Man is homo religiosus

or as I keep saying, “you don’t replace something with nothing.” the blue people movie is more evidence that in our modern culture spirituality is fine, but Christianity or other specific organized religion is off-limits. Jonah has an interesting piece up called “Avatar and the Faith Instinct.”

a bit to tease you over there to read it.

But what I find interesting about the film is how what is “pleasing to the most people” is so unapologetically religious.

Nicholas Wade’s new book, The Faith Instinct, lucidly compiles the scientific evidence that humans are hard-wired to believe in the transcendent. That transcendence can be divine or simply Kantian, a notion of something unknowable from mere experience. Either way, in the words of philosopher Will Herberg, “Man is homo religiosus, by ‘nature’ religious: as much as he needs food to eat or air to breathe, he needs a faith for living.”

Wade argues that the Darwinian evolution of man depended not only on individual natural selection but also on the natural selection of groups. And groups that subscribe to a religious worldview are more apt to survive — and hence pass on their genes. Religious rules impose moral norms that facilitate collective survival in the name of a “cause larger than yourself,” as we say today. No wonder everything from altruism to martyrdom is part of nearly every faith.

The faith instinct may be baked into our genes, but it is also profoundly malleable. Robespierre, the French revolutionary who wanted to replace Christianity with a new “age of reason,” emphatically sought to exploit what he called the “religious instinct which imprints upon our souls the idea of a sanction given to moral precepts by a power that is higher than man.”

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