Prof. Robert Sapolsky Bio 150/250, Spring 2002 Human Behavioral BiologyThe Biology of ReligionI. Some opening caveats, disclaimers and fine printII. Religion and belief1. A return to the final question of the schizophrenia lecture2. Genes and the advantages of intermediate penetrance: sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis....and schizophrenia?3. The Kety schizophrenia adoption studies: their second discovery, and the continuum of traits.4. Schizotypal personality disorder: social withdrawal, odd perceptual experiences, a tendency towards concreteness, metamagical belief.5. Who are the traditional schizotypals?a. Paul Radin, Erwin Ackerknecht and Paul Devereux: hearing voices at the right timeb. Alfred Kroeber’s elaboration: “Psychosis or Social Sanction.” The common roots of ‘sanction’ and ‘sanctuary.’c. Western cultures and schizotypalism III. Religion and ritualistic practices1. Obsessive compulsive disordera. Obsessive thoughts: intrusions, blasphemies, and so on.b. Compulsive rituals: self-cleansing, food preparation, leaving and entering, numerology and symmetryc. Genetic, neuroanatomical and neurochemical hints2. Ritualism of the religious orthodoxy3. Hindu Brahmans: hours of daily purification rituals involving cleansing, cyclical nostril breathing, defecation, ratios of handfuls of food from the left versus right hand, rules for entering temples....4. Orthodox Jewry and the magical combination of 365 prohibitions and 248 requirements: cleansing, food preparation, and the importance of numerology over content.5. Orthodox Islam: rules for numbers of mouthfuls of water, for entering and leaving a lavatory, for handwashing, and, of course, magical numbers.6. The rituals of Orthodox Christianity: the magical number 3, the multiplicities of Hail Marys and rosary use down to Lutheran organists advised about dotted rhythms in the Lutheran hymnal7. Freud: “obsessional neurosis as individual religiosity and religion as a universal obsessional neurosis.”8. Ignatius Loyola and the 15th century concept of “scrupulosity.”9. The underlying adaptive value of anxiety reduction10. Making a living as an obsessive compulsivea. An example in a 16th century monk named Luder: “The more you cleanse yourself, the dirtier you get.”11. Why should OCD and religious rituals have such similar patterns?a. An ecological explanationb. A historical explanationIV. Religion and the attribution of causality1. Superstitious conditioning in animals2. Hippocampal damage and increased vulnerability to superstitious conditioning.V. Philosophical religiosity1. Temporal lobe epilepsy: humorlessness; perseveration; neophobia and a "sticky" or "viscous" personality; hypergraphia; concern with religious issues. Some concluding thoughts: What am I not saying1. You gotta be crazy to be religious2. That most people’s religiousness is biologically suspect3. That faith is any more biologically accessible or interesting than is loss of faithSome further readings: Mark Saltzman, Lying Awake (a superb novel about the religious implications of temporal lobe epilepsy). David S Wilson, Darwin’s Cathedral. 2002 Univ. Chicago Press. Religious groups as units of selection. Sapolsky. “Circling the blanket for God.” In: The Trouble With Testosterone’ and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament.