The enduring influence of religion

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Discussion by: Ospreywing

Why does religion, in the broad sense, have such stong, enduring influence in the history of human civilization?  Is there any other cultural or sociological way of thinking that has dominated human history as much as religion?  If so , why?

29 COMMENTS

  1. Group cohesion, a sense of belonging, power over others, lots and lots of candy (metaphorically speaking) e.g. virgins, treasure in heaven, eternal life, milk and honey, wine that doesn’t inebriate, certainty when faced with the irretrievably uncertain of the human condition, the desire for a better world, you name it!

    Socialism has been described as applied christianity, this and communism in some respects constitute a secular echo of religious sentiments and have been very influencial.

    If you have not read The Golden Bough by James Frazer I would recommend it just for the great deal of information about relgion and early forms thereof it contains.

  2. There is also another book titled The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark, a sociologist, that presents a methodical review of how religion (Christianity) has shaped our Western world. An interesting read.

  3. I have speculated elsewhere on this forum that there is an evolutionary advantage for most of a population to be unthinking followers. Followers are the worker drones that blindly support the tribe. This would possible provide an evolutionary advantage over a tribe of independent cantankerous thinkers. Militarily or scamming all the resources. So I wonder if there is not an evolutionary predisposition to follow the shaman and the chief, that now encoded in our DNA.

    I concur with Typhon’s comments as well. If you sell an idea to a mass of “followers” that they will live in 5 star luxury for eternity, that their near future fate depends on how subservient they are to the shaman, and if anything goes wrong, how it was their fault, not the shamans for not correctly obeying the rituals. In a pre scientific world of life and death, fight or flight, you’re going to get a lot of converts.

    But why does it linger on in a world where all the information you need to debunk it is a click away. That is why I suspect we may have a residual innate propensity to see cause and effect as the action of an outside agent.

    When I talk to people about any issue with a bit of depth, mostly they glaze over or quote Fox News. What is it about our brains that prevents us from deciding matters on evidence, not superstition. When the Jehovah’s Witness come knocking on my door, I am fascinated by the mental gymnastics they believe with passion, to justify what they are saying.

    There must be something in our primitive human psyche that allows the infection of religion to take root and flourish.

    Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private.

    p.s. What is a golf course like in heaven. Do they have sand bunkers. Do you get a hole in one on every hole like Kim Jong Il. Where is the challenge in that.

  4. Why does religion, in the broad sense, have such stong, enduring influence in the history of human civilization?

    It is because religious “tribes* conspire to favour their own kind and discriminate against, attack, or kill others.
    Once they have enough support they will launch attacks on rival cultures and try to eliminate rival philosophies. (Check out the crusades, and missionaries in Africa.)

    • In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:

      Why does religion, in the broad sense, have such stong, enduring influence in the history of human civilization?

      It is because religious “tribes* conspire to favour their own kind and discriminate against, attack, or kill others.

      Once they have enough support they will launch attacks on rival cu…

      That seems to be a simplistic answer because it doesn’t explain why religions would get any particular weighting in tribal conquest. Non-religious tribes could have fared just as well in such a scenario. A lot of questions would have to be answered to reach the point where we could answer the OP’s point, such as:

      Why would a species evolve that would invent religion, either as an adaptation or as a byproduct of its adaptations?

      Why are more people compelled by supernatural rather than by natural explanations for phenomena not yet explained? Is it a specific propensity towards supernaturalism in some contexts, do people go for supernaturalism across the board, or are populations mixed?

      How do ideas spread from culture to culture, and would religion have any special advantages in such transmission?

      Why would a species evolve that, instead of regarding ideas dispassionately and critically, could accept absurdities and treat the acceptance or non-acceptance of such absurdities as a moral issue?

      Why would a species evolve that made group membership conditional on accepting seemingly pointless and impractical ideas and practices?

      How do religions differ in their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to claiming the largest numbers of people?

      If the preponderance of religion is historically arbitrary, then what other factors would have coincided with it such that it came to be widespread? For instance, did it spread only because a religious precursor or precursors also happened to gain the technology needed for conquest and mass murder?

      To what extent does belief, practice, etc. count as a “religion” or fall more broadly into culture, superstition, etc.?

