Quote: Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell

Daniel Dennett, at the Second World Conference...

Daniel Dennett, at the Second World Conference on the Future of Science, in Venice, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is an asymmetry: atheists in general welcome the most intensive and objective examination of their views, practices, and reasons. (In fact, their incessant demand for self-examination can become quite tedious.) The religious, in contrast, often bristle at the impertinence, the lack of respect, the sacrilege, implied by anybody who wants to investigate their views.

~ Dennett, Daniel C. (2006-02-02). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (pp. 16-17)

In my own limited personal experience, I can attest that this quote resonates with reality. Not everyone bristles, of course, though some do. I think maybe the bristling is saved for outsiders, and I was an insider.

Some of my friends have simply acted uncomfortable. A number have flatly not wanted to hear or know anything about my investigation. Yet several have actually thought even my very attempt at examination was foolhardy… I wish I could count the number of times I’ve been told that the project of investigating the claims of Christianity simply cannot be transacted, that is flatly impossible, and that it lies beyond critical inquiry. There is a pretending that our faith is made of “faith stuff” that never touches earth, a pretending that Christianity does not make claims about history that can be checked.

We Christians claim a trove of knowledge. Human knowledge can be checked, can be examined, and can be disconfirmed. There are no grand exemptions. Just as Christians would say that Islam is objectively wrong, and could provide reasons why this is so, likewise our own views can be examined under the same cold light of inquiry. We have enjoyed our own proclaimed asymmetry far too long. And we are increasingly being called on it.

Dennett argues that we should conduct such inquiry for religion in general, and with vigor. I agree.

Comments

  1. Count me in that number

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  2. I ran into this as well. My mom told me she didn’t want to know my reasons for leaving Christianity, because she didn’t want to lose her faith. I didn’t understand that. If Christianity was true, then she wouldn’t have to worry about losing her faith, because Jesus promised that those who seek will find. It’s a frustrating outlook.

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    • Yeah, I hear that. It is a strange outlook, since it more or less admits of a weak position.

      I’ve also run into a similar variant… people who claim to want to dig into it with us, but then will only read apologetic sources from “inside the bubble”. As you guys know full well, such sources are pretty selective about the information to which they expose the reader. Any discussion winds up taking place against a strong gradient of a half-blank data set. And worse, they claim to be really “looking into it” and seeing how obvious it is that the Bible is true. To this I continually press that sources outside the bubble must be consulted also. I will happily provide gratis copies.

      In the quiet that follows, only crickets can be heard.

      Until they present the next apologetic source they find.

      Hurdle 1: having the other person read anything.

      Hurdle 2: getting them to consider sources outside the bubble.

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    • Nate said:

      . If Christianity was true, then she wouldn’t have to worry about losing her faith, because Jesus promised that those who seek will find

      YES! I get so tired of hearing that it can’t be proven, we just have to believe.

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    • My mother once asked, did I believe Jesus was the Son of God. When I replied , no, she said, ”Then we have nothing to discuss”.

      Odd bunch the Christians.

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  3. archaeopteryx1 says:

    “If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood, or persuaded of afterward, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it…the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”
    ~ William Kingdon Clifford ~

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  4. I think the key thing to realize is that religious belief is emotional rather than logical, which is why logical arguments rarely work. It’s a combination of a need for comfort in the face of existential anxiety and, often, tribal loyalty. Seen from this view, apologetics is designed to comfort the faithful with a veneer of logical rigor, a veneer easy to accept for someone with a need to believe, and equally easy to see through for those of us without that need.

    For this reason, when people bristle or shift uncomfortably, I’ve learned to leave well enough alone, unless they indicate they want that debate.

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    • SAP – very lucid, once again. I agree, and I like your word choices: emotional, tribal, veneer of logical rigor. Spot on.

      On the point of tribal loyalty, I have begun to compare the behavior I see with that of die hard sports fans. There is no rational reason why people choose the teams they choose to back. But the fervor is undeniable, and the true fan invests his very identity in a team of strangers, representing a city that none of them hail from, playing for owners that usually live somewhere else, etc.

      People need a tribal outlet, it would seem. Agree?

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      • You may be right. It seems to happen at all levels of society. Nationalism, team spirit, loyalty to one’s ethnic identify, religion, political outlook, or even philosophy. Of course, the non-belief community is no exception. I’ve been struck by the often bitter arguments that sometimes break out between skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and New Atheists, and how many notions people in these camps often accept primarily because they’re in that camp.

