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Religiousness as a Mental Tool in the Toolbox of Our Psycho-Physical Survival

Updated on June 26, 2017
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long student of psycho-philosophy of living, and a devoted practitioner of many techniques enhancing personal evolution.

Isn't Flame of a Candle Reminding of That Flame of Life in Us?
Isn't Flame of a Candle Reminding of That Flame of Life in Us?
Under the X-Rays even a Miss Universe Is only a Skeleton
Under the X-Rays even a Miss Universe Is only a Skeleton

Under a Scope of X-Rays

In a very short answer to the question of the title, all mentioned features of mental functioning are merely some of the acquired programs forming our automatic part of the nature. This is to say that the same mechanism of "storing data for future use" is at work.

So, whether we chose at one point to believe in a god or in a Santa Clause, or we learned to ride a bike, or we saw ourselves as deserving to succeed, or decided that "black looks good on us", or "we couldn't do without our morning coffee" - our brain is just putting all of them into the same "toolbox for psycho-physical survival".

Now, I am not expecting any objections about most of those mental items being clumped together in the same mixed bag - except from those folks of faith who find it hard to size the dignity of their beliefs down to something like "riding a bike".

Well, sorry folks, but even Miss Universe, when put against the x-ray machine looks like just another skeleton, and I am about to pretend to have that x-ray vision as I give a pretty mundane look at religious belief.

The Universal Truth Is Unfathomably Mysterious  -  Let Us Not Pretend to Understand It
The Universal Truth Is Unfathomably Mysterious - Let Us Not Pretend to Understand It

A Belief Reduced to Its most Humble Version

All of us presumably being people of certain logical capacity, we should agree that everything observed is a subject to a chosen perspective. On the other hand, if you choose to keep your faith in its pristine and unexamined form, then it won't matter to you how our brain is defining it, and you might even opt not to keep reading this article - it is written for those curious and exploring minds.

I am not your typical non-believer with a mission to debunk existence of god or make your faith nonsensical. As a matter of fact I believe in existence of universal intelligence - as I have stated in so many other similar articles - but my belief stays humble at that, since I don't consider myself smart enough to understand its unfathomable nature. My apologies for saying that, but - I don't consider any of believers as qualifying teachers to help me understand it.

Need for Religiousness Is another Tool in Our Survival Toolbox
Need for Religiousness Is another Tool in Our Survival Toolbox

In Business of Surviving

In order to bring religious belief - or any other belief for that matter - down to a level of mental processes, we have to attach it to that most prominent of all instincts in our default nature - survival instinct.

Since the most primitive times of our herding that instinct began to discriminate, by trial and error, among what was safe and useful for our survival - and that which wasn't. If you don't like this somewhat evolutionist introduction, I don't mind if we assume that we were "created" that way to have a survival instinct making that distinction.

One way or another, our brain got into a habit to "store for future use" all useful data about our survival. A function that we share with all other living beings, by the way.

We Carry Our Need to Be Protected over to Our Adulthood
We Carry Our Need to Be Protected over to Our Adulthood

Chronic Existential Paranoia

Now, since our brains happen to be much more developed than say, monkey's - or at least with most of us it seems to be true - due to the complexity of our life, our survival toolbox is much bigger than monkey's. Also heavier to carry around, due to our incredible passion to complicate our coexistence to the point where just about anything poses a threat to our well being.

Thus we are not only talking about physical survival, but also mental, as our mere interacting is triggering that fight-flight mechanism in our survival toolbox. (To be a little more "anatomical", that "box" refers to our lower, still animalistic part of the brain).

Whether we realize it or not, for quite some millennia, our brain has been in a constant paranoid mode of functioning, never at peace, always expecting something survival-unfriendly befalling us.

Like Father  -  Like Son, but who Is the Father of Whom?
Like Father - Like Son, but who Is the Father of Whom?

And so Man Created His God in His Own Image

At certain point in our adaptive attempts to mentally counteract that constant sense of being threatened, we came upon religious faith as a part of dealing with it. Just like our bodies are known to adapt, so does our mind with so called "defense mechanisms".

