Here’s an example of cultural Darwinian evolution: survival of the slickest.
Pharyngula commenter Richard Harris wrote,
Warfare, & the desire for culture, spread the gods of the Mesopotamians, Babylonians, Assyrians, etc, throughout the Middle East in ancient times.
The Hebrews, wandering through this region & Egypt too, saw many cultures with gods ruling societies as if they (the gods) actually lived amongst the people, or the priests & rulers, anyway.
So the Hebrews, putting 2 & 2 together, ended up with just the one god, & its been passed on to our society. We’ve inherited a version of the feckin’ nonsense.
When he mentioned tribes being ruled “as if the gods were living among them,” a little light went on in my head. Why was there a “holy of holies,” an inner room that no one could enter but the priests? That was where The God Lived. Nowadays we read the Bible and think of the inner sanctum as a spiritual thing, “the presence of God.” But what a con! What a foolproof con! “There’s a big, powerful, dangerous god in my tent and he will smite you unless you make offerings. Bring me oil, and bread, and the choicest, unblemished animals. The blood is sprinkled on the altar for God, the meat is cooked, and the offering must be eaten only by the priest and his family. Of course you can’t see him—the very sight would strike you dead!” Oh, and your prosperity offering will be returned to you a hundredfold as God brings you good luck and defeats your enemies.
It was like televangelism, even before we had television.
Aside from providing a free living in normal times, it means survival in hard times. The God must be fed first, before anyone else. So the priest’s family, by extension, gets to eat even if food is short. What a beautiful con!