Effect Of Organized "Higher Religion" On People's Innate Dispositions Towards Supernatural Beliefs

Organized "higher religion" changed this [the innate hardwiring that humans have that disposition them towards supernatural beliefs] somewhat, channeling and leveraging some intuitions (the afterlife, gods, etc.), but marginalizing others (ghosts, demigods, etc.). In particular, there has always been a tension between the relatively narrow set of beliefs acceptable to religious professionals and the elites, and the more general and diverse array of superstitions in circulation among the populace. Religious "reform" movements often aim at extirpating folk religion whose general outlines seem culturally universal; e.g., relics, veneration of local saints and demigods, and traditional fertility festivals. This was evident in both the Protestant and Catholic Reformation, and also among Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists, who attempt to strip out what they perceive to be exogenous accretions to the "true religion."

-- Razib Khan

from "Who believes in the evil eye?"

Quoted on Fri Jun 24th, 2011