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Did religion give an advantage to pre-industrial revolution societies?

Did religion give an advantage to pre-industrial revolution societies?

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Garban 8 Feb 12

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Not religion per se, but the church. Church hierarchy foreshadowed the organization of civic government, introduced the concept of an office in which the power and responsibility was vested, and the person exercising it changed when the office holder did (vs. strict line of succession monarchies and fealty fiefdoms). By the time the industrial revolution rolled around, these ideas were already internalized in government structures.


If you have ever seen the incredible amounts of gold & silver in even modest old-world churches, and taken a moment to think about how it was squeezed from people who ate turnips 365 days a year, if they ate at all, all other questions including the suppression of medicine & science, pointless warfare/bloodshed of myriad kinds, torture/witch burning or anything else religion was solely responsible for, fades away. I could hear the screaming of the downtrodden, bamboozled & exploited for....NOTHING.


Relative to what?

skado Level 9 Feb 12, 2022

Yep, needs context.

The context is easy enough to work out for those who choose to do so imo.
I.e. WHAT advantages, note ADVANTAGES, did RELIGION GIVE/provide/ give to people in the PRE- Industrial Revolution Societies. Think about it @skado, THINK about it.


Maybe the art. That’s about it.

Renaissance art does have an inspiring impact. I think Michelangelo works would have been just as impressive in any secular setting.


Since many governments, even the ones that claimed they didn't, created obvious disadvantages for the non religious, or for religions they deemed the "wrong" ones, then of course religion was an advantage for those who practiced it correctly in the eyes of their respective governments and societies. This was the case both before and after the industrial revolution. In fact, the industrial revolution had very little to do with it, beyond creating more jobs for the poor. Nobody cared all that much about how the poor observed their spirituality unless they were caught committing a crime.

Deb57 Level 8 Feb 13, 2022

I believe that in some ways religion did give an advantage to preindustrial societies, and in other ways it did not.

My guess is most if not all pre industrial societies had religious based ideologies. After all, there wasn’t much science going on then….🤔

@Buck Exactly correct. So there would be no advantage between groups. The advantage would have been between having a belief system that facilitated cooperation and not having one. The funny thing is today it is those belief systems that are seeding rebellion against cooperation for mutual benefit.


While I tend to lean towards yes, I in reality am unsure overall. Religion is certainly a good unifier and status quo gaurd for those in charge, but at the same time, even that has it's limits.

I like the way you’re thinking. Objectively “as possible” evaluate Advantages vs disadvantages.
Was the organizing value worth the cost of maintaining a cumbersome organization?
Was the ability to unify the population worth the stagnation of free thought of the population?
Was the consolidation of power worth the the disenfranchised of the 99%.
My “overall” qualifier leads to the quandary of “advantage for whom”; my intent was for maintenance of the society as a single unit. Thanks!


But religion has outlived its usefulness

What was its usefulness?

Never was useful, what the f..k are you even talking about?

@creative51 It served a very useful purpose before science and logic took root….🤠

@Buck Fucking bullshit. It never had a useful purpose. It has always been a vehicle for consolidating power and control over people. All the other stuff which religion has, had, did or does, is fluff to disguise its real purpose. Anything good which happened from religion is a pure accident. Those good things clearly could have happened anyway without religion.

@skado to bring people together and make the tribe stronger

@skado, @Buck Exactly

@creative51 If only you stating that something is bullshit made it so.🙄

No need to bring people together now?
We are now all of one mind?

@NoSheep You are a dreamer living in fantasy land, if you believe religion did ANYTHING good


To the very privileged Few, Yes, to the majority, No.


The industrial revolution occurred relatively recently. I think religion probably had a unifying quality that likely served as a survival advantage in a much earlier time. It may well have served as a government system setting laws and standards in the abscence of any other system functioning in that capacity.

Religion was created to control the ignorant masses. It gave us government and all that goes with it both good and bad.

Those that conform always had an advantage. But it was Those that had independent thought that carried humanity forward and created progress.


What came first, the religion or the society?
Did society create religion after attaining a certain level of success? Or did having religion give the society the strength, possible cohesiveness to succeed?

OR like two of the Abrahamic religions, did they simply glob onto successful societies (Rome, Middle East) and like a leech, sucked it's life blood, lived off the fat of the land & technology, until the religions could take over? Like what is happening here. Right now.

I am thinking there are as many answers as there religions and societies

twill Level 7 Feb 13, 2022

Religion provided a sense of belonging and community, which was advantageous. However, that psotive aspect had a lot of negatives that came with it.


Which one and advantage over what or whom?

Chaos - without organisation provided by religious power and authority to curtail the actions of the working classes, then society (so far) remains in what we sociologists call 'mechanical'. Once a society expands into 'organic' it requires specialisation of labour as on one person can make everything they need.
Religion provides both power and authority for the upper classes to control the masses via rules from an even more powerful entity. This includes what is taught to the young so they become conditioned into not questioning the power of the gods.
Right now, science has given thinkers more power to question the gods and answer many of the questions of the universe allowing us to grow without a blind understanding of random sky faeries lies.

who woke you up? somebody mention advantage and disadvantage?

@holdenc98 You still smelling your crotch for insights on the world?

@Sofabeast "Religion provides both power and authority for the upper classes to control the masses via rules from an even more powerful entity."

That part there? I think it's bullshit. The fact that there are "powers that be" demonstrates that organization already existed. Religion did nothing except take the organizational predisposition of humanity into dark alley and abused it. I can think of nothing that religion has done for humanity and I don't see an 'advantage' in any gods. As far as chaos, religion does nothing IMO, to resolve it at all.

