- Published on Saturday, 30 July 2011 07:03
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1747
The song says it all but where did this need come from? Early humans evolved and became more successful in myriad tasks because they craved attachment. The initial attachment between mother and child made it more likely that a child would survive; the attachment to a spouse meant that bringing up children would be more successful; the attachment to friends meant groups would be more successful teams in hunting and protecting each other from predators. In fact this attachment bond is wired into our brains – it is not learned, it’s an instinct and it’s so strong it cannot be denied. It extends even to our pets and in children to a favourite teddy bear.
So once men conceived the idea that a god was needed to explain existence and the world around them, it was only natural to form an attachment to the god and think of him as unchanging, loving and eternal. What a perfect caretaker! As J. Anderson Thompson says in his book Why we believe in god(s): “Think of a two-year-old child reaching out to be picked up and cuddled. He extends his hands above his head and beseeches you. Think now of the Pentecostal worshipper who speaks in tongues. He stretches out his hands above his head, beseeching god in the same "pick-me-up-and-hold-me" gesture. We may lose human attachment figures through death, through misunderstandings, through distance, but a god is always there for us.”
Children think of their parents as god – always providing, protecting and answering difficult questions. When I was about 10, I had an experience that I’m sure most kids have. I asked my dad a question about electric power lines and a short while later, I found out that his answer was wrong. How could that be? He knew everything and couldn’t be wrong. I started to grow up and realized that my parents were less than perfect. Once there was one error, who knew what else he said was wrong? But from birth, most children are also taught about a god who is infallible, always protective and caring. Other kids have abusive parents but can always rely on a god who cares. For everyone, parents cannot take care of us forever, but god can – or so the priests tell us.
Evolution has also made us crave fatty and sweet foods even though they are bad for us in the quantities we can now indulge in. And like our craving for these foods, we crave a perfect caretaker. Religions cash in on these natural tendencies and satisfy them in an unhealthy way. They exaggerate and enhance our feelings of attachment but like a continuous diet of French fries and desserts they do not contribute to our well-being.
Even if you are religious and you think this feeling is healthy, you must recognise the strong primal feelings of attachment to a god. Don’t you want to question whether it is good for you? After all, most of us do question diet choices that also feel good.
Quotes and some of the information sourced from the book by J. Anderson Thompson Why we believe in god(s)