Human survival: evolution, religion and the irrational

Abstract
Is there a possible biological explanation for religion? That is, is there a genetic basis for believing in mystical, supernatural beings when there is no scientifi c evidence for their existence? Can we explain why some people prefer to accept myth over science? Why do so many people still accept creation and refuse to embrace evolution? Is there an evolutionary basis for religious beliefs? It is certainly true that religions have been part of human civilization throughout most of its recent history, at least for the last 5,000 years, and probably for much longer. Even great nonmystical philosophers such as Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu have had their teachings evolve into mystical religions with spiritual ancestors, gods and reincarnation. On the other hand, religion is largely absent in modern Chinese culture, and of diminishing importance in Japanese and European cultures. In all cultures, the degrees of education gained by individuals correlate inversely with attachments to mystical deities. Atheists abound although they may be reluctant to come out of the closet and affi rm their rational convictions. In this article, we seek explanations for human irrationality.
Keywords evolution  religion  humanity  irrational thinking  science
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PhilPapers Archive Milton H. Saier, Human survival: evolution, religion and the irrational
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