Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Why is Religion Universal?
In my opinion, the genesis of religion was at the point of awareness/introspection of mortality and the existential situation. As these apprehensions became problems to early homo sapiens, they started to develop theory of mind; in seeing their own finitude, they began to infer the temporal existence of others. This was not the case before, as their primary goals and values were centered on survival. After the point of death anxiety, survival became somewhat drawn back behind the new concern of reality and its purpose. Thus, belief systems were contrived to control the existential stress of human life.
The notion of death anxiety as the catalyst for the onset of unique human behaviors(that include not only religion, but also art, dance, symbolic representation, unconditional compassion, and music)is a holistic approach to the issue. The method presented by Wade(especially those of Pinker and Dawkins)is analytical and works from the presumption that religion is an insignificant coincidence, thus failing to address the topic properly; the modern residual components of religion are not good starting places for the question of origin. The focus should be on the catalyst which caused survival based organisms to reflect on their existential problems. In addition, it seems unlikely that the cause of death anxiety was of a biological nature, because the change took place over a period of less then a hundred thousand years, a very brief interval in biological time.