Religion… why/how

Religion… why/how

RELIGION WHY/HOW Psychology 320 RELIGION GETTING STARTED My approach Agnostic Cartesian Dualism reminder Spirit/Soul is apart from the body But we will talk about the existence of biological explanations/interpretations/ correlates/etc We will also talk about anthropological/sociological/evolutionary arguments RELIGION As was the case in so many lectures before this We CANNOT do justice to the topic of religion in a 30-45 minute lecture But some general things can be discussed

Todays motivation question: Why are people religious? Approaching this using the 6 Es and arguments from: Biology and Neuroscience Anthropology, Sociology Psychology Bio, Evo, Devo, and Socio ... Some Theology WHY ARE PEOPLE RELIGIOUS? But really, what does that even mean? How do we make sense of that? First what IS and what IS NOT religion? Next, how do we break this down into quantifiable parts? RELIGION - DEFINED William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience, 1902 The personal component of religion emphasized most That is, the experiences, feelings, etc.

i.e. religious experiences themselves, moral compass, communion (sacred or otherwise) As opposed to: rituals, rules, structures, etc. though these were certainly included Religion shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine. Since the relation may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it is evident that out of religion in the sense in which we take it, theologies, philosophies, and ecclesiastical organizations may secondarily grow. Religion, however, is a social affair N. Wade, The Faith Instinct, 2009. Even though components of religion may be experienced individually (i.e. prayer), most rituals, rites, services, etc. are communal. RELIGION WHY? Why are people religious is a nebulous question that cannot be succinctly answered... We need to break that down somehow

As good scientists, we also need to operationalize some things too, especially given what we already know. So: lets simply apply what weve learned this semester New Question: What kinds of things might motivate religious behavior. Apply the 6 Es Lectures to consider (among others): Social Motivation: Authority, conformity, persuasion Emotions: Reward, Happiness, Joy, Positive Affect Fear, Anger, Negative Affect Neuro 101 RELIGION THE BEHAVIORS How do we quantify religion?

What are some religious behaviors? Worship Prayer Communion Baptism

Creeds, statements Fasting Pilgrimages Reading/memorizing/reciting sacred texts Singing Weddings, wakes, funerals, other rites of passage Glossalalia (speaking in tongues) And many, many, others.... Notice, these are not necessarily the same things as religious experiences... RELIGION THE EXPERIENCES How do we quantify religion? What are some religious experiences? The physiological response during:

Prayer Singing Fasting Worshiping Etc Also include Near Death Experience Visions

Numinous the felt presence of a diety Witnessing miracles Etc... Religious experiences defined: the subjective visual, auditory, and/or internal feeling or sense of presence of something that is interpreted within a framework of religion RELIGION WHY? (1ST E OF MOTIVATION - EVOLUTION) Evolutionarily.... What purposes might religion serve? Adaptive socially (so inherently, were also talking 5th E too) Serves larger and smaller social units Social solidarity theories Religion evolved to service these Indeed, in most societies, there is a religious component

And studies have found similar characteristics in larger societies that seem to be absent in smaller societies religions: Moralizing Gods that is, gods that govern morality (L. Wade, Science, 2015) Serves as a warning signal to other members of social group based on committment As discussed before living socially is evolutionarily advantageous in that it promotes survival RELIGION WHY? (EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE) Evolutionarily.... Some argue that religion is an evolutionary spandrel (i.e. Stephen Jay Gould) Spandrel: a byproduct of the evolution of something else They would argue that with the development of consciousness came the forced need to reconcile morality religion may have been that reconciliation

Others argue that religion may have co-opted other developments Like: Theory of mind; Etiological reasoning; Agent Detection; Inference Others still argue that religion has served (for the most part) its evolutionary purpose, and that it could be omitted in the future processes of natural selection Religiosity is indeed in decline Holy wars God Gene vmat2 vesicular monoamine transporter 2 it has been argued with to predispose humans towards spiritual or mystical experiences Controversial RELIGION WHY? (JUMPING TO 6TH E) As stated earlier, most of religion is social

Most behaviors occur in a social setting Or are taught socially Even what is learned from texts Beyond these, religion is certainly (at least in part) motivated or rather, reinforced and punished socially What is the return on the investment? (Socially) Think about the last lectures Authority Conformity In-group/Out-group Persuasion

