Scientists are trying to create a civilization without God
Daily Mail | March 5, 2015
A common thread through many of the world's dominant religions that those who do not follow the same faith are barbarians.
Yet new research has now challenged the conventional idea that belief in a powerful and judgmental God is necessary to form large, complex civilisations.
Anthropologists have found that belief in supreme deities often emerged after complex societies had already formed.
The scientists studied the development of religion and cultures on Pacific islands that make up Austronesia.
They examined 96 ancient Austronesian cultures - including those on Fiji, Tonga, Hawaii and Samoa - that had not had contact with Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam.
Dr Joseph Watts, an expert in cultural evolution at the University of Auckland in new Zealand, said: 'We found 22 instances of high political complexity through out historically and geographically distant regions of Austronesia.
'The results presented here cast doubt on the widely held view that moralizing high gods facilitate the emergence of political complexity.
'Although beliefs in moralizing high gods do co-evolve with political complexity, beliefs follow rather than drive political complexity.'
Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading believed the key to increasing political complexity was language not religion.
He said that societies became more complex as networks of trade and reputation emerged.
Instead he said that all powerful gods perhaps were useful as a tool to help those in power to cement their grip on a society.
He said: 'As soon as you have a large society generating lots of goods and services, this wealth can be put to use by someone who can grab the reins of power.
'The most immediate way to do this is to align yourself with a supreme deity and then make lists of things people can and cannot do, and these become ‘morals’ when applied to our social behavior.'