A psychological basis for religion?

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Discussion by: Potslife
Does anyone have a good handle on psychology/neurology and religion? 

It seems to me that the Paternal nature of an imagined god, must often come from some very real childhood experiences.

I wonder if its possible that ‘the father’ is simply conceptualised to complete our need for complete parenting.

Its undeniable that men historically make worse parents than women, and are often responsible for a great deal of harm within a family.  Im not talking anecdotally but statistically here. To me it seems that a lot of people are really looking for that supernatural father figure.
The common conception of god is basically a man that 

1. Is constant
2. Is strong
3. Is wise
4. loves you
5. can dispense punishment.

I was wondering if there was any data out there on a correlation between people who identified as having an absent or irresponsible father, and people who were strongly religious?

cheers!
michael

112 COMMENTS

  1. I think the scientific study of religion is extremely interesting although its just in it infancy.  Freud wrote some books on religion. I’ve never read them, I think Freudianism ranks just a bit higher than astrology as a discipline but I still think Freud has some interesting insights and I think he took the approach you are talking about, from the standpoint of individual psychology.

    All of the books I’ve read come at it more from the aspect of groups and society, that religion was an early way to provide cohesion to groups (identify who was in vs. out and establish trust with those who are in) and to reinforce obedience to authority and laws. 

    The Evolution of God by Robert Wright had some very interesting historical information on how ancient historical events and societies influence (and were influenced by) the emerging Abrahamic religions. E.g., he showed that when the Jews were occupied their scriptures stressed being apart from and conquering others (at that point what was most important was to retain Jewish identity) but when the Jews were conquering others their scriptures stressed being open and tolerant of other religions (what was most important was to assimilate conquered people). its why the Old Testament has such a schizophrenic nature, admonishing you to be good to strangers in one book and to kill all the heathens in the next. (BTW, its also confusing because the books in the Old Testament are not presented at all in the order in which they were written).  Wright’s book is the easiest to read but he comes to some IMO insane conclusions at the end. But the first 3/4 are very interesting. 

    Breaking the Spell Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennet is a nice introduction to the whole topic of looking at religion scientifically. Dennet doesn’t make many conclusions and he spends a little too much time IMO just defending why he wants to look at religion that way (I was convinced after one page) but its still a good book. 

    In Gods We Trust The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion by Scott Atran. Is another great one. I haven’t finished it yet.  Its the hardest of the three to read its written more for Anthropologists than a general audience but its fascinating. Dennet relied on Atran quite a bit for his book.

  2. Bearing in mind that I’m one of dem unedumacated people, I’m fairly certain that the belief in parental authority and beneficence is instinctual, rather than learned. Children don’t really have time to build a structure of trustworthy results about their parents. It also should be noted that many species have a basic ‘imitation’ drive, mimicking the parents’ actions – if you think about this from an emotional standpoint, it’s largely the same thing. There’s no cognitive reasoning involved, just the desire to do what the folks do. While this may not seem like the same thing, it’s worth examining what the difference is between feelings of, “Do what the parents do,” and, “Parents are good and wise.”

    While men may make worse parents, in many (most?) cultures they perform an enforcement and disciplinary role. It might bear examining the differences in attitudes from cultures that had a mother-creator figure, and multiple creators; the abrahamic religions should not be taken as representative of all. It is possible that the concept of god as a stern male arose from the cultures that delegated such duties to the male parent, a chicken-or-egg argument.

  3. I don’t believe that culture is the reason for our inclination to  believe in god but simply a social extension of what is already inherent in our nature.

    The reinforcements of our god beliefs are psychological and cultural, but our propensity to believe is physiological. Like most organic entities, we have a built in mechanism to survive. A tiger wants to eat your ass, there is little rationalization process in telling you to run. It is instinctive.

    As we humans developed higher forms of sentience, we become aware and understand (physical) mortality. More complex sentience gives us an illusion of duality (e.g. body and soul). There seems to be significant evidence that we are the only ones who possess this attribute on earth (for the time being anyway).

    While rationally and empirically we must accept the mortality of the human organism, our survival mechanism now strives for the immortality of the soul as there exist no rational or empirical evidence that it too is mortal . God is that mechanism. Like our instinct to run from danger is an inherent attribute of our physiological nature, our instinct belief in the existence of a god is an inherent attribute of our advance sentience or the illusion of duality. It is the reason that theism is so difficult to eradicate.

    Religion is simply a cultural or societal construct we humans have built based on our inherent need for a belief in god. No different than the need to create other social structures (family, tribe, nation) is necessary to keep our asses safe from tigers.

  4. ” I’m fairly certain that the belief in parental authority and beneficence is instinctual, rather than learned.”

    That children have some genetic predisposition to obey parents seems pretty likely and uncontroversial. But that statement doesn’t say much. As with most of the nature vs. nurture arguments the question isn’t “Is it Nature?” or “Is it Nurture?” but what percentage and kind of behaviors are learned vs. innate?

    Actually  your comment reminded me of another book to recommend. Its not really about religion but I still think its relevant. Its Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong, by Marc Hauser.  Hauser tries to do for morality what Chomsky did for linguistics. He applies various research (e.g. Piaget) in developmental and cognitive psychology to try and define whether humans have a genetic predisposition to morality and if they do what sort of basic rules or concepts are innate and which parameters and rules are defined by society. Its a fascinating book.

  5. ” our survival mechanism now strives for the immortality of the soul as there exist no rational or empirical evidence that it too is mortal”

    To my knowledge there is no rational or empirical evidence for a “soul” in the first place. 

  6.  I understand RD, there can be no rational or empirical evidence for an illusion (e.g. soul). But there can be no denial that there is a “sense”  or illusion that sentience is some how detached from our organic matter. You need to accept a rationalism that may go against your illusions. It’s hard, that is way a belief in god seems to be the default mechanism in humans. It’s why the overwhelming percentage of people believe in a god and that is empirical evidence.

  7. I read somewhere that we are “primed” from infancy to establish relationships with higher powers to take care of our needs in the sense that we seek out anything that is comforting and it will be interpreted by the brain as a sort of new parent if you like. Thus the magic-dad in the sky will feel like a real parent when we grow up. Is it any wonder why so many believe in gods?

  8. There are enormous evolutionary benefits for individuals to work together in a society. For such groups to cohere, the members must cooperate to achieve common goals, behave altruistically, have a sense of fairness, and generally behave in ways that are often touted as uniquely human (but which usually aren’t). Of prime importance is the need to know one’s place in the social hierarchy. Social groups do not work effectively if there are multiple leaders resulting in blurred lines of authority and indecisiveness during crises, so species that live in such groups instinctually recognize a primary leader, often represented by the alpha male. In other species, the issue stops there. But in humans, with the capacity for abstract thinking, the concept of the alpha male is abstracted into a general principle. The idea of a supreme leader emerges, who sets the rules, whose indisputable authority is unchallengeable, and from whom all rewards and punishments flow. From this abstraction of the alpha leader emerges the concept of a god.

    Since this belief is abstract, it is not connected to anything in the physical world. Religions function to provide a retroactive basis for the belief. This may explain why there are so many different religions, sometimes quite elaborate, all making contradictory claims, while belief in a supreme being tends to be a constant. It also hints at why scientific evidence does not sway believers. In the sciences, real-world observations provide evidence that leads to belief in general principles. But in a religious context, belief in a general principle (i.e., a supreme being) provides the evidence which informs the creation of religions. Science can attack flimsy and improbable religious claims, but the attack is directed against a mere reflection. God is the premise, and religion is the conclusion. Attack religion, and the premise remains unscathed.

    Faith is necessary to hold this construct together, because there can be no demonstrable evidence that a god so devised “really” exists. The urge to believe is strong, because the abstraction on which it is based is a deep, crucially important element in our psychology.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. I  believe that society (there i include parents) has a lot to do with the facilitation of religious belief. i have come to meet people  who have claimed to never have felt the need for a protecting god to give meaning to their lives, never felt the urges to look for answers up in the sky, who never had the so called ”religious experience” of awe while praising god etc. They just believed on the basis that it seemed a normal thing to do, everyone around them did it. Thus it becomes the ”truth” to the individual in question . I’m inclined to believe that that scenario where individuals grow up in completely religious environments are more inclined to hold a strong belief throughout their lives.

  10. One of the arguments Nicholas Wade makes in The Faith Instinct is that early hunter-gatherer societies needed religion, gods specifically, to enforce moral codes.  He says that modern hunter-gatherer societies tend to be egalitarian – no one rules because no one likes to be ruled.  In Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal makes the same point regarding chimp societies – while there are “alpha” males, they are only in top-ranking positions insofar as the group allows them to be.  No bullying or “taking sides”or selfishness is tolerated.  Indeed, in both hunter-gatherer societies and chimp societies, individuals who bring down large prey are expected to share the spoils among the community.  Even high-ranking males in chimp societies have been observed to “beg” for food from a lower-ranking individual when he (the alpha) has not participated in the kill.  In hunter-gatherer societies, according to Wade, those who are seen as boastful or selfish are summarily chastised and ridiculed to put them back in their place.  Anyone seen as transgressing egalitarian morals is ostracized and shunned – a death sentence in a world in which individuals are so dependent on the group for protection and cooperative hunting.  The last thing a society with no formal justice or prison system needs are freeloaders.  At a very “primitive” level, Wade argues that religion was more a ritual rather than a belief used for healing, initiation rites, and celebrations, all as a way to encourage group cohesion.

    With the advent of agrarianism, societies became larger and more complex, as they allowed for the accumulation of property/wealth and with that, commerce.  Labor was specialized and “managers” became necessary (as in, people being in charge of other people).  Religion was then co-opted to justify leadership (god’s chosen one) and establish/enforce rules.  The dancing rituals of the former hunter-gatherer societies transformed into agricultural rites related to planting and harvesting.  Prayer and sacrifice could have come into a larger role as a way for people to feel in control of elements (e.g., favorable weather) and negotiate with the gods (i.e., I offer you goats, you give me rain).  Also, gods became more personal as an added feature to enforce rules.  It’s easy to be a sneaky freeloader among people who you can fool, but an omnicient, omnipresent god who knows your inner thoughts, ambitions, and desires and could damn you for all eternity would nip those scoudrels in the bud.  The priesthood arose as a political class, with their “closeness” to the gods and being able to interpret the gods’ desires (e.g., what to sacrifice, how many to sacrifice, when to sacrifice, etc.).  Things just snowball from there.

    Of course, there is a lot to be said about human psychology – our propensity to overinterpret patterns (like Jesus faces in toast) and assign agency to phenomena we can’t explain.  I started reading Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain, which seems to delve into the superstitious side of humans.  So far, it’s a good read.

    That was my embarrasingly simplified version of my understanding of these books – surely I have not done justice to them.  If I were to make a suggestion, I would advise starting with Our Inner Ape, to understand how morality might have existed before religion, as  a prelude to The Faith Instinct, which picks up from there.

    Good luck!

