Religion and its Evolutionary Mismatch


Religion by Szczepan1990 is licensed under CC 3.0

The textbook definition of religion is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” With that being said the origins of religion can be broken down into three categories, polytheism, pantheism and monotheism. Polytheism is the belief in many gods coexisting, this originated from Hinduism. Pantheism is the belief that all is god, we see this in Buddhism. Lastly, monotheism is the belief in just one god, common in Christianity. Those who don’t believe in a supernatural higher power often consider themselves atheists.


Supplicating Pilgrim by Ali Mansuri licensed under CC 2.5

There are many reasons why religion was created; I’ll list some below.

  1. To set order – Communities and villages needed a way to organize and set up rules to control villagers. Without laws what’s keeping civilians from doing harm? The Ten Commandments are a great example of how behavior could be regulated.
  2. To unify people – Religion helps bond groups of diverse people together as one.
  3. To provide a sense of the world and our belonging – Religion helps give us hope and a sense of belief. It can help reason why things happen the way they do. An example would be a tsunami wiping out a city or a relative dying unexpectedly. Simply, it gives us shelter and reason. It can provide hope for an afterlife.
  4. Exploit evil – Religion helps explain why some people do bad things and also helps justify the positives of doing good. Was Satan created to scare man or antagonize?
  5. Happiness – Overall, religious practice and worship are known to stimulate and generate positive feelings.

I’m a firm believer that each and everyone shall be entitled to their own religious and spiritual beliefs. However, with that being said, our world is so diverse at the moment that religions have begun to clash and cause more harm than good. We’ve hit an evolutionary mismatch with religion. An evolutionary mismatch means that evolved traits that used to help us, now don’t due to a change in the environment. Religion was used as an advantage back in the day to guide, rule, and control civilizations. Now it’s causing war, death, and destruction.


Bertrand Russell by

  Famous philosopher Bertrand Russell said it the best “Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” This simply argues the battle between religion and science. Before science, we had religion, as science evolves we’ve discovered truths that in the end dismantle religious beliefs. Again, I don’t think it’s fair to doubt one’s faith and beliefs. However, not everyone is anthropomorphizing the same god. With that being said, until everyone synchronizes as a whole I fear we will continue to clash with each other.

4 thoughts on “Religion and its Evolutionary Mismatch

  1. It’s crazy to see how religion has gone over time, from the beginning of time to the modern world. You nailed alot of reasons why it was important and why it was so prominent. But over time, as we made new discoveries and science began to develop, like you said, it started to dismantle religious beliefs brick by brick. While it’s certainly important to respect everyone’s believes and everyone has faith in something whether it be science or a multitude of deities, you shouldn’t be causing so much conflict over it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed the five examples you gave for why religion was created. I’d have to say I agree with them all, especially the first one about setting order. I thought referencing the Ten Commandments was a nice touch. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this post! I agree that much of religious belief is a mismatch that does our society more harm than good in modern times. The human propensity for superstition and belief in phenomena for which we have no tangible evidence is intriguing. Can you dig back a little further and find some sources about evidence for belief systems in more primitive times? Could human survival have depended on adopting certain beliefs as a defense mechanism against harsh realities?

    Liked by 1 person

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