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Innate desire in humans, religious overtones?

Mhykiel
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3/4/2015 10:54:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, "Hope" writes the following argument from desire for God.

"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

We can write this argument as:

P1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
P2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.
P3. Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth, and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.

I think every one has an innate desire for "truth". I think atheist agree to this when they explain the emergence of religion as a way for humans to explain things. Young children enjoy to ask "Why?"

Some desires can be socially or drug induced. This desire to explain, to ask why doesn't appear to me to be socially instilled. I do not see parents from birth encouraging curiosity and truth seeking. Quite the reverse parents often shelter babies and toddlers from exploring lest they explore into unsafe conditions. So it is innate by our very nature.

As far as we know animals do not seek explanations. They are capable of making inferences but seem to care whether those inferences are justifiable or truthful. I think animals that are domesticated have been raised to be so submissive that humans take over as the herd or pack leader. And the animals either cognitively or instinctual associates pleasing the leader will get them stuff they want, displeasing the leader will get stuff they don't want.

But this may not even be an association they make. It might better be described as a contract. And to fulfill this contract doesn't need explanations or truth just a little empathy and reading body language to discern "am I in good graces or not". One reason why I think social animals are easier to domesticate and tame. Some animals I would say are bred tame, but not domesticated: spiders, lizards, snakes, foxes, sugar gliders ect..

however humans have a desire to know truth. A metaphysical object unattainable in the natural world. If this is so how would a desire for truth evolve or emerge? And as I said this desire is innate to all humans (barring cognitive dysfunction). So any evolutionary selection would have a near 100% propagation in the human species.

Further more how does one explain not seeing such a desire in animals or even evolutionarily close cousins?

Is the innate desire for truth a sign that we are made to seek out a god?

I'm also curious as to how this desire is denied in nihilism.
RuvDraba
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3/5/2015 1:01:54 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/4/2015 10:54:16 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
humans have a desire to know truth. A metaphysical object unattainable in the natural world. If this is so how would a desire for truth evolve or emerge? And as I said this desire is innate to all humans (barring cognitive dysfunction). So any evolutionary selection would have a near 100% propagation in the human species.
Further more how does one explain not seeing such a desire in animals or even evolutionarily close cousins?
Is the innate desire for truth a sign that we are made to seek out a god?
I'm also curious as to how this desire is denied in nihilism.

I can't speak for nihilists, but if we abandon our prejudices for a minute and just take a look around us, we can see that all primates compete to eat food and have sex, but cooperate to collect food and raise offspring, and that nearly all primates are curious, tool-using problem-solvers.

So primates are a very curious, pragmatic, but highly political species, bound to cooperate, but always looking for advantage within their polity.

So we need stuff that works (e.g. knowing how to use a stick to dig termites from a nest, or how to throw a rock to knock a monkey from a tree), but we also benefit enormously from the influence of our fellows (e.g. getting everyone in the troupe to believe the branch you've torn off smells better than any other they could find, so you can play favourites for food and sex.)

So I'd argue that both pragmatic truth and social influence are strong among the primates -- that both contribute to species survival and individual prosperity, and I'd like to suggest that from one we get science and sport, while from the other we get politics and religion. :)
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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3/5/2015 1:55:27 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I'm also curious as to how this desire is denied in nihilism

Why should it be? Apples and oranges, nihilism is irrelevant.
Graincruncher
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3/5/2015 3:45:12 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/4/2015 10:54:16 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
however humans have a desire to know truth. A metaphysical object unattainable in the natural world. If this is so how would a desire for truth evolve or emerge?

Because more accurate models of our world provide better chances of survival.

So any evolutionary selection would have a near 100% propagation in the human species.

Because individuals who aren't interested in better models of the world don't survive anywhere near as successfully. It is an extremely advantageous trait. It's like asking why all the players in that make it to the chess world final really want to be good at chess; because the players who don't want that never get good enough to compete at that level.

Further more how does one explain not seeing such a desire in animals or even evolutionarily close cousins?

Lack of metacognitive function...

Is the innate desire for truth a sign that we are made to seek out a god?

No, it is a sign that better models produce better results.
Mhykiel
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3/5/2015 7:14:06 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 1:55:27 AM, Envisage wrote:
I'm also curious as to how this desire is denied in nihilism

Why should it be? Apples and oranges, nihilism is irrelevant.

Okay then what do you think of the argument?