  11. I have two theories, the first is that religion comes from within the human brain, Primarily the Pineal Gland, which actively creates and uses DMT to stimulate “spiritual” brain activity the pineal gland has direct access to basically all of the perception portions of the brain and is theorized to be one of the main components in creativity (religion being a natural byproduct of this). My second theory is more Historical, and is based on modern culture of  family book keeping ex (cookbooks, family trees, storybooks) Imagine that you are the father of a family and you have some stories you were told as a child to teach you morals, now some clever monkey invents a writing system, so you take it upon yourself to write these stories down to pass on to your children, you also write down your lineage to keep track of your family in this book, as you continue to have children and they have children more stories get added to this book of morals, now add a few more years, and these stories about made up people become the basis for a religion, follow this even further and people begin to forget that these stories are just stories, now you have what one father was trying to tech his child via story as the religion of many of his descendants.

    Now I do realize that this is not a person specific as you were asking for but I do feel it answers the root question. Simply because humans did not evolve to be parented by a mother and a father but to live in a tightly bound community of parent like elders and brother/sister like siblings very common among Bonobo’s (our closest ape relative) and Chimps (our second closest ape relative) and also very common amon early humans that lived in almost exclusively egalitarian societies. So any father/mother issues are really just cultural representations of differences from the norm and how that effects the individual.

    The real connection between the father and god, are simply from the fact that until people invented agriculture we had no religion (especially not any organized one) we only had vague spirituality, but once farming became prominent men began taking dominance over women hording their children for workers and forcing morals on them that supported their behavior for example the idea that women should be subservient clearly is not obvious evolutionary instinct, also the idea of coveting wife or property would not make any sense at all in an omnigimous egalitarian society, so really the god being a man thing comes from men trying to be god.

  12. The only issue with this argument is that egalitarian humans actually behaved in the opposite of this by being directly group decision makers and actually excluded any one who would try to take individual command, even to the point where they would exile anyone for not sharing food.

    The abstract evidence that god exists is simply that it is completely possible for an extra dimensional being to exist and potentially have influence on the nature of this dimention, note this is very abstract and very theoretical but you cannot say there is “no” evidence because then you begin to sound like one of those people who say there are “no” intermediate fossils between a chimp and a human.

  13. You may want to look into DMT: the spirit molecule it is a documentary about this endogenous hallucinogen it is very enlightening to the nature of human spirituality and it biological origin

  14. I am not so sure about there being much use of  “gods” in egalitarians simply because they were so community oriented that having a god would be too centralized, i think they more likely opperated on a parable or “story book” religion where morals were told though general over reaching stories much like they are all throughout modern human culture. Unlike monotheism is more common in highly stratifies societies

  15. On the topic of the human tendency to build gods in our own image, I highly recommend the excellent YouTube series God’s Emotions. It’s 10 videos, around 10 minutes each, and they are an amazingly clear primer into the psychology of theism (especially the Christian variety.)

    The series is from YouTube user TrustingDoubt  – aka Valerie Tarico, PhD. Valerie is a psychologist, author, and former director of the Children’s Behavior and Learning Clinic in Belluvue, Washington. Her entire channel is definitely worth exploring.

  16. My speculation is that there exists in everyone’s worldview a space for a ‘supreme arbiter of life and death’. Beyond that, the polytheistic schema is more logical than the monotheistic. Since there is such a broad field of perceived phenomena and experiences, no single entity could encompass them all, no matter how grandiose that entity is imagined to be. To accept that premise is to immediately invite conflict and contradiction.

    The god of Abraham is an aberration, of course. As a parent, he is the archetypal abusive asshole and as a creator, the archetypal Chaos creature. I’m pleased to note that the gnostic scripture spells this out.

    Dualism seems to be an inherent psychological trap. We see so many dichotomies around us that it becomes second nature to treat most differences in terms of a dichotomy. As an example, the term “opposite sex” is ridiculous and misleading within the larger context of being human.

    The Anekantavada philosophy of the Jains does a good job of dispelling dualist notions.

  17. I believe we are using religion and god interchangeably which, I think is a mistake. Religion is a psychological characteristic of humans and a function of the social structures we humans have tended to create in our evolutionary proses (eg family, tribes, countries). Religion is the societal structure we build as a result of, what I think is a physiological characteristic that makes us incline to believe in a god.

    The physiological characteristic, I believe, is in our basic need for survival. Our (relatively) advanced sentience has created an illusion of a duality in our beings; call it body and soul or the Cartesian duality.

    Irrespective of how hard we may try, we all know our bodies will eventually give out; it is evident, empirical and inevitable for all of us. We have no such evidence for the inevitability of the death of our exclusionary soul.

    we therefore “rationally” in our attempt for survival, look for a way to protect this illusionary soul from the same demise as the body. The “rational” explanation or justification is god.

    The belief in god is therefore a consequence of our illusionary duality. Our beleif in religion is what we as social creature build; two different things.

  18.  

      BenCarollo

    The abstract evidence that god exists is simply that it is completely
    possible for an extra dimensional being to exist and potentially have
    influence on the nature of this dimention, note this is very abstract
    and very theoretical but you cannot say there is “no” evidence 

    Not really!  Speculations about remote possibilities are not evidence!  There is “no evidence”!  Just vague remote possibilities of  “other dimensions”, and no evidence of interactions between these hypothetical dimensions and our world.

    because
    then you begin to sound like one of those people who say there are “no”
    intermediate fossils between a chimp and a human.

    Facts are facts, and wild speculations are wild speculations, –  regardless of what some people’s perceptions of what a statement may sound like.

  19. If children’s monsters under the bed or in the closet are parents and Santa Claus is also a parent, why shouldn’t God be one as well?

  20. Perhaps the key fact is that at its core, religion is a con.  Somebody tells a lie in order to gain power over others, to get them to do what he wants, to get them to give him gifts. The particular nature of the lie has been refined over thousands of years.  So the question is, why are so many vulnerable to this particularly potent form of con?  Why are they so gullible?  Another related question, is why is this con so good?

    1. the con is not exposable.  It makes no claims that can be verified. All the juicy stuff happens supposedly after you die.

    2. god is reputedly insane, irrational, partial, cruel, unpredictable.  So no matter what happens, it is perfectly in keeping with god doing it.

    3. Lots of the con makes no sense.  The crook can then say “don’t worry your pretty little head. I’ll do the thinking for you.”

  21. “The abstract evidence that god exists is simply that it is completely possible for an extra dimensional being to exist and potentially have influence on the nature of this dimention,”

    Its completely possible in the sense that its completely possible that there may be a tea pot orbiting Saturn. The only scientific theory for additional spatial dimensions beyond 3 that I know of is String theory. Setting aside that the extra dimensions are highly speculative with no empirical validation yet, even if those additional dimensions do exist they would be completely inconsistent with most forms of matter let alone any living being. The String theory extra dimensions if they exist are folded into complex geometries called Calabi Yau manifolds. The math is way beyond me but essentially these extra dimensions are inaccessible and imperceivable by most measures. No sane string theorist would ever postulate that living beings could exist in these dimensions. 

    ” note this is very abstract and very theoretical but you cannot say there is “no” evidence because then you begin to sound like one of those people who say there are “no” intermediate fossils between a chimp and a human.”

    By that argument you can never say “there is no evidence” for anything. The reason that the intermediate fossil argument is invalid is not because its illegitimate to refute an argument based on lack of evidence but because in this specific case the theory explains that most of the animals that ever lived will not leave fossils. For an animal to leave a fossil requires a combination of improbable events. As Dawkins has said its actually surprising that we have as many fossils as we do. Its a completely invalid analogy to compare that with extra dimensional beings, something that no scientific theory even comes close to predicting.

  22. The origin and nature of various predispositions to irrational beliefs and other cognitive biases is less important than how they might be exploited.

    I think there may be something around regarding theories of psychopathy / sociopathy as a human reproductive strategy that involves absent and irresponsible fathers. Pretty much all powerful religious leaders and cult founders are likely to be psychopaths.  Perhaps there’s a link with the idea of celibacy, maybe as a cover for what is effectively an expedient reproductive strategy.

    Maybe psychopathy is a spectrum with polarity and there are also anti-psychopaths: people who are extremely gullible and unusually manipulable compared to norms. Potential followers of the psychopaths at the other end of the spectrum.

    Degree of psychopathy may be a consequence of gene expression in specific circumstances, possibly random or associated with early childhood experience. In some circumstances humans may be programmed so that males are triggered to act irresponsibly and impregnate numerous females simultaneously and opt to invest no resources at all in raising any specific offspring. It’s a form of parasitical existence at the expense of the majority of people who behave more typically. The most prominent symptom of the syndrome is that absence of normal emotional ties, which is necessary to enable this reproductive strategy to operate among larger numbers of more normal people.

    It’s even possible that it’s simple imitation. Children just imitate their parents. An absent parent can only be imitated by becoming an absent parent oneself on reaching adulthood. Less of an option for females, hence the focus on males. Female psychopaths exist, but are very much rarer than male psychopaths. Confounding factor is that many psychopaths come from quite ordinary families, complete with the normal compliment of parental devotion.

    Theory is that modern welfare states and the phenomenon of enabling a relatively large proportion of single (female) parents are likely to produce relatively vast numbers of psychopaths compared to previous generations. It’s already suspected that most ‘successful’ business and political leaders are
    psychopaths, and most such folks will typically have a surprising ‘rags to riches’ story. Though these stories are less surprising now that that all begin to sound the same. Possibly the situation is reversed: it isn’t now possible to become a powerful and wealthy figure (without an inheritance) unless one has a
    deprived childhood, sufficient to trigger the relevant gene expression.

    Religious cult leaders might not be personally religious as such, but tend to latch on to various supernatural rituals as the most effective and easiest tool of manipulating others as followers. To some extent they can even believe their own rhetoric. One of the notable capabilities of a typical psychopath is to hold conflicting incompatible thoughts simultaneously, without generating any internal anxiety. (A pre-requisite of serious religious belief.) Most criminal psychopaths genuinely believe they are innocent of whatever is their horrendous crime, regardless of the strength of the evidence. (Not that
    much different from someone who believes they are personally guilty and a sinner, regardless of the strength of the evidence.) These contradictions can be reflected in their use of language, which provides an opportunity for identifying the syndrome.

    Psychopathy is often associated with an almost instinctive ability, or close attention to learning related skills, centring on manipulating the behaviour of others. (Not necessarily via bullying or pure
    terror as in the case of axe murders etc. Psychopaths are everywhere, and hardly any are serial killers or bullies.) Intelligent psychopaths are also apparently attracted to fields such as sales and psychology, and are well-represented in that area. Perhaps that’s why funding for research into psychopathy hasn’t been much of a priority. Maybe we’ll eventually find that psychopaths are increasingly likely to become scientists rather than religious leaders and politicians, assuming scientists are increasingly becoming more influential than political or religious leaders. Or perhaps they’ll instead focus more on their traditional roles in financial planning, stock broking, banking, and other forms of organised crime.

    Eventually there’ll be an Android or iPhone app to assist in identifying psychopaths by eavesdropping on the frequency of specific word usage. Until it becomes available you should assume that any sales person, religious or political leader, crime boss, axe murderer, maverick scientist, etc is probably a psychopath. Unfortunately it’s a little like accusing people of witchcraft. All evidence can only point in 1 direction. Denying being a psychopath is exactly what a typical psychopath would do. As might be jotting down more than 500 words on the topic – indicates a seriously dysfunctional
    lack empathy and judgement. Emotional impairment, self-aggrandisement, etc.

