Humans 'predisposed' to believe in gods and the afterlife

May 16, 2011
Concepts such as gods and the afterlife are basic to human nature.

A three-year international research project, directed by two academics at the University of Oxford, finds that humans have natural tendencies to believe in gods and an afterlife.

The £1.9 million project involved 57 researchers who conducted over 40 separate studies in 20 countries representing a diverse range of cultures. The studies (both analytical and empirical) conclude that humans are predisposed to believe in gods and an afterlife, and that both theology and atheism are reasoned responses to what is a basic impulse of the .

The researchers point out that the project was not setting out to prove the existence of god or otherwise, but sought to find out whether concepts such as gods and an afterlife appear to be entirely taught or basic expressions of human nature.

'The Cognition, and Theology Project’ led by Dr. Justin Barrett, from the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at Oxford University, drew on research from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, philosophy, and theology. They directed an international body of researchers conducting studies in 20 different countries that represented both traditionally religious and atheist societies.

The findings are due to be published in two separate books by psychologist Dr. Barrett in Cognitive Science, Religion and Theology and Born Believers: The Science of Childhood Religion.

Project Co-director Professor Roger Trigg, from the Ian Ramsey Centre in the Theology Faculty at Oxford University, has also written a forthcoming book, applying the wider implications of the research to issues about freedom of religion in Equality, Freedom and Religion (OUP).

Main findings of the Cognition, Religion and Theology Project:

• Studies by Emily Reed Burdett and Justin Barrett, from the University of Oxford, suggest that children below the age of five find it easier to believe in some superhuman properties than to understand similar human limitations. Children were asked whether their mother would know the contents of a box in which she could not see. Children aged three believed that their mother and God would always know the contents, but by the age of four, children start to understand that their mothers are not all-seeing and all knowing. However, children may continue to believe in all-seeing, all-knowing supernatural agents, such as a god or gods.

• Deborah Kelemen from Boston University finds both children and adults imbue the natural world with ‘purpose’. For instance, respondents were provided with three possible answers to the question of why polar bears are white. Adult respondents, who were obliged to supply answers quickly without time to think, instinctively gave answers that implied ‘purpose’ in the natural world. They would reply that polar bears were white for reasons of camouflage, rather than the more scientifically accurate mechanistic explanation that a polar bear fur lacks pigment, or the silly answer that polar bears have been bleached by the sun. However, if the respondents were given more time to answer, they opted for a ‘mechanistic’ response i.e. that polar bears did not have pigment. The researchers conclude that the immediate, instinctive response was over-ridden by a scientific, reasoned response if participants had time to reflect. This research extends Kelemen’s previous research showing that children prefer purpose-based explanations: children were asked why rocks were pointed and were also found to choose answers that implied purpose, saying that rocks were pointed so the birds could sit on them.

• Experiments involving adults, conducted by Jing Zhu from Tsinghua University (China), and Natalie Emmons and Jesse Bering from The Queen’s University, Belfast, suggest that people across many different cultures instinctively believe that some part of their mind, soul or spirit lives on after-death. The studies demonstrate that people are natural 'dualists' finding it easy to conceive of the separation of the mind and the body.

Project Director Dr. Justin Barrett, from the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, said: "This project does not set out to prove god or gods exist. Just because we find it easier to think in a particular way does not mean that it is true in fact. If we look at why religious beliefs and practices persist in societies across the world, we conclude that individuals bound by religious ties might be more likely to cooperate as societies. Interestingly, we found that religion is less likely to thrive in populations living in cities in developed nations where there is already a strong social support network."

Project Co-Director Professor Roger Trigg, from the University of Oxford’s Ian Ramsey Centre, said: "This project suggests that religion is not just something for a peculiar few to do on Sundays instead of playing golf. We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of human nature across different societies. This suggests that attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived as human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts, such as the existence of supernatural agents or gods, and the possibility of an afterlife or pre-life."

