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Thread: Religion is genetic now?

  1. Top | #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by joedad View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

    We inherit brains and their inherent and variable capacities, not specific behaviors. How do you imagine you came out an atheist? You and you alone defeated your biology by sheer strength of will?
    Nature is constantly serving up new recipes for what constitutes human. My atheism is hardly something unexpected. Had I been born in Medieval Europe I'd have been burned alive. I'd certainly call that selection pressure.

    We are born with differences in our brains, personalities and tendencies, same as we are born with more physical differences like height, hair color, etc., but they are all physical differences that manifest as behaviors. We inherit much from our parents who inherited from their parents who inherited from their parents etc. That's basic biology 101. But the environment is constantly selecting for and against those behaviors.
    So your position is that your philosophy is a genetic variation?
    How does one engage in philosophy without first inventing biology? All biology is physicality and is a product of natural selection. So the answer to your question is yes.

    A person who does not include the mental with the physical will disagree and will be incorrect. Everything mental is physical.

  2. Top | #22
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joedad View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

    So your position is that your philosophy is a genetic variation?
    Any behavior has a physical cause. Is there something neither behavioral nor involving physicality that is not philosophy?
    So... yes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by joedad View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

    So your position is that your philosophy is a genetic variation?
    Any behavior has a physical cause. Is there something neither behavioral nor involving physicality that is not philosophy?
    So... yes?
    Woot! Agreement!

  4. Top | #24
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    I didn't say I agreed

    Even in simpler organisms than we, it is brains, not behaviors, that are inherited genetically. The constraints this process leaves on our brains are real, and lead to strong predictability of behavior. A wolf will try to hunt in more or less the same way throughout its life, for instance. Stalk, ambush, corner, go for the neck. However, it is also more than capable of learning new tricks from other wolves, solving a novel problem none of its ancestors encountered, or simply improving through experience.

    The same is true of humans, except that there is the added complication of culture, which is a form of shared knowledge and symbolic reasoning which ignores genetic ancestry entirely, and instead transmits through social connection (This is why most supposed "racial" behavioral traits don't show up in children adopted cross-culturally for instance). Instincts give you some basic rules, one hell of a capacity for empathy and learning, and the apparatus of language. These traits have made us extraordinarily successful species without need for the slow pruning of instinct through natural selection, and indeed many individuals are kept alive by their social connections who on their genetic inheritance alone would never make it to adulthood.

    This communal, semiconscious and symbolic apparatus is evolution's greatest gift to the human genome. So you don't need to explain individual behaviors with genetic traits, unless you have reason to believe it is an autonomic function such as the breathing instinct. Otherwise a more complex model of the brain in which instinctive factors play a role, but whose expression is modified greatly by experiences after one's birth, is more appropriate.

    To put it another way, not all "physical" factors are "genetic" factors, if "genetics" can produce an organ capable of learning for itself over time. Brains aren't mystical, their programming is (in my opinion) well within our capacity to describe through empirical observation. But neither are they simple.

  5. Top | #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I didn't say I agreed

    Even in simpler organisms than we, it is brains, not behaviors, that are inherited genetically. The constraints this process leaves on our brains are real, and lead to strong predictability of behavior. A wolf will try to hunt in more or less the same way throughout its life, for instance. Stalk, ambush, corner, go for the neck. However, it is also more than capable of learning new tricks from other wolves, solving a novel problem none of its ancestors encountered, or simply improving through experience.
    Yes. And the ability to do those new things is made possible in its genes. It cannot fly or grow a trunk, however, behaviors it simply cannot express, just as you say.

    The same is true of humans, except that there is the added complication of culture, which is a form of shared knowledge and symbolic reasoning which ignores genetic ancestry entirely, and instead transmits through social connection (This is why most supposed "racial" behavioral traits don't show up in children adopted cross-culturally for instance). Instincts give you some basic rules, one hell of a capacity for empathy and learning, and the apparatus of language. These traits have made us extraordinarily successful species without need for the slow pruning of instinct through natural selection, and indeed many individuals are kept alive by their social connections who on their genetic inheritance alone would never make it to adulthood.
    So you don't think the ability to engage in culture has a specific genetic predisposition, a physical arrangement of what makes our brains and the rest of our bodies? Culture, btw, to some degree exists in all organisms, same as intelligence. Sagan touched on this nicely somewhere in his writings.

