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Religion isn’t something designed by an oppressor class to “control the masses.”
It was designed, either directly or indirectly, by evolution, and is an indelible part of human nature. Or at least that’s the scientific view.

Part One:
“And though this history doesn’t determine us – for with each new phase in life’s story comes greater power of agency – this bio-cosmological history influences everything we do and are. Even the most seemingly autonomous human decision is made from within history. That’s the big picture here. That’s what we’ve been keeping in mind as we made our way back in time to the evolutionary seeds that would eventually – and quite slowly – blossom into human religion.”

Part Two:
But what about religion’s future? Some people argue that since we know how and why religion evolved, we’re now able to leave behind such childish, primitive things.

Some even argue that it’s in our best interest to do so because religion, like a virus, has infected our species and caused us to enact horrible atrocities the world over. Better to leave it to science and rationality to help us forge our way ahead. But this perspective is shortsighted. For one thing, science itself is not neutral, and it has facilitated some of the worst modern phenomena, including eugenics, the atomic bomb, and drone warfare. Should we also leave science behind because of its checkered history? Of course not.

Our criticisms of human institutions shouldn’t blind us to the positive contributions those institutions have made across the globe. None of us should deny either the ugliness or nobility found in the deep history of religion. Instead, we should acquaint ourselves with that history, appreciate it where can, interrogate it where we ought, and, with both eyes open, trek on toward the future opening up before us.

skado 8 May 31

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I don't think it was designed to control the masses... anymore than TV or the media or science were designed for that purpose.

But it is accurate to say that they have all consistently been usurped for just that purpose and thus any analysis of religion (or TV or science) would be incomplete without taking that into consideration.


You are oddly intermingling science & religion. Religion could Easily be left behind in a generation with proper education (not like the USSR tried to do it, by edict/coercion)
Science is not a belief system that could be abandoned, why discuss it as if it could be? And why act like scientific discoveries have intrinsic "goodness" or "badness" is the Utilizers of discoveries (us!) that cause results!


All scientific research is open to peer review. So just because someones comes to one conclusion, so does not mean that others will reach the same conclusion.


"It was designed, either directly or indirectly, by evolution, and is an indelible part of human nature. Or at least that’s the scientific view." How can that be "...the scientific view.", if it cannot be shown by experiment that it is true (proven).


That is not science, but hogwash. At a time when the range of human knowledge was limited and the range of tools to deal with an environment which humans did not control, humans often felt powerless, weak, and ignorant. That is a most unpleasant situation for any human -- almost intolerable. To compensate, they created false gods that were proclaimed to have the wisdom and control. Then, be aligning themselves with those false gods and worshiping them, they believed that they would gain the favor, access to control and wisdom of the mythological beings.

Then priestly cults arose which created myths, dogma, and rituals. That gave those priests power and control which they used to control the minds and actions of the believers. That pattern is the same for almost all religions in human history. But, it did NOT aid in human evolution. It is and always has been a deterrent to effective response to the environment, and an obstacle to real human advance..


Do you really believe this post, or are you playing devil's advocate?

It comes across as back-handed support of religion.

I have always felt that anything that explains, justifies, excuses or validates religion, even if one rejects it, makes it stronger. Like Captain Kirk standing up to "Apollo" we need to mock, jeer and laugh at religions and wish them to disappear.

...I concure-i read labels before buying a product-critical of information! Religions
are killing over what hats to wear-"gangs"
DO TOO-; Lessening free thought about
hats(nice one, by the way); which are necessary on occasion!!!

I appreciate your thoughtful question. Thanks.

There is nothing back-handed about it; I’m an open and enthusiastic supporter of religion, and a tireless crusader against superstition and ignorance. The difficulty in understanding this apparent paradox comes from the popular misunderstanding that assumes religion and superstition to be synonymous. They are not. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the scriptural literalists do a lot of squeaking and squawking.

