Imagination - Religion - God : Hard-wired?
(Top Posts - Philosophy (General) - 062603)

Human brains encompass an amazing ability to imagine things. That ability has led in no small measure to exploration, adventure, discovery, and scientific advances, when grounded in that which is the nature of reality. When children are taught that the supernatural *is* reality, that ancient superbeings / superentities / gods / devils / angels / holy spirits / immortality *are* reality, and the society / culture the children are raised within also treats such things *as if* they are reality, it's difficult for most to let go of that.

Here are some more views on the concept of 'hard-wired', the way the human brain is predisposed to imagination, and the way religions use that to perpetuate ancient myths as reality ...

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Why did religions originate and how do they perpetuate from generation to generation? A complex description is preferable to the sometimes misunderstood phrase 'hard-wired' in reference to the human tendency to succumb to religious belief.

In that more complex description of religion, one who thinks religion is a naturalistic god-free meme (i.e., free of 'real' gods, loaded with make believe gods, beings, places, and myths) would be well-served to punctuate and expand upon that.

The phrase 'hard-wired' may be misinterpreted by religious proponents who assert that the widespread resorting to god stories are evidence that god actually exists, that humans were made 'by god' 'for god'. Of course, that's not the intent of the use of the phrase 'hard-wired' (not, at least, when used by folks referring to the naturalistic explanation for religion), but that's the way more-than-a-few religious types interpret it.

In reflecting on explanations free of supernaturalism, one can't help but wonder what a dolphin in pain is feeling and thinking, what a chimp who has seen its mother die is feeling and thinking, what kind of emotions and thinking the human and pre-human animal experienced in the long journey from pre-human to modern human over millions of years, especially what kind of thoughts they have and have had regarding death and the unknown ...

Certainly (reflecting intuitively on the stories about such matters that are part of the historical record), mirror image super authority beings and magic after-life locales and religious rituals have been part of the human imagination far longer than have the stories of all the foundational religions we're still burdened with.

Perhaps, a brief way to put it would be to say we're 'hard-wired' to want to know, and religion is an ancient and anachronistic expression of that.

Humans for millennia have rebelled against accepting their naturalistic fate (of death) and their ignorance regarding the unknown. We are not born wanting to die, we simply die, and humans for the most part really don't like that. We are not born knowing about the unknown, we simply are born ignorant of the unknown, and humans for the most part really don't like that. Therein resides some of the primal seeds for religious origins and perpetuation.

In the current day, well-educated, well-reasoned, and open-minded humans are inclined to utilize science to address the unknown, although many still hang on to the god meme on some level due to the social-cultural-upbringing influences most are influenced by. The distaste for death is still there, the disquiet over the unknown is still there, but the willingness to utilize ancient myths as a substitute for naturalistic explanations is no longer as certain. However, religions are still widespread due, in no small measure, to the continuation of the fundamental requirement for perpetuation of religions, that being childhood brainwashing.