The existence of religion in all of the world's major societies is the result of the process of Darwinian natural selection. Religion is a set of beliefs made by the elders in a society to enforce the moral values necessary to preserve the society which exploits a belief and supernatural powers to enforce “the rules.” Societies with religion were more likely to survive than those without because of the community, compassion, lack of anarchy or murder, family structure, etc. enforced by religious beliefs.
In a primitive society, without modern methods of transportation communication, religions could not conflict. In fact, religions were necessary to build the societies stable enough to bring about the technological advancements needed to bring them into conflict. However, in the modern world, the deep set beliefs in supernatural powers that have led people to build modern society cause more harm than good, because people are willing to fight and die to force their beliefs upon others in a time when science and technology have reached levels high enough to refute or make obsolete the claims of supernatural powers on which those beliefs are based.
In the modern world our survival often depends no more on our neighbors than on others around the world. Many of the rich have no contact with their poorer neighbors, and disregard the dictates that religion had for building communities were people help each other. In more primitive times the lack of such help would have led to stealing, without any judicial recourse. Yet it is also now just is easy for us to assist those on the other side of the country or the world who are worse off than our poorer neighbors. This globalization of community and the utilitarian arguments based on balancing diminishing virtual utility of money with an incentive system are the main arguments for global (eventually) government-sponsored redistribution of income.
- 1998 August 24
(Back to Views, David Baron)