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Stupid People Being Suckered in by Religion: Negative Correlation With Intelligence

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    Originally posted by HappyOldGuy
    And yet, we know nothing more about god than we did when we were cavemen painting on the walls with antelope blood.
    At least if you assume, a priori, that there does exist a god. If you compare the beliefs of a 'modern' theist and a caveman of twenty thousand years ago, you would probably find something rather different -- not just the fact that monotheism seems a more recent trend, but that the vision of gods has become less and less concrete. Gone are the Greek deities that bodily descended to this or that battlefield and actively took part in the action. Gone are the sun gods whose brightly glowing chariots were the sun; gone are the beliefs in souls or spirits as stars -- now that we know that the sun, and all stars, are nuclear fireballs not mere little lights on a heavenly dome.

    Of course this does not disprove the vague conception of god that's unassailable by logic -- he has become a god of such little gaps that perhaps we cannot peer any deeper. However, I think it is highly suggestive that gods in primitive cultures seem to have been invoked in order to ascribe conscious agency and explanations for various phenomena -- rain, thunder, lightning, the sun, the moon. These entities once being postulated, the problems they were used to solve have gone, but people were so emotionally and culturally attached to the ideas that new problems were sought to fit existing answers.

    You say "we know nothing more about god"; I say we know much more about things in general and therefore have much reason to postulate the existence of any such entity.

    Comment


      Originally posted by Petter
      At least if you assume, a priori, that there does exist a god. If you compare the beliefs of a 'modern' theist and a caveman of twenty thousand years ago, you would probably find something rather different -- not just the fact that monotheism seems a more recent trend, but that the vision of gods has become less and less concrete. Gone are the Greek deities that bodily descended to this or that battlefield and actively took part in the action. Gone are the sun gods whose brightly glowing chariots were the sun; gone are the beliefs in souls or spirits as stars -- now that we know that the sun, and all stars, are nuclear fireballs not mere little lights on a heavenly dome.

      Of course this does not disprove the vague conception of god that's unassailable by logic -- he has become a god of such little gaps that perhaps we cannot peer any deeper. However, I think it is highly suggestive that gods in primitive cultures seem to have been invoked in order to ascribe conscious agency and explanations for various phenomena -- rain, thunder, lightning, the sun, the moon. These entities once being postulated, the problems they were used to solve have gone, but people were so emotionally and culturally attached to the ideas that new problems were sought to fit existing answers.

      You say "we know nothing more about god"; I say we know much more about things in general and therefore have much reason to postulate the existence of any such entity.
      Your perception of how the greeks viewed their gods is incorrect. It seems that way to you because you were taught their myths as cute stories from a dead religion, but not their theology. It would be like learning christianity just from the miracle stories. Not to say that they didn't have their mythical literalist idiots, but they were probably less prone to that than silly modern book based yokels. The notion that gods exist to explain natural phenomena is something of a red herring. It is true, and it is true that that role is pretty much closed out, but that has never been the main purpose of religious belief.

      Comment


        Originally posted by HappyOldGuy
        The notion that gods exist to explain natural phenomena is something of a red herring. It is true, and it is true that that role is pretty much closed out, but that has never been the main purpose of religious belief.
        Right, it's also to keep the masses in check.

        Comment


          Originally posted by HappyOldGuy
          Your perception of how the greeks viewed their gods is incorrect.
          That's very possible. I'll accept it, but please bear in mind that I was just using this as one particularly extreme example of how gods seem to become more and more vague and undetectable the more science discerns how various mysterious phenomena really work.

          The notion that gods exist to explain natural phenomena is something of a red herring. It is true, and it is true that that role is pretty much closed out, but that has never been the main purpose of religious belief.
          I'd be curious to hear your argument here -- with respect to early history in particular. (The furtherance of religion, once established, doesn't seem to require much of an explanation.) What do we really know about early religion, that you feel justified to make such a strong assertion?

          Comment


            Originally posted by Petter
            At least if you assume, a priori, that there does exist a god. If you compare the beliefs of a 'modern' theist and a caveman of twenty thousand years ago, you would probably find something rather different -- not just the fact that monotheism seems a more recent trend, but that the vision of gods has become less and less concrete. Gone are the Greek deities that bodily descended to this or that battlefield and actively took part in the action. Gone are the sun gods whose brightly glowing chariots were the sun; gone are the beliefs in souls or spirits as stars -- now that we know that the sun, and all stars, are nuclear fireballs not mere little lights on a heavenly dome.

