My idea of why so many people believe in invisible supernatural entities is fear of the unknown; death being the major factor. This has been inherited in the mind since mankind existed, in fact, even before that. Spirituality has developed in the evolution of thought along with hate, love, jealousy and all other emotions.
Some of the earliest human burial sites discovered in Europe are those of Neanderthals, from 30,000 to 200,000 years ago. In the graves were found food, clothing, decorative shells, weapons, stone tools, plants, flowers, and bodily remains often covered with a red pigment. The people who buried their loved ones surely thought that they would need nourishment, clothing, tools and weapons to survive in another existence.
Louis Leaky, the noted anthropologist, said that the nature of the graves indicated that the Neanderthals displayed a keen self-awareness and a concern for the human spirit. Another anthropologist F. Clark Howell noted that all the evidence in these discoveries suggests that the Neanderthals believed in a life after death.
Going back even further in the evolution of man some neurologists and other scientists believe primates are capable of having spiritual experiences similar to humans.
Researchers acknowledge that spiritual experiences originate within primitive parts of the human brain, structures shared by animals. Kevin Nelson, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, has analyzed the processes of spiritual sensation for over three decades.
Professor Nelson, author of the book 'The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain,”says: "Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences. Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences,"
This is food for thought and if true is is not unreasonable to accept that the reason that the faithful have no rationale or common sense when it comes to believing in irrational ideas.
What do you think?
I think that it part of the problem. Spirituality means something different to everyone. Even at that their definition is vague enough to become meaningless. It becomes a “woo” term that gets abused.
So “walking in nature” should be portrayed as a healthy physical pursuit that is good for the body. The benefits of regular walks allow the body to relax, thus allowing the mind to think more clearly and often for solutions to problems to “just” present themselves. A lot of that is just common sense but it is often presented as “special knowledge” when it gets delivered as something that is “spiritual”.
Now for my bit of “quantumness” :-)
Spirituality vendors will sell you a nice warm comfort blanket but the energy invested in taking a realistic approach to problem solving and understanding the steps being taken will lead to long term mental warmth.
We need some spirituality vending machines. For $1.25 you can get 5 minutes of Oprah chatting with Deepak Chopra. They could really use them in slums and warzones to "gear up". You know, just before having to leave your bunker to scrounge for food. Just to remind yourself about the greatness of the human spirit.
"Spirituality vendors will sell you a nice warm comfort blanket"
don't forget the healing power of pyramids while you're at it...
George Carlin: "Put together two things that have never been put together before and some schmuck will buy it."
We're a gullible species.
Most people believe in woo or an invisible realm BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE TOLD THEM THAT IT WAS SO. The everyday homo sapiens does not develop these notions of a supernatural world without the influence, or rather, indoctrination of others. You are a product of your environment and eventually you become educated to the extent that, through logic and reasoning, you develop a serious doubt about what you have been fed as the gospel truth. Within animism and other primal modes of thought it is reasonable to fear and be subservient to the powers of natural phenomena (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, lightning, etc). The success of religion has relied on indoctrination of our civilization's youth and making us fear that we are finite beings who have to die. When we can break that cycle we will have conquered a major hurdle in our development as a species.
@Ed – I agree. That is the essence of belief. People that have not developed critical thinking skills do not have the ability to objectively question what they hold to be true. They come to accept what they believe as being the truth because they cannot suspend that belief long enough to comprehend not believing it. They are unable to think freely about concepts that run contrary to what they believe.
That is why, for example, that many theists assume that “it takes as much faith to be an atheist as it does to believe”. They cannot seem to grasp what atheism means. It does not primarily mean a denial of what they believe but rather that we do not believe in any gods existing. When I explain to a theist that “I do not believe what you believe” I get a puzzled look. I tell them that 1 billion Chinese and one billion Muslims do not believe what you believe so what are you not “knocking on their doors”?
The other thing about theists is that they often believe in astrology and other forms of woo (have they not read their Bibles? Even though they believe they are saved, they have a much greater fear of death than atheists seem to have. They are all just too spiritual.