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nayTall
4.3 / 5 (16) May 16, 2011
"..attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived as human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts.."

who's to say that it's not just a child's belief spawned by the inability to accept that there are things we won't be able to understand, and the belief can 'go away' through education? just because a developing mind is pre-disposed to make leaps in logic and faith, doesn't mean that a mankind-wide movement against these beliefs aren't entirely plausible? i once thought you could fly if you practiced. then i grew up.
johnx
1.2 / 5 (27) May 16, 2011
So if there is no afterlife, anyone can kill thousands of people and have nothing to fear.There must be something after death.
PaulieMac
4.5 / 5 (22) May 16, 2011
So if there is no afterlife, anyone can kill thousands of people and have nothing to fear.


Yeah, because fear of what will happen after I die is the only thing preventing me from murderous rampages...

There must be something after death.


Why 'must' there be?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) May 16, 2011
"'The Cognition, Religion and Theology Project' led by Dr. Justin Barrett, from the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at Oxford University"

The good doctor has his own wiki page:

"Barrett is described in the New York Times as a "prominent member of the byproduct camp" and "an observant Christian who believes in "an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being," [and] "that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other." He considers that "Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people, Why wouldn't God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?"

-I am having to conclude that Dr. Barrett is predisposed to believing that he and everybody else are predisposed to believing in god.
FrankHerbert
1.7 / 5 (67) May 16, 2011
As an atheist, I find it perfectly reasonable that people would have evolved some innate desire to believe. In prehistory and early history, I could definitely see religions providing advantages to the societies that maintained them. Societal coherence, charity (or at least enough to make people feel like they were doing something about poverty), fanatical armies, larger populations, etc.

I also tend to believe people like to know how things work and for a pre-scientific society, "god did it," is about as good an answer as anyone is going to get. You don't want to waste time wondering where that lightning is coming from when you are struggling to find enough food to survive.

However, just because peoples brains are hardwired to believe in a creator doesn't mean that creator did the wiring (or exists at all). This is simply an evolutionary advantage we had that has now turned into evolutionary baggage. Enlighten yourselves!
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (16) May 16, 2011
There must be something after death.
There is. It is the legacy you leave behind you either in the contributions youve made to the world or in the production of offspring, your only real chance at immortality.
Children aged three believed that their mother and God would always know the contents, but by the age of four, children start to understand that their mothers are not all-seeing and all knowing. However, children may continue to believe in all-seeing, all-knowing supernatural agents, such as a god or gods.
Children can fall for the god meme, as an equivalent of a parent in power and authority, at an early age. This may alter the structure of their brains to the extent that this equivalence persists despite evidence to the contrary. Baby ducks may tend to identify the first thing they see as mommy, and follow it all over the place. The meme may also serve as surrogate for absent or dysfunctional parents.
nayTall
4.1 / 5 (14) May 16, 2011
So if there is no afterlife, anyone can kill thousands of people and have nothing to fear.There must be something after death.

you weren't complaining about there being nothing 'before life'. why worry that there could very possibly be nothing - AGAIN - after death? contrary to your dismal portrayal of humanity without "god" and "heaven", people would come to the conclusion that life is precious and it would be a shame to waste it fighting. admittedly, it might take a while, just like any societal shift. but as for people who refuse to be civil and moral on their own accord.. well.. capital punishment would certainly carry some added weight.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.6 / 5 (14) May 16, 2011
This is simply an evolutionary advantage we had that has now turned into evolutionary baggage.
Humans evolved in the context of endemic tribal warfare. Those tribes which won out in competition with others were the ones with the most cohesive internal bonds and the strongest concerted animosity toward outsiders. A tribe whose members could trust and depend on each other for protection would prevail in battle.
http://rechten.el...RID2.pdf

This is a natural result of evolution and does not need god belief to generate it. People who are busy begging god for guidance rather than strategizing and preparing for battle are more likely to lose.

However Leaders who need their warriors to follow their commands unto death may find this easier if they are speaking for an omnipotent god-father who promises victory in return for sacrifice, especially if he can put you in heaven for your troubles.
Donutz
4.1 / 5 (18) May 16, 2011
So if there is no afterlife, anyone can kill thousands of people and have nothing to fear.There must be something after death.


So if there *is* an afterlife, it's ok to blow up yourself (and a bunch of innocent people) because you'll be rewarded in heaven.

Sarcasm aside, I think the fact that theists believe that moral behaviour *has* to be based on fear of reprisal is a pretty good proof of the basic moral bankruptcy of theism.
FrankHerbert
1.5 / 5 (65) May 16, 2011
Sarcasm aside, I think the fact that theists believe that moral behaviour *has* to be based on fear of reprisal is a pretty good proof of the basic moral bankruptcy of theism.


