Did Religion Help Our Ancestors Survive?

“If a parent says, ‘My child, don’t pick up snakes,’ that would clearly be wise advice, and children don’t have the freedom to experiment with such pieces of wisdom; they better believe their parents when their parents say don’t pick up snakes or don’t pick up spiders. So the rule of thumb that would be built in by natural selection into a child brain, ‘Believe whatever your parents tell you,’ quite clearly could have survival value,” Richard Dawkins told an audience at Adelaide Writers’ Week back in March.
“Now once that rule of thumb has been built into the nervous system, once the brain has been hardwired to be as a child credulous and believe what your parents tell you, then that is automatically open to any sort of statement that the parent might make, which could be a religious statement. … The survival value lies in the psychological predisposition to believe your parents, and the consequence of that psychological predisposition might very well be religion.”

Category: On the Record


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