Religion— an evolving thought process

A constant debate between a theist and an atheist is whether God created man or man created God. This existential crisis for the divine and the divine law is a cause of insecurity in humans and the reason of so many conflicts.

Human was afraid of forces of nature and praying evolved as a coping mechanism to appease those forces. Now that we understand a lot of the forces which were considered the Wrath of God we have stopped looking at them with awe. Thunder and lightning are a phenomena of electrostatic discharge between the charged parts of the clouds and fire is nothing but combustion of a material in presence of air. Once we understood how to save ourselves from the “wrath” of nature, more or less these Gods became harmless. With more evolution in thought process came the idea of religion. Be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Paganism or any of the thousands of religious theories they all came into being once human started assigning authority to the mystical for all the problems in their lives. Surprising is the fact that even after finding a lot of answers about divinity in scientific theories the process of natural selection has still carried the concept of God along. In fact in today’s world this sentiment has become stronger however the reasons are not purely religious but more political or for the benefit of social cohesiveness.

Here it is argued by scholars that evolution of religion does not have much to do with biological evolution rather cognitive abilities and an ecological control mechanism to check human behavior. This is understandable since societies can sustain only on basis of a moral fabric and religion can be an important component. There is no rationale as to why it is such a powerful motivation but it is similar to social selection mechanism and that has its roots in evolutionary process. This is why some mates are preferable and others aren’t or some creatures have a sacrificial tendency. Humans, in the same way that they are attracted to certain people, are attracted to certain ideologies and a connection is superimposed with the increasing cohesion between these two individuals on the basis of religious outlook.

The presence of divine and intervention of supernatural should seem counter-intuitive in a species as evolved as humans because religion has some dangerous practices such as witch hunts, wars, brutal sacrifices or casteism; yet it is the only species which needs to externalize its morality and propagate it in the name of religion thus considering any atheist as an anomaly to the natural way of life.

It can be argued that religions that can to adapt to changing thought process are likely to last longer than the ones that are rigid and force people to abide a certain conduct which might not be practicable in the society. For example a lot of theories in Hinduism regarding conduct with a girl child were cited from the religious texts but with greater awareness and need for equality in the society such trends as child marriage, sati or ostracizing widows have been done away with. Despite maulvis claiming that Islam does not allow its followers to indulge in music, dance or painting the community that abides by such strictures is only marginal. This is not to say that they are less of Muslims than the others but merely that there thought process led to them to logically come to a conclusion that certain activities which give us pleasure (and not at the cost of other’s happiness) can’t be claimed un-religious.

Thus religion is an evolving thought process. It has to borne in mind that no theory, not even God, is exempt from evolution. However it is easy to see that the need of God or angels and devils will be a part of the human psyche for a long time to come because supernatural will help in the need for salvation from misery.

2 thoughts on “Religion— an evolving thought process

Add yours

  1. Hi Anubhuti,
    I would like to commend the bold effort that you have made to write on a sensitive topic. I agree with the text that the article opens with – insecurity and conflicts stemming from existence of God; washing away of superstitions in the evolution of Science. I find interesting the point on religion being the glue for community followed by abuse of the same. Even the point that none is exempt from evolution. On that, I’m reminded of a quote by Dalai Lama: “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.”
    I have realised that this contention between theists and atheists is because of the lack of sincere effort – from either – towards backing their belief (or unbelief); I call that backing, ‘theology’. As you have pointed out, the half-baked understanding has caused chaos with (self-) pride being the cherry on top. I think only a sincere effort to understand the Truth (if there exists) would begin to solve the problem of insecurity and conflict amidst mankind.
    I think: Search -> Truth -> Belief -> Worldview -> Action -> Truth confirmed


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