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Religion’s Primary Function Is to Blunt the Double-Edge Sword of the Conscious Mind

Religious ritual mitigates the downsides of human consciousness.

Mitchell Diamond
The Labyrinth
Published in
10 min readFeb 11, 2021

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Philosophers, historians and scientists have long debated the reason why humans have religion. Cognitive science of religion (CSR) academics grind out hundreds of articles in the scientific journals rehashing the same arguments over and over as if repeating the same ideas will somehow make them true. Is religion a byproduct of other cognitive processes? Is it adaptive, which means it evolved and has an innate component? There are glaring shortcomings in all existing perspectives.

Much of the difficulty determining the functional origin of religion is due to the many ways it’s defined and described. Religion can mean many things just like consciousness can. In a series of recent articles I critique some of the popular, but unsatisfactory and insufficient, reasons given for the purpose of religion. (See Reference section for links.)

  • Spinning a cognitive science of religion—social cohesion and cooperation are secondary consequences of religion but not its original function or purpose. This eliminates the punishing gods theory and costly signaling theory for those who follow this business.
  • Byproduct theories of religion don’t

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Mitchell Diamond
The Labyrinth

Author of Darwin’s Apple: The Evolutionary Biology of Religion, a new take on the function and purpose of religion. http://www.darwinsapple.com