            Of course this does not disprove the vague conception of god that's unassailable by logic -- he has become a god of such little gaps that perhaps we cannot peer any deeper. However, I think it is highly suggestive that gods in primitive cultures seem to have been invoked in order to ascribe conscious agency and explanations for various phenomena -- rain, thunder, lightning, the sun, the moon. These entities once being postulated, the problems they were used to solve have gone, but people were so emotionally and culturally attached to the ideas that new problems were sought to fit existing answers.

            You say "we know nothing more about god"; I say we know much more about things in general and therefore have much reason to postulate the existence of any such entity.
            You're right, though I suspect it's slightly more complicated than this. Often, the general principles of myth or religion form the basis of new philosophy and science, or remain singularly important in inspiration or influence.

            For a good example in the archaic and classical context, see Paul Seligman, The Apeiron of Anaximander: A Study in the Origin & Function of Metaphysical Ideas (London: U. of London P., 1962).

            For explorations of this in the modern age, see God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, D.C. Lindberg and R.L. Numbers eds. (Berkeley: U. of California P., 1986).
            Martial Arts and Philosophy: Beating and Nothingness
            click here to order on Amazon

            Comment


              Originally posted by HappyOldGuy
              You are welcome to your disagreement, but seriously, honestly, you are flat out wrong. It is logically impossible to gather proof of nonexistence. And that isn't how fuzzy logic works. Ditto probability. You find nonexistence more credible, but that is just because it meshes in better with your precoceived notions. Not because you are smarter, and not because you have evidence that god does not exist. because it is logically impossible for such evidence to exist. The most you can say is that science has made it necessary to believe that a god who produces miracles either does so very rarely or cleans up after himself very well.



              And yet, we know nothing more about god than we did when we were cavemen painting on the walls with antelope blood. Why, because we have no faculties that are capable in any way shape or form of seeing a divinity that doesn't chose to show itself to us. Our logic fails, our senses fail, our science fails, and it always will. There are hard fundamental limits to what is knowable by humans. We are pretty bright at stuff that is observable and verifyable, but god (by most conceptions) isn't.

              And by the way, none of the things you mentioned were religous beliefs, other than the specific few thousand years claim that I assume you are referring to. But there were plenty of silly observational/logical proofs over the years that have said silly things about the age of the world.
              You're totally backwards. I do not have to prove non-existence.

              If you say something exists, the burden of proof is on you.

              Look at it this way. I say you killed somebody. You're a murderer and should be put on death row. According to your logic, because I don't have a body, murder weapon, or any evidence what so ever to substantiate my claims, I'm still probably right.

              You have to define God, then you have to prove it. So far, this has never been done satisfactorily anywhere. In all of your posts you have the same dogmatic belief in the supernatural, forces beyond our comprehension. You believe that without any proof what so ever, other than what you feel.

              Comment


                Originally posted by Petter
                I'd be curious to hear your argument here -- with respect to early history in particular. (The furtherance of religion, once established, doesn't seem to require much of an explanation.) What do we really know about early religion, that you feel justified to make such a strong assertion?
                It's not early religion, it's religion in general. Religion performs all sorts of tasks in peoples lives. It is a social glue, it helps us to resolve our conflicts with death and other tragedy, it provides us with universal ethics, it defines us. I have no more idea than you do whether the first guy to invent god was answering, "where does the thunder come from" or "what happens when we die" but the roles of religion (functional, sociological, psychological) are documented to hell and back in cultures all over the world. It's noteworthy that "belief" is not actually all that important in most cultures. That's not so much about the religion as it is the role of religion in a multi-religious society.

                I wasted a perfectly good post in an angry spastic thread linking to my favorite foucault essay, so I'll just add the link to the essay here. http://www.thefoucauldian.co.uk/tself.htm

                Comment


                  Originally posted by Petter
                  Which always puzzles me especially with intelligent people who are not merely "vaguely spiritual", but Christians. To believe there is "something greater" is, after all (and for all I may take objection to it) something radically different from believing there is One God, and Jesus is is Prophet, or---well, you know. Saying that you are a Christian implies belief in a number of fairly specific things, ranging from the raging lunacy of biblical inerrancy to a relaxed belief that (at the very least, to qualify as a Christian) Jesus was the son-cum-avatar of Yahweh and died for our sins on the cross. Whatever your beliefs may be---my point is that if you are a Christian, you do believe in a subset of the claims made by the Bible.

                  However, no sane person argues that the Bible is exactly accurate. It contains everything from good moral lessons to vicious atrocities, divinely inspired genocide, and militaristic bragging over apocryphal conquests. Maybe (some Christians say) there's some divinely inspired material in there, but some of it is just political.