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        • Yeah, I’ve detected that as well. Just in the labeling of atheist versus agnostic, there can be name calling and caricature-drawing.

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          • I think a lot of the atheist / agnostic divide comes from the atheist out movement, the drive to get people to admit their non-belief and, hopefully, lower the stigma associated with it. The only issue is they’ve attached this drive to the ‘atheist’ label, and have a tendency to attack nonbelievers that aren’t comfortable with it. Agnostics who lump all atheists in with the hard atheists don’t help.

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      • Matt, this is a very interesting discourse. I’ve read research that we have a primal instinct to ‘belong’. It’s important for survival. I’d also like to point out that emotions are definitely necessary for our survival, and I do believe that emotions sometime get a bad rap during debate. But I understand why, too. It’s been taken to extremes where it’s rendered disadvantageous to our species. There’s a eye-opening lecture by neuroscientist Philippe Goldin titled The Neuroscience of Emotions and it focuses on emotion regulation (emotional intelligence) — well the necessity and urgency of emotional intelligence. It’s around an hour long including the Q & A at the end which I also recommend. It’s research intensive but quite informative.

        I’ve come to realize that many people of faith experience a lot of fear whether they realize it or not. Studies have also shown that the area of the brain associated with fear, the right amygdala, has more grey matter volume in those to tend to be more conservative. Conservatism (in America) is also associated with those who tend to be more religious. So my point is that people who may have more grey matter volume may also have intense death anxiety and xenophobia, and no matter how logical an argument may be, they can’t see the forest for the trees, if you will excuse the trite expression. However, that doesn’t mean their brain can’t change (neuroplasticity), thus their viewpoint. It’s just that in understanding this aspect of the people we debate may give us an edge, I believe in how we present the information. In other words, rather than working from a logical standpoint, work from an emotional one — a language they understand, so to speak.

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        • Cool deal – I’ve added that video to my watch list on YouTube. Thanks for sending.

          To pursue your suggestion at the end… what might that approach look like? Any practical suggestions?

          Also, I’ve just recently finished reading Boghossian’s book and found his Socratic commitment to be very refreshing. I keep saying that something has to first “crack the egg”, since reason and evidence tend to wash off pretty quickly where belief is concerned. Do you think there is a connection between the Socratic approach and your emotional angle?

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          • “To pursue your suggestion at the end… what might that approach look like? Any practical suggestions?

            Well, for starters, we can work from an empathic angle. I was once in a debate with a guy who was a diehard when it came to the Bible being the world of God. He went on and on about “God’s love.” So I took all the scriptures that were negative against women, and replaced “she”, “her”, “woman”, “women”, etc, with “him”, “his”, “he”, “man”, “men”. Now that may not work for everyone, but it certainly was effective for him. He told me that for the first time he saw how a woman depicted in the Bible must feel. That’s just one example.

            In 1986, philosopher Douglas Hofstadter, used a similar method to point out sexist language. He wrote a parody by making an analogy with race. His article (“A Person Paper on Purity in Language”) creates an imaginary world in which generics are based on race rather than gender. In that the parody world, people would use “fresh white,” “chair white”, etc.. It was quite effective. Replacing “men” with “white” got his point across on how words effect humans on a subconscious level. All “whites” are equal.

            “Do you think there is a connection between the Socratic approach and your emotional angle?”

            I’ve not read Boghossian’s book. I will put it on my book list. I do agree with your view that someone has to first crack the egg. Not everyone is as inquisitive and curious as we are. The problem is not belief in god — it’s the negative side-effects of belief, which is why we are having to have these dialogs in the first place.

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          • Well, I botched that up — I meant to say “all whites are created equal” (all men are created equal).

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          • Apologies for the typos — affect*

            Matt, I wanted to mentioned that Sam Harris has used the empathic approach. I’ve even seen him cry, and no doubt they were sincere emotions. You probably saw the recent YouTube clip by Atheism-is-Unstoppable where Harris challenged video editors to make a video with a debate he was involved in regarding Christianity and morality. I shared that video with a friend who is a Christian, but not evangelical, and she wept. It was the part about 9 million children dying every year before they reach the age of five, coupled with the tsunami visuals that had the most impact. It may not change her view of Christianity right a way, but it definitely affected her. Provoking empathic emotions can be a powerful tool if a religious person’s humanity is not too far removed.

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            • Excellent points. And actually, the few times when I’ve become very moved by sadness have been the few times when anything I’ve said to friends has made any difference. Its odd, because for me it was the actual facts that mattered. I honestly don’t understand how people can be more effected by emotional appeals.

