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Jonathan Haidt über Religion

„If the gods evolve (culturally) to condemn selfish and divisive behaviors, they can then be used to promote cooperation and trust within the group. You don’t need a social scientist to tell you that people behave less ethically when they think nobody can see them. […] For example, people cheat more on a test when the lights are dimmed. They cheat less when there is a cartoon-like image of an eye nearby, or when the concept of God is activated in memory merely by asking people to unscramble sentences that include words related to God. Creating gods who can see everything, and who hate cheaters and oath breakers, turns out to be a good way to reduce cheating and oath breaking.“

„In other words, the very ritual practices that the New Atheists dismiss as costly, inefficient, and irrational turn out to be a solution to one of the hardest problems humans face: cooperation without kinship. Irrational beliefs can sometimes help the group function more rationally, particularly when those beliefs rest upon the Sanctity foundation. Sacredness binds people together, and then blinds them to the arbitrariness of the practice.“

„Sosi’s findings support Atran and Henrich. Gods really do help groups cohere, succeed, and outcompete other groups.“

„If religious behavior had consequences, for individuals and for groups, in a way that was stable over a few millenia, then there was almost certainly some degree of gene-culture coevolution for righteous minds that believed in gods and then used those gods to create moral communities.“

„This account – Wilson’s account – has implications profoundly different from those of the pure by-product theories we considered earlier. In Wilson’s account human minds and human religions have been coevolving (just like bees and their physical hives) for tens or hundreds of thousands of years. And if this is true, then we cannot expect people to abandon religion so easily. Of course people can and do forsake organized religions, which are extremely recent cultural innovations. But even those who reject all religions cannot shake the basic religious psychology […]: doing linked to believing linked to belonging. Asking people to give up all forms of sacralized belonging and live in a world of purely ‚rational‘ beliefs might be like asking people to give up the Earth and live in colonies orbiting the moon. It can be done, but it would take a great deal of careful engineering, and even after ten generations, the descendants of those colonists might find themselves with inchoate longings for gravity and greenery.“

„Societies that forgo the exoskeleton of religion should reflect carefully on what will happen to them over several generations. We don’t really know, because the first atheistic societies have only emerged in Europe in the last few decades. They are the least efficient societies ever known at turning resources (of which they have a lot) into offspring (of which they have few).“

(Jonathan Haidt: The Righteous Mind. Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)

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