  23. That seems kind of a freudian remark, but if so,  they´d better  have to invent a better father/parental figures.
    It seems too strange to me when someone mentions Our Lady of Fatima as the Mother of Portugal, a porcelain  doll ? That´s when I realize how much I love my mother.
    An authority figure (father) as God would be the last thing I would need, as I grew up with an absent father (dead), that´s what it seems to me.

  24. There is a book called Why We Believe in Gods which I’ve not yet read but which I assume will provide many good answers to your question.

    I would say that the main reason why people follow religion is tradition.  The religion meme, whichever religion it is, as with language, is passed down from parent to child, one generation after the other.  The child, more often than  not, adopts the religion of their parents for various reasons. 

    The first and probably most powerful reason is that the child trusts that what their parents are telling them with regards to reality and miracle claims are true even though they may be absurd.

    Another reason is that the child accepts that they are a muslim/christian simply because they’ve been told they are.  They accept the religious label just as readily as they accept the name that their parents gave to them.

    Not wanting to be an outcast, reject or outsider is another one.  If everyone in your family, neighbourhood, community, city or country follows a particular religion, ideology or  philosophy it’s far easier to allow the tide to take you than to swim against the water.

  25. The missing child like concept is Play.

    In watching the debates between atheists and their hapless victims, something is missing. The atheists have no idea what their opposition is doing. They do not understand that the religious are playing but don’t know that they are playing and that is why they, (the religionists) are deluded.
    Atheists must understand this and conduct their arguments accordingly.

    If God is an imaginary friend then by definition they are playing. If a statue or a figurine is a doll by another name, then by definition they are playing. If death and resurrection can be seen in a game of cowboys and indians then by definition they are playing.

    When they understand play as being real then they are deluded

    People live in two worlds, the real world and the world of play. A geologist I know of, worked for a petroleum company and regularly gave reports on the ages of rock core samples as being 4 billion years old Yet in his religious world he was a Christian fundamentalist who believed that the world was 6000 years old. He experienced no cognitive dissonance. It’s just that different rules applied in different worlds. In the world of play anything goes. Thus miracles and the supernatural are natural.

    One obstacle to the understanding of religion is the modern use of the word delusion to describe a false belief found in psychiatric conditions. In fact the word delusion derives from two Latin words meaning “From Play.”  The God Delusion means “The God from Play”  

    Delude was first used in 1420 to mean “to play false” If I play you false then I seek through my words and actions to delude you into thinking that what I say and do are true and real. The word delude was used in the transitive sense of I delude you. I seek to pretend to you, to mislead, deceive, misinform, betray and cause you to believe falsely, hence delusion. Delusion was first used in the sense of madness, in 1552. Delude is used in the KJV of the Bible and in Shakespeare and always in the sense of betray or misinform causing a false belief.

    Those who would like to explore the concept of Religion as Play might like to start at

    http://ahouston.customer.netsp…  

  26. Much more convincing, thanks 🙂  That book looks interesting, I’ll check it out.

  27. I usually don´t think people as much passive in their socialization process for two well known reasons: cultures are not static, although they have of course mechanisms of preserving tradition and every individual is at the same time a unit of cultural change. Sometimes I do think it must be related to some psychological characteristics of one´s personality yes, which ones ? Mental disorders ?  (I really do think so)
    But, of course, this is still a valid remark/argument, as far as there are children with a few options of socialization and the well known voodoo death, when people die from fear for believing in what they were taught to believe from childhood: supernatural. There must be people who believe in nonsense just because it is part of a culture in which they grew from early childhood to adulthood, and from my readings  on psychiatric ethnology, this is a serious concern for psychiatry, but freedom from being completly  only a “culture product”  (simply a product of nonsense colective beliefs/traditions), not considering the other part of it, or not considering that a certain freedom also exists in balanced people (I think), as far as some ethnographic documentaries and individual interviews to members of a tribe report: for instace a teenager that told that the traditions of his tribe were foolish or an  amazonian woman that told that the chief of the tribe was too much “sexist” are interesting to know, that´s natural from them, not that they ever lived within a different society, however, they still have a critical point of view (I find it useful to know).

  28. It really depends on your view of “god”  is , if you think of “god” as a person like thing that actively manipulates things in our realm on a daily basis then your right there is not really evidence for that, but if you think of gad as simply some being that exists outside our realm of physics that caused our universe to come into being, whether it was aware of it or not, there is definitely a lot of evidence to support that, even Richard Dawkins says that if our laws of physics were different life would probably just evolve differently in accordance, who is to say it would be any different across dimentions, even our notion of time is so very limited, just look at dark matter, it travels faster than light therefore it must be outside the bounds of time, and if thermodynamics were just a little bit different then energy would just appear without cause, so anything out side our laws of physics would not need a creator, so the idea of this “god” coming from somewhere is very simple minded. Now i am not saying that there is a god and especially not that he wants people to fight about hims, just that it is very possible that there are beings that live outside our universes laws that caused ours to come into existence not only that but that it is very likely that this happened, even some quantum theorisits beleive that there may be an entity that creates many random universes without purpose,  it does not have to be concious but would at least fit my definition of a “god”

  29. Actually if you go down to a physical level all our experiences can be narrowed down to two basic mathematical sets of equations and variables, and we are currently trying to make the connection between the two, i think it is human instinct to explain every thing with one simple answer, even if that answer is simply math

  30. “Perhaps the key fact is that at its core, religion is a con.”

    I don’t think so.  A con implies that the people perpetrating it know its a lie and are just fooling you to get your money or some other advantage.  There certainly are a few evangelicals and others who are con men but the vast majority are not. 

    I think you are neglecting an essential aspect of human nature: our amazing ability for self deception. See the wonderful book by Robert Trivers The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Humans. Its in the interest of religious leaders to believe what they say. If you really believe that Jesus is coming back in his fiery chariot to bring justice to the world you will be able to convince others far more effectively. 

  31. I think that because religion arose with agriculture, and a cause of agriculture is social stratification the rich could very well have invented religions or at least particular beliefs to enforce the view that there should be rich people, to self justify there own greed and blame others poverty on their own sin.

  32. note: it would not allow any living being that we see today, but that does not mean that it would not allow for any form of being, if you looked at our universe in its very early stages you would have argued that there was not way it could have sustained life being so full of toxic radion and lacking of any solid mass heavier than lithium, but now we are thriving, another argument is that for so very long people thought it would be impossible for anything to live in volcano or any other extreme condition like that, but then we found organisms that thrived in these toxic environments, to say that there could not be life outside of our dimention or even outside our universe is to say that we could not have possibly evolved here. people thought for so long that time was constant among all things and that space was solid but now we have discovered particles that can be in more than one place at the same time, and even some that age backwards in time, we are surrounded by impossible things to say that evolution is limited to our existence is foolish, not to mention even a simply electrons ability to travel in between being a wave and a particle at will, this is evidence for another dimention in and of itself, for there is no other feasible way this could happen

  33. Some people argue that the human inclination to see agency in everything, that is, that everything has a cause, led people to look for the cause of the season, plants growing, babies being born, and lacking science came up the explanation, the gods did it. That combined with our social natures, and a very strong inclination to believe authority figures strengthened and maintained religion.

    Religion is fading. The death pangs may cause some upheavals, but it is dying.

  34. I mentioned in an earlier comment Robert Wright’s book The Evolution of God. That is something he writes about. In primitive cultures there were Gods to explain everything. If you wanted to build a canoe you had to first say a prayer to the canoe god (a real example). 

    I agree religion will die eventually, its just a natural evolution of humanity like realizing the earth isn’t the center of the universe. But how long it will take I’m not sure. I think there are severe crises in store for the planet in the coming years. Climate change of course but also all sorts of other potential problems, population growth, not enough fresh water, one country (USA) that can essentially no longer build anything but weapons and has a political party dedicated to making war at the drop of a hat; and in times of trouble people turn toward religion. Remember that there were other times in history when many educated people were sure religion was on its last legs and it came back with a vengeance. 

  35. “not to mention even a simply electrons ability to travel in between being a wave and a particle at will, this is evidence for another dimention in and of itself,”

    No its not. You don’t have any idea what you are talking about and are just spouting nonsense.

  36. There is the object-relations theory, which describes what you are exactly writing regarding the belief in “God” and a missing loving father. The person looks for that imaginary accepting father. It makes a lot of sense.  I am referring to the “A psychological basis for religion?”

    Saul

  37. excuse me if it seems too elementary a question for  you; But did religion really always exist in humanity, like the religious claim? I mean it probably could not exist when there was no language

  38. http://richarddawkins.net/disc… –  BenCarollo  another argument is that for so very long people thought it would be
    impossible for anything to live in volcano or any other extreme
    condition like that, but then we found organisms that thrived in these
    toxic environments,

    Ignorance was present in the past and is still present in much of the population today.  Ignorance does not prove any science.

    to say that there could not be life outside of our
    dimention or even outside our universe is to say that we could not have
    possibly evolved here.

     No it doesn’t.  Evolution here is a fact!  Unevidenced speculation on remote possibilities, is something else.

    people thought for so long that time was constant
    among all things and that space was solid but now we have discovered
    particles that can be in more than one place at the same time, 

    The most likely explanation is that they are not “particles”.  A solar system or a galaxy behaves like a particle when viewed from a great distance.

    we are surrounded by impossible things
    to say that evolution is limited to our existence is foolish,

    If they were “impossible” they would not be happening.  You confuse “impossible”, with “not yet understood or explained”!

  39.   BenCarollo  http://richarddawkins.net/disc

     It really depends on your view of  “god”  is , if you think of “god” as a person like thing that actively manipulates things in our realm on a daily basis then your right there is not really evidence for that, but if you think of gad as simply some being that exists outside our realm of physics that caused our universe to come into being, whether it was aware of it or not, there is definitely a lot of evidence to support that,

    Actually, not only is there NO EVIDENCE  for that, but unless it interacts with our laws of physics, there cannot possibly be any evidence of it on Earth!

    even Richard Dawkins says that if our laws of physics were different life would probably just evolve differently in accordance, who is to say it would be any different across dimentions, even our notion of time is so very limited,

    The unknown has nothing to do with evidence of gods.

    just look at dark matter, it travels faster than light therefore it must be outside the bounds of time,

    There is no evidence that dark-matter  (or anything else) travels  faster light.

    and if thermodynamics were just a little bit different then energy would just
    appear without cause,

      

    There is no evidence of this!  You seem to be making it up as you go along! 
    Slightly different scientific parameters, does not equal, “any fantasy is credible”!

    so anything out side our laws of physics would not need a creator, so the idea of this “god” coming from somewhere is very simple minded.

    This is wild unevidenced speculation.  There is no evidence that anything exists “outside our laws of physics”,  let alone anyone being in a position to
    make pronouncements on how alternative laws would come about! 
    Far from being simple minded, it is simple logical deduction!

    If other laws were created in some alien laboratory or by some “gods”, there would still be the question of where the aliens or gods originated
    – with the problem of infinite regression remaining unanswered. 
    Where did their universe come from, and who created the creators, – or did they and their universe just evolve, as ours appears to have done?

    Now i am not saying that there is a god and especially not that he wants people to fight about him, just that it is very possible that there are beings that live outside our universes laws that caused ours to come into existence

    No it is not VERY POSSIBLE!  It is a very remote possibility with the odds stacked heavily against it according to Occam! – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O

    not only that but that it is very
    likely that this happened,

    Err no!  You are just indulging in fanciful thinking!  You have no basis for calculating the probability.

    even some quantum theorisits beleive that there may be an entity that creates many random universes without purpose,  it does not have to be concious but would at least fit my definition of a “god”

    There are some people who believe in fairies and magic potions.  Humans are prone to anthropomorphism and wishful thinking.