    This communal, semiconscious and symbolic apparatus is evolution's greatest gift to the human genome. So you don't need to explain individual behaviors with genetic traits, unless you have reason to believe it is an autonomic function such as the breathing instinct. Otherwise a more complex model of the brain in which instinctive factors play a role, but whose expression is modified greatly by experiences after one's birth, is more appropriate.
    I suppose we'll just have to disagree on that one. I cannot imagine any behavior, however complex or simple not being genetically and therefore physically enabled. The potential at least must be hardwired. Whether it expresses is an environmental interaction, if it is there at all. Not all humans possesss the same ability to be "cultural" anymore than they possess the same ability to be 6 feet tall.

    To put it another way, not all "physical" factors are "genetic" factors, if "genetics" can produce an organ capable of learning for itself over time. Brains aren't mystical, their programming is (in my opinion) well within our capacity to describe through empirical observation. But neither are they simple.
    Brains aren't mystical. That much is certain. It is interesting to note that over half of the human population sees "mental" as different from "physical." I think that demonstrates a strong inclination toward woo within our species, obviously a behavior naturally selected for.

    Some have argued that it isn't genes but rather hormones that affect behavior in many cases. Certainly hormones are physical, and certainly if not produced by the organism they are obtained within the organism's environment. There is no escaping that reality, and it's all physical, at least to many people.

    I just see humans constructed like any other physical structure. We have similarities but the functioning of that structure is set. Species, however, being biological have the ability to mutate, unlike my automobile.

    We seem to agree on far more than disagree.

  6. Top | #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Jewish cultural norms mean that it's been historically common for them to inter-marry, which means that their culture is somewhat isolated, and that there should be somewhat distinct markers in their genetics. This has nothing to do with the religion, everything to do with the culture and the low rate that they meld with other cultures.

    If you were to take any group of people and isolate them from other populations for a couple thousand years you would start to see them diverge genetically in certain ways.
    In the case of Jews, religion is more or less hereditary because they aren't commanded to proselytize, unlike the other 2 Abrahamic religions.

  7. Top | #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    It is not genetic, but it is frequently inherited. In the pre-Enlightenment years, most people in the world tended to assume that religious affiliations and responsibilities were an assigned, not chosen, trait. So it is not surprising that we get confused about connections between the things one receives from family socially as opposed to biologically. Other common examples include ideas about social roles ("it's natural for..."), nationality, and "race".
    As far as genetics go, there are theories out there that will predict religiosity being more prevalent among those with lower general intelligence. So in that sense it's partially genetic in a more indirect way.
    I think you mean hypotheses; theories by definition have been empirically tested and not discarded. Intelligence is itself a deeply problematic concept from a scientific point of view, a largely subjective judgement that relies heavily on models of cultural expectation. One can be demonstrably skilled at a specific task, but choosing which tasks are important when making essentialist value statements about others is an inherently arbitrary process.
    General Intelligence is not a scientifically problematic concept. It is problematic when people want to impose subjective value onto it, which most research on intelligence does not. Such as when people interpret "general intelligence" to mean everything of cognitive value about a person. The only people who draw that implication are those trying to create a strawman, so they can reject the concept of general intelligence, which they don't like for purely ideological reasons.
    It is also problematic when one ignores the scientific distinction between a "skill" and "intelligence", which a more general ability to be able to acquire knowledge and apply knowledge in order execute a skill. Again, this blurring of the lines between skills and intelligence is done almost entirely by ideologues who don't like the idea that people differ in some way the impacts cognitive performance on a general level.
    General Intelligence refers to the potential to learn and reach sound conclusions given a set of facts, and being better able acquire skills that depend on knowledge and reasoning. But whether that potential is actualized for any given domain will depend upon whether the person has the opportunity and motive to make use of their intellectual abilities to acquire that knowledge and reason about it.

    The concept of "Multiple Intelligence" is actually what lacks any scientific grounding, precisely because it sloppily confuses the distinct concepts of ability to reason in novel situation and to acquire knowledge and skills given the opportunity with actually having specific knowledge and skills. Martin Gardner's notion that being a good dancer is a form of "intelligence" ("bodily-kinesthetic intelligence") is among the most idiotic ideas ever to come out of the field of Psychology and few who actually research human cognition take it seriously.

