The Rap Guide to Religion

by Baba Brinkman

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about

The Rap Guide to Religion is a hip-hop concept album about the evolution of religious instincts, by Canadian science rapper Baba Brinkman. If the answer to the number one BIG QUESTION of religion is "no", what other questions are worth asking? This album tackles the OTHER big questions of religion, such as "How did faith evolve?", "Does it serve any adaptive purpose today?", and "Is religion an adaptation, a byproduct of an adaptation, or a virus of the mind?”

With lyrics that were "peer reviewed" for accuracy by experts in the field of Evolutionary Religious Studies, Rap Guide to Religion offers fifteen tracks of mind-blowing science and auditory irreverence from a truly unique voice in hip-hop.

"Brinkman is able to successfully combine mind-expanding academic knowledge but with beats that make you tap your fingers on the steering wheel and earworms that can stay in your head for days."
– Daily Beast
www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/25/canada-s-white-rapper-takes-on-religion.html

"Terrific and informative"
– Huffington Post
www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-james-clark/baba-brinkman-rappin-reli_b_8516166.html

"A thought-provoking and hip exploration of some of humanity’s deepest concerns"
– This View of Life Magazine
evolution-institute.org/article/baba-brinkman-rapping-up-evolutionary-theories-of-religion/

"Major themes; big thinking"
– The Province
www.theprovince.com/touch/story.html?id=11516515

“Baba Brinkman is the Eminem of atheism and the Jay-Z of secularism—a rapping genius with biting wit that appeals to a whole new generation of free thinkers and humanists fed up with religion’s cultural dominance. His Rap Guide to Religion is for this decade what Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion was for the previous decade—a breakthrough work that changes peoples’ perspective."
—Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of "The Moral Arc"

"Rap Guide to Religion is insightful, daring, and hilarious. An unforgettable exploration of one of humanity's most enduring and puzzling experiences.”
— Ara Norenzayan, Professor of Psychology and Author of "Big Gods"

"A lyrical masterpiece that makes you bounce your head at the same time it makes you use it.”
— Peter Boghossian, Philosopher and Author of A Manual for Creating Atheists

"Baba Brinkman gets into your mind with music, drops in new ideas based on the latest science, and leaves you with a feeling of enlightenment.”
— Jonathan Haidt, Author of "The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion"

credits

released October 23, 2015

Special thanks to the 314 Kickstarter backers who made this album possible.

Shouts out to John Teehan, Michael Blume, Stewart Guthrie, Richard Sosis, David Sloan Wilson, and Jonathan Haidt – thanks for your "peer review" input.

And thanks to Kate Smurthwaite for clarifying my thinking on the BIG QUESTIONS of religion.

Song Credits:

1. Invocation
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds
Cello by Peggy Lee

2. Religion Evolves
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Co-Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds
Further Reading: 1. bit.ly/1EdHXxU
2. bit.ly/1KeBTpD

3. God of the Gaps (Feat. Gaiaisi)
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Chorus Vocals by Gaiaisi
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Additional Vocals by Linder Kidder
Mixed by Lin Gardiner
Further Reading: 1. www.religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/religion-as-anthropomorphism-an-interview-with-stewart-guthrie/
2. www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/04/08/398227737/what-the-god-of-the-gaps-teaches-us-about-science
3. www.michaelshermer.com/2013/07/gods-of-the-gaps/

4. Sapiosexual
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Further Reading: www.alisongopnik.com/papers_alison/Explain%20final.pdf

5. Give Thanks
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Further Reading: 1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_detection
2. bit.ly/1KeBOlV

6. Bad Things Happen
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Mixed by Lin Gardiner
Further Reading: www.mpmlab.org/Gray%20&%20Wegner%20(2010).%20Blaming%20God%20for%20our%20Pain.%20PSPR.pdf

7. Theory of Mind
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Co-Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds
www.livescience.com/20654-autism-belief-god.html

8. Byproduct to Benefit
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Additional Vocals and Guitars by Tom Van Deursen
Further Reading: genealogyreligion.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Adaptationist-Byproduct-Debate-Sosis.pdf

9. Spread It
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Co-produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds
Further reading: 1. robboyd.abcs.asu.edu/HenrichBoydRichersonHumNat08.pdf
2. www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(09)00024-5/fulltext


10. Virus of the Mind
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Guitars by Tom Van Deursen
Further Reading (Pro): www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/pmo/eng/Dawkins-MindViruses.pdf
Further Reading (Con): www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/16/why-no-longer-believe-religion-virus-mind

11. Andrew Murray
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Further Reading (Science): blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/gods-little-rabbits-religious-people-out-reproduce-secular-ones-by-a-landslide/
Further Reading (Andrew Murray): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Murray_(minister)

12. Fertility Gods
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Violin by Todd Reynolds
Mixed by Lin Gardiner
Further reading: denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm

13. Supernatural Punishment
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Further Reading: 1. www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6251/918.full
2. press.princeton.edu/titles/10063.html

14. Neighborhood Atheism (Feat. Greydon Square)
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds, G. Square)
Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Guest verse by Greydon Square
Further reading: www.scientificamerican.com/article/in-atheists-we-distrust/

15. Imagine
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Piano and Organ by Simon Kendall
String Arrangement by Simon Kendall
Cello by Peggy Lee
Violin by Mark Ferris
Further reading: www.naturalism.org/spirituality

Strings and additional keyboards on all songs except 12 recorded by Simon Kendall at Hammond Ave Studios.