              But its a point well taken and well made.

              I did see that video by Harris the other day. And I had seen that debate some time ago… decimating to Craig, because it achieved a macabre resonance with the audience, and Craig never got any resonance going of any sort.

              I really appreciate the thoughts.

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              • ” Its odd, because for me it was the actual facts that mattered.”

                Same here. But we are not them. That’s why it’s beneficial in understanding the psychological make-up of a person, and approach them from their frame of mind, not our own. As I mentioned before, I have always been inquisitive, so when pastors and elders couldn’t answer my questions regarding scriptures, using the typical excuses that we are not to lean on our own understanding, etc, that made me even more inquisitive. There’s not a single person in my family, on both sides, who’ve ever questioned Christianity. In their opinion, to question is showing a lack of faith. I suspect a lot of believers are like that.

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              • Its funny how “showing a lack of faith” is often equated as being either immoral or weak. I’ve stopped trying to shy away from that accusation. There isn’t a point to it.

                Which brings me back to Boghossian, who speaks with great lucidity there. Faith is pretending to know things you do not actually know.

                Having a surfeit of such a quantity should not be confused with something good. Faith isn’t a moral good or a virtue. Its liberating to be allowed to think without one hand tied behind one’s back. For a long time I really tried hard to make sure my faith was invested in the right things. Divestiture is far simpler.

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              • Yes, good points as well. Your comments reminded me of studies I read about dopamine and how it effects behavior and the brain. As you know religion is dopaminergic. Also, to not know is less gratifying than to know about something – even if the knowledge is wrong. Dopamine again. I think the challenges we face in this regard speak for themselves. In my ‘real’ world, I never challenge peoples faith…but they are always challenging my lack of faith.

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                “Faith is pretending to know things you do not actually know.”

                Apparently Boghossian and Twain think a lot alike:

                “Faith is believin’ what you know ain’t so.”
                — Mark Twain —

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              • Good one. Love Twain. I made a short video with excerpts from The Lowest Animal.

                http://youtu.be/RSaOoZ8DnL4

                Like

              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                So why not share it? Just paste in the URL, and Bingo!

                “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”
                — Mark Twain —

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              • Well, thank you for sharing it. Out of courtesy to the blogger, I generally don’t embed a video unless I know they are cool with it. Embedding uses up their allowed space.

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                I did not know that – I have unlimited space, and just assumed everyone else did too.

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              • Well if people haven’t purchased a premium package, they usually get a little over 3 GB free. Words don’t use up space but images and videos do. I don’t think Matt posts a lot of videos and images, but over time they do add up, especially if commenters are heavy on posting videos.

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                Wow, and I spend $3.99 a month for unlimited usage, less than I spend for lunch.

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              • I’ve got premium; you’re good. All I ask is nothing too crass or vulgar. Humor is good. Information is King. 🙂

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                I don’t do vulgar – occasionally Carlin may pop out a word or two I wouldn’t use with a Kindergarten class, but otherwise —

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              • That’s another great quote by Twain. Here’s a favorite of mine:

                “Denial is not a river in Egypt.”

                We are being naughty tonight. :mrgreen:

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              • Geesh, I don’t know what’s up today with not correctly applying “effects” and “affects” in my comments.

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                I know what you mean, sometimes my tang gets tongueled up over my eye tooth, and I can’t see what I’m typing.

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              • LOL — well my brain and fingers have communication problems at times. Seems more often than not.

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  5. Susan Burns says:

    It is the tribal system of hierarchical authority that is undermined with knowledge. Tribal hierarchy is sexually dimorphic for males only. If knowledge is available to all (even women) then the breakdown of this type of society is inevitable. If Saudi women learn to maneuver a car as good as a man then the revolution has begun. God the Father is being replaced with a new paradigm. After consciousness evolves to the next level, we can never go back. We can’t unknow it. Modern technology is speeding up this process exponentially. Soon religious fundamentalism will only exist in mountainous regions of the southeastern U.S.

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    • It seems that information availability has been grinding away at it for a long time. The printing press. Vernacular translations. Education of laymen by the protestant movement. Textual criticism.

      And now, the internet. So much information out there. Its just not possible to control the flow any more.

      Just in my own lifetime, I can see a massive difference between two very specific cases…

      In 1998-99, I had to figure out whether the religious movements of my upbringing were legitimate or false. I had to go back to weather records using microfiche and primitive internet tools. A lot of what I had to do was interviewing different subject matter experts, etc.