  40. Could you explain your point of view, why is language so important ?
    Perhaps language is also a problem ?
    And what about the origin of language itself ,  the existence of symbolic thought?
    Some jesuit priests reported to have found amazonian peoples that they reported as  not having found any sign of “religion”, only slight mystical thought, no religious celebrations at all were held.  

    http://www.dailymotion.com/vid

  41. I don’t think you quite understand the concept of empirical evidence.  Firstly, to assume that some percentage of humans have “a ‘sense’  or illusion that sentience is some how detached from our organic matter” is, at best, conjecture.  I certainly experience no such “sense” or illusion.  And your choice of  the word “illusion” to describe the sensation is telling.  Either way, it is in no way “empirical evidence” of a God anymore than our perception of an essentially flat horizon means that the earth itself is flat.  Go back to school an review the Scientific Method, Vmar.

  42. There’s been plenty written about the biological/genetic basis for our belief in gods.  Check out Dr. Michael Shermer’s “The Believing Brain,” Dr. Richard Wiseman’s “Paranormality,” just about any lecture by Dr. Dr. Peter Boghossian.  I don’t know if any of these resources can answer your question, but it’s a good starting place.

  43. According to me,the psychological basis of the belief in religion is fear..And this fear comes from the conditioning that happens to us from the very moment of our birth.The family,society,religion…all are very much concerned with this conditioning.You have to believe..there is no point of any question…you just have to believe.And you will definitely believe because all these things are preached by your parents,your priest,your teacher.How can they go wrong!?So there will not be any conflict even if there is no proof at all.The seed of fear begin to grow.The concept of creator,the big father.Who watches and control all your activities…who is keeping a book on your sins,who is preparing hell for you.There is no choice other than belief.

    Also human beings are psychologically afraid of failures.They always require a helping hand.They are not confident in their capabilities.Because most of us are born and brought up in a family ,we expect the same care and support in the future also.And religion is just an extension of family.The concept based on the existence of the big father who take care of us.The problem is that we are not understanding our being,our abilities.Actually,we are not allowed to understand it because of the continues conditioning from the very moment of our birth.

    So as a conclusion,Religion is living without idea,conflict,and understanding.Religious people will be happy with their life,but they are far from the ultimate truth.As an atheist this understanding is the core of my happiness..and its always greater than that provided by a religious life.

  44. Benofsocal,

    I believe that I fully understand the definition of empirical evidence. While I appreciate the time you took to read my post, I would appreciate it if you had read it more carefully. You see, you and I do not disagree in concept. We do however disagree in the manner and civility in which these topics should be discussed.

    There is no empirical evidence for an illusion because it is an illusion. I am an Atheist and furthermore ,  believe that there is no duality in our beings but simply an illusion which (while we still don’t know for sure) can create a sense of separateness between our organic matter and our sentience. I personally feel that it is the consequence of all of those billions of synapses firing in our brains at the same time; truth is, we don’t know, yet.

    With respect to empirical evidence that humans do feel a sense of duality (illusion or not) is a separate matter. The fact is, that the vast majority of human beings today continue to believe in a god and, many more, a soul. I believe that this has something to do with the illusion of duality. Duality has been a central theme of many of our greatest philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Spinoza. It is one of the great questions of philosophers to this day. In fact, there are even secular dualist to this day. That is how strong this illusion is in humans.

    Dualism and god are different matters; Buddhism is a case in point. While I am NOT a dualist, I do recognize that it is deeply imbedded in our conciseness. In fact, I believe (my belief, no empirical evidence) that long after we have left the magic snakes, 72 virgins and all other silliness associated with religion, the belief in dualism will remain as a last bastion in our inherent defense (illogical? yes) to maintain some vestige of immortality.

  45. I lost my religion while investigating my families high functioning autism that was diagnosed and ignored in my brother, and I suffered an eye injury from – what hurt most was my mothers lack of interest in my obvious emotional problems.

    I realized I learned empathy from breaking rules so I could understand why those rules were important – now – if not for the constant reminder of forgiveness that we can not ignore as a reality also – my learning empathy may have led to my death – but now – just jail – that’s an improvement – right?

    But it did take me 45 years to find that singular gem. But I admits its a good gem.

    But I also strongly suspect its religion that nurtures negative environments sans understanding for it to take that long.

     Everything is a double edged sword.

  46. Now see it as;  we are primed to seek help when distressed, and we are logical enough to realize ‘older probably equates to more experience’, and because its always been the males who were protectors while females nurtured, the ‘father’ image seems quite the natural choice for the role absentia.

    In other words;
    Its easier for me to loose anxiety with an actual teet to suck and wonder if the protector is effective, than to suck on a teet and know its of no use to me – at that point ‘protection’ is moot..

  47. Its undeniable that men historically make worse parents than women, and are often responsible for a great deal of harm within a family. I’m not talking anecdotally but statistically here.

    Eh?

    That sounds like the kind of statistics that are made up on the spot, as, research has shown, 31.42% of all statistics are.

    Reference/citation please.

    If I were forced to generalise, which is always dangerous, I’d say that it is undeniable that men and women bring different, and generally complimentary, skill sets to parenting.

    Sure, there may be some men who are rubbish, but there are no doubt some women who are rubbish too.

    This site is not the place for irritating, insulting, undocumented assertions plucked from thin air. Nothing is ‘undeniable’ unless it stands proven by proper empirical science.

  48. I think the author of the OP made a simple legitime question, whether I do not know the answer, as it is difficult to say, as far as I don´t have that psychological characteristics of personality that makes me worship an authoritarian figure, to replace my flesh and blood parents by imaginary figures and, as you may notice, I also might have wondered about the same: do these people love enough their parents, do these people have had good parents. Even politically I think, it´s a legitime question, as far as the RCC was more well organized in middle ages than the “state” itself to impose authority on the lay population, concerning even the administration of justice, the well organised administration in territories to pursue “taxes” from the lay population (much more well organised than the king´s administration), to control people over the confession obligation, so historically, we are talking here about a real “authority”, and yes, people need to have psychological characteristics to accept any kind of exarcebated authority, even from real parents, which I never really had, as far as I tend to reject any kind of authoritarian figure, even political, and I really do think people need predisposition to accept “authoritarian” figures. Certainly, psychological characteristics are a pre-condition.
    I do not regard these issues as “surreal” and only “philosophical”, but concerning real aspects, even political and moral (and afective of course)
    I don´t knowquite well the answer of course, as far as I don´t share these characteristics, but I do think it even needs a lack of critical and independent spirit for that (in all aspects, even cognitive).

    Well, historically, it has been a long way to establish the modern state political conception we have:
    the freedoms we have gained in all aspects, and all aspects of an “authority” are quite real, not only “philosophical” regarded in abstract way.
    Real abstract here is freedom people gained far from institutionalised religion.

    Did people need psychological characteristics to accept inconditionally Hitler too, as far as exacerbated authority´s figures? (sociological studies on these matter were held).
    [Interestingly enough, children do commonly associate the father´s figure as an authority figure, but not the mother, the mother is not associated as an authority figure, although things may not be exactly that way.]

    On the same subject from the OP (or not) I must admire so much exacerbated authority figures that one of my favourite films is precisely some related with freedom from exacerbated authority, like this one:

    Le Roi et l’Oiseau

    http://youtu.be/jv51pSJwTTA

    http://idata.over-blog.com/2/8
    blog.com/2/80/11/49/photos-fil…

  49. It may not be a need for anything, but instead just a lack for understanding the true complexity, yet simple order that the universe has. It all comes down to indoctrination in most cases, I think. Children grow up without having the life experience to really know what the world/universe is all about. And by the time they reach that age, they’ve been attached to god for so long that they struggle with the idea of detachment.

    And they’ve based their entire moral compass on a set of guidelines in *insert book here* for so long with no need to scrutinize them. These guidelines DID come from a ‘perfect’ god after all, right? With their god supposedly being perfect, there’s no need to judge him,  so people blindly believe these guidelines. And when their reality is challenged, they can’t possibly imagine a world without those moral guidelines because, unfortunately, their religion restrained their moral convictions from growing deeper within them. They only exist on the surface as something that needs to be completed in order to receive their reward after death. It’s literally the same thing as having to get a D in your Gen Eds in college just to move on to something that matters. No real interest in the class itself…just on getting to point B.

  50. Really well then i would like for you to explain how in a simple 4 dimentional space a single particle at will would be able to convert itself into a wave? Note: right here i am Not talking about a diferent universe, just extra dimention. which is not only feasible but probable, at least according to every string theorist.

  51. I do not think you understand physics that well, because and entire galaxy behaves entirely different than a particle, almost every particle is in the process of decaying into heavier matter, that is what a star is, they act entirely different because galaxies clearly follow basic Newtonian laws, and particles behave in a completely different way following the laws of quantum mechanics. And me saying impossible things is really to say that there is a lot of things in this universe that are very improbable but the universe is so vast that they happen quite frequently.

  52. Firstly i would like to appologize about the comment about dark matter, I actually meant to say neutrinos here is a short paper on that
    http://www.scientificamerican….

    Seccondly the first law of thermodynamics dictates that all energy will eventually deteriorate into less use full energy over time for ex. H2 bonding with O2 to become a lower energy source requiring more energy to break than to create.  If this law was not existent (for example outside of the universe and subsequently out side of the laws of physics as we know) it would be terribly simple for energy to create itself meaninglessly. This is just Non disputable fact + basic logic

    The truth is we do have evidence of extradimentions most of it is not skeletal but mathematic, and I am sorry for this but that is how physicists work. Although not every body can understand what all of this math means, it is put rather clearly by Brian Greene in his many films and books reducing string theory into concepts and ideas comprehensible to the average person. I would recommend watching them as well as any other information on string theory and theoretical physics. 

    I also would like to explain that There are ways to detect things influenced by other dimentions for some example the very idea of Time being its own fourth dimention that connects with space in a very unique manner. And as for something out side of our universe your right there is nothing in Earth that would be able to detect its effect but it is common among experts to attempt to quantify what it would even be if another universe or something out side of it effected it, but the truth is things do not spur out of nothing when the laws of physics our at play, which means very simply that our universe is not all inclusive because our universe has a beginning and an end. It is like saying that we are the only planet with life. It is very improbable for life to evolve but our universe is so big it must have, it is the law of large numbers, now give your self an empty space with no known constricting laws and infinite time and what do you have? The perfect formula for a being to evolve and guess what it would not be bound by any laws what so ever it would not even have any comprehensible shape, laws would only exist inside of its mind and would be a product of its imagination. You just have to have the capability to think out side of your 4 dimentions. Because the truth is you can measure the first three with a ruler , and the 4th you measure with the decay rate of a crystal (because every physical equation works exactly the same there is no real forward or back ward in time just the perception of direction but you get my point) so now if you have particles that are not held by your first three dimentions, or your fourth then why can we measure their effect on our 4 dimentional universe? EIther their are things out side of our universe coming in at subatomic levels, or there are things seeping in between dimentions in the same universe on the subatomic level, not to mention as you sit at your computer these particles rush right trough your bones with ease most notably is the theoretical Graviton particle which anyone who believes in 2+2=4 should have some understanding that if i take a pizza (Large Hadron)  and i slice it into eight pieces and i drop the pizza there will still be eight pieces in the room this is evidence of our graviton wich somehow manages to travel in every direction at once, and although it would seem to be a wave it really also seems to be a particle just like an electron. But please just watch the films brian greene does a much better job at it than me. 

