November 22, 2016: Sports is Religion
People have written at length about the origin of religion. Edward R. Murrow said, “Anyone who isn’t confused doesn’t really understand the situation.” Lucky for me, I really do not understand the situation regarding religion, or I would be way more confused.
Religion must be an expression of human brain function shaped by evolution. Some say it is not adaptive, but rather a “tag along” outgrowth of actually adaptive brain function. This seems irrelevant: if our brains are the result of evolution, and religious expression is a result of our brains, then what does it matter if religion is a “tag along?”
In other words, if religion arises from a complex interplay of different human brain functions, and our brains are the result of evolution, then religion is likely adaptive overall. Of course, it might not be very strongly adaptive: lots of people are not very explicitly religious if given the chance. The reason everyone is Saudi Arabia professes to be religious is because otherwise they cut your head off. Incidentally, that is a great way to ensure a religion spreads: cut people’s heads off who disagree.
Many brain functions might help explain religion, and I have not given this much thought. I would cite: (1) our ability to recognize and explain patterns, (2) our ability to imagine the future, and (3) our ability and desire to be social, and to form tribes. Religion may reduce otherwise debilitating anxiety as regards items #1 and #2. So basically it is an expression of coping mechanisms. I may write more about this later.
Regarding item #3, religion is like being a sports fan. Everyone shows up and participates in rituals and professes to believe the same things and wears similar clothes (in the case of sports, the same colors). For sports fans, the added benefits are (1) it only happens on game day, not every blasted Sunday, or every blasted Wednesday and Sunday, or every day at noon, or whatever, and (2) people do not actually have to openly profess to believe in really crazy magical shit to be a sports fan.
Many people do believe that god controls the outcome of games, of course, since they believe that god controls everything. They also pray to god they do not get hurt. One can only assume they are praying to god that nobody gets hurt, but in football, they nonetheless attempt to hurt each other.
Now, some people reading this are saying,
“Ha! I am neither religious nor a sports fan!”
Do not get smug and think you are asocial or antisocial. If you were, you would likely be already dead or in prison. I once had a conversation about the Goth people in High School.
Him, “Those Goth people are antisocial. They don’t want to take part in society with the rest of us.”
Me, “But they are Goth people. That makes them part of a social group, right?”
Him, scowling, “No, they’re antisocial.”
Here is one more thought: because of the rule of law, we may have more asocial and antisocial people among us than we did in hunter-gatherer times. For instance, there is a guy at the gym who I think: “Goddamn. Someone is going to kill that intentionally annoying barstard. Possibly me.” He would have had his head bashed in before puberty or shortly after had he lived in hunter-gatherer times. Thus, his contribution of genes to future generations would have been zero. People are unwilling to kill him in modern society because it is illegal, and they would be thrown in jail. I would never argue for lawlessness though.
In random mundane stuff: I have a salad for lunch with olive oil, spinach, and balsamic vinegar. In Australia, they eat salads with nothing on them but oil, made from nothing but what they call ‘rocket,’ which is arugula. Only a starving person would eat that. But we did see lots of neat wildlife in Australia, like 13 Wedge-tailed Eagles in one day. And we stayed one night where Mel Gibson stayed when they filmed the original Mad Max. The couple we were with stayed in the very room where he slept. Gibson is the scariest kind of Christian.
We saw 13 Wedge-tailed Eagles one day in Australia, west of Melbourne. The ‘rocket’ (arugula) salads there cannot be recommended.
In politics, a group of Trump alt-right supporters had a rally and actually gave the Nazi salute and said “Heil Victory!” Trump’s primary policy adviser was a featured speaker. This actually happened. And Trump had a meeting with the heads of all of the network news services to try to intimidate them into falling in line. Litigation, arrests, and murders may follow. So nothing unexpected happened.
Next journal entry, sometime after the Thanksgiving break: Reality: Hard to Identify.