Flying Monkeys Illustrate the Evolution of Religion (as I win a bike race against an invisible rider)

To get at the possibility of the evolution of spirituality let’s take a diversion into current attempts by evolutionary biologists to explain the evolution of religion. Pascal Boyer speculates that religion arose as part of evolving human cognitive abilities.

First, the mind evolved to the point it was able to imagine possibilities that do not exist in reality. We can consider counterfactuals. We can combine the stuff of thought in new ways that suggests possible worlds that really have no necessary tie to reality. Continue reading Flying Monkeys Illustrate the Evolution of Religion (as I win a bike race against an invisible rider)

This is your brain on spirituality

Note: For these next few posts I am assuming that evolution by natural selection is true. If you still harbor notions that Mormonism and evolution are incommensurable or that intelligent design has any validity I invite you to revisit some of of the earlier posts on this topic here, here, here, and here. For now we will just stipulate Darwinism’s truth.

This staatement from modern neurobiology sounds unsettling: Spirituality takes place by activating areas in the frontal and temporal lobes and turning down activity in the right parietal lobe. Continue reading This is your brain on spirituality

Sunsets, Chimps and the Evolution of Spirituality

Geza Teleki tells about watching a sunset when two large wild male chimpanzees meet near the top of a small hill. They stand up and shake hands in a very human-like way, then sit down and watch the sunset together. Watching sunsets is just something chimpanzees do and and it’s been seen by Jane Goodall and others. Why? Apparently for the same reasons we do. You don’t need language to enjoy beauty. In fact sometimes it just gets in the way.

Our capacity for spirituality must exist, in part, within our body. I believe this because I feel that getting a body was a necessary part of our eternal progression. When we have a spiritual experience, for example, I believe we are feeling something in our complete personhood. It’s just not our spirit feeling (whatever that might mean) or just our body. Spirituality must be an act of the union of these aspects of our complete person. Continue reading Sunsets, Chimps and the Evolution of Spirituality

Paradise Lost and the evolution of spirituality

I have been thinking about challenging questions at the interface between faith and evolutionary biology. In the next few posts I’m going to explore speculation in biology that religion and spirituality are evolved features of human cognition. What are the implications of that if true? Can we believe that and still keep our faith? Continue reading Paradise Lost and the evolution of spirituality