Hello Mitchell, my comment here is primarily about your book Darwin’s Apple (and kudos on the title, by the way). I fear I may not have properly understood the argument presented in your extremely well-written book, so I’m going to raise two issues that seem to me to cut to the heart of the matter.

Your book, if I understand it aright, proposes that religion results from the need to “calm” the conscious mind which, unlike the brains of other animals, gives rise to a potential confusion of choices. Thus religion appears as a kind of palliative that reduces the probability of paralysis-by-analysis.

Early in your book you cite the many studies that seem to show how, for the most part, we act first and then consciously rationalize post-hoc. Various statistics are cited but all fall within the 90% — 96% range which therefore means the vast majority of our behavior is pre-conscious. But if that is true (and personally I strongly suspect it is) then why would there by any need to compensate for the very rare times when people might indeed become temporarily bogged down in a multiple-option scenario?

Furthermore, even if dance and music etc. do induce a kind of numbing that calms the brain, surely the choice problem would still be there afterward? Worse still, we can imagine (and see all around us in fact) examples of such “ritualistic” behavior yet none necessarily implies the invention of gods and goblins. It’s easy for we humans to be moved by Beethoven’s 9th Symphony but the leap to believing in imaginary invisible creatures is far from inevitable.

In the end, therefore, I feel I must have missed something in your argument, because these two primary objections seem to me to invalidate the Split hypothesis which appears central to your argument. I’d very much like to understand where I’m mistaken, if you have the time to comment on this comment.

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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