The Meaning Bug

Our heads are not tabula rasa, open to considering the world without prejudice; information can only be processed by the brain designs that we actually possess. Natural selection in the human social environment may have produced an organised cognitive system responsible for the illusion of both personal immortality and personal destiny. There is experimental evidence to suggest that our brains are hardwired so as not to regard human beings as ordinary material objects, which means that we are obliged to learn as infants how other people are in fact equally subject to the physical laws governing the movement of inanimate entities. Another thing that infants appear to be wired for – and this does not appear to be cultural indoctrination – is assuming that dead people are still thinking and feeling.

It has further been suggested that our ancestors, living in dangerous environments, were wired by natural selection to over-attribute intentionality to the natural world; that is, an individual who assumed that some event was caused by a potentially hostile agent would have a survival advantage over another who assumed that it “just happened”. In consequence, we tend to see intentional causation by agents even where in reality there is none. The fact that we are hierarchical creatures whose fate is highly dependent on the behaviour of others may also cause us to read purpose and meaning into all external events. In the intense and anxious egotism caused by continual monkey politics, we cannot imagine that it is not “all about us”.

Posted on May 3, 2009 at 09:40 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, Religion As Design Fault

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