One of them is "optimism", another is "hope", and yet another is much more complex, as we summoned a heavenly father to protect us from perils of the life uncertainties. We gave him characteristics of a human father, even calling him that way.

So, our celestial father "loves us, protects us, punishes us, watches what we are doing" - and we also have to please him not to deserve punishment. Gee, my father was exactly like that, a strict dude, and you were never sure what of that was supposed to represent "unconditional love", and what was merely pissing him off about us being playful and imperfect kids.

Hey, Dr. Freud, is that why I never joined any organized religion? No, I don't think so. I just happened to be born with a very liberated mind for which I don't take either a credit or a blame.

Our Instinctual Fear of Dying Finds Its Defense Mechanism in Belief about the Afterlife  (whether True or Not)
Our Instinctual Fear of Dying Finds Its Defense Mechanism in Belief about the Afterlife (whether True or Not)

Acting as a Hypnotic Suggestion

Who would ever think that on our "gut level" the need for religion would stem from our survival concerns? Well, I know at least who wouldn't think this way, and the world is full of such folks rationalizing their fears and wrapping them up into something much more dignifying. That's probably why our default fear of dying finds so appealing that part of religious belief which is promising the eternal life.

People like to rationalize. Take a hypnotized person instructed to take his shirt off - then ask him why he did it. He'll say something like :"It's quite hot in this room". While we are at hypnosis, it's fair to say that every belief acts as a hypnotic suggestion, whether suggestion is making any sense or it isn't, like with that dude taking his shirt off.

Of Different Intellectual Appetites

By the same natural tendency to rationalize all of our beliefs, we are also wrapping our religious beliefs into a shiny package of metaphysical theorizing for which we have absolutely no evidence.

Aside from the high probability that there really is a universal creative intelligence involved in orchestration of all reality (whatever the true nature of it may be) - everything beyond it is a pure speculation.

Not because I say so, but because some geniuses out there are still seeking answers to the enigma of universe, life, and consciousness, not satisfied with the intellectual solution of taking a peek into the Good Book "with all answers".

Don't mind me saying that, but to many fine minds it's just not much of a challenge to simply kneel and believe. Regardless of what our scared hearts choose to see as true, some people simply can't settle for using their heads solely for wearing hats.

We Made It All a Convenient Mental Habit, or a Cult (which Is a Short for "Cultivation") to Rationalize Our Beliefs
We Made It All a Convenient Mental Habit, or a Cult (which Is a Short for "Cultivation") to Rationalize Our Beliefs

Ultimate Truth - Brain Is out of Its League

So far, I have been trying to suggest that universal intelligence and religion are two completely separate themes. What religionists see as "god" is a mind's construct, as opposed to the real thing that we are simply not wired in our heads to conceptualize.

That's right folks, we are not advanced enough to grasp the realm that's so out of our linear processing of reality that we are almost embarrassing ourselves by trying to. Could your mind accept that an electron can be at two or more places at the same time? I cannot, to me - it's "either here or there".

Like one scientist put it: "Reality is stranger than fiction". O.K., of course, we can all play geniuses, and we have been doing it for quite a long time by replacing "knowing" with "believing".

There Is nothing to "Believe" about a Plane Capable of Flying  -  Science Is Provable by Its Effectiveness
There Is nothing to "Believe" about a Plane Capable of Flying - Science Is Provable by Its Effectiveness

Provability in Science and Religion

Hence that crucial distinction between intimate and factual reality. Every so often another believer is arguing how "science is also merely a theory and a belief". Well, anyone making such statement must be forgetting a couple of facts.

One is that he is not riding to work in a heavenly chariot but in an automobile built upon certain scientific principles - not a theory that still has to be proven. And also, science is known to keep updating itself as new evidence comes up - while religious belief keeps insisting upon the same tenets.

Actually, faith would not be effective at all if it was allowed to deviate from one version to another. As we have reached this point of the effectiveness of religious belief, let's give it a little down to earth look.

Faith Is a Mental Tool, Like Hope or Optimism, not a Mental Reflection of a Fact
Faith Is a Mental Tool, Like Hope or Optimism, not a Mental Reflection of a Fact

Useful as much as Healthy Habits and Attitudes

Our five senses are limited in their range of perceiving this world, and our brains which are interpreting that sensory input are basically working on principle of conceptualization which is not giving us an ability to know what's beyond our range of that conceptualizing.