I believe our literal descriptions of reality are best based on well-established science, and on sound scientific thinking when well-established science is not yet available. So I read a lot about science and scientific thinking. I believe we have to go with the science, even when it is telling us something we don’t want to hear. My reading of the literature available to me says that religion is a changing cultural manifestation of several permanent features of our biology. We may as well spend our energies wishing elbows would disappear as to wish for the disappearance of religion.

I prefer to commit resources where they might actually have some impact; toward the reform of religion, instead of wasting them on elbow abolition. Ritual does not require superstition to satisfy its evolutionary purpose. Metaphor has even deeper biological roots, and is non-toxic.

To the best of my knowledge these two articles are completely in harmony with both well-established science and well-informed scientific thinking in general. I would welcome any well-cited evidence to the contrary.

Vilifying religion and the religious will not make them go away; it will only strengthen their resolve. Teaching children is always more effective, in the long run, than punishing them.


@skado yes it is, belief that a unprovable divine being is watching you, has laid out rules for you, and forbids you to do certain things is exactly that, superstition, you can not believe in irrational things and say it's not superstitious, because that is the exact definition of it.


Don't confuse with organized religions, which were definitely designed by definition to dominate the idiots who believe by those who encumbered themselves as the religion leaders. I disagree with the BBCs opinion that because a religion has positive contributions, they all do, like any human being, even Jeffrey Dahmer had positive contributions, that doesn't mean " we should appreciate Dahmer when we can." So fuck Dahmer AND fuck religions!


Even witch drs used it to control the tribe so of ours it's been created to control others


Evolution does not "design" anything either directly or indirectly. Certainly religion has evolved and has been beneficial, in helping to create a community spirit and in the case of Islam, conquering much of North Africa and Europe. If that is seen as a benefit. It also kept much of western Europe from developing for hundreds of years during the "dark ages"




In my opinion , religion began as a way to explain , what was unexplainable at the time . Religion grew to influence the way people thought . Some used religion for the good of the populations - hospitals , for instance .Others have chosen to use religion to control the populations , to increase their own power , and to accumulate wealth , money .

ABSOLUTELY! Control comes to those who manipulate human fear. I can imagine an old man, calming the children as they huddle in their cave, terrified by thunder/lightning. He makes up a story about why they'll be ok. There's a big GUY in the SKY who will care for them. (My grandmother used to calm me by saying ''the angels are just making their beds." Same concept.) From those stories came the realization that people could be led (Jesus lived in a pastoral area, didn't he? What do pastors do?..they care for their flocks.)

@LucyLoohoo my 3 year old mother was told the air-raid sirens were big Teddy Bears growling in the sky...

@Allamanda Now---that's creative! (I'm still chuckling,)

@LucyLoohoo yes, I guess weird panic reaction in atheist families?

@Allamanda Growing up in an atheistic family must've been interesting. Did you realize how different you were? Did you tell other children? I'd have been afraid to do that.

@LucyLoohoo no, it was more than normal where I grew up in UK, probably 75% of the population. We didn't discuss religion at all, I myself was under the impression it was a historical artifact akin to using leeches and believing in the four humours!

@Allamanda And here we are now--atheists living among people in the middle ages.


That's something to think about


Religion has its place in history but it hasn't evolved. Instead of being something that wants to help humanity, it has become something that wants to control it.

It always did want to control people. The positive stuff was just eye wash to get everyone controlled.

I agree,earlier forms sought to unite cultures
with guide lines (and to bolster human civility)-this turned to brain washing.Cultures that didn't submit/or fit are actively attacked-
this closed minded drive to dominate human thought is not beneficial to society.
Today's science advancements
requires a strong moral compass- not a pre
packaged set of "laws".We are evolving-religions are playing catch up to REALITY,and
in some cases<rejecting reality to keep a tighter REIGN over its subjects.
I REFUSE TO CHECK MY BRAIN AT ANY DOOR!!! -when institutions start to dictate my
emotions ,its time to exit.


Religion isn' my vocabulary 😊


Here's what I think is an interesting scriptural verse from the apostle Paul about growing up in faith. It could, I think, be applied to a human race that is growing up too.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things - 1 Corinthians 13:11.