      • In reply to #6 by Zeuglodon:

        In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:

        Just picking out these aspects:

        Why would a species evolve that would invent religion, either as an adaptation or as a byproduct of its adaptations?

        Evolution is exploratory and opportunist, so it is likely religions arose in some places as tools of the leadership.

        Why are more people compelled by supernatural rather than by natural explanations for phenomena not yet explained? Is it a specific propensity towards supernaturalism in some contexts, do people go for supernaturalism across the board, or are populations mixed?

        So once it has arisen the question is how does the meme spread?

        Here is an example of the populations’ options in historical England!

        Under the 1559 Act of Uniformity, it was illegal not to attend official Church of England services, with a fine of one shilling (£0.05; about £16 today[3]) for each missed Sunday and holy day. The penalties for conducting unofficial services included imprisonment and larger fines. Under the policy of this time, Barrowe and Greenwood were executed for sedition in 1593.

        Upon Hutton’s death in 1606, Tobias Matthew was elected as his replacement. Matthew, one of James’ chief supporters at the 1604 conference,[5] promptly began a campaign to purge the archdiocese of nonconforming influences, both Separatists and those wishing to return to the Catholic faith. Disobedient clergy were replaced, and prominent Separatists were confronted, fined, and imprisoned. He is credited with driving recusants, those who refused to attend Anglican services, out of the country.[6][7]

        At about the same time, Brewster arranged for a congregation to meet privately at the Scrooby manor house. Beginning in 1606, services were held with Clyfton as pastor, John Robinson as teacher and Brewster as the presiding elder. Shortly thereafter, Smyth and members of the Gainsborough group moved on to Amsterdam.[8] Brewster is known to have been fined £20 (about £3.66 thousand today[3]) in absentia for his non-compliance with the church.[9] This followed his September 1607 resignation from the postmaster position,[10] about the time that the congregation had decided to follow the Smyth party to Amsterdam.
        Pilgrims (Plymouth Colony)

        Harassment and persecution of rival philosophies from within a political structure, looks a prime candidate. (Xtian Peace and good-will – allegedly)

  5. You’d have to study the basal format of religion (shamanism) and its application in a tribal society.
    The organised mythologies of civilization are pretty worthless for the determination of why religion seems endemic to the species.
    Certainly we aren’t wholly rational entities, we are subject to emotions. Perhaps the baseline appeal can be experienced via reading horoscopes or other forms of personality reading.

  6. the tribal mindset of what we call religion these days exists in lots of things, including political extremes like stalinism. it’s about belonging to an in group and the enduring influence has to be that it’s easier to be in than out.

    to be religious, you don’t even have to understand your religion, you can claim to undertand it and the tribe will accept you unquestioningly. if you try telling your tribe you don’t understand it they will challenge you. from my experience in religion, most of the accusations of blasphemy I got were not through subversive comments but genuine questions.

    it’s easy to not ask questions, especially when the group rewards you for it. as long as there’s a significant number in any group who are not cursed with a critical brain, the group will thrive. that’s why atheists don’t come out en masse, there are no mass deconversions, just individuals given enough time to think on their own.

    the long term prognosis for any religion, just like any organism or species, is its demise, as history has shown but some are driven to extinction by brute force, some just die out in an environment that no longer supports their view.

    I think these days if everyone stopped believing in piffle there would be less need for any type of superstition to fill the niche, we have books and TVs and X-boxes now. We could have an environment when not questioning holds no advantage, just no critical mass to enjoy it