I thought some nihilist denied being able to know anything, would that lead credence to a desire without natural satisfaction?
Envisage
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3/5/2015 7:23:36 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 7:14:06 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 3/5/2015 1:55:27 AM, Envisage wrote:
I'm also curious as to how this desire is denied in nihilism

Why should it be? Apples and oranges, nihilism is irrelevant.

Okay then what do you think of the argument?

I thought some nihilist denied being able to know anything, would that lead credence to a desire without natural satisfaction?

The argument is fluffy as heck. Just what is an "innate desire" for instance, and given a specific definition of innate desire, then how does that causally correlate to an external influence. The argument is nebulous and doesn't define it's terms very well, which means it's inevitably going to cause the fallacy of equivocation wehn justification is given for each of the premises.

Furthermore, I simply do not see you justifying P1 persuasively as an absolute since you are stuck with inductive reasoning. At best the argument can only falsify metaphysical naturalism, which obviously does not entail theism. E.g. it may affirm platonism, or some form, etc.

I don't even know how you can even justify the second premise using explicit language, it is also super-nebulous.
dee-em
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3/5/2015 7:25:08 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/4/2015 10:54:16 PM, Mhykiel wrote:

Is the innate desire for truth a sign that we are made to seek out a god?

I don't see how the latter follows from the former. You're assuming that the desire for truth will lead to God. Why do you think this? Amongst the population, scientists would be up there as seekers of truth, yet they are below average for religiosity (way below in the case of elite scientists). That doesn't quite mesh with your assertion. On the contrary, religiosity has a negative correlation with intelligence:

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Following your lead where you compare humans against less intelligent animals such as monkeys, it should imply that higher IQ people would have a greater desire for truth and the ability to discern it. Yet it doesn't seem to be the case that it leads to theism.
Illegalcombatant
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3/5/2015 7:43:42 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I would argue just because you "desire" something doesn't mean it actually exists.

I also think there might be some cart before the horse here. We have desires and as such will attempt to satisfy that desire.

Ergo we made the Gods, the after life etc etc out of desires such as.......

fear of death (life goes on in heaven)
desire to feel superior ( I go to heaven, enjoy hell God hater, God loves me, hates you)
fear of meaninglessness (It's all part of Gods special plan for you)
need for vengeance (Well that child rapist is enjoying being ganged raped by demons)
desire to have answers for our questions (God did it)
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
RuvDraba
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3/5/2015 7:53:01 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 7:25:08 AM, dee-em wrote:
You're assuming that the desire for truth will lead to God. Why do you think this?

Because CS Lewis argued ab initio that all desire had purpose (designed by whom? For what?) He tucked the conclusion into the premise and lo! discovered it again by syllogism.

Essentially if you assume a fully benign, totally practical universe you can conclude a benign, practical designer.

Except, y'know... reality.
Mhykiel
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3/5/2015 9:45:17 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 7:53:01 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 3/5/2015 7:25:08 AM, dee-em wrote:
You're assuming that the desire for truth will lead to God. Why do you think this?

Because CS Lewis argued ab initio that all desire had purpose (designed by whom? For what?) He tucked the conclusion into the premise and lo! discovered it again by syllogism.

Essentially if you assume a fully benign, totally practical universe you can conclude a benign, practical designer.

Except, y'know... reality.

The desire isn't said to be design. Desires instilled by design would be socially induced desires. The premise is all natural desires stem from natural objectives to attain. So when we desire something not by social pressures and not attainable in nature we dsire something metaphysical and therefore have a metaphysical component to humans.

One assumption is the metaphysical don't develop from the physical world.

So this desire has a metaphysical object we wish to attain. So there is a world with nonnatural objects attainable and this is a world at least part of us belong to.
celestialtorahteacher
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3/5/2015 10:14:21 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
As usual being a prophesy bearer I identified this innate tendency in human beings (and I believe you will find it also in some animals) to what I called 36 years ago "theotropism", the natural turning to the Light of God that happens in most all intelligent human beings except those with left-brain hemisphere over-domination which seems to create atheists unable to receive spiritual phenomena that is more associated with right-brain hemisphere activity.

And anyone who knows animals knows they can be highly curious about what happens in their world. While living sometimes in the woods or near them I have had many encounters with wild animals and have always been amazed at their bravery in satisfying their curiosity about human beings. They will go out of their way to find out more about humans even to the point of risking their lives if they choose wrong about the person their curious about. This curiosity goes all the way up the evolutionary chain from insects to higher mammals, at least that's my experience with them. But it takes hands to evolve a higher consciousness brain so we're lucky that lions and tigers are no smarter than house cats or we wouldn't be here typing on computer key boards..
RuvDraba
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3/5/2015 11:03:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 9:45:17 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
The premise is all natural desires stem from natural objectives to attain.