Album Mastered by Mr. Simmonds

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Track Name: Invocation
Scribble scribble, inner vision
How does an original scripture get written?
How does it get taken for a true revelation
Instead of imagination; what’s the difference?
Slick talker, mystic stalker
Against all odds, white Canadian hip-hopper
Badge of honour, belong to the tribe
Tryin’ to find the rhythm and rhyme to describe
The ineffable, and measure the untestable
Eff with the ineffable and get your seminal vesicle
Severed. Gotta be more than clever
Promised land, but the promise can’t deliver
Mohamed the prophet of Islam was illiterate
Hella eloquent, hence considered legitimate
Nobody but god’s messenger could pull that off
As if Eminem had just freestyled “Rap God”

Improvisational skills improbable
Still I’m skeptical, probably neurological
Paul the Apostle, schizophrenic episode
Addicted to religion, time to get some methadone
Dead bodies everywhere, into the volcano
Symbolism carved with a blade on a gravestone
Jesus fish on a bumper, iconic
Darwin fish, spaghetti monster, ironic
Scientific method, quest for enlightenment
No flies to vinegar, honey to entice ‘em in
Rhymes are impediments, remedy forgetfulness
A temple to enshrine sentimental efflorescences
The crowd watches, like a voyeur
Negative assessment, Shiva the destroyer
Still conjuring words to invoke spirits
Witchcraft on the mic with the ghost lyrics

Swagger like a peacock, what is rap for?
Hand on my crotch, standing on a trapdoor
Encyclopedic, songs in a catalogue
Charles Darwin on the mic tryin’ to battle god
So many scattered thoughts, gotta reign ‘em in
Get my skates strapped on for the main event
Rap, religion, gotta take it serious
Don’t pull punchlines, somethin’ for the curious
Be fearless, and inquisitive
Much safer now than when the inquisition visited
Weave facts into rap vocabulary
And see if anything’s left that’s not imaginary
Try to rebuild the boat without sinkin’ it
Duct tape, keep it afloat, brinkmanship
No way to please both believers and heathers
Try to at least offend for the right reasons
Track Name: Religion Evolves
I spent my whole life perplexed by religiousness
Front door step debating with Jehova’s witnesses
I was a teenaged empirical thinker, a spiritual seeker
Obsessed with rap, I considered it lyrical research
This was the medium that I could think and speak in
Flippin’ ridiculous figures of speech over beats like every weekend
My CD collection became my personal gospel
I was an apostle, like Thomas, wondering was it impossible
To rock shows and still be thoughtful, so paradoxical
Speakin’ in tongues all over the drums like Pentecostals
I figured if I could master the craft I could start a new religion
Devoid of superstition, a descendent of secular humanism
With the ecstatic rituals of ancient mystical shamanistical
Visions, except based on philosophical naturalism
Which means no counterfactual claims, no supernatural
Nothin’ but reason and evidence, troops salute the rational
In my religion the truth is sacred, and science adjudicates it
And meditation is cool if you wanna find your buddha nature
But human nature exists too, and it’s not rude to face it
Enlightenment comes when we understand how evolution shapes it

It’s a demon haunted world, you can take it from Carl
Sagan, whether Christian or pagan, religion evolves
Whether it benefits one of us or whether it benefits all
Adaptive problems are gonna get solved, religion evolves
The bigger the scale of a society, the bigger the gods
People get along when someone’s watchin’ them, religion evolves
We’ll send a rocket on a manned mission to mars
If the holy wars don’t kill us first, let’s hope religion evolves

I’ll turn my religion upon itself like an ouroboros
Religion evolves, it adapts, ask a biologist
A cognitive psychologist, a sociologist
An anthropologist, a behavioural ecologist, religion is all of this
Two or three new religions get founded a day
They’re just like rap artists, most of them won’t be around in a decade
They all compete for space and followers and human devotion
Religion evolves ‘cause many are called but few are chosen
Approximately ten thousand religions are currently active
So forgive me if I don’t ask which exact version you practice
Chances are, flip of a coin, it’s probably Abrahamic
Half the planet is either Christian or Jewish or Islamic
We can track the demographics, study the epidemiology
But human beings have been religious since before the holocene
Twelve thousand years ago, agricultural revolution
Prior to that, most of our significant evolution
Small scale societies surviving in the pleistocene
Had a strong incentive to unite like a hive of bees
Religion is a device for binding people tribally
And if you’re in my tribe, well then I’ll die for you and you’ll die for me

It’s a demon haunted world, you can take it from Carl
Sagan, whether Christian or pagan, religion evolves
Whether it benefits one of us or whether it benefits all
Adaptive problems are gonna get solved, religion evolves
The bigger the scale of a society, the bigger the gods
People get along when someone’s watchin’ them, religion evolves
We’ll send a rocket on a manned mission to mars
If the holy wars don’t kill us first, let’s hope religion evolves

Religion is an evolved mental technology, definitely
But did it evolve culturally, or did it evolve genetically?
Or is it a byproduct of several other mental capacities
That evolved independently and separately function adaptively
Like agency detection systems triggered hyperactively
Or theory of mind, which means reading people tactically
Like, I know what you’re thinkin’ – who the hell is Baba Brinkman?
Is he some kind of cross between a prof and juvenile delinquent?
Yeah that’s right, that’s what I am, now let’s get back to the question at hand
I have a conscious mind and I’ll try to predict your thoughts as best I can
And I predict you’ve never considered what religion is adapted for
Or if you have, then I predict you’ve never heard it rapped before
So how do I know it’s adaptive? It could be random drift
It could be a byproduct of something else that has adaptiveness
Like your belly button, which amazing, but it’s not really for
Naval gazing; Nah, it’s a side effect of your umbilical chord
So religion might be a viral meme that’s parasitic
Or it might be an adaptation that maximizes descendants
It might benefit individuals, or it might benefit whole groups
Or it might be the invention of cynical priests trying to control you
Or it might be a belly button byproduct, or adaptive in the past
And maladaptive in the present, these are good questions to ask
And science can find the answers, and the answers are non-obvious
Except the answer to where religion doesn’t come from…

Divine providence
Track Name: God of the Gaps (Feat. Gaiaisi)
In the beginning were natural causes
A big bang and some physical processes
Until one species evolved this
Tendency to anthropomorphize objects
It was a clever little hominid
And other clever little hominids often surrounded it
So it had to have a workin’ definition
Of a person, a thing with intentions
A rock is different, predictable
It sits on the ground til you pick it up and throw it
You can't hurt it or owe it a favour
Or a debt, and if you did it wouldn't know it
A person though, can really punish you
Chew you up and spit you out when they're done with you
Comin' at you with a gift, or an arrow
Overlook a person at your peril
So the hominid started to err
On the side of finding persons everywhere
In the rivers, in the rains, in the air
You can’t see them, but they are there

God of the gaps, I claim
All that people can't explain
For thy glory, thy fame
Hallowed be thy name

