your claims about religion being a genetic human trait?  Where's the one that provides evidence that religion emerged in humans as a consequence of some natural selective advantage?

All of them are a collection of evidence for my argument.

No, they aren't. If you had posted evidence, I would have acknowledged as much.

Just a cursory glance at the documents you linked, and it was obvious that all you did was type a bunch of keywords and copy-paste the URLs of some random results. 


This one, which you posted, actually come pretty close to showing more concretely genetic influence of religiosity. It shows religiousness is heritable to some degree. The only problem I have with this I have not been able to determine if it has been peer reviewed and replicated.

To some degree... to be precise, they found .30–.45 in adults, with a .20–.40 shared environmental effect

The researchers called that "moderate," but the environmental effect is also quite a mitigating factor.

That supports exactly what I've been saying, that genetics is probably not a major factor in determining an individual's religiosity.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 12:40:22 AM by John Albert »

Offline haudace

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #66 on: January 07, 2019, 09:21:06 PM »
Yeah - at this point, this back and forth with you has stopped being a productive conversation. Your criticism is no longer constructive as it has devolved to throwing insults and character assassination. And everything else is arguing over pedantic/semantics things.

Disclaimer: I am still interested in the salient points of this debate but I will no longer respond to negativity. I will engage with you if you bring information of value to the table.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 09:36:57 PM by haudace »

Offline John Albert

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #67 on: January 07, 2019, 09:57:40 PM »
Yeah - at this point, this back and forth with you has stopped being a productive conversation. Your criticism is no longer constructive as it has devolved to throwing insults and character assassination. And everything else is arguing over pedantic/semantics things.

Disclaimer: I will no longer respond to negativity. I will engage with you if you bring information of value to the table.

So now it's "character assassination" to take exception when you're arguing in bad faith?

I'm all for civility in discourse, but don't expect me to refrain from calling you on your bullshit when you keep mischaracterizing my positions, berating my understanding of the subject, randomly accusing me of religious apologetics, trying to pull cheap semantic tricks, and flat-out lying about the information that's already been presented. I feel like I've been quite patient about that kind of thing.

Anyway, what information do I need to bring? All I've done is ask you for evidence to support your claim that religiosity evolved due to a survival benefit. So far you haven't presented diddly-squat, yet here you are strutting around squawking victory like a pigeon on a chessboard.

I guess this is where the conversation ends.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 10:08:14 PM by John Albert »

Offline Billzbub

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #68 on: January 09, 2019, 06:18:43 PM »
I eventually had to skip some posts because they were getting redundant and hard to read, so at the risk of repeating something someone already said...

I think that religions evolve and experience a survival of the fittest, but not from the standpoint of conferring a survival advantage to the people who believe them.  I think that beliefs that are the best fit to human nature stick around to propagate amongst people and survive through time, and beliefs that don't mesh as well with human nature die out.  I view beliefs as organisms and human nature as the environment they exist in.  The beliefs reproduce in the medium as copies of themselves, and the ones best suited to the environment survive to make new copies.

I have no comment on whether religious beliefs confer an actual survival advantage to the people that hold them other than that I think such a concept is not as important to the spread of religion as the concept I just mentioned.
Quote from: Steven Novella
gleefully altering one’s beliefs to accommodate new information should be a badge of honor

Offline haudace

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #69 on: January 09, 2019, 10:22:56 PM »
I eventually had to skip some posts because they were getting redundant and hard to read, so at the risk of repeating something someone already said...

Lol apologies for the wall of texts.

I think that religions evolve and experience a survival of the fittest, but not from the standpoint of conferring a survival advantage to the people who believe them. 

This has been a point of debate that may seem unresolved thus far. There were a few people in the camp of religions not conferring any benefit whatsoever to the human condition and others prescribing to the view that religions can create a sense of security for humans inside a very harsh environment.

Case in point, were the citizens in Ancient Egypt (a very religious society) better or worse off than hunter gatherers society in antiquity? Granted, religion isn't necessarily impossible in HG society.

I think that beliefs that are the best fit to human nature stick around to propagate amongst people and survive through time, and beliefs that don't mesh as well with human nature die out.

This makes a lot of sense to me... I can think of a couple of very obvious examples: fascism, nazism etc.

I view beliefs as organisms and human nature as the environment they exist in.  The beliefs reproduce in the medium as copies of themselves, and the ones best suited to the environment survive to make new copies.

I have heard of this before - If I understand you correctly, I believe this somewhat relates to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme. I believe Richard Dawkins popularized this concept in his book The Selfish Gene.

Question out of curiosity: how do you suppose the beliefs propagates? What is the medium? Words/language? Biology? Some weird and intrinsic quirk of cognition? Non biological? Or something else entirely?

I have no comment on whether religious beliefs confer an actual survival advantage to the people that hold them other than that I think such a concept is not as important to the spread of religion as the concept I just mentioned.