Couldn't have said it better. I sincerely believe a belief in eternal damnation is the number one predictor of moral bankruptcy.
whoyagonacal
5 / 5 (5) May 16, 2011
John Derbyshire's elegant comment on the subject:

"... the experience of raising two kids ... was one I found de-spiritualizing. For one thing, it pushes genetics right in your face. (I recently heard quite-new parent Jonah Goldberg, in conversation, wonder aloud how anyone ever came to believe in the "blank slate" theory of human nature. I share Jonah's bafflement.) ... Again, it made me realize how perfectly natural religion is. We have a religious module in our brains, and with little kids you can actually watch it waking up and developing, like their speech or social habits. The paradox is, that to the degree that you see religion as natural, to the same degree it becomes harder to see it (and by extension its claims) as supernatural."
Mercury_01
2.3 / 5 (12) May 16, 2011


Sarcasm aside, I think the fact that theists believe that moral behaviour *has* to be based on fear of reprisal is a pretty good proof of the basic moral bankruptcy of theism.


Sorry, but you guys make the most common atheist mistake that I know of. You assume that you understand the motivations of theists to be fear of eternal punishment. or want of eternal reward. This is an oversimplified generalization, gleaned from watching the dumbest among us work themselves into a frenzy on television. I grew up Christian, and nobody I ever knew believed that way.
"if i worship thee out of desire for heaven, then deny me heaven,and if i worship thee out of fear of hell, then throw me into hell,but if i worship thee out of love for thee and thee alone, then grant me thy vision."
This is a sufi prayer that expresses the motivation of someone who just wants to understand what God is, and to gain a universal perspective simply for the sake of loving all that there is to love.

Mercury_01
3.1 / 5 (8) May 16, 2011
We already know that there are religious nutballs out there who are more wrong that can be described by words. I say who cares about them. We all know better, especially atheists. But why does an analysis of these idiots have to point towards an argument against the existence of other realities beyond this life? Is it that they are so wrong, the exact opposite must be true? There is no scientific argument that can disprove the existence of a higher consciousness, same as there is no proof that God does exist.

I was born with spiritual tendencies. I know now that much of what is taught in organized religion is outright false, but that doesn't mean I'm going to throw the baby out with the bath water. My spiritual knowledge is gained through life experience and intuition, not religious cannon. Knowing that the Universe operates in accordance with a Higher consciousness puts everything that happens here into perspective.
Javinator
4.9 / 5 (11) May 16, 2011
This thread derailment brought to you by marjon.
Mercury_01
3 / 5 (5) May 16, 2011
And on the topic of reward and punishment, as someone stated above, these concepts definitely served a purpose in the early days of our civilization.

Try thinking of religion this way- Just for arguments sake, say there is a reality apart from our own, and that the truth of this reality is hard to find, but important to our being.

Now say that it's 2000 years ago, and you are privy to some hard won spiritual truth that you feel would benefit mankind. Problem is, no one gets it. you teach the masses, but they oversimplify your teachings and become fanatics.

The only thing that works for them is fire and brimstone! and yes, God is a very large man with a white beard, and yes, Jesus was the son of God, born of a virgin.

Conditioning works for small children and dogs. Later, they hopefully will learn exactly why they were taught right from wrong.

Maybe our civilization has outgrown organized religion, but that doesn't mean that everything we believed in our ignorance is now false!
Eikka
3.3 / 5 (7) May 16, 2011
I'd say the whole study is worthless.

Because the question "Why?" presupposes a purpose. Why is a polar bear white? The question leads you to think of purposes instead of reasons, because the question itself commonly requires a purpose to be stated. Why are you late for dinner? Why is Susy crying? Why do birds sing?

When confronted with the question, nobody thinks "Because their exhalation of air causes their vocal cords to vibrate". The question is oviously one of purpose - what reason does the bird have to sing.