@redbai I suggest you explore the many, many references in sociology and psychology into the matter. Religion is a key pillar of society and part of our sociolisation bridging both primary and secondary stages.
From where does religion come from, that is an interesting question. There are a few small groups of humans which do not have gods to worship, but most societies over the past 8000+ years have them.
Going back to the question. 'Did religion give an advantage to pre-industrial revolution societies?' Then yes, as religion provides both power and authority for the upper classes to control the masses from an even more entity.
You may find it bullshit, but I'm still right. It is a key part of learning social sciences providing cross-over from psychology to sociology.
I'm going to be away for a few days, but I would be happy to explain in greater depth if you'd like to read.

@Sofabeast Oh, you're right? Didn't know that your response was not to be questioned?

"Religion is a key pillar of society and part of our sociolisation bridging both primary and secondary stages."

If you take one leg off a chair and substitute it with a stick embedded into the ground, the chair is no longer moveable, but it is still operable and the stick is a "key pillar" in the functionality of that chair. Doesn't mean something more suited to the task could not have achieved better results. I"m still waiting for a definition of the "advantages" besides the assumption that mankind would spiral out of control without the assumed stabilizing forces of religion.

Religions rationalized and facilitated slavery. Who knows where mankind would be if that wasn't something justified by the "powers that be" with an all powerful god? You are simply assuming that humanity has done something special by being where it is in the pursuit of civilization without demonstrating it.


What do you mean by advantage that they could suffer at the hands of the religious leaders. That they could be tortured and killed to entertain their religious leaders.

That is true, but the individual is not important. Religion can claim to be shepherding the masses and punishing those few who fail the gods.
Religion is very subjective on who is good and bad.


Some religions may have, some may have been harmful and a few may have totally destroyed their societies. Societies, states and cultures, in the past especially, were many and varied, as were religions.

Some say that for example, ( It is debatable. ) the ecology of Easter Island was destroyed, and with it the means to support a large population, by the addiction to making spirit statues of the ancestors, causing too much tree felling. That the Inca religious belief that their empire would only last ninety years, and that it would end with a visit from the gods, made them easy victims for the conquistadors. While on the opposite side, it is said that complex Buddhist marriage laws, may have helped restrict population growth among some cultures in the Himalayas, and thus made for a sustainable way of life. And certainly many early empires only survived because of the belief in holy god kings. It is all very complex.

You can only really ask the question with the qualifier, "overall" and I am not sure that you can even give a good answer to that, without a lot of subjective value judgments, or that the answer would be useful if you could.

Sorry to be a bummer.

No bummer. Being thoughtfully critical is not an offense! I can choose to use it or sulk like a child.

@Garban my pleasure.


Did religion facilitate or impede the technology that led to the industrial revolution?

An excellent question. Go start you own damned poll and stop trying to hi-jack mine!😁 I’m kidding.

Impeded, but during prehistoric times, it brought people together into cultures, which can be argued to be an advantage for survival.

@NoSheep Pre-historic implies no writing. I am reminded of the oral traditions of some American Indian tribes, and also those in ancient Greece that traveled about singing elaborate and mellifluous poetic songs of their history.

@Garban !!! Actually, as you see, I got zapped for not paying attention to your limit designating pre-industrial revolution. But furthermore, I would draw your attention to the role of religion in the 'Dark Ages'. Religion's hostility to knowledge and innovation are well known. If those are the criteria, even before the IR, religion's role is negative. See also Galileo.

@racocn8 sorry you feel zapped. I’m try to be neutral in this poll. I was guessing there would be a 50/50 split. I was WAY off.


My fist poll; sorry for the lack of context. Did organized religion provide benefits to the the society as a whole, to gain any advantage? economic, political, or otherwise?

Relative to post industrial revolution societies, or relative to possibly not having religion?

@skado Relative to an adjacent societies that were less “pious”. Thanks for putting so much thought into my poll.


Not so much religion, but the weekly community gatherings at places of worship. There people's voices were heard and amplified, those who spoke out against whatever was in charge. So in that way, yes, which is why I voted that. Many revolutions gained ground in this way.
Remember pre-industrial, the only communication was spoken word of mouth really. Printing was not existent or rare and only for the privileged few who could read.

puff Level 7 Feb 12, 2022

Those willing to look at the science, as opposed to retreating to the comfort of their personal mythologies, will see that religion did in the past, does in the present, and will continue to in the future, give Homo sapiens an adaptive advantage. This is necessarily at the expense of some personal freedoms, but for social species like H. sapiens, the group advantage outweighs the individual costs.

skado Level 9 Feb 14, 2022

An advantage in what?


With religion is full of haves and have nots. The haves are the few religious leaders and the have nots are the followers.

And the have nots are constantly sacrificing to keep the haves in the lap of luxury.


People would have overthrown the oppressors in a heartbeat if they had not been brainwashed to think doing so would send them to eternal punishment.
Continued servitude was laying up treasures in heaven.


It's always an advantage to be extant instead of extinct.

skado Level 9 Feb 12, 2022

I really can't think of any overall advantage it would give. I mean in some ways yes but in some ways the opposite so it's a wash in my mind.


Did organized religion provide benefits to the the society as a whole, to gain any advantage compared to adjacent societies that are less “pious “. economic, political, or otherwise?

I think this is a fucking stupid question. What are benefits? Name them. What are less pious societies? No I think you are trying to make us believe that you think deeply, when you are shallow as fuck.

@creative51 calm down cupcake. Participation is optional.

@Garban He has issues 👀

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