God of the gaps, I was thirsty
For answers and you nursed me
My questions got deaded
I say "God did it”

Now the clever little hominid
Had good luck and thanked the gods for a lot of it
The gods had personal attributes
Genders, residences, attitudes
Our father who art in heaven
Gets pissed off whenever the bread’s leavened
The gods were jealous, they gave commands
And had super powers like Superman’s
Now the clever little hominid
Had a complex mind and religion was part of it
But another part of it was inquisitive
And had a thing for physical evidence
Over time it developed a skill set
Inductive reasoning, it couldn’t help it
Everywhere the gods were thought to inhabit
On investigation turned out to be not magic

God of the gaps, I claim
All that people can't explain
For thy glory, thy fame
Hallowed be thy name

God of the gaps, I was thirsty
For answers and you nursed me
My questions got deaded
I say "God did it”

Now the clever little hominid
Invented the scientific method and flaunted it
In the face of religious dogmatists
“We can explain what you thought the gods did!”
The scientific method was wild
No supernatural causes allowed
And yeah it really did make sense of a lot
But there were still a few gaps left for the gods
What came before the big bang?
How did the first living thing get made?
And why is almost everyone alive so religious
That’s gotta be divine interventionist
But like a baby in the bath with a running tap
Those gaps are filling up fast
So what you gonna do, shut off the faucet?
Or find a new gap for god with no conflict?

God of the gaps, I claim
All that people can't explain
For thy glory, thy fame
Hallowed be thy name

God of the gaps, I was thirsty
For answers and you nursed me
My questions got deaded
I say "God did it”

God of the gaps, I claim
All that people can't explain
For thy glory, thy fame
Hallowed be thy name

God of the gaps, I was thirsty
For answers and you nursed me
My questions got deaded
I say "God did it”
Track Name: Sapiosexual
Explanation is to cognition as orgasm is to reproduction

Your brain is a promiscuous explanation seeker
Info-maniac, desperately eager
To get it’s tentacles into something that makes sense
No rest for the insatiable, it stays drenched
In stimuli, that’s what it was designed for
Satisfaction is what it wants, it’s gotta find more
Perplexity is tension, it begs for release
Comprehension is bein’ mentally pleased
So lay your brain back, I’ll try to satisfy it
Just try it and I bet you keep comin’ back to buy it
I get turned on by the ultimate questions
One of the best ones is: why is sex fun?
That’s what I think about when orgasm hits
I’m like “unnhh” that’s gotta have adaptiveness
That doesn’t mean havin’ a baby is my secret motive
It’s just the reason people keep goin’ through these emotions
The urgency is potent, even with contraceptives
Natural selection only sees the consequences
Lust! It’s not the fault of the gods
Don’t mistake the mechanism for the ultimate cause

Sex is adaptive, babies are the side effect
Babies are not somethin’ we’re always tryin’ to get
Ten thousand orgasms for one child
Mostly no one’s around to catch what comes out

Knowledge is adaptive, beliefs are the side effect
The truth is not something we’re always tryin’ to get
Ten thousand gods for one answer found
Mostly no one’s around to fact check what comes out

So where my sapiosexuals at?
Where my sapiosexuals at?
Come on
Where my sapiosexuals at?
Where my sapiosexuals at?
Huh?

The design of a brain is a catch-all practice
If something worked in the past, on average
And led to reproductive success and passed genes on
It got adapted into the human theme song
‘Cause evolution favours whatever’s cheaper
Your brain is rigged up as a massive pleasure seeker
And if you want to get a person actively inquiring
Investigating their environment, they need the wiring
That gives ‘em that fire that burns in their stomachs
That need to know – that makes ‘em squirm when they’re flummoxed
And makes ‘em yearn for that information access
And makes ‘em feel good when they find answers
Even if they only have half of the story
Even if some of the answers are masturbatory
If the problems of life get solved overall
That promiscuous mental module will get installed
In the brain, which feels a need to believe
That things have been explained, and then it came
In which case god is the ultimate pleasure tickler
‘Cause god explains everything, in particular

Sex is adaptive, babies are the side effect
Babies are not somethin’ we’re always tryin’ to get
Ten thousand orgasms for one child
Mostly no one’s around to catch what comes out

Knowledge is adaptive, beliefs are the side effect
The truth is not something we’re always tryin’ to get
Ten thousand gods for one answer found
Mostly no one’s around to fact check what comes out

I’m in a state of curiosity feelin’ like… grrrhhh
But then the answer comes to me
And it hits me like… Aaaahhhh
Track Name: Give Thanks
First of all, I wanna thank god,
For blessing me to win this award
And for the fans who got my back,
I love y’all, and I thank god for that
You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through
To get here, so let me show you
I came from difficult circumstances,
And that affects a person’s chances
I was really good at school,
Straight A student, I played by the rules
My white middle class parents
Are still married, I never had a therapist
I never really committed crimes
I mean, I sold a bit of weed sometimes
For pocket money in university
But at twenty one I got my first degree
At twenty four got my masters,
And ever since then I made a living as a rapper
Twelve years no day job
Hence my unshakable faith in god
I mean, talk about a underdog
A middle class, caucasian rapper, what are the odds?
I would’ve thought Macklemore would have that on lock
For sure, but I guess not
‘Cause somehow I rap for a living
The lord is generous and forgiving
I ain’t even got the X-Factor
Least likely to make it as a rapper
And I rap about science
You can’t explain that without divine guidance
So I dedicate this award
To the lord

Everything happens for a reason
It’s all about what you believe in
And if you got a grievance
The lord works via mysterious events

Everything happens for a reason
It’s all about what you believe in
And if you didn’t win
Well, the lord is mysterious

Actually, I’m a atheist
It’s in my nature to take the piss
Just take “the lord” as a metaphor
For the audience I’m tryin’ to get on board
It sometimes seems kinda random
My phantom powers convert you to fandom
So I gotta thank Darwin
He can’t hear this or strike a bargain
But at least he gave us a framework
To understand how the brain works
A person is an intentional agent
With diverse mental representations
We got a brain like a smoke detector
Hyper-vigilant architecture
It goes off when there’s no agents around
Just in case, is that a face in the clouds?
You can’t take it for randomness
Cause if someone is there, that’s a chance you’ll miss
A chance to trade, a chance to mate
A chance to escape
But if nobody’s there, and you feel like there’s gotta be
Well, that’s religiosity
We feel this automatic attitude
An evolved emotion called “gratitude”
You can use it to recruit assistance
But it leads to superstitions
‘Cause sometimes you gotta give thanks
But to who? I’m drawin’ blanks
So I’ll thank this audience listening
For supporting rap with authenticity
And I dedicate this award
To the lord

