God would be a costly accident: Supernatural beliefs as adaptive

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (6):523 (2009)

Authors
Daniel C. Dennett
Tufts University
Abstract
I take up the challenge of why false beliefs are better than (target article, sect. 9) in navigating adaptive problems with asymmetric errors. I then suggest that there are interactions between supernatural beliefs, self-deception, and positive illusions, rendering elements of all such misbeliefs adaptive. Finally, I argue that supernatural beliefs cannot be rejected as adaptive simply because recent experiments are inconclusive. The great costs of religion betray its even greater adaptive benefits – we just have not yet nailed down exactly what they are
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DOI 10.1017/S0140525X09991245
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Adaptive Illusions: Optimism, Control and Human Rationality.Daniel Nettle - 2004 - In Dylan Evans & Pierre Cruse (eds.), Emotion, Evolution and Rationality. Oxford University Press.

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