    The issue is you are probably more familiar with biology which is really just chemistry but none the less is much more concrete than theoretical physics. 

    Although Occam’s Razor is good at choosing between Basic argument that both seem logical, it is not good to say that the simplest to explain is the simplest, because the truth is string theory is bridging the gap between the quantum and the Newtonian, and nothing is more simple than having one equation that explains the entire universe. And those equations require extra Dimentions and things outside of our universe. For Example if an apple is on the ground next to an apple tree the simplest answer is? Gravity! but gravity is yet to be completely defined by most recent scientific advancements we can measure it , we can feel it but we are still not quite sure what it actually is.

  53. Actually that is not true, because humans evolve the much sought after ability to trow things bigger and stronger do not mean more dominant and do not mean more protection, it is why we are not so large as our ape cousins.  Secondarily there is much evidence to show that for the majority of human evolution women and men had no specific gender roles aside from here to there societal quirks.

  54. What the Hell has happened to richarddawkins.net?
    Links to occultist nonsense, spelling and grammatical errors so egregious they make the extraction of meaning hard work, gross technical inaccuracies, and specious arguments abounding.
    Is this thread satirical?

  55.  

    BenCarollo
    Firstly
    i would like to appologize about the comment about dark matter, I
    actually meant to say neutrinos here is a short paper on thathttp://www.scientificamerican….

    This is highly speculative and mat well be refuted.

    Seccondly the first law of thermodynamics dictates that all energy
    will eventually deteriorate into less use full energy over time for ex.
    H2 bonding with O2 to become a lower energy source requiring more energy
    to break than to create.  If this law was not existent (for example
    outside of the universe and subsequently out side of the laws of physics
    as we know) it would be terribly simple for energy to create itself
    meaninglessly. This is just Non disputable fact + basic logic

    Again, it is hypothetical speculation, with “energy from nothing” sounding very suspect as very wild speculation, which has nothing to do with gods.

    The truth is we do have evidence of extradimentions most of it is not
    skeletal but mathematic, and I am sorry for this but that is how
    physicists work. Although not every body can understand what all of this
    math means,

    Mathematical models are purely self consistent.  They require physical evidence to be validated.  Again, they are nothing to do with gods, but are popular with “gods-of-gaps” proponents.

  56.  

    BenCarollo
    I
    do not think you understand physics that well, because and entire
    galaxy behaves entirely different than a particle, almost every particle
    is in the process of decaying into heavier matter, that is what a star
    is, they act entirely different because galaxies clearly follow basic
    Newtonian laws, and particles behave in a completely different way
    following the laws of quantum mechanics.

    My analogy with galaxies was in relation to their volume & gravity at a distance, and the fact that they can pass through each other when two collide.  (ie. they are not points in space, despite their centres of mass or concentration of light sources superficially appearing as such.)  Similarly it appears electrons & photons are not points or particles, so can pass through double slits.

    And me saying impossible things
    is really to say that there is a lot of things in this universe that
    are very improbable but the universe is so vast that they happen quite
    frequently.

    There is no evidence that star systems or galaxies at a distance, operate on different laws or probabilities to the closer observed parts of the universe.   Any whimsical “impossible” or “highly improbable” human speculation is in all probability wrong, as historical records show. 

  57. I know some university that holds “tradicional medicine” meetings, that´s of course a study field for anthropologists (that even may have some interest for medicine ?)
    As far as to discuss evolution, that university (in it´s open to the public policy and even for some study “method” reason ?) doesn´t only have scientists as guest speekers, but even muslim scholars, jesuit…

    ThinkLogically is almost for sure american, for his extra-terrestrial conspirancy theories and his historical anachronisms (if this isn´t a product of it´s ignorance about history itself).

    Curiously I recently had watched on History Channel a bizarre american “historical” theory of conspiracy related with history and extraterrestrials that holds that mithology gods were extraterrestrials.
    That was really sad. Should such educational channel avoid the exposure of such bizarre explanation on History, I wonder.

  58.  

       ThinkLogically
    eh?
    the xtianity is not a religion as well as islam and judaism. This is a
    trinity false program made by extra-terrestrials. I do wanna ask you
    just a one simple question “did you see god ever in your entire life”?

    I did not say in this quoted comment – http://richarddawkins.net/disc…  your criticisms of various religions were wrong.   I pointed out that your religion was also dogmatically wrong in its views too.

    This link seems to be a preaching argument that Xtianity is the wrong sort of wooo!

    As an atheist, I am atheistic about one more religion than the religious, (who reject other religions) … … and that includes followers of the occult.

  59. Michael.
    There is a psychological basis for religion.
    There is also, of course, a sociological basis and this is perhaps the more important.
    Societies worked best when there was worship of a common God and all members pulled
    together toward the common Good.
    When you live in a democracy with a strong and just legal system, I think the religious
    pull.
    Regards
    DominickG

  60. “Common good” is the ordinary reference of Aristotle to politics, but we don´t really need  god in it, nor did Aristotle, did he ? (Is that one of the reasons why the rediscovery of Aristotle has been so great  in european history ?) The god that became “common” wasn´t perhaps a universal god but a god of a choosen people.
    I would like to  quote from a  tradicional african society where the idea of “common good/human welfare” exists naturally, just to remind that neither did they need any god to think about it. (but it would  take me a lot of work).
    Recently, some journalist asked  a priest about politics and the answer was: “who knows whose occult hand is this ? ” what a good typical answer, even concernig politics.
    I dismiss supernatural in it and rather prefer a humanist approach.
    (thanks for the suggestion anyway).

  61. right but the issue is that when being monitored an electron acts like a particle, but when not under observation it behaves like a wave, that is where a solar system has nothing to do with an electron, second of all, every equations that string theorists use are derived from equations that have been proven to be via scientific experiments, and all of our research comping from particle collision is supporting the mainstream string theorists. so to say that the math they use is innacurate is like saying 1+1=2  but  2-1=0, because all they do is move around variables in different ways always keeping the equations balanced. and a balanced equation in physics is a law.  for ex. F=M*A is always balanced, from that we get Einsteins  E=MC^2. it is proven because f=ma is proven. 

    also i think you misunder stood what i said about impossible things, yes all of the universe has the same basic set of physical laws, and under those laws there are many things that are very unlikely, but the still happen because the universe is so large there is many oportunities for those improbable things to arise Richard Dawkins actually gives this as his reason as to why he believes we are not alone in the universe

    And unless you know any other way that something can get to us before light can without extradimentions(mathematically probable) or going faster than light(mathematically impossible)then please enlighten me. but until then you cannot just say that it is speculative and will be refuted, there is no evidence for your claim, the as you suggested earlier Occam’s Razor either the impossible happened or there is an extra dimention subatomic particles can access  

  62. Statistically most fathers are perfectly adequate parents.

    Given the % of humans that believe in gods how would you sort out those that believe for reasons other than their father beat or sexually abused them ?

  63.  

    BenCarollo
    right
    but the issue is that when being monitored an electron acts like a
    particle, but when not under observation it behaves like a wave, that is
    where a solar system has nothing to do with an electron,

    I did point out that it was only an analogy comparing orbits at different scales. (atom, solar system, galaxy etc)

    also I think you misunderstood what i said about impossible things, yes
    all of the universe has the same basic set of physical laws, and under
    those laws there are many things that are very unlikely, but the still
    happen because the universe is so large there is many oportunities for
    those improbable things

    Statistically things which are physically possible but very improbable, become more probable as opportunities repeat or increase, but that does not mean ANY speculation becomes possible.

    And unless you know any other way that something can get to us before
    light can without extradimentions (mathematically probable) or going
    faster than light(mathematically impossible) then please enlighten me.
    but until then you cannot just say that it is speculative and will be
    refuted, there is no evidence for your claim, 

    .. and no evidence against it!   The unknown is unknown to all, so I can certainly say it is speculative.   We will have to await evidence.

  64.  

      ThinkLogically
    Even scientists/science couldn’t explain so called “supernatural” thing.

    “Supernatural” is a paradox.  

    If it acts on the material universe, it is detectable by laws of science and is therefore “natural”.   

    If it does not act on the laws of science it is undetectable, it has no effect on the material world or humans, and for all practical purposes, (or in totality) does not exist.

    There are no scientific details of non-existent objects or forces, so the scientific explanation is:- 
    “There is nothing to explain”, beyond the neurology and psychology of the people involved.”

  65. there can be no denial that there is a “sense”  or illusion that sentience is some how detached from our organic matter” 

    Personally I have no illusion of the existence of the soul; the concept is ridiculous to me so your argument holds no truth. So there can indeed be denial and I hereby deny it.

  66. Right now,  I’m listening to two people in my office discussing how the US government destroyed the World Trade Center with a controlled explosion.  The planes that hit the tower were drones with no people in them.  They are discussing the “evidence” for this theory and I can’t help thinking that one could substitute a discussion about the existence of God and it would pretty much sound the same.

    PS:  If Noam Chomsky does not accept the idea of the government destroying the WTC,  then I don’t see how anybody could accept it.

  67. I’m often surprised by how narrow-minded people are when discussing religion, as if the Abrahamitic religions are the only ones that have dominated this earth. I would say that the portrayal of gods as father figures is quite an exception to the rule if you consider all religions historically. Hence, your hypothesis seems to be a  culturally narrow one at the very best. That is not to say that you might have a point. I’m sure some people treat god like a missing father figure. Still I find it hard to regard this hypothesis as valid in the broader sense.

  68. May we ask users to remain on the topic of the OP, please?
    Particle physics and conspiracy theories will no doubt crop up on other threads at other times.
    Thanks!
    The mods

  69. You misunderstood me.  I am not trying to  raise a conspiracy theory.  I’m just saying that it’s the same psychopathology at work.

  70. If we are to accept this argument, then we must also accept that the biblical God is patricidal. Consider this injunction in the Bible (God talking):

    “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that
    belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children
    and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
    — 1 Samuel 15:3

    And if that’s not bad enough, this is how a major evangelical ‘Christian
    apologetics’ organization attempts to justify God’s
    commandment to kill children en masse (not to mention an entire people):

    ‘When God authorizes the nation of Israel to wipe out a people, it is a
    lawful execution due to their rebellion and sin against God.
    Furthermore, such an extermination can be seen to be merciful by
    delivering the young into the hands of the Lord and possibly saving
    their souls by not giving them time to become “utterly sinful”.
    Additionally, further generations that would have arisen from the
    perverse culture, are likewise prevented from coming into existence and
    spreading their sin.

