Monday, May 26, 2014

The rudiments of religion

Nicholas Wade in his The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and why it endures, wrote,

“All these new faculties were doubtless drawn upon as natural selection searched for an effective solution to the most pressing of all problems for a social species— how to make selfish individuals place society’s needs above their own. This departure from self-interest required not just moral self-restraint and social cohesiveness, but an emotional commitment to the group so fierce and transcendent that men would quite readily sacrifice their lives in its defense.

“The solution that evolved was religious behavior. It was those who learned to bond to each other through ritual song and dance who developed the most cohesive communities. It was those who believed that the gods or their dead ancestors were seeing into their hearts who hewed closest to their society’s rules. It was those who most feared supernatural retribution who built the most moral societies with the strongest social fabric and the resilience to outlast others. [Kindle locations 673-780]

Comment: Can one retain a religious belief if one believes that? Probably a Darby-type Fundamentalist wouldn’t be able to, but I wrestled through and those Fundamentalist issues long ago and have no problem with it. In my view the method God chose for creation can be seen in biology and genetics.

Fundamentalists have no problem in accepting that the Greek language was in place for the first Christians to use to describe their religious beliefs. God, they believe, created that sophisticated language and had it ready for them to describe his New Testament. Why then balk at the idea that God also had “morals” in place so that people would know when they were being immoral? And what Wade has written is another way of saying what Blaise Pascal once said, that “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”

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