  7. I hate to reiterate what others have already said, but the source of this influence and power lies within the psychological landscape of the believer in question. The following hypothesis is based largely on my personal conjecture, but it may hold some truth. We are all individuals. We all have our unique personalities, opinions, and things that we like and dislike. However, with that being said, people can usually be placed into one of two categories. (This is not to say that a spectrum containing gray areas doesn’t exist.) They are either “followers” or “leaders.” In my personal experience, most people are followers. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes quite a bit of sense. You only need a handful of individuals to lead a tribe if the vast majority of the people you’re leading are unthinking, subservient and complacent. Simply put, if everyone was a leader with strong personal convictions, a group mentality could not be established as easily and social structures would be loose and disorganized. This could lead to violence as a result of disagreement among those who competed for superiority or disbandment of the group altogether. I cannot recall it, but there is a term in psychology for the propensity for the majority of human beings to assume that someone else in a group will shoulder the burden of leadership. I have witnessed a “followers” mentality firsthand in people I have met. You know these people. They don’t like to be questioned. They don’t like to think twice about what they believe or why they behave a certain way. In fact, some of them react with annoyance or even hostility when presented with perspectives and ideas they may not have consider before, rather than open-minded, honest reflection. They are proud to be ignorant. They want to think and do what they want without thinking about it, even if it’s arbitrary, trivial or absurd. I understand that these kinds of people may be extremes, but these traits reside in all of us, to a degree. I think that, along with many other things, a strong sense of individuality and independence, coupled with a “leader” mentality, can potentially lead to atheism. If a person cares about truth, is willing to question something despite the fact that it purports to be the norm, and can think for themselves and escape the influence of others, they may wriggle free of the grasp of religion. Perhaps this is why atheists are sometimes portrayed as rebellious. I understand that this is usually a scheme contrived by religion to make nonbelievers look like bad people, but it may hold a nugget of truth. Maybe a slight rebellious streak is necessary to reject orthodox beliefs, such as religion.

    I would also like to add that this phenomenon may be a product of our culture. (I live in the United States.) Children (by teachers and parents, the most influential adults in their most impressionable years) are encouraged to “get in line” and to “do as they’re told.” Why? Submissive, obedient children who don’t question authority are easier to maintain. These children later become adults who do the same thing to their children. Conformity is praised. Anyone who fails to comply is branded with undesirable labels like “difficult,” “insubordinate,” “defiant,” or “strange.” Don’t agree with the majority? You’re a rebel and therefore a bad person. That’s a poisonous perspective. It decapitates individuality and retards progress. Just food for thought.

  8. I am layman but I would say that people need hope in time of crises and that they need to believe that life does not end at the grave this is why I believe that religion has endured so long. It is hard to face reality without a supernatural being. I hope this is part answers your question.

  9. Many of your responses to the question are based on relatively modern concepts. Heaven and hell, a punitive monotheistic god, organized tribal behavior, virgins in heaven, etc. I suspect that the answers may be found in the beliefs of the earliest members of Homo sapiens. What was life like for primitive humans who had no concept of how the world really works? It must have been filled with fear (enabled by an expanded brain) and suffering. How did humans adapt to this primitive condition? Did they begin to make up stories about their environment? Did they begin to develop certain beliefs that seemed to explain puzzling phenomena? Did they gradually invent supernatural forces to which they appealed for help — with sacrifices, dances, and “prayers.”

    What do you think of these ideas? Can you develop them further?

    • In reply to #13 by Ospreywing:

      It must have been filled with fear (enabled by an expanded brain) and suffering. How did humans adapt to this primitive condition? Did they begin to make up stories about their environment? Did they begin to develop certain beliefs that seemed to explain puzzling phenomena? Did they gradually invent supernatural forces to which they appealed for help — with sacrifices, dances, and “prayers.”>

      There’s amply evidence of this is Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World”. A life lived in ignorance of the real causes of natural phenomena is a very scary life indeed.

    • In reply to #13 by Ospreywing:

      Did they begin to make up stories about their environment? Did they begin to develop certain beliefs that seemed to explain puzzling phenomena? Did they gradually invent supernatural forces to which they appealed for help — with sacrifices, dances, and “prayers.”

      There are a couple of current examples that may shed some light on the answers. The Australian Aborigines have had a continuous culture in Australia for 50,000 years. The oldest in the world. The Aborigines make sense of their world by referring to a Dreamtime, that is prior to their occupation. Every rock, river, tree or animal, every natural phenomena, lightning, rain, astronomical features is explained by reference to the Dreamtime. Two animals fighting created mountain ranges. A snake slithering created river valleys. Kangaroo’s hop because they were chased by a Dreamtime dingo. Here are a couple of examples.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Serpent

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamtime

      This belief structure has a 50,000 year pedigree. As a culture developed and “Civilized” these Dreamtime explanations were brought forward and modernized to fit the society of the day. The Aboriginal culture never moved past nomadic hunter gatherer with stone and wood tools.