Everything happens for a reason
It’s all about what you believe in
And if you got a grievance
The lord works via mysterious events

Everything happens for a reason
It’s all about what you believe in
And if you didn’t win
Well, the lord is mysterious
Track Name: Bad Things Happen
Let’s take a measure of the misery and pain
Suffered every second by every sentient being
With a brain, with a sensory experience
Sufficient to feel terrified, tortured, or furious
Subtract the ones who must have done somethin’
To justify this kind of comeuppance
And what’s left is the innocent remainder
Poor little lambs and babies in a manger
Who’s responsible for this calamity?
Natural disaster, deaths in the family
Tragedy strikes, and the victims react
With religion, that’s a well-known fact
Add up the infant mortality, pathogens
Infections, violent crimes and cancer deaths
And you end up with a “suffering index”
And the bigger that is, the bigger religion gets

Bad things happen to good people
Good things happen to bad people
Bad things happen to good people
Bad things happen, bad things happen
Bad things happen to good people
Good things happen to bad people
Any god who could change that
But chose not to, is evil

Here’s a catch-22 to grapple with
Religious people tend to be higher in happiness
And when tragedy strikes by accident
Religion spikes right after it
The more dysfunctional a country is
The more people turn to faith just to function in it
Secular people are less happy than people of faith
But secular places are more safe
And safe citizens really are happier
Compared to where hardship’s nastier
So the faithful have happier faces
Than heathens in places that lack the basics
But a heathen living in a safe place can
Be better off than somebody praying in a wasteland
Which means the more miserable you are
The more religious you are overall, FUBAR

Bad things happen to good people
Good things happen to bad people
Bad things happen to good people
Bad things happen, bad things happen
Bad things happen to good people
Good things happen to bad people
Any god who could change that
But chose not to, is evil

Whenever a devastating tragedy occurs
Our instinct is to look for the perpetrator first
“Who did that? We’re gonna punish somebody
Whoever did it is about to get beaten bloody!”
But some events have no person behind them
People infer the perpetrator is divine then
A supernatural agent was testing your faith when
He sent those raging tsunami waves in
And that’s a sticky situation
How do you punish a supernatural agent?
Logistically quite difficult
It’s kinda tricky when the target is invisible
You can’t stay mad at god, that’s pointless
You’re probably better off tryin’ to get anointed
And that’s why Mr. Almighty gets to claim
All the credit, and none of the blame

Bad things happen to good people
Good things happen to bad people
Bad things happen to good people
Bad things happen, bad things happen
Bad things happen to good people
Good things happen to bad people
Any god who could change that
But chose not to, is evil
Track Name: Theory of Mind
I can see into the minds of people, but I’m not a mentalist
No psychic powers required to predict your preferences
My mind is constantly uploading info like an iCloud
I can read your thoughts with just a glimpse of eyes and eyebrows
Lovin’ it, not lovin’ it, confident, confused, covetous
I can watch your body language for a second and discovered it
It’s called “perspective taking,” also known as “mentalizing”
When combined with oxytocin it can lead to empathizing
What’s he thinkin? What’s she thinkin? What’s he thinkin’ she’s thinkin’
I’m thinkin’ he’s thinkin’ that she’s keen to get a drink with him
But she’s thinkin’ he wants someone different to believe she’s into him
‘Cause competition can increase a person’s influence
Now take that scenario, expand it exponentially
And add layers of Shakespearean, Machiavellian density
Until survival depends on mapping intentions mentally
And that’s why evolution would have favoured this propensity

I got my mind on your mental and your mental on my mind…

No other animal can achieve this, believe it
A chimp or a dog might conceal where food has been hid
But a chimp can’t predict that when a man knows his wife believes
That he’s out of town, he’d better creep to keep an eye on things
And a dog could probably tell I’m good at rappin’ over these jams
But it can’t tell whether you think your mom would think her friends would be fans
That’s theory of mind: the ability to infer
The contents of the mental based on actions observe
‘Cause we have invisible minds, with their own beliefs and desires
Their own passions and pains when you hold their feet to the fire
It’s a necessary but insufficient condition for god belief
What do these ancestors and spirits and demons want from me?
Disembodied minds communicating with us via signs
Like coincidences and weather patterns and wind chimes
Are these the end times, like ancient alien ghost hunting?
Why don't they just tell us straight-up if they know something?

I got my mind on your mental and your mental on my mind…

If your ability to read mental content is disconnected
You probably have a condition on the autism spectrum
And that makes an intriguing prediction, it predicts
That god’s intentions should be invisible to autistics
And sure enough, they tend to think of god as an essence
But not as a presence with personal thoughts and intentions
And actually, autistic people are prone to atheism
Cause why place your faith in god if he doesn’t take positions?
If he’s perfectly indifferent; our religious intuitions
Need more to keep them sweet than a sense of supreme disinterest
And what's the opposite of a mind of the autistic kind?
It's a paranoid schizophrenic mind that sees religious signs
Of every size and shape on every side, every time
A person takes a step it's a direct message from the divine
Or a message from a devil, deception is his weapon
And how can you tell the difference? You can tell by what you step in