RELIGION WHY? (FROM A SOCIAL AND/OR EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVE) Persuasion a social means of inciting emotion or reason in another Indeed, religious behaviors are motivated by social means of persuasion By way of calls of authority, conformity, in-group/out-group, but also... Inherently in messages using, especially, Ethos and Pathos, but of Logos as well Much trust is put into sacred texts Ethos Often, stories/analogies/parables with evidence/ corrolaries to general experience are used Logos Pathos probably the most common thread among all religions

RELIGION WHY? (FROM AN EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVE) Emotion in religion: What types of emotion are elicited in religions (generally)? Happiness, Joy, Love*, Victory/Triumphance Reward Pathway/Positive Affect Fear, Sadness, Punishment Fear/Aversion/Negative Affect Empathy, Victory/Triumphance Social Cohesion RELIGION WHY? (CONSIDERING THE 2ND AND 5TH ES ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING AND EXPECTATION) So if, as weve described them in this course, emotions are our cognitive

categorizations of physiological responses to external stimuli (or internal through complex associative pairings), then religion-induced emotion is the physiological response to stimuli that have been paired with abstract concepts of religion This could come in the form of symbols And many, many symbols within particular religions RELIGION WHY? (FROM MULTIPLE ES 2, 3, 4, AND 5) Outside of visual stimuli, arguments eliciting emotional responses exist in doctrine/text In Christianity Revelation 21:4-8 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away... To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of

live. Those who are victorious will inherit all this... But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. In Islam Quran 15:45-48 Indeed, the righteous will be within gardens and springs... And We will remove whatever is in their breasts of resentment... No fatigue will touch them therein, nor from it will they [ever] be removed..... And that is My punishment which is the painful punishment. RELIGION WHY? Outside of visual stimuli, arguments eliciting emotional responses exist in doctrine/text In Christianity In Islam In Buddhism Dhammapada 202-205: Theres no fire like passion, no loss like anger, no pain

like the aggregates, no ease other than peace. Hunger: the foremost illness. Fabrications: the foremost pain. For one knowing this truth as it actually is, unbinding is the foremost ease. Freedom from illness: the foremost good fortune. Contentment: the foremost wealth. Trust: the foremost kinship. Unbinding: the foremost ease. Dhammapada 23: The enlightened, constantly absorbed in jhana, persevering, firm in their effort; they touch Unbinding, the unexcelled safety from bondage. RELIGION WHY? Back to religious experiences So what is a religious experience again? (FROM A BIO/NEURO PERSPECTIVE) Wikipedia: A religious experience (sometimes known as a spiritual, sacred, or mystical experiences) is a subjective experience which is interpreted within a religious framework.

William James The Varieties of Religious Experience - 1902 Four characteristics of mystical experience Transient - temporary Ineffable cannot be adequately put into words Noetic provides knowledge of some kind Passive happens to individual w/o conscious control Some experiences can facilitate this though, i.e. meditation Richard Swinburne Faith and Reason - 1981 Five categories into which all religious experiences fall

Public Ordinary seeing Gods hand at work - i.e. seeing a sunset Public Extraordinary event that breaches natural law - i.e. walking on water Private Describable using normal language - i.e. Jacobs dream/vision of a ladder Private Indescribable using normal language Private Non-specific A general feeling of God working in ones life RELIGION WHY? (FROM A BIO/NEURO PERSPECTIVE) So... Last but not least, the neuro... Obviously, the first thing Im going to tell you is that religion has, as

evidenced in previous slides, the ability to stimulate: The reward pathway leading you to attend to things that will increase survival and/or good things The fear pathway leading you to avoid the things that may decrease survival and/or bad things The prefrontal cortex and its ability to predict future events, reinforcements, and punishments RELIGION WHY? (FROM A BIO/NEURO PERSPECTIVE) A final note on religion the whys and hows... Religion cannot be simply boiled down to just the things weve talked about here Reciprocal relationships exist: Social life motivates religion, but religion motivates social life It alters life, instills values, operationalizes concepts and world-views

Arguably also instills hyperconformity, xenophobia, in-group/out-group Similarly with regards to biology, religion doesnt (just) co-opt the brain, per se, it changes the brain Excerpts from Newberg and Waldman, 2009 Page 3 and 6

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