It works in pretty much any language. It takes a second guess to undertand that "Why polar bears are white?" is a question of mechanics, because that's not what people usually ask.
Eikka
4.2 / 5 (5) May 16, 2011
In fact, you'd think a person is rather autistic if they did give the correct answer right away, that polar bears are white because their hairs are transparent and scatter light the same way as the snow around them. (They are not simply white)
Mercury_01
2.3 / 5 (3) May 16, 2011
@Eikka- Good point. If the question had been "what makes a polar bear white, the answer would have been simple. Asking why implies asking for a purpose. Obviously polar bears benefit from white camouflage, So Id say that answer is just as good as any.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (15) May 16, 2011
This thread derailment brought to you by marjon.

It was already derailed by 'progressive' atheists.
jnjnjnjn
4 / 5 (7) May 16, 2011
Why is a polar bear white? Because this was evolutionary beneficial. Stange this answer isn't given. Maybe because biology wasn't part of the research?

J.
Mayday
4.5 / 5 (8) May 16, 2011
I'm so grateful that QC took the day off for this one.
Maybe there is a God.
:-)
Mahal_Kita
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2011
Just a side note this time.. I could do the same research and come to the conclusion that we are predisposed to believe in "leaders" and why.
sanddog42
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2011
I think it's pretty obvious humans are predisposed to believe in some form supernatural reality. Can anyone think of a culture that did not have some form of religion?
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (14) May 16, 2011
"Marx and Engels never tried to refute their opponents with argument. They insulted, ridiculed, derided, slandered, and traduced them, and in the use of these methods their followers are not less expert. Their polemic is directed never against the argument of the opponent, but always against his person."
http://mises.org/...px#_sec2
And SH and others wonder why they are considered to be 'socialists'.
Sounds like the political tactics of the global warming religion and the current Obama regime.
Caliban
3.9 / 5 (7) May 16, 2011
And SH and others wonder why they are considered to be 'socialists'.
Sounds like the political tactics of the global warming religion and the current Obama regime.


And of course, this blather causes us all to wonder, "How does mangy even remember to breathe?"

Do you get paid by the word, or by the post?

Cyberguy
4 / 5 (8) May 17, 2011
From http://www.cam.ox...heology/

"Dr Justin Barrett of Oxford Universitys Centre for Anthropology & Mind and Prof Roger Trigg of Oxfords Ian Ramsey Centre have teamed up to begin a new £1.9 million project on the natural foundations of religion. The Cognition, Religion, and Theology project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation..."

Say no more.
rwinners
4 / 5 (4) May 17, 2011
Given where we came from, it is easily understandable how mysticism evolved as a part of our being.
That is changing, but will never disappear all together.
FainAvis
3.3 / 5 (7) May 17, 2011
In older times, and even currently in some locales, one could or can be executed or maimed for daring to challenge the ruler's dogma. Now that that is less often the case thinking people are more free to decide religion is delusional.
Hawkins has it right, God is a fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark.
theskepticalpsychic
2 / 5 (9) May 17, 2011
Most people in my experience believe things for emotional reasons which they justify to themselves via elaborate psychological/intellectual constructs. Atheism is currently intellectually fashionable, and the current fashion of contemptuous stridency among atheists masks fear of the religious, whom they despise as an inferior intellectual (and often ethnic) underclass. That doesn't mean that atheism doesn't more accurately reflect reality than theism does; only that the current atheist pundits, like Hawking, are among a macho elitist upper priveleged class who are too afraid of the religious masses to permit themselves empathy with them -- empathy being crucial to bridge-building, which is the goal of both diplomacy and teaching. The atheists I respect are like the theists I respect: people who have agonized over crises of loss in which they have faced an awful awareness of their smallness and powerlessness, and come to terms with it in their own ways.
frajo
3.4 / 5 (7) May 17, 2011
I think it's pretty obvious humans are predisposed to believe in some form supernatural reality. Can anyone think of a culture that did not have some form of religion?
Religion, a structured belief in supernatural things, is a late (neolithic) development product of the primary, inherently human, spiritualism.
Supernatural thinking is a necessity for an animal that survives by its unique ability to anticipatory thinking. While other animals have to resort to empirical knowledge stored in their DNA and their own memory, the human animal is the first to be able to run real-time simulations in his built-in computing unit and enhance its repertory of successful actions in all kinds of situations by magnitudes over genetically and empirically provided schemes.
But the software has to make assumptions about all unknown factors in the real world. Some "mover" _must_ be assumed for your programme to be able to yield usable results.