I got my mind on your mental and your mental on my mind…

Okay, I know what you’re thinkin’ – that’s a first-order theory
And you can tell that I know what you’re thinkin’ – second-order theory
Third-order: she can see that you can tell that I know what you’re thinkin
Fourth-order: keep a poker face and quit blinkin’
I can get inside your head in ‘bout a second so forget it
I’m the perfect combination of autistic and schizophrenic
Artistic and scientific, my skills are mentalistic
If I couldn’t represent you mentally I couldn’t spit this
I got Christian cousins, and they believe that god loves them
And hugs them and wants nothin’ but obedience from them
Which means their mental “theory of mind” module is buzzin'
Every time they pray to or for somethin'
That same module is how Mona Lisa sees into your soul
And how Scorsese movies can make a lotta dough
It all flows from that evolved capacity for mental hijinks
When you model a model of a model of what a mind thinks
Track Name: Byproduct to Benefit
What’s the original origin of religion?
Is it teleology? Agency detection?
Theory of mind, or anthropomorphism?
Those are byproducts of common social cognition
So there was no benefit, huh? No function?
Just a random bunch of intuitions and hunches
Just mental eruptions in a population of primates
Tryin’ to keep track of each others’ changeable mind states
Minds play tricks like Scarface and Bushwick 
They see intentions in every rustle of bushes
But so what if religion started kinda random
Nothin’ adaptive about it, just a spandrel?
That doesn't mean it stayed that way, it could've taken
A turn for the beneficial and become an adaptation
That’s what happened to feathers, birds can fly and soar
Even if their descended from a terrestrial dinosaur
But Jurassic World lost the plot a bit
It pissed off a whole lot of palaeontologists
‘Cause raptors had feathers, the question is why
Would evolution produce a feather that can’t fly?

Here’s a toast to the scavengers
Leveraging advantages
Makin’ something outta nothin’
Byproducts into benefits

Here’s a toast to survivors
To the dumpster divers
Makin’ beauty out of blemishes
Byproducts into benefits

Take a look at a flock of velociraptors
They can’t fly but feathers are also attractive
So they’re good for displays and mating dances
And they're fuzzy, so there's an insulation factor
How else you gonna to keep a tyrannosaur warm
In a rain storm? That's how the feather was formed
But dinosaurs ran into an asteroid apocalypse
A few survivors descended from archaeopteryx 
A new function for the feather was found 
Propelling an organism across the ground
Mutations accumulated and spread them flatter
Gradually makin’ them more aerodynamic 
And dinosaurs survived; they recolonized the earth
Today we know them as “birds”
Okay, dinosaurs didn't make it, but their descendants did
They turned a byproduct into a benefit

Here’s a toast to the scavengers
Leveraging advantages
Makin’ something outta nothin’
Byproducts into benefits

Here’s a toast to survivors
To the dumpster divers
Makin’ beauty out of blemishes
Byproducts into benefits

The original origins of religion
A side effect of social cognition
An imaginary population of intuitions 
Ancestors, gods and apparitions
But populations change, they’re not static
They fluctuate like soft plastic
Some gods proliferate, others fade away
Like Poseidon, who nobody prays to today
You're a Poseidon atheist, admit it
And you're comfortable with it, which makes you a militant
Poseidon atheist – “Poseidon theology”
Used to be huge, but now we call it “oceanography”
Beliefs change and impact behaviour
They spread from head to head through oral labia
So what's religion, a byproduct or benefit?
Well that depends on what you spread with it

Here’s a toast to the scavengers
Leveraging advantages
Makin’ something outta nothin’
Byproducts into benefits

Here’s a toast to survivors
To the dumpster divers
Makin’ beauty out of blemishes
Byproducts into benefits
Track Name: Spread It
When your brain absorbs information its kinda picky
So what makes a piece of information sticky?
Sticky-icky Sticky-icky-icky-icky
Repetition helps a little bit, definitely
Plus ideas spread when they’re counterintuitive
But minimally, ‘cause you don’t wanna ruin it
It’s not gonna get caught in your brain if it’s mundane
Just think about what they say in church on Sunday
A virgin gives birth, your sins are forgiven
A horse with wings carries a rider into heaven
A jealous god demands a human sacrifice
Water into wine, the dead coming back to life
Standard categories minimally violated
One step away from profane is the sacred
That’s why a rapper tells you he's millionaire
With twenty mistresses, but not a trillionaire
With twenty thousand – see, it’s gotta be plausible
We instinctively reject whatever's blatantly impossible
And if you want to spread ideas like a virus
Add a little dash of spice, sex and violence

Spread it, spread it spread it spread it
If it gets big enough you get credit
Spread it, post it on reddit
Spread it! Or else let it die and forget it

Spread it, spread it spread it spread it
If it gets big enough you get credit
Spread it, post it on reddit
Spread it! Or else let it die and forget it

Some ideas catch on ‘cause they’re adaptive
Others spread ‘cause the source is high status
A concept endorsed by somebody prestigious
Has a greater chance that other people will believe it
Justin Bieber get young girls into Jesus
And I tend to believe whatever Jay-Z says
Another factor is popular endorsement
When in Rome, do what the Romans do with their horses
And plus, people follow trustworthiness
But how can you tell if someone’s just a dirty snitch?
We follow people who can prove their commitment
To their belief system with costly investment
Actions speak louder than words, can ya feel me?
If not, maybe I’ll get it tattooed on my belly
Religions are the same, they demand demonstrations
Of faith, such a costly waste
Bodily mutilations and food taboos
You can use those cues to deduce the truth
And finally, well, it’s a controversial issue
But some ideas spread ‘cause they’re actually beneficial

Spread it, spread it spread it spread it
If it gets big enough you get credit
Spread it, post it on reddit
Spread it! Or else let it die and forget it
Track Name: Virus of the Mind
Religions, replicating is their expertise
They’re infectious, people are the vectors
Spreading contagious information
Integrating it into their mental matrix
A child gets indoctrinated
Skepticism hasn’t developed yet to inoculate it
And the parents believe in a deity
Or several deities, yeah, demons and angel seem
As real the postman, they believe in them faithfully
Even if other people see them as make believe
The details tend to be ridiculous
Extra credit for those who really stick with it
Virus of the mind, if that’s what religion is
The effects of it are predicted to be negative
A burden, a waste, a regrettable detriment
No evolutionary benefit

It’s just a delusion
The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing
You're suffering confusion
Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining?
It’s just a delusion
The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing
You're suffering from
Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining?

