Atheists called the poisoning mixture of religion lies. But what if the belief in the supernatural is natural?
An American scientist who visited the house of Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize winner in physics, who fled from the Nazis and became one of the leading participants in the Manhattan Project, in which the atomic bomb was created, was very surprised to see a horseshoe hanging above the desk Bora. "You do not believe that a horseshoe will bring you luck, Professor Bor? - He asked. - In the end, being a scientist ... ».
Bor laughed. "Of course, I do not believe in such things, my friend. Absolutely not believe it. I simply can not believe in all this nonsense. But I was told that a horseshoe brings good luck whether you believe in it or not ».
Dominic Johnson (Dominic Johnson), to tell this story, recognizes that Bor is likely joked. However, in response physics lies a very important and true thought. People are constantly looking at the events happening to them a script that goes beyond the boundaries of the system of cause and effect. Regardless of how, in their opinion, their view of the world is determined by science, they continue to think and act as if their lives watching something superhuman. Johnson writes: "People all over the world believe - consciously or unconsciously - that we live in a just world or in the moral universe, where people always get what they deserve. Our brain works in such a way that we can not look for a meaning in the randomness of life ».
As an evolutionary biologist, was educated at Oxford and a doctorate in political science, Johnson believes that the desire to look for a supernatural explanation of natural processes is universal - "a universal feature of human nature" - and it plays an important role in maintaining order in society. Going far beyond the crops defined monotheism, it "permeates most different cultures around the world in all historical periods, from the tribal community ... to the modern world religions, including atheism».
Reward and punishment may come not only from the one omnipresent deity is believed in Western societies. The function of equity can be distributed among the vast army of invisible gods, angels, demons, spirits, or it may be implemented by some impersonal cosmic process that rewards for good deeds and punishes the bad, as is the case with the Buddhist concept of karma. The human mind requires a certain moral order that goes beyond all human institutions, and the feeling that our actions are subject to assessment by a certain entity is beyond the natural world plays a very particular evolutionary role. Belief in the supernatural reward and punishment, like nothing else promotes social interaction. The belief that we live under some supernatural guidance - this is not a vestige of superstition, which in the future will be simply discarded, and the mechanism of evolutionary adaptation, which is inherent in all people.
This is the conclusion, which causes an angry reaction from the current generation of atheists - Richard Dawkins (Richard Dawkins), Daniel Dennett (Daniel Dennett), Sam Harris (Sam Harris), and others - for whom religion - a mixture of lies and delusions. These "new atheists" - naive people. From their point of view, which has its roots in the philosophy of rationalism, rather than the theory of evolution, human consciousness - an ability which a person seeks to use to create an accurate picture of the world. This view contains the problem. Why do most people - around the globe and at all times - so committed to a particular version of religion? This can be explained by the fact that their minds have been deformed by malicious priests and diabolical power elite. Atheists have always had a weakness for this kind of demonology - otherwise they simply could not explain the extraordinary persistence of attitudes and beliefs that they consider irrational intoxicating. Thus, rooted human tendency towards religion is a problem for atheists the existence of evil.
But what if the belief in the supernatural is natural for humans? From the point of view of those who accept the theory of evolution seriously, religion - is not intellectual error, and adaptation to the experience of living in a world full of uncertainty and danger. We need such a concept, in which religion is understood as an inexhaustible complex set of beliefs and practices that have developed in order to meet human needs.
The book "God is watching you» («God Is Watching You») - It is a massive and extremely interesting attempt to correct this deficiency. This written language alive and teeming with vivid examples of the book tells how the belief in the supernatural punishment could subdue short-term self-interest and to strengthen social solidarity. One of the most important evidence of this was revolutionary study conducted by two psychologists, Azim Shariff (Azim Shariff) and Ary Norenzayanom (Ara Norenzayan), during which participants were asked to play a game, "The Dictator": they were given a sum of money, and they were free to share them as they see fit, with an unknown man of them. Since their selection remained a mystery, and the participants are not threatened by any negative consequences of their decisions, the most natural response Homo economicus should have been a decision to keep all the money. Some participants did just that. Many studies have shown that some people gave to a stranger about half of the money, while those participants who adhered to a particular religion or belief, usually gave more.
Further experiments showed that the fear of supernatural punishment was more effective means of dealing with selfish behavior than hope for supernatural reward. Deity tracking for our bad deeds, generates quite suffocating picture of the world, and the idea that people are the easiest way to control through fear draws before us is quite unattractive portrait of the man. However, faith in punishing God can be surprisingly powerful tool for influencing the behavior of the people who used to maintain social order. Many may argue that that morality which imposes on us faith in the supernatural, is often extremely repressive. Without a doubt, the way it is, however, quite difficult to see what arguments the new atheists can lead to refute the idea that non-liberal moral systems may have evolutionary value. In the end, too few communities have managed to remain liberal for a long period of time. Liberal values may be just a moment in an infinite process of evolution. Although the current generation of atheists prefer to forget this fact, it is the conclusion that the atheist thinkers of the past - the Communists, the positivists and many social engineers - who tried to flirt with the evolutionary ethic.
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