It is very apparent religions become very well designed over time and are excellent at persisting in human society, seemingly passing any scrutiny (or lack thereof). There is also another side to the story that I think should be investigated. This poster said it best:

Quote
I am sorry that I am late to the game but to the question of does religion potentially give some sort of advantage? Probably to some extent because it relates to "In group, and out group" which as much as we hate to admit it does have a evolutionary advantage. It gave a way for peoples to identify themselves, to identify the enemy, to justify their actions against another group, to solidify customs hierarchy and laws, etc. It was a nasty, brutish, and short way to survive in a nasty, brutish, and short world. Is it the only way that these things can happen? No but it seems to be one of the most common and organic ways that it happened with societies. I think that religion favors warring societies way way more than agricultural peaceful societies.

The key to remember is that natural selection isn't moral, far from it. Animals have one goal under natural selection,'My kids survive and thrive."


Link - https://sguforums.com/index.php/topic,50869.msg9596319.html#msg9596319
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 10:31:39 PM by haudace »

Offline John Albert

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #70 on: February 02, 2019, 04:50:38 PM »
I think that religions evolve and experience a survival of the fittest, but not from the standpoint of conferring a survival advantage to the people who believe them.

I think that religion probably conveys some minor survival advantage for most individuals in the society, probably by engendering a strong sense of community and self-sacrifice on the part of the masses. But religion also provides extreme benefits to certain privileged classes (priests, rulers, etc.) at the direct expense of the underprivileged.

It seems to me that the main driving force behind the popularity of religion is not any superior survival advantage for the whole, but its usefulness for enabling a ruling minority to establish themselves as an elite class over the rest of society.

Of course, my conclusions are dependent on a limited knowledge of all religions that have ever existed throughout the history of human civilization.

Maybe we should stop to examine how we even define religion in the first place.


I think that beliefs that are the best fit to human nature stick around to propagate amongst people and survive through time, and beliefs that don't mesh as well with human nature die out.  I view beliefs as organisms and human nature as the environment they exist in.  The beliefs reproduce in the medium as copies of themselves, and the ones best suited to the environment survive to make new copies.

Beliefs are not living organisms though; they're incorporeal collections of information that human beings generate via our thought processes.

We all know that Richard Dawkins coined the term "memes" to describe the idea of bits of information that take on a life of their own within the environment of human cultural exchange. But Dawkins also expressed the idea of religions as "Viruses of the Mind" that propagate within human cultures at the expense of those cultures' social health and progress, in much the same way that biological viruses impede our biological health.


I have no comment on whether religious beliefs confer an actual survival advantage to the people that hold them other than that I think such a concept is not as important to the spread of religion as the concept I just mentioned.

I'm inclined to consider religion as a well-proven type of political technique, developed by the ruling classes over the course of millennia, to wield control over the majority. Religion is the perfect tool to leverage our fear of the unknown, our cognitive tendency toward superstition, and our emotional need for the comfort of certainty, all for the purpose of ceding unquestioning authority to some self-ordained elite group. To that extent religion isn't so much an inborn trait, but a learned behavior that is readily teachable through early indoctrination, repeated cultural cues, and social conditioning. As such, it's very easy to propagate because it plays on our innate cognitive and emotional deficiencies, while requiring rigorous mental discipline to refute.


Case in point, were the citizens in Ancient Egypt (a very religious society) better or worse off than hunter gatherers society in antiquity? Granted, religion isn't necessarily impossible in HG society.

Nor is religion necessary for complex agrarian societies.

But there is in fact plenty of archaeological evidence of some forms of religion (in the sense of devotional and superstitious behaviors) having been practiced by many paleolithic hunter-gatherer societies.

The ancient Egyptians flourished as a society, mostly because they lived in an extraordinarily viable location in the Nile River delta.


I think that beliefs that are the best fit to human nature stick around to propagate amongst people and survive through time, and beliefs that don't mesh as well with human nature die out.

This makes a lot of sense to me... I can think of a couple of very obvious examples: fascism, nazism etc.

Fascism, Nazism, etc. are examples of far-right ideologies that started in the early 20th Century, and have been constantly recurring ever since. Those ideologies must 'mesh with human nature' on some level, because we're seeing an unfortunate resurgence even today. 


I have heard of this before - If I understand you correctly, I believe this somewhat relates to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme. I believe Richard Dawkins popularized this concept in his book The Selfish Gene.

Question out of curiosity: how do you suppose the beliefs propagates? What is the medium? Words/language? Biology? Some weird and intrinsic quirk of cognition? Non biological? Or something else entirely?

Dawkins' theory of memetics is that memes propagate through human culture. But within the emerging field of memetics there's a division between "internalists" and "externalists." One group prefers to examine the influence of memes on individual cognition and behavior, the other seeks to examine their propagation by observing social trends.

Clearly the memes must be communicated from one individual to another by way of some behavior or language. Some memes may spread quickly through one culture, but fail to gain traction in another. So the extent to which they 'catch on' is probably a mixture of inborn cognitive tendencies and social conditioning.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 06:17:20 PM by John Albert »

Offline haudace

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Re: Is Religiosity Hereditary? Did It Evolve Through Natural Selection?
« Reply #71 on: February 02, 2019, 11:28:42 PM »
Quote from: John Albert
Case in point, were the citizens in Ancient Egypt (a very religious society) better or worse off than hunter gatherers society in antiquity? Granted, religion isn't necessarily impossible in HG society.