Religions, some people think they’re viruses
Why else would someone commit suicide for it?
Are you tryin’ to get a ticket to the paradise party
With a kamikaze jihadi bomb on your body?
Well a ticket to oblivion is all it’s really givin’ you
Are you infected with a liver fluke?
It’s lookin’ like toxoplasmosis
A parasite that infects cats and rodents
And the rodent’s brain gets some rewiring
So they’re suddenly attracted to the felines, shwing!
Good for the parasite, bad for the host
Spread it like the holy ghost
A virus of the mind, if that’s what religion is
The effects of it are predicted to be negative
A burden, a waste, a regrettable detriment
No evolutionary benefit

It’s just a delusion
The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing
You're suffering confusion
Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining?
It’s just a delusion
The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing
You're suffering from
Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining?

Religion, is it good for us or bad for us?
Costs and benefits, get the ledger and add them up
If it’s like a virus, the carriers are vexed
With nothin’ but negative deleterious effects
Or maybe it hitchhikes instead of hijacks us
Benign like the mites that live in your eyelashes
Or it could be beneficial like commensal
Bacteria, makin’ digestion less difficult
If it’s mostly bad for people most of the time
Well then it’s gotta be a virus of the mind
But if you find evolutionary benefits
Sufficient to offset the negatives
Well then it fails in a test of evidence
And virus of the mind theory isn’t the best fit
You wanna measure evolutionary benefits?
Just count the surviving grandkids

It’s just a delusion
Virus of the mind
You’re suffering confusion
It can’t be right
It’s just a delusion
Have you seen religious people?
You’re suffering from
Look at their family size!
It’s just a delusion
Virus of the mind
You’re suffering confusion
Virus of the mind
It’s just a delusion
Virus of the mind
You’re suffering from
Track Name: Andrew Murray
We can take our time, we don’t have to hurry
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray
Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray

My great great great grandfather was a Scottish Presbyterian
He traveled to South Africa to settle and get married in
The Transvaal, which was an Afrikaner area
That Dutch Reform Christian folk were farming dairy in
My great great great grandfather Andrew Murray was a minister
1822 he emigrated to begin his work
Preaching sermons every Sunday for the sons and daughters
Of the Boer people, the cattle-farming Afrikaners
Calvinism was the religion, he did the honours
David Livingstone was one of his visiting doctors
He went to Holland first to learn the tongue of the Netherlands
He needed it to tend his flock and be a better Reverend
Mooi! Maria Stegmann was his sixteen year old
Wife and soon they had a couple of kids, I’m talkin’ plural
Nice! Andrew junior was a writer
He wrote The Prayer Life, Abide in Christ and other fine works
Two hundred and forty total books of Christian piety
Surrender and devotion, obedience and sobriety
I come from good good Scottish protestant stock
My ancestors loved that divine providence talk
My ancestors, well they weren’t exactly rational
Except that natural selection trades in one capital
Surviving descendants, raw genetic self-interest
And that’s different from individual forms of selfishness
Andrew Murray could’ve set up shop to sell fishnets
On the Scottish coast, but he was just too religious
So instead he was a fishermen of men like the apostles
He read his gospels and had as many kids as possible

But we can take our time, we don’t have to hurry
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray
Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray

So if I’m livin’ and my cousins are livin'
Maybe there’s something more to my great grandfather’s religion
Than meets the naked eye, ‘cause they spread the word of Christ
And they married fertile wives and their children’s children thrived
And I bet they’d probably tell you they did it for Jesus’ sake and
Not because the love of Jesus leads to baby-makin’
But I’m tryin’ to see how these religions came to be
And that’s different from the reason people say they believe
‘Cause if beliefs can motivate you to an action that’s adaptive
There’s no reason those beliefs need to be factually accurate
In fact, if they can motivate you better with distractions
From reality, well we would call that “practically accurate”
And pragmatism when you’re talkin’ natural selection
Just means: “Whatever leads to leavin’ plentiful descendants”
That’s the “ultimate cause” and to emphasize the difference
The “proximate cause” is in emotional mechanisms
And yes, participation in a church can bring some benefits
Mutual collectivist assistance and the rest of it
The circling of wagons and defence of all your brethren
The measurable acceptance and love and trust and togetherness
That comes from bein’ part of somethin’ bigger than yourself
If you need to find community, hey, religion can help
But I’ve got my own community, some hippie Canadians
Some hip-hop heads and some entertainers and atheists
And writers and some scientists and profs at some colleges
And yeah, religious people seem to be outbreeding all of us

But we can take our time, we don’t have to hurry
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray
Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray

I went down to South Africa to meet my Christians cousins
And whoa! I’ve got dozens to the power of dozens
Explosive exponential growth, I’m talkin’ hundreds
And hundreds, my cousin Teo did the sums and number crunchin’
And yeah, Andrew Murray’s doin’ okay genetically
Let me break it down for you geometrically
Andrew and his teenaged wife Maria Stegmann
Had sixteen children and one of them had sixteen children
And the rest had nine or ten, and some died at a young age
But their surviving grandchildren numbered a hundred and eight
And every single one of his sons became ministers
In the church, and every one of his daughters married ministers
And it worked, Andrew Murray had eight thousand descendants
Of which five thousand are now currently livin’
Of which only one is kickin’ raps about religion
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is natural selection
So here's a definition of religion: it’s an evolved
Mechanism for converting resources into descendants
Evolved via culture through religious competitions
And evolved in our mental architecture that’s intrinsic
Cause our minds are designed to get religious in the right conditions
Especially when things are fragile and your life is threatened
See, Andrew Murray preached a sermon every Sunday
But I be preachin' on stages myself so I can't complain
I'm just glad my sister and my women cousins
Aren't expected to have babies by the dozens and dozens
I mean, Maria Stegmann could've had a career
I guess she was born in the wrong year, poor dear
Well her great great great great granddaughter will be brought up religion free
Let’s see if my baby makes her decisions differently
I got a preacher’s blood, but with a science brain
So let's take this godless revival to a higher plain
I got a preacher’s blood, but with a science brain
So let’s take this godless revival to a higher plain!