That's not a premise, Mhykiel; it's the conclusion rebadged. To assume that everything is purposeful is to assume purpose by design.

Evolution doesn't assert that. We're full of harmful and pointless mutations. The fit don't have to be perfect, or even happy -- they just have to survive long enough to reproduce and see their offspring to maturity.

A belief in purpose by design is a belief in God.
Mhykiel
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3/5/2015 4:06:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 11:03:32 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 3/5/2015 9:45:17 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
The premise is all natural desires stem from natural objectives to attain.

That's not a premise, Mhykiel; it's the conclusion rebadged. To assume that everything is purposeful is to assume purpose by design.

Evolution doesn't assert that. We're full of harmful and pointless mutations. The fit don't have to be perfect, or even happy -- they just have to survive long enough to reproduce and see their offspring to maturity.

A belief in purpose by design is a belief in God.

Ah yes the Chance of the Gaps argument. From a materialist philosophy even ways of thinking result from mutations and noise in neurological systems.

Atheist in their attempt to deny God can't hold anything consistently. If using Y denies theism use it, If denying Y denies theism use it.

I'm all for an evolutionary model. I think it possible for noise in a system to turn into functional component but only though a selection process. Keeping with your oversimplification of natural selection let's examine the Atheist argument.

Evolutionary mechanism make false positives more likely in the surviving humans that gets passed down. Is that a tiger in the grass or the wind? Assume tiger and live. Now here we are with a mutation that makes humans curious, and of course this is passed down through the same scenario. What you haven't showed is that this desire to know the truth is so successful at survival that it is prevalent in all humans.

But children are discouraged from being curious and learning the truth of things. And an explanation that works and keeps an animal alive is sufficient enough to be passed down.

So curiosity and desire to know the truth is benign and should only be distributed modestly. Or curiosity is beneficial and distributed through selection enormously prevalent.

This might occur in a world where most things external to the organism are benign and have the higher potential of being good for the organism. But as Atheist also like to point out when debating fine tuning arguments is majority of the world is harmful and deadly to humans.

You can't have it both ways. Most of the world is harmful, so curiosity kills the cat. And in doing so kills your argument that it was a neurological mutation spread through selection on a fitness criteria.
RuvDraba
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3/5/2015 4:20:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 4:06:06 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
What you haven't showed is that this desire to know the truth is so successful at survival that it is prevalent in all humans.

Well, I don't really have to show anything. You asked for an alternative explanation. I offered a candidate. But just recall that the hypothesis is yours, and therefore so is the burden of proof.

But to follow through the reasoning: we can observe other primates in the wild -- and not just primates, but many other mammals.

The young are often curious and investigative, but they're frequently also supervised by adults and warned when things get nasty. Sometimes those warnings are followed up with nips and other painful or intimidating physical cues. There's some evidence that in mammals, pain and fear are remembered strongly long after pleasure, so it could be that warnings and mild hurts are effective at education over all. (If you want a reference on this, please poke me and I'll dig.)

So is there any problem with a species that is naturally curious, yet also pain-averse? That the seesawing between these two coarse predispositions allows for some degree of cultural adaptation to varying circumstance?

Would you be willing to accept at least the possibility that many social mammals have culture -- i.e. values, customs, lore and learned skills passed through education and training, and not simply through heredity?
Mhykiel
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3/5/2015 5:41:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 4:20:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 3/5/2015 4:06:06 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
What you haven't showed is that this desire to know the truth is so successful at survival that it is prevalent in all humans.

Well, I don't really have to show anything. You asked for an alternative explanation. I offered a candidate. But just recall that the hypothesis is yours, and therefore so is the burden of proof.

This is the religion forum and it's on a debate site. If your looking for general rules of conducting a discussion about the posted topic, i think the general form would be in the manner of a debate. Where I post premises and a conclusion. When you refute one of the premises or conclusion with speculation, I am fair to address the holes in the counter argument.


But to follow through the reasoning: we can observe other primates in the wild -- and not just primates, but many other mammals.

The young are often curious and investigative, but they're frequently also supervised by adults and warned when things get nasty. Sometimes those warnings are followed up with nips and other painful or intimidating physical cues. There's some evidence that in mammals, pain and fear are remembered strongly long after pleasure, so it could be that warnings and mild hurts are effective at education over all. (If you want a reference on this, please poke me and I'll dig.)

