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A solid look at religion

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    A solid look at religion

    Here's a good slice of sociology and anthropology for all the kiddies:

    A clip from the documentary: History of Disbelief
    http://homepage.mac.com/onegoodmove2...ascalboyer.mov
    "The new approach to explaining religion that Boyer and Bloom (and Scott Atran and Justin Barrett and Deborah Kelemen and others) represent does not see religious belief as a corruption of rationality, but rather as an over-extension of some of the very mental mechanisms that underlie and make rationality possible. In other words, rather than religion having emerged to serve a social or other purpose, in this view it is seen as an evolutionary accident. In particular, Bloom uses some developments in child psychology to shed light on the issue of religious beliefs, and it is these that I would like to focus on now.
    I cannot here go into the details of the experiments which demonstrate this, but it turns out that one of the things which seems hardwired (is not learned by experience) in young infants (before they can even speak), is the distinction between inanimate and animate objects. Infants are clearly able to distinguish physical things from objects which demonstrate intentionality and have psychological characteristics.
    In other words, things with minds. In Paul Bloom's words, children are 'natural-born dualists' (in the Cartesian sense). It is quite clear that the mental mechanisms that babies use to understand and predict how physical objects will behave are very distinct from the mechanisms they use to understand and predict how psychological agents will behave. This stark separation of the world into minds and non-minds is what, according to Bloom, makes it eventually possible for us to conceive of minds (or souls) without bodies.
    This explains beliefs in gods, spirits, an afterlife (we continue without bodies), etc. The other thing that babies are very good at, is ascriptions of intentionality. They are very good at reading desires and intentions in animate objects, and this is necessary for them to function socially. Indeed, they are so sensitive to this that they sometimes overshoot and even ascribe goals and desires to inanimate objects. And it is this tendency which eventually makes us animists and creationists."
    Beautiful.
    A lie gets half-way around the world before the truth has time to get it's pants on. - Winston Churchhill

    #2
    kool stuff. one of my favorite subjects. now to wait for the first bible-groping fanatic to make an assinine statement

    Comment


      #3
      Most of the time, religion starts out as a good "idea", but later is corrupted by the ones it is controlled by. Religion isn't a way to control the masses, it's just that people creating something and people controlling the masses go hand-in-hand.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Abominable Snowman
        Religion isn't a way to control the masses, it's just that people creating something and people controlling the masses go hand-in-hand.
        I suggest you tell this to the middle-eastern God-Emperors of times long gone. Many religions were instituted to control the unwitting peasants.

        Comment


          #5
          Looks reasonable, but religion is so many things rolled into one that I find any claims of "it's this, not that" doubtful. Maybe the built-in tendency to ask "who did this, and what for", together with a capability for "spiritual experiences", created a susceptibility that could be expoited by political figured (the "opium for the masses" explanation), self-perpetuating and self-protecting myths (the memetics - "religion is an infectious disease" explanation), sets of rules that had beneficial effects on the groups that followed them (the group-selection explanation), or any combination of these and more.
          There are no wrong threats, only wrong answers. (Strategy game truism)

          Comment


            #6
            Religion is a few things in my opinion:
            - It is a way for people who are afraid of death to comfort themselves
            - it is a way for people to deal with nihlism
            - it is a way to control the populace and keep them afraid
            - it is a waste of time

            Organized religion is a sham, no matter what shape or form it comes in. I am an agnostic, not an atheist, and am far too intelligent to claim that I know whether a higher being (s) exists or not. Anthropomorphizing is what really bothers me about organized religion. Like anyone actually knows what a supreme, omnipotent being would define as "goodness". Oh yeah, wait, the BIBLE tells us so..
            Bullshit.
            " If one wants to have a friend one must also want to wage war for him: and to wage war one must be capable of being an enemy." - Fr. Nietzsche 'On The Friend' Thus Spake Zarathustra

            Comment


              #7
              That little quote seems to be a great oversimplification of socio-religious development. The human mind is capable of wonderful, powerful things, including the personification of inanimate objects and perceived forces. But there are many other factors at work, too, including but not limited to loneliness, fear of death, trust in those who preach religion, and a myriad of other factors. One should be careful not to wrap all that up in a nutshell.
              Last edited by haughty; 12/25/2005 12:34pm, .

              Comment


                #8
                Over simplification? how simple does society have to be to create god and give divine creation to natural occurences? How many kids instantly believe in Santa Claus without asking a single question until they reach the age when the idea of believing in santa claus is no longer exists?

                If presents contined appearing under the tree every christmas ad infinitum, we'd all be worshipping Santa Claus right now. That one sampling is only part of a very large look at the history and formation of belief. For magical thinking to occur and animus be given life by the mind, then we have to look to an instinctual belief that something outside of the rational mind must exist first.