    ‘Finally, one of the reasons [why] the Lord orders this killing is to
    ensure that the future messianic line would remain intact. The enemy,
    Satan, began his attempt to destroy God’s people in the Garden of Eden,
    by also trying to corrupt the world (which led to Noah’s Flood), by
    trying to destroy Israel with attacking armies, and by encouraging
    Israel to fall into idolatry by exposure to other cultures as well as
    intermarrying women from those cultures. The result of both the idolatry
    and the interbreeding would have been the failure of the prophecies that
    foretold of the coming Messiah which specified which family line the
    Messiah would come through. The Messiah, Jesus, would be the one who
    would die for the sins of the world and without that death there would
    be no atonement. Without the atonement, all people would be lost. So,
    God was ensuring the arrival of the Messiah via the destruction of the
    ungodly.’*

    It’s absolutely amazing what incredible leaps of (il)logic the human
    mind is capable of concocting in the service of blind faith in a
    religion.

    * Abridged from
    http://carm.org/bible-difficul

  71. Yep, hypocrisy abounds in the silly book. The seventh commandment as per Exodus, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, only applies to some…mostly the gullible minions. Not to the great pariarchs though…King David was particularly despicable in his adulterous activities and Solomon was a whore master. No stoning for those boys. Whatever happened to lead by example? Shouldn’t adherents to the Bible aspire to the morals of it’s greatest characters? Which would be in keeping with nature by the way, but no, don’t do what I do, do what I tell you. Sound familiar?

  72. There are so many confounding variables that it would be hard to propose an all encompassing  hypothesis, but I’ll try. Fear and awe are neurologically based emotions.  The power of these emotions over us and others must have been well known, so ancients put the fear of culturally specific–therefore useful–supreme beings to keep their children and eventually their subordinates in line. Of course, I’m not sure how to test this H1.

  73. I would say fear, lust and the desire for perpetual survival as our most basic neurological characteristics. Reason and knowledge puts them in check (well maybe not lust).

  74.  Personally you have no illusion of the existence of the soul; that’s fine, neither do I for that matter.

     That is not the point, my point is that the concept of a duality of body and soul is deeply imbedded in humans. It is one of the greatest of philosophical questions and it continues today even among some secularist. My sole point has been that the sense of duality is stronger in humans than even the need for religion. In fact, I beleive it is the principal cause of religion. And it will still be around after the silly talking snakes and virgins are long gone.

  75. A  bit of Aristotle thought:

    Aristotle could not  accept the contradiction of the  platonic ideals (those of Plato´s Republic),  you can imagine the platonic ideals contradiction exposed by Aristotle in his criticism of Plato:

    1) legislation  would establish that all women belong to all men (a kind of communist romantic ideal); 2) and that young boys should mantain  an ideal (a kind of romantic exclusivism ideal) realtionship always with the same  man.

    Plato would legislate in a so detailed way that he would make legislation to rule over people’s sentiments, and what if a man and a woman instead choose to have a stable relation and people to know their parenthood ? So, rather than being governed by passions, people would better  be ruled by abstract laws (almost an Aristotle quotation).

    Said that, the best way in which societies should  live is indeed in a democracy with a strong and just legal system (with abstract laws that don´t rule over little details- such as individual intimate choices).

    To worship a common god would be an ideal almost impossible to accomplish. To live in a democratic society according to abstract legislation that allows people a certain degree of individual freedom is in fact the best way  in which a society can work , but doesn´t mean either that religion pull in all cases, but at least that it seems more real  and fair for all ?

  76. If these musings can lead us to how to get over it once and for all, fine.  If not, then it’s about as interesting as looking into the psychological basis for nose picking  or studying theology or astrology.

  77. There IS evidence for extra dimentions it is the only way according to current scientific discoveries than anything can travel faster than light, and because we have found particles that do travel faster than light, it is as simple as measuring the time it takes for one set of particles to arrive compared to the time it takes the light to arrive, it is a theory based on facts and like all science is subject to change but for now it is considered to be accurate.

    the orbit view of an atom is very old and outdated it is realistically inaccurate but is use full as a teaching model because it makes the concept simpler. the truth is that solar systems and subatomic particles act in completely different ways, the actions of large things are very predictable very stable and act in very easy ways to calculate very accurately, subatomic particles act very sporatically and are not necessarily bound to the laws we hold as basic because gravity does not effect subatomic particles they behave in expressly different ways, and the idea of even giving a shape to these particles is very simple to make it easier to explain, a solar system colliding with another solar system would simply lead to a huge condensation of mass and would probably lead to the destruction of both galaxies via the creation of a black hole not to mention the fact that time itself in the area between those two galaxies would become immensly slowed because of the gravity

    I am not using the idea that many improbable things happen to explain that anything could happen i am saying if OUR limited universe has so many improbable things happen how can you say that in an infinite realm without any limitations of physical laws or any such thing could not bring arise to anything, as a matter of fact one interesting theory about the beginning of the universe is that some subatomic particles going backward in time actually cause the universe to come into existence not think about that, it is feasible, but if that is feasible then imagine if life could have evolved out side of this universe unbound by time or space, all it would need to come into existence is simply to create itself not being bound by time this would be very simple (now that last part is speculative but 100% possible and more probable than not)

  78. BenCarollo
    There IS evidence for extra dimentions it is the only way according to current scientific discoveries than anything can travel faster than light, and because we have found particles that do travel faster than light,

    As far as I am aware the claim of “faster than light” neutrino travel was refuted, after errors were discovered in the measurements!

    2nd neutrino team refutes faster-than-light find – http://news.yahoo.com/2nd-neut
    The ICARUS team confirmed that, as Einstein predicted, neutrinos travel at the speed of light.

     

    the truth is that solar systems and subatomic particles act in completely different ways, the actions of large things are very predictable very stable and act in very easy ways to calculate very accurately, subatomic particles act very sporatically and are not necessarily bound to the laws we hold as basic because gravity does not
    effect subatomic particles they behave in expressly different ways, and the idea of even giving a shape to these particles is very simple to make it easier to explain,

    It is true that subatomic particles work  differently, but the fundamental difference, from a study perspective, is that large objects are easier to observe, therefore making calculations easier. My point was that the dimensions of ORBITS, at macro or subatomic scale, should not be confused with point size “particles”.

    a solar system colliding with another solar system would simply lead to a huge condensation of mass

     

    That would only happen if the collision was at a low (below escape velocity) speed.  Otherwise, because of the vast spaces between planets, most bodies would pass straight through, unless the stars collided or were captured by gravity to become a binary star  system.  Even then most planets would continue to orbit. There would however be massive disturbance of orbits which would be likely to cause collisions (cometary bombardments etc) within the existing systems.

    and would probably lead to the destruction of both galaxies

    You seem to be confusing “solar systems” with “galaxies”.  Galaxies also collide all the time, with satellite galaxies merging to become part of their larger neighbours. 
    Large galaxies can also collide, but while orbits will be perturbed, the interstellar spaces are large enough to avoid most collisions.  Our Milkyway galaxy will collide with Andromeda in about 3 billion years.  The galaxies , stars and their planetary systems may pass right through the other galaxy.   The 2 galaxies may eventually merge as gravity pulls them together locally, despite the expanding spaces between galaxies in the universe as a whole.

    via the creation of a black hole

    Even in the event of a collision of stars they would have to be very large stars to form a black hole.  As far as galaxies go, they already have blackholes in their centres which is what holds them together.

    not to mention the fact that time itself in the area between those two galaxies would become immensly slowed because of the gravity

    Because of the distances, and the gravitational inverse square law, time dilation would only be significant in the central part of galaxies near their blackhole event horizons.

    I am not using the idea that many improbable things happen to explain that anything could happen

    Your explanation seems to say that is exactly what you are doing – wild speculations and gapology, about misunderstood or unknown science.

    would need to come into existence is simply to create itself not being bound by time this would be very simple (now that last part is speculative but 100% possible and more probable than not)

    Err no! Just whimsical speculation based on misunderstanding the science, misunderstanding the nature of time, and a psychological need to project a god-image into a perceived gap.

    @OP -To me it seems that a lot of people are really looking for that supernatural father figure.

  79. most of the religions you may be referring to rose in response to the market. ie the adherests could not compete and raise kids, so they dropped out. in this case, religion is a direct darwinian adaptation for individuals who could otherwise not have afforded to raise childrem

  80. Please excuse my simple outlook but the only psychological basis I can see for religion is that we humans have an instinctive ego driven need to feel like we “know” everything, despite the fact that there’s obviously far more going on in this universe than we will ever be able to comprehend, much less understand. Religion fills this hole. The majority of the “eye in the sky” characteristics are there to keep the masses in check & doing what they’re told. Would it make sense to listen to the rules of an inconsistent, weak, dumb, entity, that didn’t care about you and couldn’t do anything about it if you didn’t listen to what they said?

  81. Questionallanswers

    Please excuse my simple outlook but the only psychological basis I can see for religion is that we humans have an instinctive ego driven need to feel like we “know” everything, despite the fact that there’s obviously far
    more going on in this universe than we will ever be able to comprehend, much less understand.

    We could always look at a few details of recent studies.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re… –   
    Distinct ‘God Spot’ in the Brain Does Not Exist, Study Shows

    “We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions.
    “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences.”

    In the most recent study, Johnstone studied 20 people with traumatic brain injuries affecting the right parietal lobe, the area of the brain situated a few inches above the right ear. He surveyed participants on characteristics of spirituality, such as how close they felt to a higher power and if they felt their lives were part of a divine plan. He found that the participants with more significant injury to their right parietal lobe showed an increased feeling of closeness to a higher power.

    http://images.sciencedaily.com

  82. I was born in to the Christian faith but I have always wanted to know (why)? to a lot of questions just like every one else that picks at what they call religion. Faith was my big one, why would a god of love that they all teach us about ask us to have faith in him, to me this means that god for some reason has his hands tied and this must be because of evil. for in the bible he talks a lot about evil and good. They say a man of science takes things apart to understand every thing in this world, so why don’t they take God apart to understand what religion can’t. The why to everything that god does. ?

  83.  
    casseyted
    I
    was born in to the Christian faith but I have always wanted to know (why)? to a lot of questions just like every one else that picks at what they call religion. Faith was my big one,

    Actually you were born an atheist, but were no doubt indoctrinated into the Xtian faith at an early age.  People in other countries or other historical times may have been indoctrinated in other religions.  You will find (as the history of warfare and OT stories show), that many religious followers “pick on” other people’s religions, whose “faith” conflicts with their own “faith”!

    “Faith” is accepting information with checking for  evidence of its accuracy so such beliefs are usually full of errors.

    why would a god of love that
    they all teach us about ask us to have faith in him, to me this means that god for some reason has his hands tied and this must be because of evil.

    First of all you are assuming a Christian god, who unlike the Old Testament god is a “god of love”. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L… – There have been and are thousands of gods and versions of gods, all of which have had followers who were taught to have “faith” in them.

    for in the bible he talks a lot about evil and good.

    The bible is a book of ancient folk-law just like the Greek myths of Hercules, Jason, Zeus etc.  Even the bible’s folk- stories were selected and edited by Emperor Constantine’s Roman bishops at The Council of Nicea – 325 AD,  as acceptable to Roman politics.  Ones they did not like were suppressed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G

    There is no historical evidence independent of the bible stories, (and Romans did keep meticulous records) that any one called “Jesus” ever existed.  – (Although that geographical  area was over-run with numerous itinerant preachers at the time.)

    Many Xtians just believe what ever nicey stories they are told by preachers, and have not even read most of the bible they claim they believe!

    They say a
    man of science takes things apart to understand every thing in this
    world, so why don’t they take God apart to understand what religion
    can’t. The why to everything that god does. ?