I hope we don't throw out the baby with the bathwater in a rush to mature. But it isn't obvious what the bathwater is. I'll stick my neck out and say I think it's morality.


Blossoming into religion...feh! Let the blossom die. It's the fruit that's more useful anyway.


I respectfully disagree. Religion absolutely was started to control the masses, especially women and the working class.

RRRR Level 4 June 7, 2019

I would never deny that it has, at many points, been coopted for that purpose, but started? I hope you will share some of the information that has convinced you of this perspective. I’ve looked for it and haven’t found it yet.

@skado Your wording is most likely more accurate than mine. I have read much regarding the early beginnings of Catholicism, Lutheranism, etc. They were indeed began to control the masses.


I feel spirituality for lack of a better word may be an evolutionary enigma, but religion is man made. To go from the point of curiosity to enforcing your beliefs for a sense of security and demanding materialistic tithes so you can devote fully to enforcement is humans creation.


According to who's science? Cause thats exactly what religion is today and has been throughout history if you observe it scientifically. Sounds like some more bible troll rhetoric to me. So science isn't immune to the hubris of mankind, so what, religion is the direct result of the first occurrence of hubris, to diefy and establish said controlling class and to subjugate the ignorant that would mindlessly accept that hierarchy, and ingrain it so deeply that no one would think to question that mythology and even devote their whole life to a fiction.


I have never been HORRIFIED or
MUNIPULATED by a science fact!!!
I have ( and continue to be)been regularly SICKENED by acts purpatrated in the
"holy" name of religion-continiously.SNAKE OIL*** has a placebo effect (benifit)-but it isn't sold anymore.
I humbly summit,we as humanity deserve better...

I would suggest there is a lot more snake oil in your life than you are aware of. Humans are human. Whether with science or religion, they will try to manipulate others. If you haven't found something scientific that you are being duped on, chances are it's because you are still being duped.


Religion is the crack of the people.

zesty Level 7 May 31, 2019

I believe your position is correct.
unlike most other mammals we have a very long childhood.
due to this we expect that there are powerful controlling beans that will provide for our every need. of course is our parents, as we get older we realize that our parents are flawed people like ourselves. the need is great the god-shaped vacuum is there, so we create a all powerful parent without human frailties. we can assign the attributes to the God as we see fit. the Roman assigned to their gods based on the values of their society.
the Jews and Hindus selected gods with attributes that reflected their society.
clearly if horses had a god it would look like them and reflect the values of their society.
knowing this does not free us from the god-shaped vacuum, it's still there.
it is my belief we will fill it with something, science, civil rights, or the acquisition of things.


This is what I think...

Probably so.


do you think we ought to be comparing, or indeed, opposing, religion with science? Even if we read that as religion vs. the scientific worldview, it doesn't seem to me to be a valid comparison. The misuse of technologies is more akin to the misuse of tools as weaponry - everyone needs a hammer but that doesn't mean we should hit people with them etc. to reduce it to the most infantile level. It is religion or occasionally other philosophical structures, that justify the use of weaponry etc. whatever the level of technology at the time..

did you read the articles?

@skado not yet


What pseudo-scientific nonsense.


There is no such thing as human nature. All behavior is learned from ones environment.

If you raise a child inside of a grey ball from birth, and they never saw anything else, you will raise a blob of a human.

“Important evidence against the tabula rasa model of the mind comes from behavioural genetics, especially twin and adoption studies (see below). These indicate strong genetic influences on personal characteristics such as IQ, alcoholism, gender identity, and other traits. Critically, multivariate studies show that the distinct faculties of the mind, such as memory and reason, fractionate along genetic boundaries. Cultural universals such as emotion and the relative resilience of psychological adaptation to accidental biological changes (for instance the David Reimer case of gender reassignment following an accident) also support basic biological mechanisms in the mind.”



Predispositions still require outside stimuli from the environment.

What is a genetic predisposition to alchoholism if the subject is never introduced to alcohol? A subject can also overcome predisposition.

It's a lot more difficult to overcome the environment you are immersed in, because there is no such thing as human nature. All behavior is learned from ones environment.

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