Bullies are losers.
frajo
2.7 / 5 (7) May 17, 2011
that the current atheist pundits, like Hawking, are among a macho elitist upper priveleged class who are too afraid of the religious masses to permit themselves empathy with them
That's why your otherwise great comment gets a "4". Hawking is not privileged. When you're handicapped you just don't have too much resources to produce empathy with others.

The "contemptuous stridency" of some atheists is more contemptuous than strident. These people show their lack of cognition of the relevance of historical, psychological, and social aspects of religion and often even don't refrain from simplifying stupidities like equating spirituality and religion.

Certain topics are like street lights: They generate a local maximum in the density distribution of moths.
Mercury_01
3.7 / 5 (3) May 17, 2011
I say who cares about them. We all know better, especially atheists.

Of course you do. The socialist tyrants that murdered millions said the same thing.

what in Gods name are you talking about?
braindead
4 / 5 (4) May 17, 2011
I put god in the same box as father christmas at about the age of three. - There's nothing in the box for me except Schrodinger's cat. What you believe is up to you.
Cyberguy
4.3 / 5 (6) May 17, 2011
theskepticalpsychic - "Atheism is currently intellectually fashionable, and the current fashion of contemptuous stridency among atheists masks fear of the religious, whom they despise as an inferior intellectual (and often ethnic) underclass."

Don't know much, do you?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (10) May 17, 2011
Dear Lord of Goodness,
I've got a problem. I understand you are going to start making all those who choose to believe in the reality you've created, rather than the nonsense you wrote in your book, suffer unspeakable torment and boils this weekend.
http://www.ebible...s/may21/

Should I renew my motorcycle insurance this week, or would that be a sign that I further doubt your unending goodness? Would a mc help me avoid the worst of the tribulation at least for 5 months until you put most of us in hell for eternity? Will crazed cops begin to shoot motorists without the proper paperwork, after this weekend? Seriously, it's over $100.

Signed
Consternated
(you know who I am)

-I am just wondering if I can even ride a mc with boils on my ass-
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) May 17, 2011
Supernatural thinking is a necessity for an animal that survives by its unique ability to anticipatory thinking. While other animals have to resort to empirical knowledge stored in their DNA and their own memory, the human animal is the first to be able to run real-time simulations
This is not true (nonsense). Many predators are able to anticipate the movements of their prey by remembering and synthesizing. There is a story of a gorilla in a walkthru nature park who would place piles of stones at strategic locations in his enclosure to throw at visitors when they came.

The supernatural has nothing to do with the synthesis of future events. It is the DENIAL of expected reality. It is the conjuring of a palliative. It is the surrender of will and reason for something which is easier and which feels better.

Fantasy means death in the wild. It is only good for keeping tribal members in line. Could it be this is how the propensity to believe was selected for?
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (4) May 17, 2011
And SH and others wonder why they are considered to be 'socialists'.
Well we can tell you're looking for my negative attention. That's just too bad. Go to your room and think about what you've said to all these nice people.
lairdwilcox
2.1 / 5 (7) May 17, 2011
What's always amazed me about this controversy is the intensity of emotion that it brings, particularly from the non-believers. You would think non-believers wouldn't care that much and that believers would, but sometimes it seems that the opposite is true. There's a kind of intolerant, "evangelical" atheism that wants to stigmatize and marginalize anyone who fails to share their beliefs. There's a tendency to associate fanaticism with religious belief and we can see here that it comes from non-believers as well.

I'm not religious myself but I find it hard to justify the anger and vituperation directed at people who are. Some people seem to need religious beliefs, as this research has shown. Not everyone is inclined to be an intellectual skeptic. Why not just leave it at that?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.3 / 5 (6) May 17, 2011
There's a kind of intolerant, "evangelical" atheism that wants to stigmatize and marginalize anyone who fails to share their beliefs.
Is it ignorant and intolerant to tell adults that Santa doesn't exist?
Not everyone is inclined to be an intellectual skeptic. Why not just leave it at that?
Because allowing someone to make decisions for other people, especially life and death decisions, requires clear thought. Would you be comforted if your surgeon said "Well if I screw up, you'll go to heaven"?
Donutz
4.2 / 5 (5) May 17, 2011
Sorry, but you guys make the most common atheist mistake that I know of...


