The striking aspect of human evolution is how different religions and philosophies live side by side within societies and globally even with inherent conflicts in their beliefs and practices (eg athesim, homosexuality). The Indian subcontinent is the region of endemism of religion because the concept of liberation and freedom has been inculcated in Hindus for thousands of years which give them latitude to question themselves and their surroundings and philosophise. The Middle East too has had numerous religions that have developed as if one religion spurs the development of new religions in and around it. This takes place because religions make the people think about themselves and how to develop an ideal way of life including society.
There must be a coherent mechanism in Nature to generate this diversity. If the diversity was simply gene-associated separate genes or mechanisms of their expressions would have been identified by scientists, say one for Islam and the other for Buddhism for example to take two extremely divergent methods of living. Islamic societies with strong male domination of women who are treated as only means of reproduction must originate in some thought processes that are different to those setting the goals of compassion and care that signifies Buddhism. They cannot have a common genetic basis as survival strategies, and indeed it can be argued that Buddhism serves no survival function in the natural world with its altruism. The may therefore be described as cultural strategies that takes place because a regulator is protecting both methods of living. That regulator must be an Entity that has the power to alter human thoughts from an external input into the mind. Hence the idea came to my mind of a guna-consciousness energy triad governing sattvic, rajasic and tamasic attributes of people with blends of these psychological influences on the mind as a possible explanation of Nature. God must have created such a consciousness energy within matter that would play out its effect on the human mind. The diversity of religions provides evidence for this, but even if one took away the issue of religions and examined human behavior individually. The facets of human activity that help people develop differently to each other to become specialists in different fields of activity must be due entirely to the genetic differences while the thoughts that guide them spiritually to develop their character and beliefs must be due to this extra-terrestrial influence. We then would need to address the issue of why God would do such a thing?
My theory is that in pre-history all of mankind lived without religions in automatic animalistic lives without any philosophies. They were all operating at the tamasic level of mentality. At around 20,000 years ago God played games with human evolution by awakening the sattvic element of guna-consciousness energy in many humans across the world for His own reasons. Perhaps He wished man to appreciate Him as the Creator of the universe. Perhaps it was for His own amusement. He stirred the consciousness of humans to bring us to consider questions of the nature of existence. The theory that has long been recognised in Hinduism is that humans are governed by three gunas (characters) of sattvic (piously-good), rajasis (indifferent, routinal, normal) and tamasic (inertial, sensual, even evil). This causes humans to constantly think about a meaning to their lives beyond animalistic living. And because the three gunas act on the mind as a form of consciousness ‘energy’ they will generate different lifestyles.
It is evident that if a God exists He allows these diverse religions to persist, even though one may legitimately question the morals in some of them. I think He knows that morals are not the means for human survival but He also wishes humans to lead sober and thoughtful lives that gives meaning to others beyond materialistic gains. So the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva for the three gunas creates a balance in Nature that enables the human species to prosper in a civilised manner that generates knowledge of the universe from sattvic living. That is how I attribute the human scene to God’s intentions.
That regulator must be God. Either human evolution can be explained on the basis of natural selection of gene-based behavioural characteristics of people or human communities are a haphazard development. My theory is that religions have been constantly evolving through history and therefore serve an adaptation function which not only explains their diversity but also the success of the human species? It is highly unlikely that a God-gene (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_gene) explains the diversity of religious practices across the world. Spirituality or mysticism are simply thoughts in the mind: a gene cannot tell the mind to have different beliefs and values that characterise humanity. Why would there be different social orders of religiousity within the same geographical area, eg atheists, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, all living together apparently without too much animosity and conflict? If religions serve an adaptation function then the differences between religious groups within nations will, over time, be wiped out and a common culture then prevail that enables the population to survive together; but we see no indication of this happening anywhere except in Islamic countries where there are strong laws on apostasy, blasphemy and promotion of abhorrence of other faiths. A society cannot possibly have two or more distinct and in many ways conflicting religions to further itself. Religions therefore evolve independent of the needs of society – through another mechanism.
Religions are social orders binding people together under rules of conduct. It is inevitable that there should be conflicts between these incompatible groups.
The lack of progress towards a common culture in non-Islamic countries may indicate that there are other factors operating which prevent the consolidation into a single cultural society.
Why would the Indian society from Vedic times 6000 years ago give rise to so many different religions?
