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Natural Selection Selects for Security

altruism, atheism, attachment theory, cognitive psychology, emotions, evolutionary psychology, evolution and human behavior, Does God exist, mind and brain, natural selection, placebo effect, feeling secure, self-esteem, human values
altruism, atheism, attachment theory, cognitive psychology, emotions, evolutionary psychology, evolution and human behavior, Does God exist, mind and brain, natural selection, placebo effect, feeling secure, self-esteem, human values
altruism, atheism, attachment theory, cognitive psychology, emotions, evolutionary psychology, evolution and human behavior, Does God exist, mind and brain, natural selection, placebo effect, feeling secure, self-esteem, human values 
altruism, atheism, attachment theory, cognitive psychology, emotions, evolutionary psychology, evolution and human behavior, Does God exist, mind and brain, natural selection, placebo effect, feeling secure, self-esteem, human values 

To understand how belief systems work, we must first understand how natural selection works, because our belief systems have been naturally selected for. The currently generally accepted understanding of evolutionary biologists and evolutionary psychologists is that natural selection selects for traits that increase reproductive success. They believe that traits that sufficiently prolonged our ancestors’ survival, so as to include their reproductive years, increased their reproductive success. But simple reasoning, without need for any additional study, reveals that a survivalist theory of natural selection is a subtle but monumental mistake and should be replaced by a security theory of natural selection.

A survivalist theory of natural selection is wrong because there is no known trait that can directly prolong survival. Genes code for traits that are behaviors (mechanisms) or for structures that enable behaviors to prolong survival by preventing early death. Prolonging survival (increasing life expectancy) is a goal that can be accomplished only by taking security (safety) measures to prevent death from occurring. Security measures are taken to prevent bad outcomes of any type. Only preventive measures can prevent death. Prevention is crucial to the understanding of how natural selection works. Other than for security measures, there is no recognized mechanism to prolong survival. Even therapeutic measures taken against disease are security measures taken to prevent death. We, and all living organisms, are an aggregate of adaptations that have been naturally selected for because they increase security.

Switching from a survivalist to a security paradigm for the understanding of behavior may seem minor, but it has major consequences. As a result, the behaviors of all living organisms, including all plants and animals, and the parts, systems, and organs of all living organisms, have security as their goal, so that everything we do, both physically and mentally, even telling the truth or lying, is done to increase our security. The new understandings of belief and behavior based on a security paradigm, which are presented in this essay, are far from trivial. They introduce a new chapter in evolutionary psychology.

Surprisingly, the need to feel secure is so strong that it is more important than life itself. Those who have lost their security and/or their feeling of security that follows security, and have become deeply depressed, sometimes commit suicide. In primitive societies human sacrifices were offered to appease gods with the hopes that the gods would provide them security. Islamist fundamentalists kill themselves and others on behalf of Allah, who, they believe, provides them total security. And countries war against each other to increase their security or merely their feeling of security. The mechanism that makes people so avidly seek security is the same mechanism that compels drug addicts to rabidly seek drugs: the brain's reward system. The reward system has programmed us to seek security at all costs.