Nor is religion necessary for complex agrarian societies.

I am not sure how to interpret that article. On one hand, it seems to rule out mostly abrahamic religions or monotheism as prerequisite to complex society (I agree with this). It briefly mentions supreme deities in plural, but very barely. The only proof I saw is that it shows that Christianity and Islam came after most complex societies, then I am wondering why is monotheism/abrahamic/Eurasia religions the standard? There was a claim that religion came after complex societies, but it's not clear how that connection was made. They argued language as a major factor in societal progress (I also agree with this) but why is that the only factor and not a combination of many?

It also doesn't clearly rule out any other types of religious beliefs. Additionally, this article references this pubmed article https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18832637?dopt=Abstract&holding=npg

Abstract "We examine empirical evidence for religious prosociality, the hypothesis that religions facilitate costly behaviors that benefit other people. Although sociological surveys reveal an association between self-reports of religiosity and prosociality, experiments measuring religiosity and actual prosocial behavior suggest that this association emerges primarily in contexts where reputational concerns are heightened. Experimentally induced religious thoughts reduce rates of cheating and increase altruistic behavior among anonymous strangers. Experiments demonstrate an association between apparent profession of religious devotion and greater trust. Cross-cultural evidence suggests an association between the cultural presence of morally concerned deities and large group size in humans. We synthesize converging evidence from various fields for religious prosociality, address its specific boundary conditions, and point to unresolved questions and novel predictions."

The origin and evolution of religious prosociality, pubmed.

This other referenced pubmed study in the nature article kind of align with the interpretation that it the article is not necessarily ruling out certain religious belief systems. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25740888?dopt=Abstract&holding=npg

Abstract
"Supernatural belief presents an explanatory challenge to evolutionary theorists-it is both costly and prevalent. One influential functional explanation claims that the imagined threat of supernatural punishment can suppress selfishness and enhance cooperation. Specifically, morally concerned supreme deities or 'moralizing high gods' have been argued to reduce free-riding in large social groups, enabling believers to build the kind of complex societies that define modern humanity. Previous cross-cultural studies claiming to support the MHG hypothesis rely on correlational analyses only and do not correct for the statistical non-independence of sampled cultures. Here we use a Bayesian phylogenetic approach with a sample of 96 Austronesian cultures to test the MHG hypothesis as well as an alternative supernatural punishment hypothesis that allows punishment by a broad range of moralizing agents. We find evidence that broad supernatural punishment drives political complexity, whereas MHGs follow political complexity. We suggest that the concept of MHGs diffused as part of a suite of traits arising from cultural exchange between complex societies. Our results show the power of phylogenetic methods to address long-standing debates about the origins and functions of religion in human society. "

Broad supernatural punishment but not moralizing high gods precede the evolution of political complexity in Austronesia, pubmed

Quote from: haudace
But there is in fact plenty of archaeological evidence of some forms of religion (in the sense of devotional and superstitious behaviors) being practiced by many paleolithic hunter-gatherer societies.

Very true, religion isn't necessarily impossible in HG society.

Quote
The ancient Egyptians flourished as a society, mostly because they found an extraordinarily viable location in the Nile River delta.

Very true. I wouldn't say that is the only reason they flourished as a society though.

Quote from: John Albert
I think that beliefs that are the best fit to human nature stick around to propagate amongst people and survive through time, and beliefs that don't mesh as well with human nature die out.

This makes a lot of sense to me... I can think of a couple of very obvious examples: fascism, nazism etc.

Fascism, Nazism, etc. are examples of far-right ideologies that started in the early 20th Century, and have been constantly recurring ever since. Those ideologies must 'mesh with human nature' on some level, because we're seeing an unfortunate resurgence even today. 

I am still not sure about this resurgence. These extreme ideologies have always persisted in the underground but now technology has enabled this fringe minority and gave them the means to shout louder than they could previously. On the other hand, the horrors of Nazism / fascism are still too fresh in the minds of people. Maybe the resurgence is people trying to resist the final nail in the coffin.

Quote from: John Albert

Dawkins' theory of memetics is that memes propagate through human culture. But within the emerging field of memetics there's a division between "internalists" and "externalists." One group prefers to examine the influence of memes on individual cognition and behavior, the other seeks to examine their propagation by observing social trends.

What is internalist & externalists?

Quote from: John Albert
Clearly the memes must be communicated from one individual to another by way of some behavior or language. Some memes may spread quickly through one culture, but fail to gain traction in another. So the extent to which they 'catch on' is probably a mixture of inborn cognitive tendencies and social conditioning.

Are these "inborn cognitive tendencies" or "social conditioning" possibly linked to biology? Can these memes influence the evolution of sentient organisms if they carry some advantage?

I know it's a difficult question to answer. We only have one sample - the human specie.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2019, 11:35:22 PM by haudace »

 

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