What we believe determines how we behave. Beliefs tell us what to do. Although volitional behaviors are determined by beliefs, instinctive behaviors are not. They derive directly from naturally selected traits. But humans have few if any instinctive behaviors. They are not necessary because almost all of our behavior is of the more flexible, volitional type, which is voluntary and chosen. The beliefs that determine behavior derive from the interaction of two belief sources that process information: the emotional feeling of security, which is part of the emotional mental (belief) system; and the cognitive mental (belief) system. The emotional system is located in the limbic system of the brain; the cognitive system, which developed many millions of years after the emotional system evolved is located in the prefrontal cortex. The emotional system is subjective and deals with how secure the subject feels. The cognitive system is objective and its understandings, which result from evidence-based reasoning, determine reality and truth.
The emotional belief system produces beliefs that are based on emotional feelings: specifically, on the emotional feeling of security. An emotional feeling is an elementary type of belief. “I feel” translates to “I believe.” Because of natural selection all biological activity, including cellular, mental, and physiological functions, and organs and systems, increase the security of the organism. Increasing security is the only known way of increasing survivability, which determines what is naturally selected. (see: “Natural Selection Selects Only Behaviors That Increase Security” at www.mdjaffe.com.) And because natural selection selects solely for behavioral traits that increase security, there is only one basic emotional feeling: the emotional feeling of security, whose function is to motivate behavior to seek security. This was first explained in some detail in my 2010 book. The Primal Instinct: How Biological Security Motivates Behavior, Promotes Morality, Determines Authority, and Explains Our Search for a God; and then the explanation was further developed in the 2015 essay “An Evolutionary Theory of Everything," which, like this essay, can be accessed through the website www.mdjaffe.com.