                  My question is how some people go from a vague sense that there's "something greater" to using this vague sense to cherry-pick those beliefs they agree with from a larger collection of beliefs in the Bible. I mean, if you know that the Bible is not reliable -- and we know it isn't -- then without independent corroboration, none of its claims can reasonably be held as reliable, and a vague sense of "something greater" hardly serves as corroboration of the fact that although the Israelites may not have razed quite so many cities and slaughtered every man, woman and child as the Bible says they did, still, at least Jesus turned water into wine.
                  I realize this is a few pages back, but I don't think you got an answer. I am also not sure I can provide one, but here goes...

                  I am aware that discussing the veracity of the Bible is not the same as discussing the existence of God, so no one paste me, K?

                  I have only rarely encountered bilbical literalists, and yes, they are off their collective rocker. To believe that failable humans somehow got the word directly from God himself, wrote it down cogently and then kept it true to the original through all those centuries is absurd, and most Christians agree. That is the means by which different sects of Christianity can 'cherry-pick' their ideology - the Catholics say homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so, the United folk say that was a function of the society at the time of writing, so is not applicalble today. This is the same rationale that allows the Catholic Church to declare speeding a sin - that the Bible was a function of it's time and could not account for cars and freeways. Yes, it's all extremely subjective and pretty much a bunch of hooey, if you ask me.

                  I haven't got my hands on it yet, but some guy has written a book called "The Year of Living Biblically" where he actually tried to follow all 700 rules set out in the Bible while living in an apartment in Manhattan. He did everything from not wearing mixed-fibre clothing to stoning an adulterer (he used pebbles). I would love to read how that worked out!

                  Comment


                    In regards to the concept of god(s) being invoked due to lack of understand, Neal deGrasse Tyson has a fantastic essay and talk on this called "The Perimeter Of Ignorance" which can be found here: http://research.amnh.org/~tyson/Peri...fIgnorance.php

                    It's a good read, but I think he's a phenomal speaker and it doesn't do his enthusiasm justice to simply read his writings, so instead I encourage everyone to look up his lectures at "Beyond Belief 2006". Since he spoke multiple times, and at length (over half an hour) each, I'll just refer to this excerpt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YotBtibsuh0

                    If interested, you can find all of Beyond Belief 2006 online, but it's a LOT of footage. Even with little to do, I spaced it out over the course of a week watching several hours a day. Tyson's lectures are very worth your while though, since he's not only a fantastic speaker, but also has some wonderful ideas.

                    Comment


                      Originally posted by HappyOldGuy
                      It's not early religion, it's religion in general. Religion performs all sorts of tasks in peoples lives. It is a social glue, it helps us to resolve our conflicts with death and other tragedy, it provides us with universal ethics, it defines us. I have no more idea than you do whether the first guy to invent god was answering, "where does the thunder come from" or "what happens when we die" but the roles of religion (functional, sociological, psychological) are documented to hell and back in cultures all over the world. It's noteworthy that "belief" is not actually all that important in most cultures. That's not so much about the religion as it is the role of religion in a multi-religious society.
                      Nice! It's true - I am raising my kids in the Catholic faith not because I believe what the church hands out is the gospel truth (sorry for the pun) but because I want them to a) have a sense of purpose and a sense of something greater than themselves (as an antidote to the me-first, I'm the center of my own universe attitude many people have) and b) to provide them with a a similarly minded peer group, who together share the values, morals and ethics I generally subscribe to. I say 'generally' because I don't follow a lot of the churches teachings, and I will ensure that my kids are also raised to think for themselves, to reason and to be more inclusive than the current chuch dictates.

                      My kids may chose to reject their religious upbringing at some point and that's fine with me - I was pretty much agnostic for most of my teen and young adult years, until getting married and having my own kids caused me to turn back to faith in some way. I want to give my kids the opportunity to experience God in their lives as I have, but it won't be a problem for me if they do not share that experience.

                      Comment


                        Originally posted by AeroChick
                        ...the me-first, I'm the center of my own universe attitude many people have
                        Theist: "I'm a wretched sinful being, yet the God who created the entire universe loves me and cherishes me and cares intensely about whether I sin or do well. It was for us humans that the universe was created."