I accept this.


So is there any problem with a species that is naturally curious, yet also pain-averse? That the seesawing between these two coarse predispositions allows for some degree of cultural adaptation to varying circumstance?

Let's take this backwards. Before the culture can modify the innate nature, the modifiable trait has to be present. (It also appears as if you are saying culture is a natural process. Then there is no distinction between the results of an avalanche, an iphone being made, or a fish evolving into a lizard.)

But I digress, My contention was with how the trait of curiosity even reaches saturation in the human species. And it has to be saturated before it can be modified other pressures. So a desire for "truth" (which I also tried to distinguish from a basic A then B inference, native to many learning animals) propagates through the human species and is then hindered by social education. Never mind why social education would emerge that is in opposition to apparently a very successful trait advanced by survival.


Would you be willing to accept at least the possibility that many social mammals have culture -- i.e. values, customs, lore and learned skills passed through education and training, and not simply through heredity?

I totally accept this and if you refer above, you didn't address the contention of how the trait (desire for truth) becomes so successful? Especially when the scenario for human propensity to false positives, described by so many atheist, is a trait for caution and satisfied with superficial inferences. I'm not saying such a propensity and shallow inferences aren't seen in humans and animals. Gambling in humans and pigeons connecting random events to unrelated behaviors is evident of the basics fro learning.

But the desire to know "truth", a curiosity of not just what works to get food, sex, and shelter, But a desire to know what is really going on seems to be a human trait, have no attainable real object to satisfy it, and counter to survival in a world with mostly harmful things in it.
RuvDraba
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3/5/2015 6:17:07 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 5:41:33 PM, Mhykiel wrote:

This is the religion forum and it's on a debate site.

And you posted a conjecture, and not an assertion. So you're exploring potential; not defending a position.

And my purpose is to suggest to you that it's a murky, ill-considered conjecture.

In particular, I think that asserting all natural desire can be fulfilled in the individual is much stronger than conjecturing that desire is sometimes useful in the species.

The latter is a reasonable evolutionary conjecture, but the former is an escapist and idealistsic premise, implying individual justice and compassion in the universe, and there's the as-yet unresolved question of what 'natural' is supposed to mean as a qualifier, and what 'unnatural' desire is supposed to connote.

I don't think you need a debate to point out the murkiness in this thought -- you just need reflection.

And I don't think attacking me, or atheism (as though atheism were a doctrine) or evolution or science will make the thought any smarter.

Let's take this backwards. Before the culture can modify the innate nature, the modifiable trait has to be present.

Yes -- so suppose predispositions toward curiosity and caution were traits we can find in many mammals; suppose that they vary in the individual, but can also be manipulated by circumstance -- either casually, or by the deliberate behaviour of other individuals.

(It also appears as if you are saying culture is a natural process. Then there is no distinction between the results of an avalanche, an iphone being made, or a fish evolving into a lizard.)

I'm not sure what you mean by 'natural' here. We could describe culture as being the ideas, skills, reactions and behaviours transmitted from generation to generation by communication, example and shared experience, rather than by heredity. Under that description, culture doesn't necessarily apply to humans alone. The way (for example) dogs socialise pups in their pack and teach them to hunt could be called culture too.

My contention was with how the trait of curiosity even reaches saturation in the human species.

That seems too many steps ahead, Mhykiel. You haven't yet demonstrated evidence for a foundational premise in your conjecture -- that everyone needs absolute truth.

I could easily refute that from personal experience, but I fear you'd end up patronising me and telling me I need something I don't know I need.

I totally accept this and if you refer above, you didn't address the contention of how the trait (desire for truth) becomes so successful?

Actually I offered two other things to replace what you conjecture is a universal human desire -- specifically, a need for pragmatic solutions to practical problems, and a need for influence over others.

I want to suggest to you that people who have that can be quite happy even if their beliefs could be demonstrated as false, and that people who have that can't really tell it apart from absolute truth anyway.

But the desire to know "truth", a curiosity of not just what works to get food, sex, and shelter, But a desire to know what is really going on seems to be a human trait, have no attainable real object to satisfy it, and counter to survival in a world with mostly harmful things in it.

