‘Religion’ is more than just a set of world-views.
There is a significant amount of evidence that some humans are ‘wired’ for religiosity: that their brains are ‘built’ so that their need for religious beliefs, practices and experiences is as physical as their other ‘human’ needs. This is why ‘religious belief’ is not an entirely voluntary thing…
‘Religiosity’ is a forseeable result of our social evolution – a feedback-loop, if you will, making it possible for humans to live in ‘unnaturaly’ large groups with top-down rules administered by an authority figure with minimal requrement for physical enforcement. Rules are essential for the functioning of early human societies: the individuals with the greater religiosity needs would submit to an authority figure’s rules through religiously-motivated self regulation. By reducing the need for social regulation through physical punishment, the authority figure is enabled to exert a great deal of control without the kind of revolt a physical enforcement of oppressive or invasive (or both) rules would elicit.
(Aside: OK – perhaps a better explanation is needed – but I do not want to go off on a huge tangent. So, let me be brief:
- our brains are capable of fully conceptualizing around 150 people – our ‘monkeyshpere’ – which is the ‘natural’ size of a human social group
- when we began to live in groups larger than our monkeysphere, we needed ‘social rules’ to govern our interactions with other members of our group, since we could not ‘know and care about’ each and every one in our group
- ‘religiosity’ is one of the evolutionary mechanisms through which this process is achieved)
Though many people are curiously resistant to the idea, ‘religions’ do not necessarily contain dogma about any deities, or afterlife, or any such concepts. Anthropologists and sociologists will confirm that in the past as well as in the present times, the one thing all religions share is belief is ‘powerful forces’ – whether these be physical or not. (‘God’ is just one paricular incarnation of these ‘powerful forces’.)
To paraphrase C. G. Jung, religions are concerned with things (including ideas and principles) that we believe important, powerful or beautiful enough to be recognized and or worshipped.
The following bit of news from Digital Trends therefore does not come as much of a surprise:
…Previously, the scientists had studied the brains of those of religious faith, and they found that, as Riley puts it: “The Apple products are triggering the same bits of [Brooks’ [‘an Apple devotee’s’]] brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith.”
“This suggests that the big tech brands have harnessed, or exploit, the brain areas that have evolved to process religion,” one of the scientists says.”
Which, really, really, really makes sense.