@Mercury:

Sorry, but you are making the most common mistake of the theist when engaging in debate: thinking you can make any old claim you want and no-one will notice. The attitude of "atheists have no morals" is VERY common among xians, and has been specifically articulated by such 'luminaries' as the archbishop of canterbury and Jerry Falwell, and has been alluded to by Dubya. Under the circumstances, trying to tag it as a 'fringe' belief just to be able to table a rebuttal is either ignorant or disingenuous.

As to your claim that you've never met a xian with that attitude, I have to call bullshit on that one. I spent the first half of my life as a committed xian, so I know better. Now maybe you just hang out with a better class of xian than I did, but I think more likely you're just 're-remembering' things to your advantage.
Donutz
3.9 / 5 (7) May 17, 2011
What's always amazed me about this controversy is the intensity of emotion that it brings, particularly from the non-believers.


Riiiggghht, and you're being "objective", right? Only you didn't notice that this is a science forum, and theists like QC and kevinrts are coming HERE and posting. We're not climbing onto alt.christnet to attack THEM. Funny you have nothing to say about the sarcasm, condescension, and outright insults that those two (and others) regularly post. Frankly, I doubt your neutrality.

For the record, we humanists would like nothing better than for the theists to just go practice their religion on their own turf and let us do our own thing. We are not ATTACKING. We are RESPONDING.
FrankHerbert
0.9 / 5 (53) May 17, 2011
You would think non-believers wouldn't care that much and that believers would, but sometimes it seems that the opposite is true.


It's simple. Many religious ideas are actively harmful. Hell is a great example. I'd say most Christians threaten their children with Hell. This is child abuse, outright child abuse. Why should this not be confronted? I don't go this far in my personal life, but I certainly wouldn't fault someone for trying.
panorama
4 / 5 (4) May 17, 2011
This is why I chose a religion that can make attractive promises about its afterlife. "Eternal Salvation or triple your money back!!"

What's the refund policy for christianity? They have none...I call balderdash.
gotrootdude
4 / 5 (6) May 17, 2011
The title is misleading...
The researchers used a fallacy called "begging the question" and showed that humans will fall back on pre-defined premises when seeking answers to unproven hypothesis.
If the children were previously taught a premise that the definition of god was not omniscient then the replies would have created a reverse finding.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (9) May 17, 2011
It's simple. Many religious ideas are actively harmful. Hell is a great example. I'd say most Christians threaten their children with Hell. This is child abuse, outright child abuse. Why should this not be confronted? I don't go this far in my personal life, but I certainly wouldn't fault someone for trying.
Frank, you're neglecting to mention all the suffering and starving children, the child soldiers, caused directly by the religious mandate to overopulate in the hope that god will provide like he said he would.
http://en.wikiped...nce_Army

'Be fruitful and multiply... Fill up the world (with more of us and fewer of them)'

This is what resists birth control education and learning to live within ones means. This is the cause of war and revolution throughout the world. All religions threaten this. This is their greatest danger.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (12) May 17, 2011
You would think non-believers wouldn't care that much and that believers would, but sometimes it seems that the opposite is true.


It's simple. Many religious ideas are actively harmful. Hell is a great example. I'd say most Christians threaten their children with Hell. This is child abuse, outright child abuse. Why should this not be confronted? I don't go this far in my personal life, but I certainly wouldn't fault someone for trying.

If threats are bad for religion, are they bad for govts?
That is what govts do, threaten their 'citizens' if they don't pay their 'fair share' or toe the govt line.
panorama
4.4 / 5 (7) May 17, 2011
If threats are bad for religion, are they bad for govts?
That is what govts do, threaten their 'citizens' if they don't pay their 'fair share' or toe the govt line.


Your propaganda has turned in to the trombone voice of adults from the Peanuts cartoons...
Mercury_01
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2011
Holy crap!, you think Christians threaten their children with hell?
ryggesogn2
2.2 / 5 (10) May 18, 2011
If threats are bad for religion, are they bad for govts?
That is what govts do, threaten their 'citizens' if they don't pay their 'fair share' or toe the govt line.


Your propaganda has turned in to the trombone voice of adults from the Peanuts cartoons...

