RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Chris Lofting (
Tue, 19 Oct 1999 00:30:32 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 00:30:32 +1000
In-Reply-To: <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Gatherer, D. (Derek)
> Sent: Monday, 18 October 1999 5:25
> To: ''
> Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
> Richard:
> The distinction you are drawing between "the level of the individual" and
> "the level of the meme" is confusing to me. Individual minds are the
> selective environment for memes. Are you implying that religions are
> phenotypic expressions of genetic evolution? If so, how do you account for
> the success of televangelism?
> Derek:
> I don't deny that religion can, in the short term, spread like any other
> craze or fad, eg the religious 'revivals' of the early 19th and early 20th
> centuries, but in the long-term, those that persist are likely to be
> beneficial to those that practice them. That's what I mean by
> the level of
> the individual. I'm not sure to what degree one could say that
> evolution is
> genetic, I admit that:
> 1) certain neurological phenomena, like temporal lobe epilepsy, can
> precipitate changes of character towards religiosity. Of course, exactly
> which religion is adopted depends on the cultural background. Some drugs
> will do the same sort of thing, if more transiently.
> 2) some of the twin study data by the Minnesota group points in the
> direction of genetic tendencies towards or against religion.
> 3) Cavalli-Sforza's work on cultural transmission indicates that
> religion is
> primarily maternally transmitted. This might just be a cultural
> quirk (eg.
> to do with mothers perhaps spending more time with infants than fathers,
> perhaps), or it may point in the direction of imprinted (genetically
> imprinted, not Lorenzian) genes being involved, or even
> mitochondrial genes
> (now I'm in sociobiological guessing territory)

Religion is a phenotype. Your comments read as if you think it is a

> So together it might be possible to make a case for inherent tendencies
> towards religion. Presumably these would have to have had some selective
> advantage, or else we would all have quite a strong aversion to
> religion by
> now.

Religion is phenotype. NOT genotype. The question is 'what underlying
patterns of emotion are generated and maintained' in any form of faith,
religious or secular? Faith is very single context and so there is a
correlation with object thinking. (see earlier posts).

(1) ANY external source that is fundamentalist, single-context, in form will
attract people who have developed object thinking.

(2) The feedback can work to attract others and you move into the area of
'likemindedness' and so a developing group that can lead to the declaration
of a fundamentalist group.

(3) If the feelings are due to a genetic anomoly, and all who are likeminded
form groups then the gene will be passed on. This will seem as if it is
religion that is the gene. It isnt, it is something that is behind what we
call religion.

(4) In Science, the assertion of a dogma becomes object thinking,
fundamentalist, same mechanisms as we find in Religion. Supporters of
Darwinism or Relativism etc etc take on the same behaviours as do the
supports of Islam or Christianity. The 'killing' is limited however to the
mental realm; to totally 'crucify' all opposition etc. The contexts differ
but object thinking is behind it all.

(5) If you continue to emphasise phenotype over genotype then you are only
going to end-up chasing your tail :-) I think the idea is to discover
genotype, the algorithms and formulas *behind* the expressions. Once you
have a good list of geneotypal characteristics then comes the analysis of
combining these characteristics with a context and that leading to an
expression - phenotype.



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