But we can take our time, we don’t have to hurry
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray
Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray
Track Name: Fertility Gods
Take a look at the sky
And gaze at a billion stars
Seven billion people
Catch that feelin' of awe
Building civilizations
Going back millennia 
Thank the fertility gods
Fertility gods 

Take a look at a mosque, take a look at a church, take a look at a synagogue 
Any religion, ashram, temple, muslim, christian, hindu, any god 
What does every one of them have in common? Followers who attend more often
Tend to have more offspring, you can check, but that effect is relatively modern
This civilization isn't much like the time and place we evolved in
Back in the Stone Age having sixteen babies wasn’t really an option
Women had their hands full all day working, weaving, gathering, hunting
Then farming changed the game, resources were suddenly abundant 
And fledgling civilizations started to compete to increase their numbers
And soon religion had a new function: policing reproduction
The local religion promotes having children as a woman's highest calling
And if it isn't in wedlock and as soon as possible, the sky is falling
It seems kinda Machiavellian, suppressing any act of rebellion
But just 'cause it seems designed doesn't mean the designer has to be brilliant
Cultures produce designs, they test and try different combinations
And promoting fertility might have helped some to avoid foreign domination

Take a look at the sky
And gaze at a billion stars
Seven billion people
Catch that feelin' of awe
Building civilizations
Going back millennia 
Thank the fertility gods
Fertility gods 

Religion isn't just for finding peace in a earthquake or Jesus' birthday
For the past ten thousand years it invented ways to increase the birthrate 
Cause bigger states tend to annihilate and assimilate little states 
And religion is just one way that little states innovate to become bigger states
And lately women's liberation's given them basic rights take their fates 
In their own hands and oh damn, religion's so resistant to women tryin’ to liberate
Those sinful contraceptives are not in the bible, they're novel methods
Of giving women control of their own bodies, so they draw god's invectives
Abortion doctors are devils and Michelle Obama's immodest dresses
And cover your faces in public places and follow all the Imam's directives
And don't use condoms, even if your spouse is HIV infected?
Religious people should be really thankful that hell is just a cheap fiction
And demographics are shifting and despite religion when opportunity 
Knocks for women, whether education or economic, they stop reproducing
At four times replacement rates and concentrate on their own agendas 
And what happens to the old men in control of religion then? I don't remember

Take a look at the sky
And gaze at a billion stars
Seven billion people
Catch that feelin' of awe
Building civilizations
Going back millennia 
Thank the fertility gods
Fertility gods 
Track Name: Supernatural Punishment
If you want to get to origins of religion
You gotta start with your ancestors
We’re goin’ tribal y’all

Religions are devices for coordinating action
And keeping people from fragmenting into warring factions
The benefits of sticking together are kinda fragile
And people on their own are like wheels without an axel
We all used to be hunters and gatherers not so long ago
We played the kinda games that only pygmies in the Congo know
Sometimes “back to nature” is the place I wanna go
So journey with me back to a time when no one’s on their own
Put your iPhone aside and come with me
We're livin' in a tribe of no more than one fifty
Our sons or daughters get traded to the neighbour tribe
Cause breakers of incest taboos don't get to stay alive
That's just a “cultural thing”, everybody knows
The gods live in every tree and under every stone
The gods don't enforce our laws though; the laws are tribal
Indulge your homicidal side and pay the blood libel

Ain’t nobody messin’ with my animism click, click, click, click
The rest of us are counting on you to act right, so don’t be a…

Everything we do is communal, that's critical
Any prima donna grandstanding gets ridiculed
All the gods do is visit shamans in their trances
Make mischief and disasters and play with us when we're dancin'
But they don’t punish or reward us in the afterlife
It’s dark and boring there; the gods want a sacrifice
They wanna help us to move and sway to the rhythm
And they're please whenever we collectively make a decision
And those who break with custom get punished with ostracism and gossip
The gods don’t watch us but somebody’s watchin’ so watch it
It’s life and death out here, we need vigilance
There’s always war parties raiding on our villages
Anybody shirkin’ a burden to benefit himself
At the expense of someone else, gets expelled
It’s been this way since time immemorial
One for all, all for one, that’s the warrior code

Ain’t nobody messin’ with my tribalism click, click, click, click
The rest of us are counting on you to act right, so don’t be a…

Religions are for coordinating action
In practice they can fragment us into some warring factions
The benefits of stickin’ together are kinda fragile
And people on their own are like wheels without an axel
But lately we’ve been planting some barley and tending cattle
Now we got a stockpile and a standing army for battle
But now it seems like half the people I meet are anonymous
The honour system is breaking down, there’s something wrong with us
Ten thousand people in a city-state metropolis
dNow we got a sky god lookin’ down, watchin’ us
Supernatural monitors keep the people in line
They don’t only see your actions; they can see into your mind
And after you die, the gods will judge you and face you
And either raise you into their presence or curse and disgrace you
And punish you in this life too, with ill fortune
But nothin’ gets ‘em shakin’ like the fear of hell scorchin’

Ain’t nobody messin’ with my true believer click, click, click, click
The rest of us are counting on you to act right, so don’t be a…

Now believers can establish new trade routes
Bonds of mutual trust benefit the faithful
Anonymous strangers say the words and exchange favours
And make wagers on common causes and face dangers
But no one trusts you if you don’t perform the rituals
And make habitual sacrifices at frequent intervals
Public demonstrations, the more wasteful the better
Costly advertisements so people can take your measure
And believe you believe, so the trust can continue
And once the bonds are cemented, we’ll form an insular in-group
And members of the out-group are less human
And when they transgress we’re less prone to excuse them
Cooperation has a dark side lurkin’
Religious wars are just religions workin’
We climbed the ladder of society with big gods
But lately we’ve made up some other ways people get watched

We climbed the ladder of society with big gods
But lately there’s some other ways people can get watched

That’s the punishment; the gods above are lovin’ it
The system’s organized to get to you and who you runnin’ with
Nowadays we rely on the government
But once upon a time it was supernatural punishment

We post online and when there’s crime we uncover it
But once upon a time it was supernatural punishment

‘Cause ain’t nobody messin’ with my secular click, click, click
We respect authorities as long as they’re civic, ick, ick
Track Name: Neighborhood Atheism (Feat. Greydon Square)
Okay, so if belief in a supernatural monitor god
That supervises morality
Is a cultural evolutionary adaptation
That spread because it incentivized cooperation
In large scale socieites
Giving them an adaptive edge in competitions
Well then that predicts that religious people
Should really mistrust atheists, huh?

