Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Religion and inequality

Religion is one of the oldest concepts in human history. Major religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam emerged thousands of years ago, and they have infiltrated in our lives in several regions.

Each religion has anecdotes regarding its birth. The context in raising them looks various. But, there is a hypothesis to explain common drive of establishing a religion, according to evolutionary psychologists.

According to Nicolas Baumard, religions were born to force poor people to take a slow lifestyle that wealthy people practice. Thus, rich people tend not to be concerned with material and physical pleasures like meal and sex. It can be a disadvantage in the survival competition. To compensate this character in wealthy people, they invented religion, to spread out their specific lifestyle. It is the reason why many religions encourage abstinence.

Independent: Religion could die out as world's population gets richer, evolutionary scientists claim

If inequality is the engine for developing religions, they will perish when poor people become rich enough to be interested in a slow lifestyle, Baumard claims.

It is a surprising hypothesis, and I hardly believe it, to be honest. It is admirable that major religions emerged in the era of inequality. However, it seems that most of them were originated from the idea that poor people could take over the rich with the bless of God. Jesus Christ was finally executed by the Roman government. In Japan, Tokugawa shogunate seriously oppressed Christian pupils because the concept of Christianity, as an equality of all human in front of the God, was deemed to be a threat to governmental hierarchy. These episodes are paradoxical to Baumard's idea.

On the other hand, it is an interesting question whether an equal and sophisticated society need no religion. This question will never be clarified because both paradise in a religious context and totally equal society are an illusion.

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