Since a brain-dead person can't be religious at all, we just have to agree that all our religiousness is our mind's construct, not some kind of reflection of divine truth in our souls.

Thus, our beliefs serve us only inasmuch as they contain positive elements benefiting our survival, like good habits, tastes, self-images, and life-skills. Faith can be invaluable as a form of placebo effect, helping us to feel safe, protected, loved by a celestial entity of our own make and denomination.

Being synonymous to hope, faith can contribute to our sense of peace and harmony, and if we choose to see it that way, it can give us a manual for moral values which we wouldn't otherwise know in our hearts. Fine with me, but I just happen to somehow know it without a guidance of a manual. To each their own, I guess.

Believing in Negative Entities Is a Trash Part of a Faith
Believing in Negative Entities Is a Trash Part of a Faith

Its Harmful Aspects

However, from the perspective of its direct effects on wellbeing, religious belief can be harmful to self and others with those of its elements which are negativistic by nature. Therefore : no suggested horrors of hell will do; and neither will babies already born as sinners, or evils lurking from everywhere, or god's punishment, guilt, harsh criticism of those of other beliefs, or debt to Jesus for his sacrifice.

Likewise, blowing ourselves up in the name of religion certainly doesn't look "life promoting", let alone as an act of "love for every human" as prescribed by the holy book. In my modest interpretation of religious faith, there is no bigger "evil" than consciously deteriorating the gift of life, which is the ultimate measurement of any reality worth knowing of.

Without a sound mental and physical health we are like out-of-tune violins that make it impossible for the best virtuoso to produce music - only a noise. Maybe a noise that reminds of these chaotic forms of our global interactions.

Every Preacher Is Very Much of a Human, and Very Little of a "God's Spokesman"  -  so Why Not Listen to the Sermon of Our Hearts Instead?
Every Preacher Is Very Much of a Human, and Very Little of a "God's Spokesman" - so Why Not Listen to the Sermon of Our Hearts Instead?

Being only Humans

Religious folks oftentimes get carried away by impersonating their deity and "speaking on his behalf" - while forgetting their ordinary status of imperfect humans generating imperfect thoughts, imperfect emotions, and consequently imperfect concepts of the ultimate reality.

I salute to those believers of a pragmatic mind, with a tendency to weed out all those negativistic aspects of their faith and thrive on the goodness of love, harmony, peace, humor, tolerance, and good health.

For, at the end of the day, it's all about our intellectual tastes, habits, self-images, and life skills catering to our psycho-physical survival. Anything above that is - at its best - poetry, and our spiritual drive to find a dignifying place for ourselves in this vast universe.

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    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 9 months ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yes, belief is a survival instinct. Early people had to believe they could survive a fight with a gigantic beast or they couldn't have killed them and eaten them.

      Today there is a belief in progress. It's a survival belief for a majority of Americans.

      If I didn't believe I made any sense, I wouldn't be writing this! I'd just give up.

      Etc.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 9 months ago

      Couldn't have anything to do with the God gene, VMAT2, that geneticists and clerics are arguing over, could it? Nah, one would have to believe that an extraterrestrial put it there or that there is a "God" who put it there.

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 9 months ago from Canada

      Dr. Billy Kidd - You got it right, survival instinct is taking many outlets, one being belief.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 9 months ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting take.

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 9 months ago from Canada

      MizBejabbers - I am not smart enough to lock horns with those fine geneticists, but it doesn't prevent me to give you my personal opinion which is somewhat different than theirs.

      I think that humans were "fathered" by ET's, and "mothered" by a humanoid creature, in a genetic engineering procedure. My reason for such belief is an unexplainable gap between those savage tribes of prehistory and sudden appearance of highly civilized societies of the ancient era with a technology which in some instances can't even be duplicated today.

      So, yes, I believe in the existence of something like a gene (or genes) in our genome that's mostly dormant, except in cases of some geniuses, where they got activated by a sheer biological fluke. That gene is dormant because of some other (still evolutionally) stronger animalistic part of our genome which work in other band of energy frequencies and a kind of inhibit the free expression of our ET genetic inheritance.