      Starting in 2012, I began seriously researched the legitimacy of Christianity overall. I can’t begin to describe the difference in information access. Leading authors, any field, locatable through blogs and Amazon, downloadable eBooks, fully searchable text, intrinsic cross-referencing, and lest I neglect to mention it: YouTube. Instant access to the leading minds and leading arguments on any subject. Unparalleled.

      There is too much information now. Its been too well disseminated. And I figure, given my own debt to those who have worked to make it so, I have to do my part. Blogosphere, I salute you.

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      • Susan Burns says:

        I predict the next generation (in the West) will be largely devoid of any magical thinking. This eliminates four thousand years of religious dogma in one generation.

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        • You know, I think it was actually Dennett that made a case that religion very likely was not going to go away… it was going to have to change. I think that may be the most likely outcome. Its been with us a very long time, and it has demonstrable survival skills. I suspect that fundamentalist claims will diminish more and more in the West, and that the different faiths will have to rescind their claims on the physical world to a greater extent. One can almost watch it happening with Pope Francis at this point… adapt or die out. I suspect that adaptation will be the order of the day. Not that I have the data for it… 🙂

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        thinkatheist.com has a rather large segment of Egyptian atheists, who take their lives in their hands daily – my hat – if I ever wore one – goes off to those brave kids!

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        • Indeed

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I said, “kids,” because most of them are in their 20’s, and anybody in their 20’s is a kid to me.

            I also know, from both TA and Atheist Universe, a lovely lady atheist from Saudi Arabia, whose husband believes her to be agnostic, and is OK with that. It’s changing, but at a rate slower than new Muslims are being born. Hope the rate speeds up, or we may have to familiarize ourselves with Sharia law, as they acquire more voting power worldwide.

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  6. “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.” -Tim Keller

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    • Hey Jose.

      I was reading Tim Keller over Thanksgiving actually. And in fact, if I think about it, Tim pushed the first pebble in my own avalanche.

      He’s a nice enough guy from all appearances, but I wish he had more content to what he says and writes. I’ve been considering a piece on the Reason for God, but I don’t know if I’ll write one or not. There are a lot of accolades for his work, but he just isn’t a CS Lewis by my lights. Not sure if you agree with that or not.

      Anyway, doubt is a good thing. But in his quote he talks about the asking of questions. He does ask the hard questions. I just haven’t seen him successfully answer them. His approach to Genesis in particular was very wanting. It sort of sounds like you’ve heard an answer, but…

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  7. I agree he’s no William Craig, but at a high-level I’d say it boils down to whether the type of answer you are expecting is reasonable, given the question. If there’s anything I took away from studying philosophy, it was that pure, unemotional, fully lucid logic is a complete unicorn; evidenced by how many basic questions continue to be debated by brilliant minds with completely opposing viewpoints. Reason itself is, of course, a limited (though obviously useful) byproduct of evolution.

    This is, I think, at the root of a lot of the disdain shown by skeptics for the religious, even the thoughtful religious. Belief begins with experience; investigation and questioning helps us understand, refine, even modify our understanding of that experience, but the “answers” to those questions won’t give you belief any more than an answer to a question about love will make you feel loved.

    In answering the skeptic’s questions, the Christian is only trying to give a reasonable, coherent account of the faith he personally experiences, not “convince” someone into belief. There’s definitely room there for logic and questioning, but no pretension at what lies at the foundation.

    If someone tells me they don’t believe true love exists, my first reaction isn’t to throw out a syllogism; it’s to hope that one day, perhaps, they’ll come to experience (or re-experience) it. The poetry (or logic) can then follow.

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    • But here’s the rub… claims made about the external world – either past events or present realities – are not confined to the province of personal experience. The externality of these claims makes them subject to test, either for validation or refutation.

      Christianity does not make claims solely about the internal world of the mind, of faith, or of experience. To put meat on the bones… either man was created perfect and fell later, or he was not and did not. Either sin and death entered the world through one man, or they did not.

      I was unimpressed that Keller stepped neatly around this issue when discussing Genesis. He encouraged the reader that – whatever view one might wish to take regarding Genesis – resolving its complexities may not matter. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether the dilemmas of Genesis are resolved or not. The reader could focus instead on the central claims of Christianity.

      But the historical reality of the Fall is a prerequisite for the Christian remedy. How this is considered ancillary, I do not know. External objective claims that are disconfirmed, but which are central, leave the entire project in jeopardy of being “much ado about nothing.”

