Saturday, August 30, 2008
[R]eligion is above all the process by which individuals are persuaded to subordinate their immediate self-interest to the interests of the group. Votaries are expected to make short-term physiological sacrifices for their own long-term genetic gains. Self-deception by shamans and priests perfects their own performance and enhances the deception practiced on their constituents. In the midst of absurdity the trumpet is certain. Decisions are automatic and quick, there being no rational calculus by which groups of individuals can compute their inclusive genetic fitness on a day-to-day basis and thus know the amount of conformity and zeal that is optimum for each act. Human beings require simple rules that solve complex problems, and they tend to resist any attempt to dissect the unconscious order and resolve of their daily lives.
E.O. Wilson, On Human Nature