The Darwinian Theory about the Origin of Religions

The origin of religions and the Darwinian theory have been unfailingly united in the last 150 years. With his magnum opus, the famous scientist turned upside down everything we knew about our origin and evolution. It changed our vision of who we were and, therefore, of who we are.

Recall that Charles Darwin himself dedicated a chapter in one of his most important books, The origin of man, the origin of religions. Thus, if our characteristics are the product of evolution, religion would not be less so.

The Darwinian theory

Do not forget that Charles Darwin left one of the most important legacies in the human history of science. With the publication of The Origin of Species, he turned upside down everything we thought we knew about the appearance of life on Earth.

Although his thought was then the stimulus from which many controversies were born, the influence of all Darwinian research to this day has been enormous. In fact, its advances have shaped the way we see the current human being, changing scientific thinking in the last 100 years and showing a new direction to know past, present and future life on our planet.

Once Darwin shows that creationist theory has nothing to do with the appearance of life, why do religions appear? The author shows that behavior and the brain have also been products of human evolution itself. That is to say, everything that has survived the passage of time, including religion, necessarily has an evolutionary explanation.

The origin of religions under the prism of the theories of Charles Darwin

One of the most important texts that we currently have to establish this union between Darwinian evolutionism and religious origin is found in the research of Elizabhet Culotta, whose essay On the Origin of Religion was published on the Origins blog belonging to the scientific journal Science, great prestige.

According to the author, there is a human and natural propensity to believe in invisible deities. To explain this, the author goes to the theories of Darwin, who already in his day considered that the belief in gods and religions was not something mysterious at all. According to Darwin, at the same moment in which the human being had a certain capacity for reasoning, he could have vaguely speculated about his existence. However, in the absence of a scientific method, curiosity, imagination and amazement predominated.

That is to say, the human being, curious by nature, was looking for an explanation of his own origin. Thus, in the absence of answers, religion naturally springs from the human mind, so that a cognitive science can be established in this respect based on anthropology, neuroscience and psychology, in order to explain the mental construction of a religious thought.

“I can not persuade myself that a benevolent and omnipotent God had intentionally created the ichneumonids with the express intention of feeding on the living bodies of caterpillars, or of a cat playing with mice. Not believing this, I see no need to believe that the eye was expressly designed.”

-Charles Darwin-

Other sources

In his work, Culotta names other interesting sources, for example, in reference to the study of the experimental psychologist Justin Barrett, of the University of Oxford. Following Darwinian theories, this professor discovered that there are functional properties in human cognitive systems that incline us to the belief in supernatural agents, that is, something like a god.

That is to say, that following the theories of Barrett, we can easily link with those of Darwin, since both consider that the elaboration and root of the religions are in a sophisticated social cognition.

In this regard, we can consult the psychologist at Yale University, Paul Bloom. According to his studies, the human being has a great capacity to imbue everything with spirituality, even inanimate objects. This is how it is added to all belief, desire, emotion and even consciousness, forming the nucleus of a religious movement.

All of them take as origin the theories of Darwin on the origin of the religions, that even comes to compare the follow-up to the existence of the gods with the love that a dog can profess for his master. Do notThere is no doubt that Darwin was the forerunner of these current professionals. According to this researcher, many societies showed their beliefs in the idea of the existence of a divinity, the search for spiritual or invisible agents.