     

    No evidence of gods or their works has ever been found, (other than psychological and neurological notions in the minds of faithful believers), –  so there is nothing to investigate apart from the working of the human brain and the effects beliefs have on societies and social structures.

    I linked one of the studies here: http://richarddawkins.net/disc

  84. I came to a similar idea recently about why so many people find Atheism to be such a frightening idea.  Similarly to what was said in this article, it makes one feel very alone and isolated.  The idea that there is no one looking out for us.  There are many metaphors and similes that one can draw a comparison to.  However, I think the most apt comparison is being in a very dark tunnel and looking to the end and seeing a light and thinking that there’s omeone there waiting for us.  That they’re tending the light to guide us but when we get there we suddenly find out in the blinding light that there was no one there.  No one was tending a light or a fire to guide us. It was merely the light of the sun. The huge ball of burning nuclear fire hanging out in the middle of space.  And that does seem to be the root
    cause of the fear of there being no god:  the fear of being alone. And I think that once that fear is conquered then people may not need to cling to the idea of there being a god.

  85. We have removed a couple of off-topic comments. This thread is not about abortion. Please stay on the topic of the OP.
    Thank you.
    The mods

  86. I don’t consider myself religious by any means AT ALL!! I feel religion has done far more harm to humanity than it has ever done good.  But personally I haven’t completely dismissed the concept of what I have come to consider “God”.  My way of looking at god doesn’t really fit into any religious belief that I’ve ever come across.  I’m a big believer in science, and the constant pursuit of unraveling how the universe works, I find it incredibly fascinating.  But through my, admittedly amateur, investigative pursuits, one thing keeps coming up, that prevents me from dismissing “God” or at least the idea of “something much bigger”, completely.  Through our constant investigation of the universe we live in, we discover various laws of nature, and then look at these laws breaking them down with the eternal “why?”  For example, the law that  positive and negative forces attract to one another, we ask “why?”, and we break the law down discovering another layer of scientific explanation.  If we continue to peel back the layers we eventually come to “well that’s just the way it works in this universe” I call this “God”.  I see God as the base layer for why things work the way they do, in everything and everywhere.  No, I don’t see God as a creative entity, or any kind of a “being” at all, I see it more as the system of creation, the “just because” of science.  What’s really weird is that I had completely dismissed the idea of god until I started doing some scientific reading.   Sorry that I’m off topic, as this has nothing to do with a human need to feel connected to anything, I just read a couple of posts and wanted to see if anyone could understand where I was coming from, or if I’m completely off my rocker, lol. If I’m breaking rules please excuse my ignorance.

  87. I, like you, have thought long and hard about the question, “What predisposes humans to believe in God and other superstitions?” Richard Dawkins himself, in his book ‘The God Delusion’, has touched upon a few evolutionary hypotheses that attempt to answer this question.

    Archeological evidence indicates that modern human behaviour appeared aburptly about 50,000 to 40,000 years ago. Among other things, this behaviour includes burial of the dead and practice of rituals, clearly indicating that belief in a supernatural being and other superstitions is a fundamental part of default human nature. Therefore, I think, to satisfactorily explain human predisposition to superstitions, one must try to answer questions such as, “What is THE quality that makes us human?”, “What is the cognitive trait that led to human behavioural modernity so abruptly about 50,000 years ago?” While contemplating on such questions, I stumbled upon some insights which I have elaborated in the following blog:

    http://whatmakesushumans.com/w

    Please feel free to read it and let me know you think. You will see that my ideas lead to another possible answer to the question of human belief in God.

  88. Recently, discussing the supposed discovery of the “God Particle”
    a journalist invited a science philosopher, a physicist and two jesuit physicists (I think), and during the conversation that took place, the science philosopher had to dismiss that religion is itself as responsible for scientific knowledge, but instead, that religion has more to do with authority (how I enjoyed that, firstly they call others materialists, and then, they consider science simply as factual and religion as “spiritual”, that´s precisely the argument they should avoid if they are calling others “materialists”). O ne of the jesuits, holding the book “A Universe From Nothing” showed hiself outraged by of the use Laurence Krauss does of the word “God”, which I would like to know, but didn´t read the book (although it made me more curious, for the wrong reason I guess).

  89. It all seems to me that the idea of god is a ‘primate based logic’. My cat has a different point of view. I as a human I look to explaination of some greater reason and she just lives happily with her own take on her life. Throughout our history mankind has constantly sought out homespun theories to explain to himself his own existance. Therefore mankind can only see the idea of god in human terms. Religion creates a comfort zone for the massive human ego that can only comprehend the universe on its own terms. Likewise science often falls straight in to the same trap of comprehension from human perspective and therefore  is also condemned to ‘primate based logic’.
    Humans reason (it is assumed) is the highest form of reasoning that we have knowledge of. What I ask is that when humankind meets another species with the same or greater reasoning, will we recognise the reasoning? Or will we just beat the ground around us and retreat into our primate ego.
    I’m a jobbing carpenter therefore I am.

  90.   maria melo

    Recently, discussing the supposed discovery of the “God Particle”

    The name “god particle” has been parroted all over the world by media muppets and theist parrots.

    The name “god particle” is derived, because a “politically correct” editor, decided to replace the scientist’s book title, in order to pander to the psychological feelings of the fundies!

    The truth of the story is different, and illustrates the stupidity of this sort of commercialised religious fact-bending:

    It should have been called  “THE GOD-DAMNED-PARTICLE”!

      http://www.canada.com/Clarific

    Because it was for decades proving so elusive and frustrating to find a way to observe or detect the “Higgs,” and thereby further confirm the correctness of the standard model of quantum physics, an author, named Leon Lederman, submitted a manuscript to his publisher, the title of which was The God-damned Particle, describing the Higgs boson theory and the scientific controversy about it.

    The publisher would not allow the book to be published with that title, as it would not sell well in the U.S.A. (because of that nation’s loud-mouthed, supercilious “Bible thumpers” who would predictably cause trouble for the publishing house). To conform to the publisher’s demand, Lederman simply dropped “damned” from the title of that book.

    And so was begun the completely stupid suggestion that somehow a discovery of such a “God particle” proved the existence of a “supreme being (responsible for the existence of everything and everybody, etc.). This only served to reinforce the religious superstitions of those swayed by theocratic fundamentalist fascists and their minions and thereby further “dumbdown” the general public, dismiss critical thinking as heretical, as well as contribute to their campaign to denigrate and besmirch science.

    We don’t need TV network news readers aiding them thusly.

  91. Questionallanswers   .. .. .. we ask “why?”, and we break the law down discovering another layer of scientific explanation.  If we continue to peel back the layers we eventually come to “well that’s just the way it works in this universe” I call this “God”.  I see God as the base layer for why things work the way they do, in everything and everywhere.

    In science you can ask “why”, but the answer will always be “how”!  It will lead back explaining “how” until further investigation becomes too difficult in general, or too difficult for the individual investigator.   At this point, the honest answer is, “We/I do not know!”

    Psychologically humans do not like uncertainty or admitting ignorance, so historically egotistical leaders who to pose as “knowing experts”, have made up untested answers and have asserted they are correct: – often bullying those who questioned them.

    The lowest common denominator of answers is:  “god-did-it” and the simplistic answer to “how?”  is, “by magic miracles!”  Explanations can be further avoided by pretending this understanding is “beyond investigation, or beyond human understanding”

    Of course as science has pushed back the frontiers of knowledge, these “gods-of-gaps” and their followers,  have fought  rear-guard actions; –  often illustrating their ignorance and incredulity in the process.

    Trying to psychologically reconcile biblical stories with science, is an even more contorted issue!

  92.  I don’t really have a problem with what you call it. I have a personal preference for “I don’t know, yet. I may even say I don’t know and perhaps we will never know.

    If you want to call the gaps god, so be it. Heck, Spinoza and Einstein pretty much  did that.

    But you need to stop there. If god is in the realm of the unknown, then let’s not attribute specific human (or any) characteristics to it.

    The problem with the god of the gaps argument is that we then jump to all sorts of unfounded conclusions like objective morality, creationism, resurrections etc.

  93. Thank you for having made the term “God Particle” clear, it was in fact a more informative and formative work than the journalist who I´ve mentioned in my previous comment, and I truly believe you (you were quoting ?) have made a better job than the journalist of my comment. It seems so stupid for me now the direction she took.
    Thanks for the link !

  94. Try Matthew Alper’s book “The God Part of the Brain”.  His hypothesis is fairly simple and compelling:  our highly evolved cognitive faculties make us probably the first species to be able to predict our own deaths.  But we have also evolved hormonal systems which generate a sense of anxiety when we are in danger – and our own impending death is an extreme example of this.  Religious beliefs in an afterlife, he suggests, reduce this anxiety, and thus enhances our psychological health and hence our survival and reproductive success.  I would add that the propensity to accept such beliefs – and suspend disbelief at their irrationality – is a neural adaptation that is genetically mediated.  And one which many of us have not inherited.  
    It’s an easy read, and an interesting theme.

  95. I agree with this a lot.  Existential fear is rampant in people who do not realize that no God means personal responsibility is really YOURS and no other.  When faced with true personal responsibility, you must create the meaning of things and not have it granted to you from a personal God. I am of the belief that people need to feel SPECIAL in some way.  I hear this over and over if they really are truthful with you.
    The statement that the purpose of life is that there is no purpose can be understood better if you face your fears of death and annihilation.  I have found that either people hide from this fear extremely well and don’t even feel it.  Denial is powerful. Or they are so in tune with fear, they must attribute it to some kind of devil or demon or something bad here on earth and thus run to the ‘protection’ of a God. I can choose to believe that the purpose of life is to love one another or I can choose to believe that a God granted me special existence on this earth in order to play a role in some cosmic game, however neither works for me personally.  I, too, simply believe that God helps us to deal with our existential anxiety and in some ways in a very very positive way.  Theism cannot be eradicated and I am not suggesting this be done, however let me point out two things that I feel are important to this discussion.  First, the general rank and file populace aren’t going to delve into this issue too deeply and denial and religion are merely a tool in their arsenal of coping skills, thus to forcibly take away that tool is tantamount to terrorizing them and they will fight!!  Second, I have experience with a number of situations where someone was looking for MEANING in their lives and a lot of people need to do this thru a social form.  Organized religion serves them well in this regard.  A number of mainstream religious groups espouse living ‘good’ lives, and with that comes a certain amount of extraordinarily good things for the whole of society and the world.  If you were to take all of those away, people will look for other groups. I have seen where cults are taking advantage of the phenomenon today…You have to understand how cults operate and what they promise versus what they actually deliver, and it isn’t easy to understand if you haven’t been involved with a loved one or someone you know. So just to underscore this…people WILL find meaning in groups and I am not sure a totally secular group will work for the masses.  All of you must understand that people are made easily afraid and no amount of rationalizing will keep them from being afraid.  There has to be an alternative for them and without an alternative of something positive and good, people will turn to something that is an illusion or possible really wrong or bad(as our society’s standard dictate)….because it is too damn frightening for most people to face their own demise.  If you have felt intense fear and anxiety, ultimately you are on your way to understanding that you are in fear of annihilation and death…this does not work with our brains and physiological state…we WANT to live and survive, just as Vmar has stated.

  96.  Hello everyone,

    First of all, a quick introduction: my name is Dom and I’m a frequent
    lurker here although I’ve never posted before.

