Re: The Origin of Religions, From a Distinctly Darwinian View

From: Van oost Kenneth (
Date: Wed 25 Dec 2002 - 18:07:53 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: Origin of Religion"

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Grant Callaghan
      I think religion is a natural outgrowth of tribalism. A tribe usually forms around a strong individual, a leader. In some cases, the leadership skills of the leader are exceptional and the organizing power of that leader holds the tribe together. But strong leaders often give birth to less capable children. In China there is a saying that a rich family only lasts three generations -- the first generation makes the fortune, the second builds on it, and the third fritters it away.
      It's only natural that the tribe tends to follow the rules set down by the strong leader. When the rules are questioned, the weaker followers refer to the rule maker and his/her accomplishments as authority. Over time and the narration of history within the tribe, the legend of the leader tends to grow and the man becomes a god. All the gods in the histories I've read grew out of individuals. Even the Jewish Yaweh acts like a human being and is often called God the Father. He has children and commands his followers in the same way a strong leader would. A good leader delegates authority and when he dies, the delegatees carry on the structure they inherited.

      Religion is what happens, IMHO, when strong leaders die and the children of that leader must continue the tradition. If the children are weak in leadership, other members of the group will seek power and take their place. They will most likely do this by becoming holier than the children in worshiping the leader.
      In the Far East, all the gods are people who ascended into heaven and all strong ancestors are worshiped. That is a swath of people that extend from Southeast Asia to Japan and Korea. When you consider that Greek and Roman gods seem to follow the same pattern and are structured like members of a family with the same behavioral problems as members of a family, I would say that's where the idea of religion springs from. It is the preservation of behaviors and rules instilled by strong leaders of the past and the worship is a means of reminding people of these structures and the authority that backs them up. Well structured tribes tended to survive longer than scattered individuals or unstructured groups. Religion is the glue that held them together. It still does.


      I tried to explain the contrary in my essay, Out of Africa, An Individualistic Step.
      Instead of being ruled by a stronger force, the early people could simply move away and
      skattered themselves all around the plains.
      There is IMO, no proove that leadership, force, intelligence,...made groups.
      Simply working together could do easily the same trick.
      You see this still today, we come all the work, work together for a few hours and go home
      again, there is no group, just a temporaly convention of intelligence for the sake of the
      mighty dollar.


    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed 25 Dec 2002 - 17:50:08 GMT