      The second example is the development of a fully fledged religion right before our eyes. The Cargo Cults of Melanesia that developed during World War 2. The natives saw aircraft landing and “cargo” being disgorged. Desirable nice stuff. They attributed this to the activity of the gods as what they were seeing could not possibly be explained within their culture. They build bamboo control towers. Cleared runways in the jungle to entice the cargo to come. A group on Vanuatu even wove Prince Phillip of England into their religion. He made a visit to some tribes. They received gifts. (Cargo). They now worship images of Prince Phillip and talk about the second coming when they will all receive heaps of cargo. They have priests and practices they perform to induce the gods to deliver the cargo. See here.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Philip_Movement

      I think these are real time examples of how religions develop. As to why they persist in an enlightened educated world, I have no idea. My only thought, articulated way above, is there must be some genetic propensity to believe in religions, possibly because it gave some evolutionary advantage over tribes that didn’t. Don’t know.

      • In reply to #15 by David R Allen:

        In reply to #13 by Ospreywing:

        Did they begin to make up stories about their environment? Did they begin to develop certain beliefs that seemed to explain puzzling phenomena? Did they gradually invent supernatural forces to which they appealed for help — with sacrifices, dances, and “prayers.”

        David, I had forgotten to thank you for your excellent post documenting the birth of a religion in modern times. The story of the cargo cult is most fascinating. I first heard of this phenomenon when I saw the bizarre but interesting documentary entitled “Mondo Cane” back in the late 60s or 70s. I think one can still rent this video in Netflix. It is a powerful and humorous film.

        Your idea that there may be some evolutionary advantage to religious or spiritual belief is worth pursuing. As I mentioned earlier, religion offers many believers a sense of comfort, safety, and relief from fear– fear of death, fear of god’s punishment, fear of eternal damnation, etc. It also promises the rewards of heaven. In other words, religion can reduce fear and anxiety, and enhance happiness (even induce states of bliss).

        Little of this is accomplished with neural systems that mediate logic or reason. It is achieved by a system that controls emotion and feeling states, that activates the so-called reward systems of the brain — releasing endorphins, enkephalins, oxytocin etc. It may also decrease the activity of other systems that cause fear, anxiety, panic, etc. The name of this brain area is the “limbic system” that includes many structures deep in the brain that are phylogenetically older than the surrounding neocortex. Psychologist Donald Hebb once described the human brain as primarily an organ of emotion, rather than the organ of reason that philosophers emphasize.

        And it makes sense. The limbic system is large, old, and finishes developing before the neocortex does. The frontal neocortex, which is especially important for reasoning, organizing, planning (so-called higher functions) doesn’t mature until the early twenties. In
        short, young people are more subject to emotional conditioning and even brainwashing than older people (think religion, military training, sports mania, etc.) When the rational brain finally catches up (finishes developing) to the emotional brain, a massive amount of emotional learning has occurred, some of which cannot be undone by any amount of logic or reasoning. A young person emotionally conditioned to believe in religion usually cannot reverse the effects of that conditioning (brainwashing).

        Perhaps David can tell us if this fits in with his ideas, and what evolutionary survival value it may have.

  10. Just because it has always been there in the background does not mean it had a strong influence. The things that has really influenced civilization is science, knowledge and expertise. Imagine how different the world would be without plumbing, electrical power, mass farming, refrigeration, etc, etc. Now imagine a world without religion and the only likely difference is that we would be a bit more civilized that we are now. Take away religion and the only thing you have left to believe in is Civilization, this is a good thing.
    Religion is the enemy of civilization. The united nations has clear figures (and graphs) showing as the Human Development Index (ie. Civilization Level) is inversely related to the level of religiosity.

  11. In reply to #16 by Catfish:

    Just because it has always been there in the background does not mean it had a strong influence. The things that has really influenced civilization is science, knowledge and expertise. Imagine how different the world would be without plumbing, electrical power, mass farming, refrigeration, etc, et…

    Of course, it’s true that science has made modern civilization possible. It has provided objective alternatives to supernatural explanations of natural phenomena. It has provided the basis for modern technology.

    And yet, religion is still going great guns, especially in America, which is at the forefront of science and technology. Why is that?

    I suspect that part of the answer is still fear. Americans have become obsessed with death to the extent that they have great difficulty even talking about it. Perhaps the fears of primitive humans about environmental phenomena have been replaced by other fears like death and eternal suffering in hell. As religion became more organized and institutionalized, it spread the word of new fears, of punishment by the gods for human sins. The Catholic Church invented what is perhaps the most evil of dogmas — that of original sin, with which every innocent human being is born and which serves to make every person slave to that religion.