I don't observe that most people want to know what's really going on -- because often, the answers are very unpleasant. I believe most are happy with solutions to pressing problems, and a degree of collusion from others to help them feel comfortable -- hence the value of influence. :)
dee-em
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3/6/2015 5:27:30 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/5/2015 7:53:01 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 3/5/2015 7:25:08 AM, dee-em wrote:
You're assuming that the desire for truth will lead to God. Why do you think this?

Because CS Lewis argued ab initio that all desire had purpose (designed by whom? For what?) He tucked the conclusion into the premise and lo! discovered it again by syllogism.

Essentially if you assume a fully benign, totally practical universe you can conclude a benign, practical designer.

Except, y'know... reality.

Ah, thank you. I had overlooked that nuance in his argument since he tends to ramble on a bit. Yes, some people are pre-disposed to desire alcohol in excessive quantities because of the intoxication it produces. I wonder what the purpose is there. I guess that means God is or was a substance abuser at some stage and wants some drinking buddies?

It doesn't matter. Mhykel doesn't seem to want to reply to my posts anymore. :-)
RuvDraba
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3/6/2015 5:53:39 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/6/2015 5:27:30 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 3/5/2015 7:53:01 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
Essentially if you assume a fully benign, totally practical universe you can conclude a benign, practical designer.

Except, y'know... reality.

Ah, thank you. I had overlooked that nuance in his argument since he tends to ramble on a bit.

He was an ex-atheist, converted to Christianity by JRR Tolkien and friends. And like a lifelong vegan suddenly aroused to the delights of meat, he became a strident meat apologist, to the point where even former friends wished he'd stop banging on about how it was the duty of cows to delight in being served as hamburger. :)

Yes, some people are pre-disposed to desire alcohol in excessive quantities because of the intoxication it produces. I wonder what the purpose is there.

Oh, well you see, the desires that God fulfills individually for the supplicant are called 'natural' desires. Those that God doesn't fulfill are 'unnatural'. So naturally, the fulfillment of natural desires proves God.

Since it's easy for suicides to fulfill a death-wish then, that is clearly natural and proves God; while helping children recover from a congenital life-limiting disease like Cystic Fibrosis is unnatural and therefore does not refute the proposition.

But if that bothers you just a bit, fear not! Because the conceited desire to know EVERYTHING PERFECTLY NOW is a totally natural desire (and universal, whether you know it or not!), and God will certainly fulfill that for you after death, since that also incidentally confirms his existence.

Unless, of course he doesn't.
UndeniableReality
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3/6/2015 8:22:59 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/4/2015 10:54:16 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, "Hope" writes the following argument from desire for God.

"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

We can write this argument as:

P1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
P2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.
P3. Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth, and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.

I think every one has an innate desire for "truth". I think atheist agree to this when they explain the emergence of religion as a way for humans to explain things. Young children enjoy to ask "Why?"

Some desires can be socially or drug induced. This desire to explain, to ask why doesn't appear to me to be socially instilled. I do not see parents from birth encouraging curiosity and truth seeking. Quite the reverse parents often shelter babies and toddlers from exploring lest they explore into unsafe conditions. So it is innate by our very nature.

As far as we know animals do not seek explanations. They are capable of making inferences but seem to care whether those inferences are justifiable or truthful. I think animals that are domesticated have been raised to be so submissive that humans take over as the herd or pack leader. And the animals either cognitively or instinctual associates pleasing the leader will get them stuff they want, displeasing the leader will get stuff they don't want.

But this may not even be an association they make. It might better be described as a contract. And to fulfill this contract doesn't need explanations or truth just a little empathy and reading body language to discern "am I in good graces or not". One reason why I think social animals are easier to domesticate and tame. Some animals I would say are bred tame, but not domesticated: spiders, lizards, snakes, foxes, sugar gliders ect..

however humans have a desire to know truth. A metaphysical object unattainable in the natural world. If this is so how would a desire for truth evolve or emerge? And as I said this desire is innate to all humans (barring cognitive dysfunction). So any evolutionary selection would have a near 100% propagation in the human species.

Further more how does one explain not seeing such a desire in animals or even evolutionarily close cousins?

Is the innate desire for truth a sign that we are made to seek out a god?

I'm also curious as to how this desire is denied in nihilism.

Um, just checking, but doesn't P2 contradict P1?

P1: Every element in X has A.
P2: Except this undefined X* doesn't have A, even though X* is in X and P1 is true. (???)
C: Therefore there must be a B, which requires {\phi, \delta, \alpha \beta, etc.} (a completely different model of the universe with a set of unobserved properties that we do not know about yet), so that B can act as a surrogate for A with respect to the undefined X* in X.