A couple of posts ago I discussed Autumn's poem. Specifically the reference to Darwin. Interestingly Salon has an article entitled "Religious belief itself is an adaptation"that is very relevant:
Did he have any particular agenda when he set out on his voyage on the Beagle?
I don't think so. He was a deeply religious man. He hadn't thought about evolution at all. What he was was an all-purpose observer, with a particular interest in natural history, and of course in beetles, which were the love of his life.
And it's worth pointing out that when Darwin first set out on the Beagle, he brought his own Bible. He had to overturn his whole upbringing to come up with this revolutionary idea.
Darwin departed England a devout Bible literalist. After failing his effort to become a doctor, he had in fact trained as a minister at Cambridge University. As he says in his autobiography, he would even pull out the Bible to settle some argument with other members of the ship's crew. But then as the trip went on, for reasons Darwin really never disclosed but I don't think had to do with the idea of evolution, he gradually dropped his Christian beliefs. Becoming a man of the world and much more aware of other cultures and religious beliefs, he realized that the stories of the Bible were basically no different than the stories of these other religions.
But what really turned him against religion was the doctrine of damnation. He said if the Bible is true, you must be redeemed in Christ and be a believer in order to go to heaven. And others will be condemned. And that includes my brothers and all my best friends. And he said that is a damnable doctrine. Those are his words.
This is interesting because the book referenced by Autumn and her father condemns Darwin for effectively rehashing a "pagan" worldview. Yet it is clear that it was Darwin's willingness to question that lead him to go from fundamentalist Christian to what I suppose is Atheism. Deep down I know that most religious people are scared of this type of thing. They try to threaten and intimidate people from contact with "non-believers" because they are scared that they will find that what they believe is not all that true.
We also find this:
The only common ground that I see is the one that was approached by Darwin himself. Religious belief itself is an adaptation that has evolved because we're hard-wired to form tribalistic religions. Religion is intensely tribalistic. A devout Christian or Muslim doesn't say one religion is as good as another. It gives them faith in the particular group to which they belong and that set of beliefs and moral views...Oh yes, I grew up fundamentalist. I grew up as a Southern Baptist with strict adherence to the Bible, which I read as a youngster. As a child, I was warned by counselors and routine religious training that the truth was in the Bible. Redemption was only in Christ and the world is full of Satanic force. Satan himself perhaps -- but certainly his agents, witting and unwitting -- would try to make me drop my belief. I had that instilled in me. You have to understand how powerful the religious drive is -- the instinct which I consider tribalist but probably necessary -- in most societies for continuing day-to-day business.
A pretty honest evaluation of most if not all religions. read the rest of the interview it is most interesting and reflects my outlook pretty well.