    Second, a preemptive apology: I’m severely disabled because of MS,
    (presumably because god made me gay and therefore feels duty-bound to punish
    me), which means I am going to find it very difficult to post much in the way
    of replies or further comments, so please don’t think I’m being rude or some
    kind of troll. Even using speech recognition, this post is going to take me
    many hours and a lot of energy to write. I had originally planned to start a
    new topic until I saw this thread and realised that my ideas are perhaps more
    relevant as a possible explanation for the deepest, most prosaic cause of that
    sensation some people have of another presence inside their heads.

     

    I recently watched the Channel Four programme about ecstasy. For those who
    didn’t see it, it was a somewhat controversial investigation into the
    biological effects of the drug, but there was one small part of it which really
    grabbed my attention.

    I have always felt very strongly that those people who claim to,
    “experience”, a god are actually displaying a subtle expression of
    schizophrenia. As I understand it, one of the defining characteristics of the
    illness is that the sufferer encounters a powerful and all-consuming conviction
    that their own internal monologue is, in fact, an external phenomenon. This is
    why they are commonly understood to hear voices be they from angels, demons,
    gods or aliens: they experience their own internal voice as if it is coming
    into their heads from outside.

    During the programme, much was made of a particular brain circuit involved
    in self-identity. I can’t remember what it was called, but two areas of brain
    are connected by a neural pathway and, in normal functioning, these two areas
    talking to each other comprise the entity we perceive as, ” me”.

    If the pathway becomes overactive, we can experience anxiety and stress
    disorders partly due to a hyperawareness of self as negative emotions and
    memories become dominant and out of control.

    Ecstasy appears to damp down this pathway and some of the test subjects
    spoke of being, “disconnected from themselves”.

    Now, at last, to my point: the first test subject was an ordained priest,
    and I felt it was enormously telling that when she was describing what it had
    been like, she said, “I felt disconnected from god”.

    I immediately took this as evidence that, whereas most of us feel our
    thoughts and decisions are autonomous, some people clearly do not and instead
    attribute the most mundane mental activity to an outside agency. It is from
    this starting point that every personal, cultural, philosophical and societal construct,
    (which we call “religion”), ultimately springs. I remember tabloid headlines a
    few years ago proclaiming scientists had found, “the god centre” in the
    brain – does anyone know if this is the same thing?

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this,

    Dom.

  97.  

     
    Dom 2061 
    It is from this starting point that every personal, cultural, philosophical and societal construct,
    (which we call “religion”), ultimately springs. I remember tabloid headlines afew years ago proclaiming scientists had found, “the god centre” in the brain – does anyone know if this is the same thing? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this,

     

    There was an article about this here:-  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

    and an earlier discussion here:-  http://old.richarddawkins.net/

    Certainly neuroscientists have associated certain areas of the brain with spiritual feelings.

  98. In my opinion, belief in the supernatural and superstition is a relic from the dark ages when people attributed everything they couldn’t explain (e.g lightning)  to some supernatural force.
    Today, our knowledge is vastly larger than it was back then, yet, there are many questions that remain unanswered.
    Now, there are people who just accept that we don’t have answers to all our questions yet and trust the scientific approach to get us the answer eventually and there are those which in the face of not having a scientific answer, automatically imply the work of God or some other supernatural power.
    My hypothesis is that some people just need answers, no matter if those answers make sense or not. They simply cannot live with the unknown.
    For other people, belief in a God and everything that comes with this belief, is a way to give meaning to their life.
    Not everybody is able to face the fact that the only life we have is the one we are currently living and, based on all the available evidence (or better a lack of it) there is no reason to think there would be such a thing as a afterlife. We die, and that’s it. There is no deeper purpose to our being as there is no deeper purpose to the universe itself as far as we can say.
    The only purpose we have is to live our life as good as we can. This vision might look bleak to many comparing it to religious promises such as eternal life and paradise.
    That’s why I think, argument and discussion alone will not remove religion or strange believes from our society. In order to get rid of those beliefs we must eradicate the underlying causes, whatever they might be.

  99. I’ve often wondered (and this is my speculation, not something I’ve read or heard discussed before) if religion did not begin as a way to provide us with a metaphorical big brother behind whom we could hide when things didn’t go our way.  In other words something of an avoidance mechanism to take away our own responsibility and transfer it onto someone more powerful and intelligent than ourselves.  This would provide the individual with a “monitor” to guide and direct them.  Then, as society became more complex and it became more difficult for the leaders of the society to control the individual members an all seeing GOD could be invoked who would know our thoughts and actions and so keep us in line.  The original “Big Brother” of George Orwell, as it were.  Does this make sense to anyone else?

  100. In the interest of balance why not investigate potential correlation between atheists and absent/abusive/controlling fathers/parents too?

  101. Absent fathers do not instill the fear of God in their offspring, abusive ones do.

  102. You make complete sense, Exactly what I mean to say! Even the big brother theory! (Yes I said theory because IT IS happening).
    I am really bad when it comes to explaining crap to people.
    Keep it up mate.

  103. JamesWG
    In the interest of balance why not investigate potential correlation between atheists and absent/abusive/controlling fathers/parents too?

     

    It’s been done!

    http://current.com/community/9
    Atheists Supply Less Than 1% Of Prison Populations

    ————————————————–

    It’s surprising how many people say to me, “You’re an Atheist? You must have no conscience about commiting crime then.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if we examine the population of our prisons, we see a very different picture:

    During 10 years in Sing-Sing, those executed for murder were 65% Catholics, 26% Protestants, 6% Hebrew, 2% Pagan, and less than 1/3 of 1% non-religious.

    Steiner and Swancara surveyed Canadian prisons and found 1,294 Catholics, 435 Anglicans, 241 Methodists, 135 Baptists, and 1 Unitarian.

    Dr. Christian, Superintendant of the NY State Reformatories, checked 22,000 prison inmates and found only 4 college graduates.
    In “Who’s Who” 91% were college graduates, and he commented that “intelligence and knowledge produce right living” and that “crime is the offspring of superstition and ignorance.”

    Surveyed Massachusetts reformatories found every inmate religious, carefully herded by chaplins.

    In Joliet, there were 2,888 Catholics, 1,020 Baptists, 617 Methodists and 0 non-religious.

    Michigan had 82,000 Baptists and 83,000 Jews in their state population.

    But in the prisons, there were 22 times as many Baptists as Jews, and 18 times as many Methodists as Jews.
    In Sing-Sing, there were 1,553 total inmates with 855 of them Catholics (over half), 518 Protestants, 177 Jews and 8 non-religious. There’s a very interesting qualified statistic.

    Steiner first surveyed 27 states, and found 19,400 Christians, 5,000 with no preference, and only 3 Agnostics (one each in Connecticut, New Hampshire,

    and Illinois). A later, more complete survey found 60,605 Christians, 5,000 Jews, 131 Pagans, 4,000 no preference, and only 3 Agnostics.

    In one 29-state survey, Steiner found 15 unbelievers, Spirtualists, Theosophists, Deists, Pantheists and 1 Agnostic among nearly 83,000 inmates.

    Calling all 15 “anti-christians” made it one half person to each state.  Elmira reformatory overshadowed all, with nearly 31,000 inmates, including 15,694 Catholics (half), and 10,968 Protestants, 4,000 Jews, 325 refusing to answer, and 0 unbelievers.

    I think this accounts for a large number of  “absent fathers”. – Inferences can also be made about their moral attitudes!

  104. Religion is based on empty concepts,
    therefore, beliefs are basically nothing or nothing to worry about. Knowledge supported by
    non-falsifiable evidence is what people should really strife for. If there
    is no evidence of god’s existence, you do not need to take other people’s word
    for it in that he’s out there somewhere. Holy books belong to the category of
    falsifiable evidence because they were passed through the hands of people.
    People should not be trusted in matters like these because they have the
    capacity to easily coerce you into believing in pretty much anything they
    want you to believe. They can simply use a manipulative strategy, and call
    you evil or a servant of Satan, if you tell them you don’t believe them,
    which might make anyone falter.

    Therefore, there are so many beliefs and belief systems out there, these days,
    that contradict one another, but nonetheless, believed in with absolute
    certainty by different people.

      

    Example 1: Catholics. These type of people were persuaded to believe that after
    death they would go to a purgatory, and later would be redistributed to either
    heaven or hell. (Faith intensity within the church is %1000)

    Mormons. These type of people were persuaded that they would be judged by god
    after death, and redistributed to either  celestial, terrestrial or
    telestial kingdoms based on their behavior on earth and faith in god.
    (Faith intensity is %100 excluding the fierce atheists that use the church for
    profit and as a type of business)

    Muslims. These type of people were persuaded to believe that they would have to
    cross the bridge after death, and should they fall from it, this would be
    indicative of immorality, which would land them in hell. (Faith intensity
    is %1200 due to the employed fear tactic and threats of death for
    abandoning the faith)

    Buddhists were persuaded that they would reincarnate on earth after death after
    an indefinite amount of time…Imaginary karmic law is used as a deterrent
    of immorality, meaning if you do a bad thing, something bad will happen to you
    as well. Faith intensity is %100.

    People belonging to each of these groups are %100 convinced that not
    only their belief system is true, it is the only belief system that
    is true. 

    So what does this tell you? Shouldn’t this be a sign right there, that
    people make up religious concepts as they go, since there is no way of
    proving that these things will never happen, the argument they so effectively
    exploit and capitalize on? If you’re not science savvy, and if you
    depreciate evidence, you are highly likely to fall prey for such empty
    concepts. 

    One time, I tried to experiment with creating a new religion. Obviously, it was
    nothing but my fantasies, and this is what I came up with in respect to
    what happens to you after death:

    Each person on earth was sent to this planet by a separate universe that
    created that person. This explains why each person is unique. After death, each
    person will go back to their respective universe.

     

    Entertaining this fantasy was very appealing to me, since I’ve been struggling
    a lot with feeling uncomfortable being an unsupported individual. It was
    amazing to think that a whole universe out there was focused entirely on
    creating only me, caring only about me, thinking and vying only for me,
    and then placing me on earth as their creation, as if the earth was some kind
    of a competition arena, where the creations of different universes are
    displayed, and have absolutely nothing to do with me.

    I kept on elaborating on this belief, and it started feeling more and more
    tempting to think that everything you imagine eventually turns out real. It
    seemed such a powerful idea, at the time, which even presented an
    interesting explanation as to why each person is
    unique, flaunting logic and internal consistency, as it is the
    case with many religions, though constricted by the boundaries of
    rationality and improbability. 

    However, when I finally came to terms with my plight, the need for such
    fantasies became futile, and, eventually, faded away. 

    Another idea based on the fact that it cannot be
    proven otherwise, and I thought could be very convincing and even damaging to a
    vulnerable and suggestible mind, was concerning the end of the world. I
    imagined the possibility that when you die, you have no awareness of
    your death, and instantaneously migrate to a parallel universe, a replica of
    the original one, where you keep on living as if nothing happened. Can you
    imagine entertaining such a concept right before the scheduled by religion
    finale of your life?! It’s definitely hard to prove that something like
    this is impossible, the argument that practically every religion
    exploits. Thus, technically, if you have the power and authority over people,
    accompanied by confidence and ability to persuade
    of fallacy, you might end up gathering some followers. 

    And this is what religion is all about!

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