The general consensus among physical anthropologists is that religion co-evolved with language. By religion, they mean belief, not the highly complex and abstract stuff we now think of as religion. Early humans probably started with supernatural ideas about the forces controlling the parts of the natural world they could see. Then maybe more abstract ideas about what happens to people when they die and the need to properly handle the dead. This is all speculation, but that’s where the evidence seems to point.
Whether or not belief is baked into our genes is debatable, mostly because we don’t know enough about the human genome. The news makes it sound like science has unraveled the mysteries of human DNA and we’re on the verge of creating super babies, but nothing could be further from the truth. There’s also the fact that people continue to insist that believing in Progressive mythology is rational while being a committed Christian is delusional. Once again, Progressive orthodoxy hinders science.
When religion is treated as a subset of mass movements, then the genetic argument for belief becomes more promising. The person who is always caught up in one cause or another is well known. It is not unusual for someone to start out in one thing and end up in its opposite. The Christian, who gets into radical politics and ends up as a spiritual gluten free vegan into hot yoga. Some people are highly prone to getting caught up into mass movements, while others are disinclined to join anything, even when they agree with it.
The true believer latches onto a cause, in part, because of a deep belief in magic or the super natural. The crazy cat lady into aroma therapy will have a long list of wacky reasons why certain smells have magical powers, but it’s still just magic. She does not know. She believes and she gets satisfaction, a psychic reward, by exercising that belief. Half of Iceland believes there are invisible elves on the island, even thought no one has seen an elf. They are invisible, after all. It just feels right to believe they exist.
The ruling class of America seems to be particularly prone to belief in the supernatural, despite their alleged love of science and reason. You see this in their obsession with racism. Our betters talk about racism as if it is a demon spirit. The anointed, invested with the spirit of good-think, are tasked with exhorting the rest of us to resist the Dark Lord of Racism. You see it in this post the other day by VD, regarding the hysteria at Duke Divinity School. Anathea Portier-Young sounds like she is organizing an exorcism.
“Racism is a fierce, ever-present, challenging force, one which has structured the thinking, behavior, and actions of individuals and institutions since the beginning of U.S. history. To understand racism and effectively begin dismantling it requires an equally fierce, consistent, and committed effort” (REI). Phase I provides foundational training in understanding historical and institutional racism. It helps individuals and organizations begin to “proactively understand and address racism, both in their organization and in the community where the organization is working.” It is the first step in a longer process.
Puritan ministers use to talk like that about Satan. Racism is no longer just normal clannishness based on race. Now it is a magical, almost indescribable, force that creeps up on little cat feet to possess the soul of those who are not vigilant. These seminars all have a revival quality to them. The participants are inducted into secret rights that allow them to resist the Dark Lord of Racism and all his works. The exhortation to go forth and preach against the temptations of racism is right out of 17th century Salem.
The late great Eric Hoffer observed that mass movements can get along without a god, but they must always have a devil. Modern Progressives have only a muddled sense of a deity, but they have a devil, as well as a list of lesser demons that do his bidding. Racism is the arch demon in the cosmology of the Left. It is why everything they don’t like is associated with racism. Trump, for example, is one of the least racist guys in public life, but they swear he is the soldier of the Dark Lord of Racism.
The ruins at Göbekli Tepe are interesting for a number of reasons, but one of them is what they suggest about the nature of man. It was assumed that human organization was either out of self-interest or out of a sense of cooperation. It was homo economicus or homo reciprocans. The fact that pre-settlement people came together to build what looks like a religious site, suggests that neither is true. A desire for purpose, beyond the material, may be the force that drives human cooperation beyond the bounds of kinship.
Our ruling class has the same desire for a purpose beyond their extravagant lifestyles as Cloud People. These are people who fully committed to the meritocratic, managerial system. They are true believers. Having abandoned Christianity long ago, the ruling class lurches from cause to cause, looking for a reason to cast themselves as on the side of angels, in the great moral struggle that is the human condition. Lacking a deity, a light to give them purpose, they settle for demons they can slay.