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      • And I’ve been encouraged by more people than I should have been to ignore the Old Testament entirely. It may be a liability, but it isn’t going away. Marcion gave us our chance, and he was sent packing. 🙂

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        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Is it too late to insert this? “/”

          “And I’ve been encouraged by more people than I should have been to ignore the Old Testament entirely.”

          No doubt, the OT is the sand upon which the NT is built, and we all know what the NT says about a house built on sand —

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        “But the historical reality of the Fall is a prerequisite for the Christian remedy.”

        Granted, but almost as disconcerting is a son of a god who refers in the Gospels to Abraham and Moses as actual, historical figures, when a REAL son of a god would know better.

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        • And who makes reference to Noah as well. And spoils for the final destruction of all things in the same spirit of wishing. Lets face it, there’s a lot of this kind of thing.

          But this is my answer to the ever repeated mantra, “its all about the resurrection.” My response now is, to what purpose? There isn’t a crisis.

          And in the same vein, the fabricated nature of hell as a concept strikes the same chord… no crisis. Red herring. Being redeemed back to where we were supposed to have been, except humanity was never in that place. Curing the fall from grace, when the state of grace never was. It isn’t just flawed or errant – its nonsensical.

          The world wasn’t created good. We didn’t fall. And you can’t be redeemed (bought back) to something that never was.

          No good, no fall, no problem. Hence, no redemption, no savior, and no sense in talking further about it. The world is what it is for quite other reasons, no matter how compelling the non-history may be.

          Like

  8. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Some might find this of interest:

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  9. Good one. Love Twain. I made a short video with excerpts from The Lowest Animal.

    Nice video. Something I was wondering about is why it is that we are the only religious creatures (that we know of). A Christian commented on my blog that since humans have this strange thing that makes us want to search out the answers, that many people feel that there is a Spirit or transcendence that we long for.- why is that if not God trying to “speak” to us?

    I’m paraphrasing heavily- but I hope I got the point across he was trying to make. This gives me pause. Why is it?

    Like

    • To my mind, the most satisfying answer to that is that people are the only ones to make conscious hypotheses to explain things. Were the only creatures to build mathematics, the only creatures to record history or language, etc. and we’re the only creatures to verbalize-and verbalizing is a very big part of religion and culture-our ideas about explaining things. Conjectures about invisible agents combined with our language and ability to record and transmit detailed rituals from generation to generation, and the overall pattern is city of simply being wrong about what causes what. We’re also the only creatures to invent recreational sports with various rule sets. And tribal rituals of healing and courtship. Plenty specie show embryonic forms of the same kind of behavior, but we’re the only ones to actually write and record and transmit such ideas from generation to generation. And Friday that we manifest in these areas exceeds that of any other species, generally only have one sort of ritual that they do any interest of meeting or demonstrations of strength. For people there’s no limit to the number of manifestations and forms of this kind of thing can take. Religion seems to fit rather well and the larger tapestry of all human expression which is at a categorically higher level than the rest of the animal kingdom.

      We often talk to ourselves. And we happen to also talk to an invisible agent who never answers us. Particularly when working over a problem or trying to make decision. It’s probably a useful function for the brain to solve problems. But it’s also to some extent irrational. If one except Darwinian processes, and it’s very easy to except that the brain is developing credible capabilities alongside incredibly diverse range of leftovers and nonfunctional parts.

      (Dictated with Siri)

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    • To address the other side of the conversation though, I would point out the fallacy that’s involved in the Christian assertion. If we say that I have a sense that something is true, therefore there must be some truth to it, we commit a classic non sequitur. The list is very long indeed where human intuition has proven to have no correspondence to external reality. The size of the Cosmos, the centrality of the earth, flatness of the earth, the fixed nature of space and time, our rational ability to think without bias, the way that we form beliefs based on or preceding evidence, etc. and of course, the long litany of false religions deflates the entire case. There is no Zeus, or Poseidon, and no matter how much past peoples intuition told them that such beings did exist, such intuitions were flatly and completely incorrect. Our intuitions about what may or may not exist simply do not make a credible basis for proving such things do or do not exist. Only our intuitions would think such an argument had traction, oh the irony.

      (Siri)

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    • Thank you, Alice. I thought Matt provided an excellent analysis. Here’s another I think you may find interesting, which includes multiple references. I tend to favor this analysis because of the neuropharmacological studies on religious activity and the reward centers of the brain.