What propaganda?
If religious 'threats', 'threats' with no backing of force, are significant, why aren't govt threats that do have the power of the state behind them not important as well?
panorama
3 / 5 (4) May 18, 2011
What propaganda?
If religious 'threats', 'threats' with no backing of force, are significant, why aren't govt threats that do have the power of the state behind them not important as well?

Take your subterfuge elsewhere, sycophant.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (9) May 18, 2011
Religion in the USA and in most parts of the Western world can't use force, can't arrest people, if they don't beleive or obey.
Govts can.
Why do so many attack religion when all it can do is persuade and yet vigorously support govts that can and do coerce?
panorama
1 / 5 (1) May 18, 2011
Religion in the USA and in most parts of the Western world can't use force, can't arrest people, if they don't beleive or obey.
Govts can.
Why do so many attack religion when all it can do is persuade and yet vigorously support govts that can and do coerce?

Religion in the USA and in most parts of the Western world can't use force, can't arrest people, if they don't beleive or obey.
Govts can.
Why do so many attack religion when all it can do is persuade and yet vigorously support govts that can and do coerce?


http://www.youtub...a_player

it's a privilege to pound the erasers.
ennui27
3 / 5 (2) May 21, 2011
theskepticalpsychic - "Atheism is currently intellectually fashionable, and the current fashion of contemptuous stridency among atheists masks fear of the religious, whom they despise as an inferior intellectual (and often ethnic) underclass."

Don't know much, do you?


Hold on thar, cyberguy. while I do not like the strident tone, I do believe there is some kind of herd instinct involved, even in science. Perhaps it is just that when one thing is discovered, then many others things are seen through that lens - whatever .... it happens.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (7) May 21, 2011
some kind of herd instinct involved, even in science.

Indeed.
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Max Planck
hush1
2.3 / 5 (3) May 21, 2011
Sitting on the shoreline edge, plashing the finger tip deep water flowing to and fro around where I sit. Age 2. 'Advanced' for temporal age.

'Mom' (or whatever I labeled at that age) approaches me:

Do you know "children prefer purpose-based explanations?", she asks me.

I don't know what she said, despite being 'advanced'. I smile at her, plashing at the moving water with my hands.

Do you know "Children aged three believed that their mother and God would always know the contents?"

I nod in agreement. I don't know what 'God' is. We always play 'peek-a-boo'. Feeling good about surprise (of contents everywhere you look.)

She asks, "Do you know below age five it's easier to believe in some superhuman properties than to understand similar human limitations?"

I nod in agreement. 'Peek-a-poo' is one of those properties. The surprise never ends, despite the contents (us) being everywhere you look.

She asks, "You are plashing water again?" I nod in agreement.
"Without purpose?"
bottomlesssoul
3 / 5 (2) May 22, 2011
So if there is no afterlife, anyone can kill thousands of people and have nothing to fear.There must be something after death.
I've read about this, if you can convince a believer that the thing they believe in isn't there their brain stops working.

What stops me from murdering thousands of people is not the after life but the current one in which I would then have 5x as many enemies.
ryggesogn2
1.9 / 5 (9) May 22, 2011
I would then have 5x as many enemies.

Stalin murdered millions and had, and has, millions of admirers.
ennui27
3 / 5 (2) May 22, 2011
I would then have 5x as many enemies.

Stalin murdered millions and had, and has, millions of admirers.


and religion has murdered millions in it's own name - and there still are millions of 'true believers' and admirers.
postfuture
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2011
It's people murdered millions but not religion. People who used religion as an ideological tool has murdered millions. And other people murdered much more using nuclear weapons which were developed by science and engineers without any help of ideology including religions.
Stalin did not kill millions by himself. He used atheism as ideology to make others to kill millions.
Atheism and religions are just ideologies that do not kill anyone. People kill people. And use whatever they can for this purpose.
hush1
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2011
Nature (as far as we are all able to comprehend) has an intrinsic, built-in property we label death.
We are part of Nature.

When you assign a purpose to the word "kill", you are forced to assume you know the purpose of Nature.
Nature "kills". What is Nature's purpose?

