The evolutionary biologist is puzzled: why would evolved creatures like human beings, bent on survival and reproduction, do things that seem unrelated and even inimical to thoseobjectives? This is a critical question, not only because religion poses an intellectual dilemma for Darwinists, but also because Darwinists are hoping that by explaining the existence of religion they can expose its natural roots and undermine its supernatural authority. Biologist E. 0. Wilson writes that “we have come to the crucial stage in the history of biology when religion itself is subject to the explanations of the natural sciences?’ He expresses the hope that sometime soon “the final decisive edge enjoyed by scientific naturalism will come from its capacity to explain traditional religion, its chief competitor, as a wholly material phenomenon.”‘

So how far have these evolutionary theories progressed in accounting for the success of religion? “The proximate cause of religion might be hyperactivity in a particular node of the brain?’ Dawkins writes. He also speculates that “the idea of immortality survives and spreads because it caters to wishful thinking.” But it makes no evolutionary sense for minds to develop comforting beliefs that are evidently false. Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker explains, “A freezing person finds no comfort in believing he is warm. A person face to face with a lion is not put at ease by the conviction that he is a rabbit.” Wishful thinking of this sort would quickly have become extinct as its practitioners froze or were eaten.