    Other factors are also at work to keep the faithful “holy.” Typhon mentioned group cohesion as a major force. I agree. Much of religious behavior seems to be socially driven. Attending church in America is a highly social enterprise, which creates strong social bonds that have little to do with religion. I wonder how many people would retain and practice their faith, if they were asked to worship in solitude (just between god and human).

    Other factors include the comfort that religion brings to some people, the common belief in an afterlife that can make up for all the suffering on this earth, the idea that a supernatural being was required to create the universe, and that a personal god watches over us (but often decides not to intervene even in cases of extreme suffering).

    Additional comments would be very helpful.

    • *In reply to #17 by Ospr: I agree with you that fear is, perhaps, the foundation of religion’s endurance. I suggest another factor: Ignorance of the people during the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages. Mostly clergy could read, and they told the faithful that the church was the way god communicated with them and that the clergy were god’s voice. Obey or go to hell! For about 700 years the people were brainwashed by the church, and I think it’s possible something happened to human DNA — maybe — and we have carried it on. Just a thought, but the church probably created some very severe archetypes that follow us around.

      • In reply to #27 by Froggy LeSeuer:

        Obey or go to hell! For about 700 years the people were brainwashed by the church, and I think it’s possible something happened to human DNA — maybe —

        Almost certainly not. 700 years is a microsecond in evolutionary time. For a species as complex and that takes as long to breed as humans it’s very doubtful any meaningful change to DNA for such a complex behavior as religion could emerge in that time span.

  12. One reason is that some significant subset of humanity has always had mystical experiences that affect them strongly, and religions give them a way to make sense of them. Since the world has always been and remains beyond our rational understanding, I don’t see this phenomenon going away; it will just be given different names. That goes for the scientifically knowledegable too — see, for example Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”, which is a pretty powerful attempt at creating a “scientific pantheism”, if you ask me. In fact Sagan admitted as much in “Pale Blue Dot”:

    “A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”

  13. Typhon sad it very good. But I do not agree what she/he said about socialism. I would said that it is a vice versa. Christianity has been based upon first human communities which are naturally socialistic. :) Socialism is a natural tendency of a human beings. Before came agricultural community of people, there was a naturally state of human communities – socialism. :)
    Christianity has just some elements of socialism. Socialism is not about having a power over somebody, that is a latter invention of now capitalistic church. :)

  14. But I think that religion is offering a sense of security, which is fundamental feeling important for humans. Security in a herd, with like-minded, a beautiful ability to renounce responsibility for their actions (like children in constant need of a parents). I think that a feeling of security is a key. Religion is offering statements about life, and origin of life, statements about existence that are like axioms in mathematics. That is what provides security. Statements from their “father”,… they are not something upon which you can discuss. They are not even trying because there is comfort in having a framework where you can do whatever comes to your mind without having to be answer for. Responsibilities will take someone else.

  15. If you glance though out history, you’ll find that in most wars and battles, the worst ones or the bloodiest ones are the ones regarding religion, because those people fight for an inner cause, deep in their mind and “soul” (in the figurative language). And that is very, very strong, and deep within them.
    I believe that as cold and raw as it may sound, some people are “stronger” than others. Some people can bear to hear the truth, while some others can’t. I am a anti-theist. But I don’t believe people are ready or “strong” enough. (Smart enough) to live in a world without religion.

    • In reply to #22 by PaolaLavin:

      If you glance though out history, you’ll find that in most wars and battles, the worst ones or the bloodiest ones are the ones regarding religion, because those people fight for an inner cause, deep in their mind and “soul” (in the figurative language). And that is very, very strong, and deep within…

      AS much as it would be noble to think that the greatest wars are over religion that is just not the case. The Lay people are told it is for religion and the lay people may fight for their god or they may fight just to fit in, but the elite who start and command the wars are indeed out for money or to push blame on foreigners think about the Crusades simply out to blame the muslims for the dark ages so they start a war and just so happen to get rich off of it.