When you assign a purpose to the word "kill", you are forced to assume AT THE VERY LEAST you know the purpose of humans.
People "kill". What is a person's purpose? You say it is to "USE WHATEVER THEY CAN"

And I say:

CAN YOU SAY E.B. WHITE'S QUOTE?????:

BE OBSCURE CLEARLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you assign killing as the purpose of humans to OBSCURITY, I have every right to kill you, you have every right to die.
In other words, I will "use whatever I can" to fulfill the purpose of humans - that is, to kill. A purpose provided by Nature needs no reason. Perfect.

An astronomical event is a part of Nature. The earth is gone.
This astronomical event "killed" 'Life' on earth.
Nature "kills". What is Nature's purpose?

ennui27
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2011
@ postfuture

"Atheism and religions are just ideologies that do not kill anyone. People kill people. And use whatever they can for this purpose."

Even if I find the reference to the trite PR quipe of "Guns do not kill people, people kill people" as silly, you do good work in reminding people (me) what this thread is all about - that it is innate in humans to believe in some kind of god or afterlife.

My quibble with you is that Stalin was a DIALECTIC MATERIALIST, modified a bit but a MATERIALIST nevertheless - not disposed to any metaphysical explaination of life the universe or anything.

He saw the world through a realistic/experiencial/historical based class perspective, not a deistic one. About as far from the 'kill a commie for Christ' meme supported by the god deluded as is possible.
71STARS
not rated yet May 23, 2011
Any human being who has looked at the sky has been filled with wonder and awe. Only then did each "tribe" conjure up a story to explain heavenly wonders.

Today we are the product of your God versus my God. See how far we have come?

As a theorist who explains the beginning of the Universe, there still is the question of how, when, where, why, and who created the background for the First Star to evolve. It's a bigger question than I have an answer for.
ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (4) May 23, 2011
this is a science forum

Then why do the editors continue to post articles about non-science issues?
ennui27
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2011
71STARS - I am more inclined to echo Blake and his "universe in a grain of sand" idea than by any cosmology.

(and at that, adverse to creating a whole pantheon of gods, demi-god, semi-gods, condemned gods, devils and angels with their attendant saints, priests, rabbis and any kind of moralist that claims divine authority.)

"Presume not God to scan, the proper study of mankind is ...man." (Sorry for misogny.)
ennui27
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2011
this is a science forum

Then why do the editors continue to post articles about non-science issues?


If you were not so anxious to blurb about your personal beliefs and would read the FIRST LINE of the article:

"The £1.9 million project involved 57 researchers who conducted over 40 separate studies in 20 countries representing a diverse range of cultures"

Youwould not make innane comments like that.
hush1
3 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
Let's go radical:

"The £1.9 million project involved 57 researchers who conducted over 40 separate studies in 20 countries representing a diverse range of cultures"

felt the need to assign humans predisposition.

Why? Or better yet: For what purpose? Because they felt the "need" to make "sense" of what they all of you; human.

You, on the another hand, know better.
You, on the another hand, told them:
"I am without predisposition and purpose."
So now, their former "need" is replace with a new "need":

To start over.
Bravo.
You gave them purpose.
hush1
2.3 / 5 (3) May 23, 2011
Typo correction highlighted in CAPS:

"Because they felt the "need" to make "sense" of what they all CALL/LABEL/CATAGORIZE you AS; human."

And, of course, the typo is not an error, if the source is human.
ryggesogn2
3.2 / 5 (9) May 23, 2011
Youwould not make innane comments like that.

"the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at Oxford University, drew on research from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, philosophy, and theology. "
Again, where is the science? Calling something science, like 'social' science doesn't make it science.
ennui27
2.3 / 5 (3) May 23, 2011
"..... where is the science? Calling something science, like 'social' science doesn't make it science."

If you are made uncomfortable with the inclusion of some disciplines that use the scientific method, even if they are not strictly sciences. (They are RETROdictive, not PREdictive). I am sure many here will be glad to give you no end of URL of on line forms stricture devoted to your 'sciences'.

You can see how long they will put up with your retrograde antics.
hush1
3 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
:)
I will rate ennue's reply I fast as I can. Before the feeling of euphoria wears off.

Thanks to all though, for not rating me. (A request I made many moons ago) Also a source of euphoria from me.
hush1
3 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
"Also a source of euphoria from me."
From=for (Typo again - must be the euphoria)