On August 30th NPR aired “Is Believing in God Evolutionarily Advantageous?” on the show All Things Considered. The basic thesis is that believing in God is evolutionarily advantageous for societies and cultures because it stops cheaters and promotes the common good. Implicit within the discussion is that cultures created the concept of a supernatural being:
In the history of the world, every culture in every location at every point in time has developed some supernatural belief system. And when a human behavior is so universal, scientists often argue that it must be an evolutionary adaptation along the lines of standing upright. That is, something so helpful that the people who had it thrived, and the people who didn’t slowly died out until we were all left with the trait. But what could be the evolutionary advantage of believing in God?
Of course, the argumentation is intricate with a lot of sociological and anthropological data to substantiate the hypothesis. I must confess, I do enjoy listening and reading these kinds of studies. I like to hear what the world around us is wrestling with, especially when it comes to belief, God, and culture.
But here’s one thing that wasn’t considered (ironically enough on a show called All Things Considered): perhaps God actually exists. Perhaps God actually created humans and civilizations to work best when a transcendent Being is acknowledged, worshiped, and served. Perhaps there is actually a moral consciousness hard-wired into humanity as part of the image of God.
I am amazed at the lengths we will go to explain that God couldn’t possibly exist and then tell everybody the evolutionary advantage of belief and religion is actually a good thing.