      Think about WW2 germany uses the war and religious persecution to blame their economic depression on and use that to justify an attack on the rest of europe all in the search of ultimate wealth. or Think about the opium wars or perhaps even the drug wars currently going on in south america. All a game for money. No real religious purpose.

      • In reply to #24 by BenCarollo:

        AS much as it would be noble to think that the greatest wars are over religion that is just not the case.

        I agree. Or at least I agree that finding any war that you could say was ONLY about religion is probably difficult if not impossible. Because war — like most phenomena involving human intentions is complex. Any analysis that says War X was caused by Y where Y is just one factor: ethnic strife, racial hatred, religion, conflict over resources, etc. is bound to be overly simplistic. There has seldom been much serious violence between white catholics and white protestants in the US but look at the conflict in Ireland. Surely religion had a lot to do with that but also obviously (since they get along in other parts of the world) there were other causes besides religion.

        If you actually look at the real statistics on war and terrorism you find something quite different than the usual stuff that gets printed on this site from people like Harris. Muslims aren’t the only nor even the worst offenders in the history of the world when it comes to terrorism and certainly not when it comes to state sanctioned violence.

        I think that as with many other issues Dawkins got this right although many of his followers often ignore what he wrote. In the God delusion he was clear that there are many other causes for wars besides religion. His point was that in most of those other areas there is at least room for rational debate. You can have a rational analysis about water or oil and come to some negotiated settlement that would still be far better for everyone than a war. But when you get into religion rationality by definition is thrown out the window which makes it more likely things will escalate toward violence.

        • In reply to #25 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #24 by BenCarollo:

          AS much as it would be noble to think that the greatest wars are over religion that is just not the case.

          I agree. Or at least I agree that finding any war that you could say was ONLY about religion is probably difficult if not impossible. Because war — like most ph…

          Indeed i think religions creates an environment where war is possible by creating arbitrary differences between groups of people for example 9/11 was an attack on US companies exploiting middle eastern countries but the US responded with grouping all muslims together and attacking any country in the same region of the world. If we were more secular it would likely have been more difficult for george bush to invade Iraq and we likely could have redirected more social aid to that region rather than attack them.

          Secularists tend to root out the true cause and fix it where religion allows for blind violence based on the dehumanizing of people with arbitrary differences like religion. In that way religion does not cause war but facilitates it.

          • In reply to #26 by BenCarollo:

            In reply to #25 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #24 by BenCarollo:

            AS much as it would be noble to think that the greatest wars are over religion that is just not the case.

            I agree. Or at least I agree that finding any war that you could say was ONLY about religion is probably difficult if not impossible…

            Exactly. It was the same in the Cold War also, religion was used to help define the boundary between US and THEM. BTW, the same thing I was saying about religion I think applies to the causes of 9/11 as well. Obviously religion had something to do with it but — just as obviously, for anyone who doesn’t see the world through a lens where religion is the only evil in the world — US imperialism and many perceived and real crimes against Islamic people during the Cold War were a cause as well.

  16. Human Beings Have been around for about 200,000 years, in truth we have only had dogmatic religions for about 10,000-12,000 years, this does not really represent a big or enduring influence, but in reality it is easy to see how “religion” has influence if you simply look at what religion say, good people get rewarded, bad people get punnished, in other words rich people are rich because they are good poor people are poor because they are bad. If you are good you can be rich if you are evil you will be poor.

    Thus you can see why it has been intentionally pushed and preeched by the wealthy simply because it justifies their existence, it is not a coincidence that these sorts of religions cam along right about when agriculture became popular, it is just using fictional charaters to justify the actions of the rich and powerfull, Take for example George W. Bush’s insighting of the book of revelations to justify a war in Iraq. Religion is a lie the powerfull tell the weak in order to paralyze what would otherwise be a threat to their injustice.

    Another good example, after the enlightenment era when people sought out secular beliefs it was only short after that the american, french and communist revolutions took place. Because the people no longer believed that god was the political authority, they realized that they the people should be the political authority.

    Look at todays religious people, they with easy subdue what ever real thought they may have on the benefits of abortion or stem cell research or prostitution and blindly follow whatever their local preist tells them out of fear of being eternally torchered.

    There was no need for this sort of large scale manipulation in early egalitarian cultures. Rather they had vague beliefs about the wills and spirits of nature and a sense of responsibility to the earth and to others.

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