One key difference is temporal persistence. Whatever I am going to do about the rustling in the grass, I will do it now. Five minutes from now, I'll either have other problems, or no problems at all anymore. Either way, this matter will be closed.
Belief in God, in contrast, is complicated, develops in the face of continuing exposure to experience and argumentation, and comes in a wide variety of flavors. Belief in Odin is a different thing from belief in Jesus Christ, which ironically is a different thing from believing in the God whom Jesus Christ would be expected to believe in, based on his religious affiliation.
The time it took me to compose just that paragraph is more time than I have in the other problem, yet that paragraph doesn't begin even to describe the question of God, much less say anything about its solution.
I believe that natural selection might favor a rapid, robust and non-deliberative "default" generator to dispose of transient concrete emergenices. To account for God-beliefs in the same way is an extraordinary claim, a kind which, I have been told, requires extraordinary evidence.
Just wanted to comment quickly on this part, I didn't watch the video or read the whole topic--So take it for what it's worth. I don't have time to do it real just with a depthy post on the brain anyway---Happy says you?
It seems to me Eb, you are making an assumption here that the basis for a belief arising over a short temporal span and a long one must arise from. I know you are quite schooled in learning, at least machine learning, so why then would you expect that "short term" beliefs cannot be coded, codified and reinforced by dopaminergic systems like any other incentive-motive learning?
Reinforcement in the nucleus accumbens (NA) via those dopaminergic systems from the ventral tegmental area certainly could pattern short temporal responses into long-term behavior. In fact, this very thing happens all the time.
Also you are discounting the idea of beliefs acting as surrogates for the natural reward systems of the brain. It has been shown that stimuli, even surrogate stimuli, provide disinhibition of the dorsomedial nuclei of the thalamus from the ventral palladium. This codes and codifies responses resulting in consummatory behavior associated with stimuli--Or at least the stimuli which could elicit those beliefs.
I agree that natural selection would favor a "rapid, robust and non-deliberative "default" generator"--But don't make the mistake of thinking natural selection also didn't also favor other neural circuitry that would inevitably interact with that "rapid, robust and non-deliberative "default" generator" such as learning, decision making etc. Also remember that many neural systems work in opposition to each other when it comes to complex and patterned behaviors. A great example would be decision making and prefrontal cortex-limbic axis, would that I had more time to elaborate though!
I think Eb, and here is the rub of it, you would actually need the extraordinary evidence to support that supposition that we have independent little belief generators which create beliefs like god and are distinct from belief generators such as "when it rains, I catch more fish".