                        Atheist: "We're glorified colonies of eukaryotic cells, only quantatively removed from other animals. We dwell on an insignificant planet -- one of nearly a dozen -- orbiting an unremarkable sun which is one out of billions upon billions of stars in the universe. Look at the universe as a whole and you won't even be able to spot the galaxy among billions where, by one of billions of stars, we emerged by accident and by formation of the uncaring laws of nature. There's no purpose but that which we create for ourselves; if we want to be happy we have to strive for happiness, and we should probably help each other out because we're tiny, tiny creatures in a titanic universe and we can use all the help we can muster."

                        Theist: "You really need to learn some humility."

                        Comment


                          Originally posted by Petter
                          Theist: "I'm a wretched sinful being, yet the God who created the entire universe loves me and cherishes me and cares intensely about whether I sin or do well. It was for us humans that the universe was created."

                          Atheist: "We're glorified colonies of eukaryotic cells, only quantatively removed from other animals. We dwell on an insignificant planet -- one of nearly a dozen -- orbiting an unremarkable sun which is one out of billions upon billions of stars in the universe. Look at the universe as a whole and you won't even be able to spot the galaxy among billions where, by one of billions of stars, we emerged by accident and by formation of the uncaring laws of nature. There's no purpose but that which we create for ourselves; if we want to be happy we have to strive for happiness, and we should probably help each other out because we're tiny, tiny creatures in a titanic universe and we can use all the help we can muster."

                          Theist: "You really need to learn some humility."
                          Sorry to be replying with videos again, but this is one of my favorite, if not my favorite 3:31 in all of history. It damn near brings me to tears sometimes with its beauty. Theist or atheist, I say fuck it all, let's worship Carl Sagan.

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M
                          Last edited by Gypsy Jazz; 11/01/2007 1:43pm, .

                          Comment


                            Here's a good question:

                            Why would a reasonably intelligent person accept something completely on faith, when almost everything in life requires proof or prior experience.

                            Comment


                              Originally posted by Petter
                              Theist: "I'm a wretched sinful being, yet the God who created the entire universe loves me and cherishes me and cares intensely about whether I sin or do well. It was for us humans that the universe was created."

                              Atheist: "We're glorified colonies of eukaryotic cells, only quantatively removed from other animals. We dwell on an insignificant planet -- one of nearly a dozen -- orbiting an unremarkable sun which is one out of billions upon billions of stars in the universe. Look at the universe as a whole and you won't even be able to spot the galaxy among billions where, by one of billions of stars, we emerged by accident and by formation of the uncaring laws of nature. There's no purpose but that which we create for ourselves; if we want to be happy we have to strive for happiness, and we should probably help each other out because we're tiny, tiny creatures in a titanic universe and we can use all the help we can muster."

                              Theist: "You really need to learn some humility."
                              I'm reminded of Stuart Kaufmann:

                              "Well, here is a pretty philosophy, Horatio. Do your best, get up in the morning, grab some coffee, hit the cornflakes, rush though traffic to the subway, crowd into the elevator up into the office, pile through the piles of everyone else's already sent piles, climb whatever ladder your career choice sent you up, and in the end, what do you get? Brief hour upon the stage. Tough, pal, but the Ediacrin flora and fauna had it no better.

                              Here is no Panglossian world, or Hobbesian either. Perhaps here is the reality we have always suspected. Do your best; you will ultimately slip into history along with the trilobites and other proud personae in this unfolding pageant. If we must eventually fail, what an adventure to be players at all." - At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Complexity (London: Penguin, 1995), p.243.
                              Martial Arts and Philosophy: Beating and Nothingness
                              click here to order on Amazon

                              Comment


                                Originally posted by Petter
                                Theist: "I'm a wretched sinful being, yet the God who created the entire universe loves me and cherishes me and cares intensely about whether I sin or do well. It was for us humans that the universe was created."

                                Atheist: "We're glorified colonies of eukaryotic cells, only quantatively removed from other animals. We dwell on an insignificant planet -- one of nearly a dozen -- orbiting an unremarkable sun which is one out of billions upon billions of stars in the universe. Look at the universe as a whole and you won't even be able to spot the galaxy among billions where, by one of billions of stars, we emerged by accident and by formation of the uncaring laws of nature. There's no purpose but that which we create for ourselves; if we want to be happy we have to strive for happiness, and we should probably help each other out because we're tiny, tiny creatures in a titanic universe and we can use all the help we can muster."

                                Theist: "You really need to learn some humility."
                                At the risk of being pedantic..actually fuck, it I AM being pedantic...what you relate here is a discussion between a CHRISTIAN and and Atheist.

                                Theism is a belief in god/God/gods/Gods

                                "My God wields a hammer, your God was nailed to a cross. Any questions?"

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