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How religion promotes confidence about paternity - Comments

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 1 by strangebrew

OP

Religious patriarchy is directly analogous to the mate-guarding tactics used by animals to ensure paternity.

Oh Fer fuck sake...er!! duuuhuuurr!

'Menstrual huts'...I can really expect the rethuglians to go all evangelical about that bill being introduced under the next senate vote. Although the paternity thing might be a little tricky!

Keep them thar wimmins' bare foot pregnant and in de kitchen!

It fails to explain how come domestic violence, unplanned pregnancy, divorce rates are so high amongst the xian religious in the West though?

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 18:28:00 UTC | #946178

Sharpur's Avatar Comment 2 by Sharpur

Religious practices that strongly control female sexuality are more successful at promoting certainty about paternity...

"The major world religions sprang from patriarchal societies in which the resources critical to reproduction, whether in the form of land or livestock, were inherited from father to son down the male line," Strassmann and colleagues write. "Consistent with patrilineal inheritance, the sacred texts set forth harsh penalties for adultery and other behaviors that lower the husband's probability of paternity. The scriptures also place greater emphasis on female than on male chastity, including the requirement of modest attire for women and the idealization of virginity for unmarried females."

Translation: Patriarchy favours patriarchs.

The study, which was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, is part of Strassmann's ongoing, 26-year study of the Dogon people.

Would the National Science Foundation like to fund me to spend the next 26 years stating the bleeding obvious?

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 18:43:17 UTC | #946180

crucialfictionofjesus's Avatar Comment 3 by crucialfictionofjesus

Cuckoldry! Love that word.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 18:53:37 UTC | #946182

Carney's Avatar Comment 4 by Carney

It's not just about culture, as in religion. It's also about genes. If you practice the double standard (preventing the women in your group from out-breeding, while encouraging the men in your group to do so), you spread your genes to other groups (and force them to expend energy and resources caring for your offspring) while preventing them from doing the same. Over time, groups that did not have a double standard would be outbred if not wiped out. Thus strong selection pressures exist for groups to limit female promiscuity and to some extent celebrate male promiscuity.

The same selective pressures exist for things like violence and chivalry. Since women can only have perhaps 20 children at the very most per lifetime while men can father thousands of children, women are the reproductive bottleneck. In a war between two groups (tribes, clans, ethnicity, whatever), if 99% of the males are lost in combat but the women are unharmed, the group's population can bounce back in one generation (albeit with some loss of genetic diversity) providing that polygamy is legitimized. But if 99% of the females are lost the blow is shattering; it will take a long time to rebuild the group's population.

Men are expendable, even disposable. That's why we're more aggressive and risk-tolerant. Women are less expendable, which is why they are not only more risk-averse, but also are usually more protected.

Now contrast a group that refrains from sending its women into combat, and goes to extra effort to protect them, and feels extra outrage and desire for retaliation if they are harmed, versus a group that ignores the comparatively greater reproductive loss if a woman is killed, and does not go out of its way to avenge and thus deter their being killed more than its men being killed. Over the long haul, the group with a chivalrous, protect the females, attitude is more likely to spread, multiply, and spread its genes.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 19:47:54 UTC | #946187

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 5 by aquilacane

The man is expendable, no real need to know.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 20:37:29 UTC | #946198

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 6 by aquilacane

Religious practices that strongly control female sexuality are more successful at promoting certainty about paternity.

of course,

Religious practices that strongly control human thought are more successful at promoting certainty about opinions.

and we must also consider

All practices that strongly control female sexuality are more successful at promoting certainty about paternity… unless they are lesbians.

while,

Scientific practices that strongly control studies are 100% successful at promoting certainty about paternity.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 20:50:08 UTC | #946201

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 7 by Katy Cordeth

Religious practices that strongly control female sexuality are more successful at promoting certainty about paternity

In related news, it was announced today that Benedict XVI is a member of the Roman Catholic Church; and that caniform mammals of the family Ursidae can frequently be observed expelling undigestable food matter in locales which are characterised by their having an abundance of tall perennial plants.

Religious patriarchy is directly analogous to the mate-guarding tactics used by animals to ensure paternity.

There you have it in a nutshell. This is the reason why I find it hard to get as angry over religion as so many others do. The whole sorry business: the subjugation of half the human population of this planet, be it by the butchering of our sexual organs, or forcing us to spend our entire lives viewing the world through a letterbox-shaped hole in our mobile tent, or convincing so many of us to become hitched to some guy whose bones turned to dust centuries before we were born; the entire thing is just a more sophisticated, bells-and-whistles version of the stuff 'lower' animals do in order to ensure the continuation of their genes.

The weird thing is that many of us who know that Homo sapiens is just another species of animal with no divine provenance will take issue with the idea that the appalling actions of religionists can be mitigated by the knowledge that all their inane practices and rituals are just modified animal behaviour. And any arguments we can offer as to why the horrors committed in the name of religion should not be excused will always boil down to the idea that humans should know better or do better or be better than animals.

