What you read below (or will hear tonight, depending on how Rad and Ken suggest) is not 100% proven, but mostly follows the rules of evolution and also voiced by respected and recognized social scientists and anthropologists. And please treat the presentation as an opinion piece, rather than a dogma you must accept!

Just to name a few;

  • we are territorial (meaning we protect our food source),
  • we prefer living and associating with our keens,
  • we protect our young at all cost,
  • we feel safer within our tribes and
  • we are inherently suspicious of alien competitors for the essentials of survival.

These features are all embedded in our limbic system, the oldest part of our brain (source: Wikipedia).

Our predecessors (not ancestors!), the Neanderthaalers left Africa around 400.000 years ago and spread over  most of Europe and part of West Asia. We know preciously little about their social and spiritual life, but we found burial sites from 100 thousand years ago, which suggests that they treated the dead with certain care, not seen with other species

They removed them from their immediate living area likely due to the smell and the diseases they experienced because of the decomposing bodies, not to mention the fact that those bodies attracted scavenging animals.

Eventually this evolved into rituals, the first sign of spirituality, which must have led to their belief in another world.

We don’t know if they developed spoken languages, but paleo-antropologists assume that they had the organs capable of creating and processing sound in the frequency range modern humans communicate in.

The Neanderthaalers died out around 40 thousand years ago, most likely as they encountered the next wave of human exodus from the African continent, this time the Homo Sapiens, which are us.

This exodus happened between 70-50 thousand years ago. We carried pathogens, against which we had immunity, but the Neanderthaalers had not had.

(Sounds familiar? The European conquistadors and the American aboriginals?)

Until ~70000 years ago our species, the Homo Sapiens, could only communicate via body language and facial expression. Then we started articulating sounds. This ability and practice led to the refinement of our sound-forming organs and articulating skills. By about 30000 years ago the first primitive, but spoken human language was established  in parts of Africa and by extension, wherever we moved to. (source:Wikipedia)

Once communities acquired language skills, they became able to communicate ideas and rules which humans in general and elders/leaders and wise members of smaller communities (tribes and bands) in particular learnt to be essential for the communities’  stability, strength and survival. Most likely tribes, which ignored those customs/rules either disappeared or got absorbed by more adaptable groups of Homo Sapiens.

They needed to “understand and the ability to explain” natural phenomena, which influenced/determined their daily life. Also, in order to keep their small communities strong and united they had to enforce discipline, i.e. everyone “towing the line”.

So humans naturally INVENTED (and not discovered!) spirits, gods in charge of different aspects of their daily life and formulated rules of behaviour.

Those spirits and gods, by the way, were endowed with human characteristics, like vengeance, jealousy, goodwill, meanness, etc and they existed in human-like hierarchies. They were just very powerful and never died.

I have to mention one more very essential human characteristic; we love good stories, even when they are just fairytales, or horror stories and are not based on any reality!

As humans dispersed within and beyond Africa, all of our ancestral land, throughout the tens of thousands of years we adjusted to the differing geographic and climatic environment and the food the environment provided. The farther the different human groups lived from each other, the more pronounced differences among them had become.

Although about 99.9% of all humanity’s genes remained the same, 0.1% was modified in order to survive the specific environment humans inhabited.

We evolved to look different, our languages became unfathomable to the others, our cultures, dress codes, tastes and value-systems became alien to far away cultures. Basically we  isolated ourselves from those “OTHER” people near and far apart.

And don’t forget, we had been genetically programmed by evolutionary progress to be suspicious of whom we consider as “OTHERS”.

Organized religion traces its roots to the Neolithic revolution that began ~11,000 years ago in the Near East but may have occurred independently in several other locations around the world. The invention of agriculture transformed many human societies from a hunter gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary lifestyle.

(Source: Anna Pałczyńska ▪ The origin of religion and the world’s major belief systems)

Religions became an even more dominant part of human societies as writing was invented and the rules could be codified, made into enforceable law.

Based on the surviving evidence of written texts, humans invented writing in Mesopotamia sometime between 3400 BCE and 3300 BCE. Proof of writing in Egypt has been found that dates back to 3200 BCE, and in what is now China around 1300 BCE.

(Source: Anna Pałczyńska ▪ The origin of religion and the world’s major belief systems)

I was searching the internet to find out what led us human’s to move from poly-theistic  to monotheistic belief systems, but there was not a clear answer to this question.

According to experts of theology, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism are the first two ancient and organized belief systems, which are the closest to monotheism, but even these religions recognize secondary gods.

I hazard to speculate that similar tribes, living near each other, found it beneficial for their survival to create alliances, with one acknowledged leader at the top. Since the “beyond” world has always mirrored the life of humans, they first “nominated” the one, most powerful god, relegating the other, less influential ones, to secondary significance, until Judaism came up with a single god, The God, appr. 500-3800 years ago.

Presently there are ~ 4200 different ways to practice religion (Wikipedia), but the mostinfluential ones with the highest number of followers are Christianity (with many “flavours”), Islam (also with competing flavours”), Hinduism, Buddhism and Shintoism.

Judaism is somewhat unique, because its adherents (mostly Jews) number only ~15-16M, but since Christianity and Islam are based on its main tenets; one God, six days of work, one day of rest and contemplation, therefore it still has a significant, although not always acknowledged impact on the daily lives of billions of people worldwide.

The era of inception of the Abrahamic religions stretched from ~ 1500 BC to 600 AD and reflected the values and necessities of the time.

The impact and importance of religious beliefs  have varied throughout the social development of humanity. As I mentioned before, at the earlier stages of communal living it helped enforce discipline, explain natural phenomena, maintain community growth and cohesion and instill self  confidence in their followers’ fight with their enemies.

With the advancement of knowledge in sciences (medicine, astronomy, physics, math, biology) we needed less and less a god to understand what is happening around us to the chagrin of the religious hierarchy.

Differing cultural, ideological, even political needs led to the emergence of variations to the Abrahamic religions (I can’t speak of other religions) and those changes were all initiated by known humans the same way as all prophets were human beings, who originally “conveyed the will” of the INVISIBLE and elusive God!

In relation to religion, people  got gradually divided; on the one hand conservatives insisted that the original version of their religion is its only true form, while many others were willing to accept changes / reforms / adaptations in response to changing realities in the society.

And god forbid, some don’t even need a god in their lives in any shape or form!

At this point let me summarize the pros and cons of religion as I see it in our current society. In parenthesis I indicate which version is advocating for what


Provides hope, support even in seemingly hopeless situations (both Conservative and Reform)
Provides feeling of belonging (both C&R)
Offers structure in private and public lives (both C&R, but conservatism is more intrusive)
Promotes understanding of, and respect for, other religions (exclusively R)


Isolates from other ideologies (C)
Emphasizes and ranks differences vis-a-vis other faiths (C)
Spreads disbeliefs in, suspicion of, natural sciences (C)
Rejects / disallows independent thinking (C)

My personal conclusions:

I wouldn’t oppose / actively fight reformed religion, because it has positive influences on the daily life of billions of believers.

On the other hand I’d spend my energies fighting divisive religious beliefs, which do not recognize / consider other worldviews

So now let’s hear from you!

–Presented by Janos Molnar on Apr 03, 2024

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