      Like

      • “we humans are merely transient animals groping to survive in a meaningless universe, destined only to decay and die,” is far too negative for most of us ,

        (from the article)

        Depressing! And one of the reasons I was attracted to the God idea to begin with. I don’t know much at all about evolution, but it was a very interesting post. (And I didn’t know the thing about lady hyenas either ….yikes!)

        I can see why religion is valuable to one’s state of mind, unless you are more interested in knowing what is actually true and provable.

        Like

        • “I can see why religion is valuable to one’s state of mind,…”

          Yes, I, too, can see the some benefits. Research shows that belief (the placebo effect) can have positive effects on well being. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to belief, and that is why we are having discourse in the first place. Religion, such as the Abrahamic religions, promote authoritarianism – dominance. Neuroscience has discovered that too much power — dominating others, affects the brain in a big way. It triggers increased testosterone. Testosterone and one of its by-products called 3-androstanediol increases dopamine in a part of the brain’s reward system. Too much power over others, over a short period of time, hijacks the brain’s reward system resulting in addictive behavior.

          As noted in “The Winner Effect: How Power Affects Your Brain” by Ian Robertson, Ph.D., “too much power, hence, too much dopamine, can disrupt normal cognition and emotion, leading to gross errors of judgment and imperviousness to risk, not to mention huge egocentricity and lack of empathy for others.” It may also attribute to psychosis.

          “Neuropharmacological studies generally point to dopaminergic activation as the leading neurochemical feature associated with religious activity. Hyperreligiosity is a major feature of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy and related disorders, in which the ventromedial dopaminergic systems are highly activated and exaggerated attentional or goal-directed behavior toward extrapersonal space occurs.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16439158

          Alice, thanks for taking the time to read the article and for your followup comment.

          Like

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            “Too much power over others, over a short period of time, hijacks the brain’s reward system resulting in addictive behavior.”

            Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely; god is all-powerful. Draw your own conclusions.

            Like

            • Bingo. I made a video using that very quote and research on dopamine.

              Like

              • Very interesting.

                I will relate a personal anecdote on this score. When I was in college my brother and I competed in the university talent show and did a martial arts demonstration. The short version is that we rocked the house, a couple thousand people cheered us out of the place, and we won.

                The experience was quite interesting. I didn’t realize that you could actually feel cheers like that on your skin. I’ve never been the target of such unbridled and vibrant group adulation before or since. I walked off the stage and to the back and actually thought to myself, “damn, I can see how actors and politicians and musicians get addicted to that.” It was so visceral and consuming.

                I definitely got a dopamine hit from the experience. Its changed my view of politics to be sure. And religion.

                Like

            • But as the Demotivator poster says, It Rocks Absolutely Too.

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        • Correction: contribute

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        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Religion is comfort food for the mind.

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    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      “why it is that we are the only religious creatures (that we know of)”

      “That we know of,” ah, but ARE we –?

      Like

  10. We often talk to ourselves. And we happen to also talk to an invisible agent who never answers us. Particularly when working over a problem or trying to make decision. It’s probably a useful function for the brain to solve problems.

    I guess we do do that. The internal dialogues we engage in are fascinating to me.

    Like

    • Susan Burns says:

      Language is a ritualized behavior that has surely evolved by virtue of religious ritual. The number of words in a cultures’ lexicon can be directly correlated to its religious sophistication. Every culture on earth has evolved religious ritual of some type. Religion is an evolutionary tool that has provided Homo Sapien Sapien with the auxiliary skill of language. Any hominid not possessing this skill would have surely been de-selected.

      Like

  11. Susan Burns says:

    Most definitely. But the reason we are dropping the ritual (and keeping the language) is because patriarchy is counter-productive and religion is built on patriarchy. Those cultures that are only utilizing half of their workforce cannot compete with those that utilize 100%.

    Like

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      “Those cultures that are only utilizing half of their workforce cannot compete with those that utilize 100%.”

      At least not after the oil runs out.

      Like

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Michael Seidel, writer

Science fiction, fantasy, mystery and what-not

cas d'intérêt

Reflections of a Francophile

Two Wheels Across Texas

My Quest to ride through all 254 Texas Counties

The Curious Atheist

Freely Seeking Truth After Religion

Class Warfare Blog

I don’t want to start a class war; it started a long time ago and, unfortunately, we are losing.

Secular Wings

My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. What I write here, may be very different from what I’ve written in the past. It might also be repeats of the past themes. ~ Zoe

Variant Readings

Thoughts on History, Religion, Archaeology, Papyrology, etc. by Brent Nongbri

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