    General intelligence refers to a set of very basic information processing abilities that tend to be relevant for learning and reasoning across many domains. But of course, moderate general intelligence combined with high level of exposure to and practice within a specific domain can produce the same level of skill within that domain as a high level of intelligence and moderate practice. IOW, "skill" level is a domain specific outcome that can be produced by various combinations of inputs, including 1) amount of domain-relevant experience, 2) level of general abilities to take advantage of whatever experiences one has, and 3) motivational/goal-related/emotional factors that impact how much effort one puts into applying one's ability to take advantage of experiences.

    When the "skill" is for a physical action, then physical abilities come more into play, when it is an intellectual action, then intellectual abilities (e.g., intelligence) comes more into play.

    Getting back to the intelligence-religion issue, there is scientific evidence suggesting that atheist have higher general intelligence, and that this relationship holds across countries. This is because the idea of God is rather absurd and cannot stand up to reasoned thought. That is why theism wanes wherever scientific knowledge is spread, the skills to reason are fostered via education, and people are given the liberty to use their reason to decide about God for themselves rather that coerced into it with threats, which is the main function of organized religion and their founding doctrines.

    However, there is also evidence that atheists differ in both the other 2 types of factors I mentioned above. They have more experience with the kinds of critical thinking involved in education (more likely to attend college, and go to better grade-schools due to the SES-religiosity correlation), and are more likely to adopt a cognitive thinking "style" that actually makes use of their reasoning skills.

    The latter one is refers to studies such as this one showing that atheists are more likely to get problems correct that have an intuitively appealing wrong answer. For example, take the problem:

    “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the
    ball cost?”

    The answer of "10 cents" springs immediately to mind for most people, both atheists and theists alike. However, theists are more likely to just stick with that intuitive answer, but atheists are more likely to doubt their initial intuition and check it via analytic reasoning, which leads one to the correct answer of 5 cents. (note that this tendency to go with wrong initial intuitions and not check them via analysis is measured not just with this 1 problem, but several that share this property of having an intuitive answer that comes easily to mind, but is easily shown to be incorrect if the person applies a bit of analytic thinking).

    The math itself is rather easy, and the theist can be shown to understand it if you give them a different problem without the misleading intuition. Plus, the research statistically controlled for differences in IQ, education, and SES. Thus, the difference is not due to a difference in intellectual ability, but in one's motivation/disposition to use one's intellectual skills and to be skeptical of one's own intuitions.

    They did other studies that showed that this tendency to stick with the intuitive but objectively wrong answer did not predict what religion your parents tried to raise you with, but rather predicted the the person had strengthened those religious beliefs since childhood, in contrast to the people rejected the intuitive and arrive at the analytic answer who tended to have weakened in whatever religious beliefs they were raised with. They even used an experimental manipulation to temporarily put people into a mindset that was either positive or negative toward relying on "instinct/intuition". They did this by having people describe in detail a situation where their intuition/first instinct led them in the right direction and had a good outcome, or led them in the wrong direction and had a bad outcome.
    Even though nothing in the experiment had mentioned "God", this simple difference in describing intuition positively or negatively caused a difference in how strongly people later said they believed in God. Of course, people will quickly return to their default way of thinking, so it was only temporary, but it shows a direct causal impact of being more postive toward intuitive thinking and believing in God.

    Why would this be the case?
    We are aware of our own and others' intentions and goals and how they shape the way we impact the world and the things we create. This makes the idea of super-human God whose intentions and goals create and shape the universe spring easily to mind and have strong intuitive appeal. Yet the fatal logical flaws of this explanation for the world and its blatant self-serving egocentrism become undeniably obvious with the slightest application of honest analysis and self-questioning. Thus, people more prone to stick with easy intuition, and not prone to analysis of their own intuitions are those mostly likely to maintain the theistic beliefs across their lifespan.

    In sum, there is a good amount of scientific evidence that both general cognitive ability to reason and general tendencies to apply the reasoning ability that one has will make one less likely to be a theist and weaker in any religious commitments one was socialized to accept. Separately, there is evidence that a tendency to be religious is partially linked to genetic influences. As you correctly point out, this is clearly not some direct genetic coding for specific religious beliefs. Rather it is explained by the other research showing that both intellectual abilities and motivation-related thinking styles have some genetic influence, which then in turn influence religious beliefs.

  8. Top | #28
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    It may be generic in the sense that 'birds of a feather flock together'. A genetic need to be in a hierarchical power structure.

    The Abrahamic god is the ultimate alpha male. Look at how male Republicans kow tow to the aggressive alpha male Trump. They piss on themselves in joy.

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