I used to call myself an agnostic 
But that was just me bein' politically correct
What's my name? Baba! The B-A-B-A's a
Mystic honorific in south and west Asia
Named for my contemplative demeanour at the scene of my nativity
My folks were hippies in the seventies
They thought a baby with the face of a Buddhist monk
Must be a reincarnated Buddhist monk, who’d've thunk?
I grew up around a lotta new age woo
Deepak Chopra, Yoga, What the Bleep Do
We know, holy Eckhart Tolle, it was a heady brew
And yeah, I went through a woo phase too
I'm still cool with the yoga stretchin’
But not with supernatural forces, nonexistent
No gods, no heaven, no hell
No karma, except for the kind we forge ourselves
And loads of heathens have told me that even though they don't believe in
Them, they think that other people need them to be moral creatures
If gods don’t exist, they needs to be invented
‘Cause without them everything is permitted

We live in your neighbourhood
Don’t be afraid of us
For facing the world without faith

Get used to us, we’re stayin’ put
And if you try livin’ without god
You might find it liberates

My atheism’s intellectual
Faith-based claims are either untestable
Or testable and evidentially contemptible
But then I learned that atheists are unelectable
And trusted somewhat less than child molesters
Damn, I thought it was an epistemological question!
You’re thinkin’ just because I don’t believe I’m bein’ watched
When I’m alone, that I’m about to go turn into Ghengis Kahn?
Or pull a Sandy Hook on ‘em? Get a grip man
Morality is like a bike, religion’s like a kick stand
You can’t imagine somebody being honest
Without the aid of a crutch, because you’re leaning on it
I get it, but god is not the only scaffolding
That props you up with tough choices when you’re grappling
It may come as a slap in the face to republicans
But atheism increases under stable governments
In other words, people don’t need gods
When they feel they can trust cops to keep the laws
You think trust is earned by showin’ up for church?
I trust an Uber driver first, you can check his work
My grandfather thought religion can save us
But I place more faith in digital reputations
Besides, religion isn’t always ethical
Je suis Charlie Hebdo

We live in your neighbourhood
Don’t be afraid of us
For facing the world without faith

Get used to us, we’re stayin’ put
And if you try livin’ without god
You might find it liberates

All my nonbelievers
All my godless heathens
Ask us why we’re not just bein’
Evil, we got lots of reasons

And if you stopped believin’
Would you be choppin’ people up?
What’s keepin’ you from slaughtering?
I hope it’s not just preachers

Greydon Square:
I used to believe in a god just like fools
Before The Compton Effect, The Scale, and Type 2
Before the physics
The christian god was the lord of wisdom
I was the same and abhorred the different
As a black dude I ate it up
I would shuffle into the pews and pray for stuff
Stay for what?
The girls with the amazing butts
Of course I’m an ape, being forced a bible but the fables sucked
Slave lineage
They taught us to shame the knowledge and praise ignorance
After grace
The methods were just insidious
But believe it even though it’s hideous,
Cuz “masta say”
I thought “no way this could be heaven sent”
So I started doing research, looking for evidence
Inspect theology and afterlife
Stepping into vivid color from a simple life of black and white
Now when I’m smashin’ the mic
My appetite is disruptive facts on wax that you happen to like
They say we're less moral
Naw, we just sniff the bullshit out like it’s fresh floral
We actually test thorough

We live in your neighbourhood
Don’t be afraid of us
For facing the world without faith

Get used to us, we’re stayin’ put
And if you try livin’ without god
You might find it liberates
Track Name: Imagine
Like John Lennon I can imagine a world with no religion
It’s a world you can visit, just get a ticket to Denmark, Norway or Finland
I can imagine a world without religion even if religious is adaptive
And religious rituals are designed to elevate, bind, and enrapture us

Nature is full of adaptations that fill us with a sense of admiration
From the peacock to the leopard asleep in the treetops, it’s all so amazing
Which means religion is also amazing, incentivizing cooperation
Building civilizations and building trust among strangers in congregations

And building walls of separation between competing factions
Religion enhances and also entrenches human interactions
And yeah, I can imagine a world with no religion; it’s not so far fetched
In fact, that world has been imagined already; it’s called “Star Trek”

And yes, I too dream of a unified human race exploring space
But for that to happen we’d have to see the end of wars over faith
Or maybe just the end of faith, but this view of religion is an antidote
It’s the evolutionary view, which every human on this planet should know

Even if they don’t agree with it, don’t agree with it! That’s fine, just try to comprehend it
If everybody could at least comprehend it, religious violence would be all but ended
This vision begins with every human being as part of one species
An African ape that expanded its range, but we can still interbreed with ease

We all share a common ancestor a couple hundred thousand years ago
And we all share a set of instincts that are known by the label "spiritual"
A set of practices that assisted our ancestors in becoming ancestral
But that doesn't mean religion today is either benign or beneficial

Things done changed! There's more information out there for the curious
And scientific findings are contradicting varieties of religious experience
And today belief in the supernatural isn’t necessary or sufficient
To live a meaningful life, but it does carry some nasty baggage with it

Like homophobic scriptures, sectarian divisions, karmic victim blaming
Pernicious guilt, fear of hell, taking infidels into slavery
Treating women shamefully, and trusting the gods instead of changing things
If everything happens for a reason, those reasons could use some explaining

So yeah, I can imagine a world without religion, but that's not my vision
My vision is a world with religion, in which religion is naturalistic
It embraces the path we've been on, and the fact that we're naturally selected
And celebrates our place in the cosmos, and the planet we’re inhabiting in it

But with no supernatural, no superstition, no miracles breakin’ the laws of physics
And no religious justification for the mistreatment of conspecifics
With the supernatural gone, we can still experience transcendence
We’ll get it from dancing and meditation, we’ll tap into compassion without limits

We’ll get it from music and moving images, from shared moments as audience members
We’ll get it from nature, from being intrinsically part of it instead of separate
But most of all, we get it from connecting with our fellow citizen humans
From that feeling of expansion that's endowed in us by evolution

So join me in imagining religion entirely naturalized
In which communal rituals and stories still survive to enhance our lives
In which we live to improve this world, ‘cause there’s nothing after we die
Imagine how good that could be, it’s easy if you try