Ara Norenzayan's Theory Of Mind

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The origin of the human belief in higher power is a topic of great exploration. One way to understand this is through theory of mind. Theory of mind is the ability to infer information about others based on their beliefs, goals, and desires; it allows humans“to reason about the unobservable mental states of others” (Bering 172). It enables us to better understand other people, to make assumptions, and to save us from troubles or embarrassments. Theory of mind helps humans live functional lives. In addition to helping people form relationships, theory of mind plays an important role in the development of human belief in supernatural agents. These beliefs then continue to influence societies by installing a certain ideal behavior that was expected …show more content…
Theory of mind is an important part of what makes us human. People tend to project their assumptions made using theory of mind on a variety of things, not just human beings. Ara Norenzayan in his book Big Gods discusses the human tendency to “ “see human” in all kinds of things and beings, from natural formations, to artifacts, to pets and gods” (17). This tendency to assign emotional qualities to objects or ideas made gods personal for people. Instead of looking at gods as a force with no human-like qualities, people tend to prescribe human-like qualities to inanimate things and ideas. “When people pray to God, they want to know what God thinks and wishes” (Norenzayan 15). People desire a personal relationship with the supernatural agent. Creating a relationship with an invisible force is complex unless it can be understood through a simpler ideal such as a human being. Theory of mind encourages the individual to prescribe certain feelings and human like qualities to objects and ideas that would not …show more content…
Theory of mind has influenced a deeper connection between a supernatural agent and a human being, while separating the two. Individuals tend to vision gods as being above them, as all powerful, and all seeing beings that judge everyone. These supernatural agents helped the formation of large cooperative communities. Individuals acted morally because they were under an impression that they were always watched from high above and all of their bad acts would be seen by supernatural agents. This contributed to a more modest behavior, therefore increasing the likelihood of others wanting to associate with particular individuals. Believers started to form communities and work together. These communities were held together by watchful eyes of the higher force. Individuals made an effort to act morally in order to be valuable members of the community that was made. These communities were held together by the same pair of watchful eyes. Individuals were more afraid to be seen in the wrong light from higher above than down below. Theory of mind has allowed for a formation of a strong religious bond, resulting a strong community of people sharing same beliefs and

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