      And I do agree that the minimum activity of that gene from the background is predisposing humans to have spiritual - BUT NOT religious experiences. Like my hub is saying, religiousness is the result of an adaptive response to existential fear, whereas spirituality is an inner drive to explore our own depths of nature and find our place in the creative scheme of the universe. WITHOUT a deity involved, but with a solid belief that there is a universal intelligence, or "consciousness field" interfering with the quantum realm of infinite possibilities.

      Before it starts looking like a game of words, "god" as a concept in any religion is merely a mind's construct. "Consciousness", on the other hand, has nothing to do with any rituals, any moral positions, which are a subject to the culture where they are generated. To repeat myself from the hub above, (WITHOUT THOSE DORMANT ET-GENES BEING ACTIVATED) we are simply not wired to grasp the mystery and complexity of universal intelligence.

      Unfortunately, what clerics and geneticists are presently arguing over is only reshuffling of the concepts that are not descriptive of the realm of consciousness. We are measuring distances with pounds.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 9 months ago

      Vlad, I agree with what you have to say. When I discovered the ET connection, I devoured every writing I could find on the subject. That's why I wasn't surprised when scientists theorized that they had found a "god" gene in humans. I think the ET genetic engineering of their own genes with those of the existing humans, probably Neanderthal, were the explanation of the missing link. Also, we have to look at the possibility that the ETs held themselves out to be gods to their creation, and gene or no gene, voila, humans had to have a "god" to plug the hole in their (at that time) lack of spiritual existence.

      Now, when did certain humans actually become spiritual? Did the propensity for spirituality exist before the ET modification? There were several (some people say 5, some say 6) advanced civilizations that existed before the ETs, so any or all of them could have been spiritual. Anyway, as you say most humans "aren't wired to grasp the mystery and complexity of universal intelligence". Todays humans must live in the moment that we create for ourselves.

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 9 months ago from Canada

      MizBejabbers - About 15 or maybe 20 years ago I got in possession of a book that was hard to find - "Origin of Consciousness in Breakdown of Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes.

      I can't remember enough of it now to be able to discuss its ideas, but they contributed, (although not in their entirety) to my belief that man was fathered by ETs, and his ideas of a "god" generated from a poorly developed, if not absent consciousness which would eventually be developed by the push of ET-gene.

      Namely, in that distant past man's brain was producing auditory hallucinations of commanding voices from gods, and he didn't have introspective abilities to be aware of what was going on in his mind. It was a bicameral, "two-chamber brain", one ordering, other listening, very similar to the state of schizophrenia. He just obeyed, not knowing why.

      Then later on, as the needs for verbal communication outgrew that model of functioning because of an increased complexity of interacting, consciousness started developing.

      In my opinion, bicameral mind was the transitory state between the initially mostly animalistic toward the conscious mode of functioning - as the ET gene was pushing for its expression.

      From my observation of what is globally going on these days, that process is not done yet by far, and we can still see a lot of animalistic attitude and behavior ignoring those weak signals from ET gene - although some bright and promising individual examples are getting widespread in form of geniuses and spirituality.

      I think that man invented gods out of existential fear that I am mentioning in my hub, as an adaptive need to make those gods benevolent. (I did not include Jaynes's theory in my hub out of simple literary honesty to the author - since I don't feel called upon to interpret his ideas - but in this chat with you I don't mind mentioning it. You could have noticed that I rarely use big names as crutches in my hubs, as if to make my ideas more convincing. What I write comes predominantly from my mind).

      Anyhow, I don't think we had any predisposition for spirituality (as I am defining it as a god-less search for our meaning) BEFORE ETs' genetic intervention. To my understanding, spirituality is a sensed drive from ET-gene, its "cry for recognition and expression". It's not by accident that spiritual folks are drawn towards the practice of deep meditation where their animalistic aspect of being is lulled into sleep, resulting with all kind of health and mental benefits probably triggered by ET-gene (just partially) being allowed to express itself. - So, here are some additional thoughts in that matter. It's a pleasure chatting with you, MizB.

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