Ah, the irony. Like the tears of a bambi or a lion king. So bitter. Yet so delicious.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 21:17:20 UTC | #946209

Dovahkiin's Avatar Comment 8 by Dovahkiin

Comment 7 by katy Cordeth : There you have it in a nutshell. This is the reason why I find it hard to get as angry over religion as so many others do. The whole sorry business: the subjugation of half the human population of this planet, be it by the butchering of our sexual organs, or forcing us to spend our entire lives viewing the world through a letterbox-shaped hole in our mobile tent, or convincing so many of us to become hitched to some guy whose bones turned to dust centuries before we were born; the entire thing is just a more sophisticated, bells-and-whistles version of the stuff 'lower' animals do in order to ensure the continuation of their genes.

When I read this I immediately thought of a film that inspired the filmmaker David Lynch. Extremely sadistic independent film which I can't remember the title from the 1930's, where this kind, intelligent, beautiful young woman tries to help liberate "circus freaks" from their oppressive sadomasochist "circus master". This was all well and good until they started chanting let's make her "one of us, one of us" and proceeded to chop off her limbs to make her fit their standards....disgusting I know.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 00:43:36 UTC | #946244

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 9 by Katy Cordeth

I believe the film you have in mind is Tod Browning's Freaks (1932), a fantastic, haunting movie, panned on its release and banned for many years in the UK. It's well worth seeking out, as it's as compelling today as it must have been back then.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 01:11:43 UTC | #946246

Roedy's Avatar Comment 10 by Roedy

This suggests DNA tests may be able to replace these strict controls on women.

Some societies threw up their hands at determining paternity, and handled inheritance down the maternal line with the woman's brother being responsible for helping raise the children.

I remember the pill overturned the prudish hold the Christians held on everyone. A piece of technology like the DNA test might do far more to crack Islamic paternalism than any amount of persuasion.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 02:07:00 UTC | #946250

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 11 by Red Dog

Comment 10 by Roedy :

This suggests DNA tests may be able to replace these strict controls on women.

Perhaps. But while ensuring paternity may have been the reason these controls started I doubt that an alternative means of such an assurance would make the controls go away. Probably not even decrease much. There is a whole culture that wants to control women for many other reasons than just assuring paternity.

Speaking of religion and controlling women I just finished a book I think most people on this site would find interesting. Under The Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer. Its a brief history of some of the violence associated with the Mormon church. Even for someone as cynical as me it was an eye opener.

Until I read this book I used to think that in principle polygamy should be a choice just as gay marriage should be. I never realized that polygamy is so often a nice way of saying child rape. So many Mormons end up marrying their step daughter or even their daughters when they are 12-14. The book documents how leaders in the Mormon church essentially manipulated their flock so that they could rape girls and how they would use violence against anyone who got in their way. And of course since they are always doing what they do for the glory of God they feel perfectly justified in killing people who get in the way of God's will.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 02:41:36 UTC | #946253

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 12 by Red Dog

Comment 7 by katy Cordeth :

Religious practices that strongly control female sexuality are more successful at promoting certainty about paternity

In related news, it was announced today that Benedict XVI is a member of the Roman Catholic Church; and that caniform mammals of the family Ursidae can frequently be observed expelling undigestable food matter in locales which are characterised by their having an abundance of tall perennial plants.

Just because something seems intuitively true doesn't mean it actually is. And even more so it doesn't mean you can use it as a scientific fact in building a theory, for example a theory about how and why religion evolved in humans. This seems like very interesting and worthwhile work to me.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 02:43:36 UTC | #946254

oeditor's Avatar Comment 13 by oeditor

What about the argument that in some Muslim societies woman are valued below livestock? That would suggest it's more a simple matter of ownership rather than paternity.? After all, ownership of slave girls had Mohammed's approval.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 10:09:30 UTC | #946298

Corylus's Avatar Comment 14 by Corylus

I could not see any mention of a comparison of cuckoldry rates of males who are beaten to the post by men who are strangers, and those who are beaten to the post by relatives. Simple enough to check when running the DNA test I would have thought.

I mention this because there are traditional strategies of preferring cuckoldry by kin which can be either religious in origin i.e. the various forms of levirate marriage or tribal, i.e. the distinctly unpleasant practise of a new bride being forced to have sex with her father-in-law first on her wedding night.

Of course, the distinction between tribal and religious will be almost impossible to tease out in many cases, but the data would have been interesting.

P.S. Uncomfortable menstrual huts? Oh, that's nice: just to make such things extra, super fun.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 10:48:58 UTC | #946301

lawrence of arabia's Avatar Comment 15 by lawrence of arabia

No doubt about it. You have to keep women under control, or they will end up controlling YOU. (which, come to think of it, could be fun, under certain circumstances.)

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 05:18:03 UTC | #946504

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 16 by Stafford Gordon

Part and parcel of living is trusting and being trustworthy. In other words - becoming adult!

Religion infantilizes.

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 07:58:42 UTC | #946522

Duff's Avatar Comment 17 by Duff

I have a wonderful idea. A man can ensure his paternity to nearly 100 percent certainty by locking his woman in a cell for her entire productive life. It works every time and I hear the women really like it a lot.

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 19:11:00 UTC | #946606

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 18 by SaganTheCat

so, religion is the final death rattle of the ever shrinking Y chromosome?

such an undignified end

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 14:27:25 UTC | #946868