Religion was born as a necessity, or at least that is what we think. It has been present to this day with no sign that it would disappear. If we study history, we can see that religion – if we talk about it in a general way – takes many different forms. We have, for example, the birth of monotheistic religions in which only one God is believed.
The gods have also changed over the centuries and have been given different names and forms. There are gods of which we are not allowed to create at all images and gods with many imaginative forms. These forms sometimes even refer to animals.
Religion has succeeded in transforming into an institution. People have created social institutions in the name of religion that are meant to provide or improve various services such as learning and health. The downside of this is that large-scale wars have also been fought in the name of religion. People have also committed horrific crimes and injustices based on these sacred texts, which they often misinterpret.
There are many explanations by which people have tried to explain the birth and life of religions over the centuries. One of the best explanations is that religion tries to give answers that others have not been able to answer. But this is not the only explanation people are trying to give.
Here are a few attempts to explain the birth of religion and its life:
- Religion arose as a result of drug use. People who ingested hallucinogenic substances experienced unusual visions that they interpreted as messages from the afterlife. Some shamans and witches used drugs to get closer to the gods and communicate with them to make choices. However, perhaps they did not take these drugs appropriately. That is, it makes sense that their interpretations had to do with divine beings.
- According to another explanation, religion originated as a habit of explaining natural phenomena for which no logical explanations could be found. There were certain phenomena that were harder to explain credibly, such as rain and thunder. Humans had no logical ways of interpreting these, and this led to the creation of the gods. So the gods created these phenomena that humans could not explain.
- The growth of religion also seems to be a form of idol worship. People began to worship and adore certain characters for their words and deeds. This glorification led people to create religions based on these characters.
- The last explanation says that religion appeared as a kind of cognitive adaptation. These are mental functions, processes, and states. They have a particular focus on processes such as comprehension, reasoning, decision making, planning and learning. This is the most accepted view in the field of biology and psychology.
We trust the gods
Scott Attranin work In Gods We Trust (eng. ” Gods We Trust ‘) , the religion will seek genes orient toward a particular behavior of a particular group of choice and a certain elehtimiseen and imitation. Religion is not a doctrine or an institution, nor is it even faith. According to Attran, religion exists thanks to the human mind, when the human mind deals with curiosity about life, birth, old age, death, the unexpected, and love.
To understand this perspective, we need to realize that religion is difficult to understand, and sometimes its teachings are against the institution. Some religions, for example, give sacrifice certain meanings. Following one religion or another can be really expensive, and at certain times it can even deprive a person of their life. If we weigh the pros and cons of the characteristics of religion, they may be on the planes. This means that people do not necessarily choose religion solely on the basis of the benefits of religion.
Instead, we could see religion as a non-adaptive consequence of human cognitive properties. This means that religion would be an adaptation on a cognitive level. But it is not adaptive in itself if we look at all its costs and benefits. Religion, like other cultural phenomena, is the result of a meeting place of cognitive, behavioral, and physical centers. It also comes from the ecological constraints of our minds.
Psychological forces that create religion
Religion comes from certain psychological forces that adapt us to the conditions of life. Here are some of these forces:
- Primary and Secondary Affective Programs: The emotions we feel, as well as how we interpret them, have a direct impact on our interactions with others. Believing in religion causes us to have different affective reactions with our own group than we have with other groups. Of course, our own reactions are more affective with members of our own group. This way of expressing emotions is good for our development, because the group we belong to benefits from it.
- Social intelligence: Group life paved the way for different interpretations, which in turn protected the group. The choice of one god comes from belonging to a certain group. And this choice ends up creating differences between different groups. The difference between the choices of these groups regulates and justifies the relationships that groups that worship different gods create. This is good for your group.
- Cognitive modules: these are the mental structures that regulate the interpretation of our actions and rituals. People understand and justify these modules through religion. We understand and accept all the rituals of our religion, but the rituals of other religions may seem strange and impossible to understand. The rituals and activities of a particular group continue through these structures.
As humans, we tend to perceive action, or the cause of action, even when it is not. For example, our belief in the supernatural comes from the same cognitive adaptation as the beliefs of our ancestors. Our ancestors interpreted the sound of a wind-shaken butt as the presence of a saber-toothed tiger.
This interpretation was helpful as it helped people cope. In this sense, supernatural functions were just a byproduct of evolution that came from our system to detect predators.
From this perspective, religion is a tool our minds use to give credible interpretations of any event that we are not actually sure about. Our minds produced these mechanisms and structures with evolution to ensure that we belonged to some group and that we could survive.