Everyone arrived safely, and a fair amount of low-key frolicking has taken place already. I have to work today, so I will miss some of it, but such is life.
Last night we were discussing The God Delusion. I am pleased to be able to report that Dawkins has come up with something interesting at last.
This may be a bit unfair. #1 daughter found some of the preceding bits interesting, and she likes the fact that it is a protracted hissy fit. And it may simply be that we have finally come to a part where I haven’t already read all the references.
But the part I found intriguing was Dawkins’s suggestion about why religion is so widespread.
You may recall that Dawkins said that religion, being well-nigh universal among humans, must have an explanation of some kind. The possibility that it is nearly universal because there actually is a God he has of course dismissed. Sighkey’s suggestion that it is adaptive in that it reduces stress-related diseases he concedes, but judges to be too small an effect.
Instead, he suggests that religion itself is not adaptive, but that it is a byproduct of some other human characteristic that does lead to increased reproductive success. He mentions a few that other folks have proposed, before settling in with this one: the human tendency to fall in love.
Falling in love increases the chances that humans will hang around with mating partners to bring up the kids. Ergo, a predilection toward falling in love is adaptive. Religion is a lot like falling in love. Ergo, the universality of religion among humans is the (unfortunate, Dawkins would say) result of this tendency to fall in love.
Son-in-law saw this. The feeling of being cared for and connected, he thought, would be a lot like falling in love. He’s a deist, himself. Not a lot of loving feelings there, the way there is in a personal God, but he could see it.
#2 daughter and I thought it was a stretch. From the inclination to fall in love to widespread belief in God? It seems, as she put it, to be one of those explanations that requires a footnote: “At this point, a miracle occurs…”
I concurred. You would expect, I thought, to see a lot of other manifestations of this tendency.
“Like lots of religions?” said #1 daughter in a trump-card sort of voice.
Not at all, said I. It shouldn’t always be religion.
At that point, Son-in-law brought up addictive behavior. Drug addiction could also be a manifestation. And I remembered the lecturer from the Tuesday night class saying “Everyone worships something” — their comfort, money, themselves, their own convenient image of God put together from the bits and pieces that they like. I can see the parallels with love.
What do you think?