The JanuaryFebruary 2009 issue of The Atlantic points out an article which begs the question: is religion a spiritual quest alone, or could there be something more physical, more mundane behind it?
“Assortative Sociality, Limited Dispersal, Infectious Disease and the Genesis of the Global Pattern of Religion Diversity” published by the Royal Society in Proceedings B seems to suggest that religion could be attributed to evolution.
According to this document, “religion manifests from evolved behavioral strategies for the avoidance and management of infectious disease” (Medical News). Furthermore, the “diversity of religions in a given country correlates closely” with the amount of disease (Atlantic Monthly 21). Consider, for example, why Brazil boasts 159 religions, while Canada squeaks by with a mere 15? Perhaps it is because Brazil – poor and without a public-health system – is overrun by disease when compared to Canada – which has better than average healthcare and few known parasites.
In otherwords, people in regions with a greater chance of exposing them to a disease tend to limit travel and interpersonal interaction; which stems the flow of ideas and values responsible for birthing new religions.
Now, consider why Church pews the world over are emptying faster than you can say a Hail Mary? Could it be that the advent of new health care systems and technologies have resulted in a world where religion no longer serves its evolutionary purpose? If this is the case, then are the people who contine to visit them weak links bound to fail the “only the strong survive” test, or do they represent the next evolutionary step for religion, whatever that may be?
A lot of questions to be asked, with few answers to give. It hurts to think outside your own generation, doesn’t it?