Mitch Presents on Darwin's Apple: The Evolutionary Biology of Religion

Religion has been practiced for tens of thousands of years and remains pervasive throughout the world. Despite some theories of to the contrary, we still lack an overall encompassing explanation for the origin of religion. To the detached observer (think Mr. Spock), religious behavior is a bizarre and senseless activity particularly from an evolutionary point of view. Religion seemingly fulfills no functional or useful objective. Yet, if science and evolution explain the derivation of life on earth, do they also explain all human characteristics, including religious behavior? I propose a new hypothesis for the origin and purpose of religion unconditionally and completely steeped in the incontrovertible theory of evolution.

**Please note the change in location. We have the Coop booked through March of 2014 so consider this our prime location for a while.

Our format is as follows:
Meet and greet from 6:30-7:15
Welcome slides plus "In the News" from 7:15-7:30
Main Presentation from 7:30-7:50
Q&A with presenter from 7:50-8:00
Social breakout from 8:00-9:30

Join or login to comment.

  • Tim

    It was an interesting presentation on a very complex and important question. It seems like one of those things that might have multiple answers instead of just one. Just like religion may just be part of human nature, so it seems is our tendency to favor simple answers to complex questions. If our physical evolution is any indication, our social and behavioral evolution could be a pretty messy process as well.

    1 · December 5, 2013

    • Susan M.

      Excellent points, Tim.

      December 5, 2013

  • Thomas P. H.

    I understood Mitch to say that religion is an irrational behavior that, to some extent all humans instictively engage in consciously or unconsciously. That behavior includes art, music, dance, etc. — all of which swamp conscious thinking.
    My thought is that some of this behavior (religious intolerance, sexism, spiritual charlatanism, etc.) is destructive. Atheists have typically used reason and logic to limit the mischief caused by religion. And if religion is strictly a thought process, pursuasive reason and logic should suffice. But if religion (and its political twin totalitarianism) is a behavior, then atheists should be looking for better tools.

    1 · December 5, 2013

    • Kennita

      Re persuasive reason, Jonathan Swift wisely said “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."

      December 5, 2013

    • Susan M.

      Better tools than persuasive reason and logic? It would be great to know that better tools exist. Have any suggestions?

      December 5, 2013

  • Larry G.

    I think Mitch is confusing spirituality, which even non-religious people can possess, and religion, which, at least by my definition, is something organized and guided by individuals at least claiming some kind of arcane knowledge. Primitives no doubt experienced both uplifting feelings at seeing the workings of nature, but also anxiety at things like storms and earthquakes. Their feelings are no doubt the outgrowth of their consciousness, but their religion comes from manipulation by others who, perhaps, first convinced themselves that they knew the why of things, and then set out to convince others. I guess we just don't agree on the definition of "religion."

    December 5, 2013

  • Kennita

    The premise that religion evolved in response to consciousness seems clear enough, and the slides were pretty, but the explanations seemed unnecessarily abstruse. From my POV, with consciousness comes the ability to see options, thence uncertainty and questions,which are uncomfortable. Religion offers simple answers to the questions, which alleviates the discomfort and lets you get on with life.

    3 · December 4, 2013

    • Kennita

      Hm. I think conscience is a sub-phenomenon of consciousness that arises from empathy. It causes problems for people whose goals involve injuring others.

      December 5, 2013

    • Kennita

      One annoying thing that religion can do is to offer a divine mandate to ignore or override empathy

      1 · December 5, 2013

  • Rich D.

    He seemed to equate religion with aesthetics. Maybe I was confused.

    December 5, 2013

  • Thomas P. H.

    The presentation software Mitch used was Prezi. It's free at http://prezi.com.

    1 · December 5, 2013

  • Brian B.

    Great group as always!

    December 5, 2013

  • Dana N.

    I found Mitch's presentation fascinating! I agree with him on consciousness, what a problem it is, and how delusional we are. I suspect that had a lot do with the creation of religious ideas. But I'm not sure if he was advocating excusing indivual religious views, or if he was suggesting it's even more complex than the social issues and beliefs.

    2 · December 4, 2013

  • Jason

    last minute customer call, might not make it. are these presentations recorded/archived?

    December 4, 2013

  • Erin U.

    Not going to be able to make it tonight. :(

    December 4, 2013

  • Brian B.

    I made a name tag for everyone who RSVPd tonight! Should be easier to find tonight so wear it with pride :)

    2 · December 4, 2013

  • Larry G.

    Do. I'll remember . . . and remind you.

    December 2, 2013

  • Kennita

    Can someone swing by 346 Roosevelt Ave. in Sunnyvale to bring me? The new place is a lot harder for me to get to, since I can't drive on freeways or expressways. I live about 1 mile from 101. Thanks!

    November 29, 2013

    • Larry G.

      Now I HAVE to remember to show up! ;^)

      December 1, 2013

    • Kennita

      Thanks so much, Susan and Larry! I'll remind you if you want.

      December 1, 2013

    • Steve

      so the best method for expanding the reach of religion is through war, conquest and imperialism? There's a loving god in action for ya'. I'll sign up for that.

      1 · November 30, 2013

    • Kennita

      You'd better! Because god loves the winners; that's why they won! So sign up and be loved, or dissent and die; sounds evolutionary to me.

      1 · November 30, 2013

  • Dana N.

    This sounds fascinating!

    2 · November 22, 2013

  • Susan M.

    Awesome topic!

    1 · November 22, 2013

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sometimes the best Meetup Group is the one you start

Get started Learn more
Katie

I'm surprised by the level of growth I've seen since becoming an organizer, it's given me more confidence in my abilities.

Katie, started NYC ICO

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy