Warfare and Religion

Prior to overpopulation

Humans live in small hunter-gatherer groups more or less like their ape ancestors, with little thought for the future and little culture or religion. Occasional violent disputes within the group, but no true warfare. Discontented members of group move elsewhere rather than fight. This is possible because plenty of unpopulated territory.

Initial stage of overpopulation

Groups battle one another for scarce resources. Males dominanate females to a much greater degree than previously, because males are so much more effective at fighting, in this era of hand-to-hand combat using primitive weapons that require upper body strength. Males are incentivized to fight by positive and negative incentives ("carrots and sticks"). Examples of negative incentives: soldiers on the losing side will be killed, enslaved, driven into the desert where survival is difficult; soldiers who do not show bravery will be killed by their officers. Positive incentives: males on the winning side will be given young women, land and other valuables. Booty, in other words, is an positive incentive for men to risk their lives attacking the enemy. Religions of conquest and booty: Old Testament Judaism, Homeric and Nordic warrior Gods, Hinduism of the Vedas.

Later stage of overpopulation

Most people living just above the level of starvation, with little surplus left over for paying soldiers. Resources extracted from the defeated enemy barely compensate for the cost of waging war, especially when the enemy consists of marauding bandits from desert regions. Soldiers thus no longer have much positive incentive for fighting. The negative incentive of being punished for cowardice still exists, but this is not a powerful incentive if the soldier has the option of running away and joining the bandits in the deserts, and if the soldiers are so ill-paid that life as a desert bandit would not represent a severe reduction in standard of living. So soldiers must be socialized to be willing to fight and risk their lives without incentives for doing so. This is the most important purpose of major religions the pre-modern era: teach men to die, which is equivalent to teaching a contempt for life and primacy of spirit versus body. Christianity, later Judaism, Islam, later Hinduism, Buddhism, cults of chivalry and dueling and Russian roulette (European responses to Islam).

After invention of equalizer weapons

Age of technological warfare. Dominance by those with superior social skills, of either sex. Social institutions and traditions that arose during the age of hand-to-hand warfare no longer make sense. In particular, physical courage and willingness to die are no longer important, nor is the superior upper-body strength of males versus females. Indeed, physical weakness and cowardice may be more valuable than physical strength and courage, because weakness and cowardice can be used to motivate men and women to work harder and smarter so as to develop defenses against enemies and thus protect against physical injury and death. Religions of death are replaced by religions of life, Virgin or Goddess worship in particular, teaching primacy of body versus spirit.