Human living has no other meaning than living to the gods who give us our thoughts and our motives for living. We show our respects to these gods. This gives us peace of mind. The development of religions begins in a small way, a person has mental conceptions brought about from brain/mind activity, however that is precipitated whether through internal convictions or through external revelations. He or she publicises this. People listen and if they are convinced they enquire what he is talking about. He acquires disciples and with them may or may not formulate the full conception of a religion. If people then like what this group are saying they will follow the person as a saviour and the religion. If they do not like it, it will die there and then or may just acquire a small number of followers. This way some religions develop into group activity in which people are bound together as a social group.
If the social group thus formed successfully propagates itself, it is said to be adapted to the environment by natural selection and human evolution is charted accordingly. Is there ‘evidence’ of biological basis for religion in human evolution from neuroscience? Are any beliefs correlated with particular brain interactions that have been detected, or even shown which part of the brain was involved in the process. Or are scientists making a general observation that some brain activity is detected in those who belong to certain established religions. For me religion is any mental arrangement of ideas that derives a basis for living not from the realities of what the senses can detect of the outside world but of internal thought processes that are derived either from the genes or from another source. This takes place in the mind.
I personally subscribe to the view that religious ideas are not genetical in origin but derive from the consciousness that permeate the material world. This consciousness is inbedded into atoms and is therefore part of the evolution of the atoms into life forms. The Consciousness is powered and directed by God through His force called Paramatma. We as human beings are therefore connected to the universe and God through this mechanism that God has created. We are inseparable from it, just like all other organisms. We are a combination of gene-based body that has functions of maintaining itself and procreating and the consciousness element that is connected to the Supreme Creator God. There is therefore no distinction between us as humans, a biological species, and the universe. All that we do and how we do them are are monitored by God with whom we are separate but one at the same time. It includes the religions that we develop and adopt. How we develop these religions is therefore the fascinating question. How the connection of our body to God through consciousness has been made is through the human mind. My view is that the human mind can be compartmentalised conceptually as follows: the mind draws information from the ‘memory banks’ and from consciousness energy of matter to deal with stimuli received from the senses to get us to act in particular ways. When we have acted that information is registered again in the memory banks as updating information on our beliefs. The consciousness element evolves from the invisible forces that make the electrons and atoms behave in particular ways through chemical reactions to biological ones and finally in the evolution of the nerves and ultimately the human mind. The Theory of Mind is therefore very complex and I believe is a magical creation through the impenetrable power of Gods Maya. Maya is the means God does things with that is beyond the capac ity of humans to investigate using scientific tools, in this case, neuroscience.
Significantly, the consciousness ‘energy’ of the universe is differentiated into gunas (properties/characteristics) of which there is a triad, three real deities that exist in consciousness, where Brahma (sattivic), Vishnu (rajasic) and Shiva (tamasic) sit in three corners of a triangle. In between these three major triad deities there is scope for millions of gods each one possessing a different blend of sattvic, rajasic and tamasic attributes. Each person is subjected to the guna consciousness energy stream as inputs into his or her mind. An individual however is attracted to only the god that is suited to his or her mental disposition so that he/she creates or adopts the myths and beliefs associated with that particular blend of attributes. A person is therefore creating his own god through an interaction with guna consciousness in a two-way process. It give each person his or her own rudder to guide his or her life. Even atheists have a god but of course they do not accept that a god is in fact guiding them. Over history particular gods get into prominence through interactions in society where their reputations are made. That is how religions always get formulated and propagated in human societies.
This is the nature of human evolution, which is different from purely biological evolution in which religion plays no part, and which is guided by social genetic speciation through genetic mutations just like in all other animal species. Human evolution proceeded by social genetic speciation for up to 2 million years from Homo ergaster out of Africa but in the past 20,000 years has been supplanted by religious social speciation. I believe that there is a reason for this. God does exist and has commandeered human minds in the past 2,000 years into a more civilised form of living and this has been done by making humans aware of the supernatural dimension to life.
In India religions develop through acharyas who are accepted within Hinduism to do the digesting of the hard data and come up with knowledge and wisdom based on that. Hinduism freely facilitates the evolution of knowledge in this way. Every generation requires a guru or hundreds of gurus who will provide updating formulations on reality. They will all have their own preferences on what they should incorporate from the shastras and what they should omit. We listen to them. If any of them are saying things that make us stand up and listen we follow them. This becomes our religion. So yes in this way Hinduism has numerous, even I would say hundreds of religions, to choose from. Each person has his religion, his own god, and his own comprehension of reality. That is human Nature. That is what makes us Hindus unique. We are free and each person has a path (his/her own path) to liberation that suits him. Nothing is sacred. Hinduism updates knowledge freely. Hindus are free to extract what information they wish from the mountain of scriptures to create their own religions, whether astika or nastika.
This represents the totality of the biological facts of our existence and the biological basis of religions.