“Everything Happens for a Good Reason”
Many people believe and say this often.
It’s a more secular version of the highly common saying: “It is God’s Will”.
Here, a DESIGN by God is assumed and implied for everything that happens in the Universe, including those in human-lives.
What does SCIENCE, especially Biology since Darwin, has to say on this?
In Summary, it says:
‘God, as portrayed by most Religions, does not exist. There is no design of any kind (including “Intelligent Design”).
There is a big component of chance in all happenings in the Universe, including those in human-lives.
Natural Selection is the driving-force behind the Evolution of the Species. Random mutations that occur in their genes constitute the biochemical basis of this ongoing process’
“Everything Happens for a Good Reason” and “It is God’s Will” are surely comforting thoughts, asking us to have faith in God and surrender to our “fates“ designed and determined by Him.
Also implied is the idea that it will all work out for us, so we need not worry too much (as long as we obey certain rules and act accordingly, as required by most Religions).
In EVOLUTIONARY terms, this kind of belief-system may have been an ADAPTIVE-RESPONSE of humans, which got established – most likely in their genes – as they gradually evolved from the apes, long time ago in Africa.
I very much doubt that the apes, or the other animals down the evolutionary-ladder, have a notion or sense of God, fate, or even a conscious awareness of the future much beyond the “now“.
That’s why they probably don’t feel any ANXIETY (including “Existential Angst”), other than the temporary STRESS they must experience, as induced by the daily dangers and challenges that they’re aware of, from moment to moment (such as the predators nearby; food & water shortages; competition for mates; the wrath of the alpha-males… ).
Such TEMPORARY stresses can be dealt with the deployment of the innate “FIGHT or FLIGHT” Response that most species have evolved to possess, including us, the humans.
It’s the PROLONGED (Chronic) Stress and Anxiety that is the real problem (more on that, below).
Philosophers have long thought about the reasons why the notions of God and the practice of Religion exist in humans.
Evolutionary Psychologists like to base their arguments on some sort of adaptive-advantage that perhaps got coded in the human genome, over millennia.
Here, I’d like to elaborate on that evolution-based explanation, and try to make it more specific. The point I’ll be making might have already been made by the others. If so, I apologize and yield to them.
I propose here that the notion of GOD (Spiritually) is an adaptive-response that helps reduce ANXIETY in humans.
It got established in our genes through natural-selection during our evolution from the apes.
ANXIETY, in turn, is mainly an outcome of conscious FUTURE-AWARENESS, possessed by us humans (and, not by our closest relatives, the apes. Certainly not by other species lower in the evolutionary-ladder).
FUTURE-AWARENESS allows us to plan ahead – which has obvious survival advantages – but also leads to prolonged ANXIETY (which has a negative-impact on human procreativity. More on that below).
A Sense of GOD counters the anxiety through the COMFORTING and CALMING effects it provides on the human-mind. This is an advantage for both the survival and procreation-potential of an individual. Therefore, it is expected to be selected at the GENE level, during human evolution.
ANXIETY’s Negative-Impact on PROCREATION:
First, the scientifically-established facts:
1- Anxiety reduces sex-desire in both man and women.
2- It causes erectile-dysfunction in man.
Following is speculative on my part; I’m not aware of any published scientific-study supporting this, yet it is reasonable to consider that:
Anxiety may lower the fertility of a woman; her ability to get pregnant; sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg.
The sperm-count of men experiencing prolonged anxiety may be lowered by anxiety, as well.
The following section is also somewhat speculative, because the scientific-evidence I’m basing my suggestions on are not well established, but they do exist:
There is some scientific-evidence indicating that the stress level of the mother during her pregnancy effects the future sexual-orientation of the fetus.
Babies who’s mothers had experienced extreme stress and anxiety during pregnancy have a higher propensity to be gay when they grow up.
*NOTE: Here, I’m using the term “gay” to refer to both male and female homosexual-individuals.
This biological-effect is most likely due the influence of the circulation stress-hormones in the bloodstream of the mother on the developing brain of the fetus in the womb.
Therefore, I’m speculating that the anxiety of the mother during her pregnancy could reduce the procreation-chances of her off-springs when they grow up (with the assumption that gays procreate less frequently than heterosexuals).
This also brings up an interesting line of reasoning:
There is currently no scientific-evidence for the existence of a “gay gene”. Therefore, the sexual disposition of a baby in the womb may be mostly determined by the biochemicals circulating in the bloodstream of the mother.
As mentioned, the stress-hormones of the mother – being higher under extreme stress and anxiety – may be the major determining-biochemicals in the bloodstream of the mother which is, of course, shared by the fetus.
This would explain why there is a biological-basis for homosexuality, yet it is not necessarily in the genes of the baby, but rather in what she/he experiences and exposed to in the womb.
A consequence of this would be that the “gay gene” will not be selected against over generations (one would expect it would, due to the reduced procreation by gays), because no such gene really exists.
Yet, the reasons for anxiety are always present in a society at all times (at least at the individual level), while anxiety having it’s effect on the fetus through the pregnant mother’s circulating stress-hormones.
In conjunction with a few other (yet unknown) biological-factors, every generation therefore will have a certain percentage of gay individuals, albeit at varying percentages. This is pretty much what is observed in all the countries where there is reliable statistics.
To reiterate: there may not be a genetic basis for homosexuality, but the ever present anxiety for the pregnant mothers could provide the biological basis for its continued existence in every generation.
*For some of these ideas expressed above, please also see my article on Facebook.com/TheTraffick/ on June 27th, 2016:
The sense and notion of GOD were selected at the gene-level because of their comforting and calming effects towards reducing anxiety.
Anxiety – which has negative-impact on human survival and procreation-potential – is mostly due to the conscious future-awareness humans possess.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Celik Kayalar, PhD.
Former research-associate and faculty in life-sciences at MIT, UC Berkeley and UCLA.