                All of those things you site have no central reasoning or common denominator. An instinctual predilection toward identifying things with life and things without life seems to be a superior prime mover for reducing the human affinity toward mystical beliefs to it's most basic parts. Instead of just saying they did it because they were lonely.

                Gods/demons/spirits come from many different cultures with many different themes. Explaining celestial occurences, explaining disease, and even food poisoning are theme's that exist everywhere. However, to create the idea of a spiritual being has to come first. It is that simple: we exist, something we don't understand happened, how did it happen?

                Why is it easier to believe that an other worldly being caused it, rather than it occurred naturally?

                You don't seem to understand that they are not saying that man created myth out of a longing for an understanding they could comprehend, but rather, created the basic premise for spirituality instintually before they understood anything else.
                A lie gets half-way around the world before the truth has time to get it's pants on. - Winston Churchhill

                Comment


                  #9
                  The development of religious and spiritual beliefs in human societies remains both complex and somewhat mysterious. The chief engine for such beliefs has not been identified, but I highly doubt it's some instinctive tendency for abstract personification. It seems more likely that religion and spirituality came primarily from primitive attempts to explain the unknown. In any case, I'm quite sure a number of factors played varying roles.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by haughty
                    The chief engine for such beliefs has not been identified, but I highly doubt it's some instinctive tendency for abstract personification. .
                    why?12345

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by OZZ
                      Religion is a few things in my opinion:
                      - It is a way for people who are afraid of death to comfort themselves
                      - it is a way for people to deal with nihlism
                      - it is a way to control the populace and keep them afraid
                      - it is a waste of time

                      Organized religion is a sham, no matter what shape or form it comes in. I am an agnostic, not an atheist, and am far too intelligent to claim that I know whether a higher being (s) exists or not. Anthropomorphizing is what really bothers me about organized religion. Like anyone actually knows what a supreme, omnipotent being would define as "goodness". Oh yeah, wait, the BIBLE tells us so..
                      Bullshit.
                      right on

                      and no 'god' like being (if one existed) could ever understand us either, its like us trying to understand exactly what its like to be an ant, absolutely impossible (although the python boys got pretty close)

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Smeagol
                        why?12345
                        Speculation. That's all we have to go on when it comes to stuff like this.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by OZZ
                          Religion is a few things in my opinion:
                          - It is a way for people who are afraid of death to comfort themselves
                          - it is a way for people to deal with nihlism
                          - it is a way to control the populace and keep them afraid
                          - it is a waste of time
                          It's good that you prefaced that with "in my opinion," because none of the ensuing statements can be shown absolutely to be true. In fact, I agree completely that religion is probably--almost certainly, even--a human invention. However, there's always an outside chance one of those crazy religions is real and true.

                          Organized religion is a sham, no matter what shape or form it comes in. I am an agnostic, not an atheist, and am far too intelligent to claim that I know whether a higher being (s) exists or not. Anthropomorphizing is what really bothers me about organized religion. Like anyone actually knows what a supreme, omnipotent being would define as "goodness". Oh yeah, wait, the BIBLE tells us so..
                          Bullshit.
                          Be careful not to present opinion as fact.
                          Last edited by haughty; 12/25/2005 11:55am, .

                          Comment


                            #14
                            haughty, you don't seem to know that the 66 books used by most Protestant denominations of Christianity were picked by a handfull of men at the Niceaen Council during Constantine's reign. Not only that, but it was these men who sanctioned the official translation into Latin, you know, the version that talks about forgiveness and then three chapters later condemns people and says how much God hates them? Organized religion is a sham at the higher levels. The only churches I've been impressed with are the ones who've managed to retain a certain amount of individuality as a church and were not forced to conduct themselves according to some larger denominational guideline.

                            I'm not even an Agnostic, I'm a deist, but I have to agree with the general sentiment of those statements.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by bushi_no_ki
                              haughty, you don't seem to know that the 66 books used by most Protestant denominations of Christianity were picked by a handfull of men at the Niceaen Council during Constantine's reign.
                              That's a popular misconception. The First Council of Nicea (the one you're thinking of) met to debunk Arianism. If they dealt with Biblical canon at all, it was never documented. The books of the Bible had for the most part been decided by the second century. It was a very natural process.

                              Not only that, but it was these men who sanctioned the official translation into Latin, you know, the version that talks about forgiveness and then three chapters later condemns people and says how much God hates them?
                              You seem to have been taken in by anti-Christian propaganda. Do a little research on both sides of the issues, and I bet you'll discover some very interesting stuff.

                              Organized religion is a sham at the higher levels. The only churches I've been impressed with are the ones who've managed to retain a certain amount of individuality as a church and were not forced to conduct themselves according to some larger denominational guideline.
                              Sometimes religion is a sham. The Roman Catholic Church has in the past fallen victim to corruption at the top. However, I don't think you should be condemning all religion based on the shortcomings of individual persons.

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