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How Religion Hijacks Neurocortical Mechanisms, and Why So Many Believe in a Deity


iNow
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Well, then you could say the entire world influenced my decision. I don't really think that's a fair claim to make. Do you? I like to believe I made my own decision, predisposition be damned! :D

I didn't make a claim. I can't make any specific claim in your case, there just isn't any evidence to do so.

 

Equally, you can't make any claim either. I know you believe you can because it's your life, but you don't have any evidence to demonstrate where your final decision came from.

 

That being said, I do not actually dispute that you made your choices on your own. I don't want this to get feeling personal.

 

And thank you for acknowledging your minor error JillSwift ;) I sincerely appreciate it.

No need for thankies, mistakes must be dealt with =^_^=

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iNow,

 

"I think you missed the point of my analogy. The point is, the systems evolved independently. When they come together in one organism, the result is the emergent property of belief. Let's not stretch the analogy too far. No matter how many philosophers you quote in an attempt to demonstrate otherwise, we still evolved specific solutions to specific problems, and when taken together, those solutions result in things like a predisposition toward belief."

 

My point in approaching your analogy the way I did, was not an indication of me not understanding your point, it was an attempt to lead you to insights and points that I have. My insights and points, derived from a lifetime of "looking at the evidence", are not exactly the same as your points, derived as well from a lifetime of "looking at the evidence". There therefore resides an area, where my points and yours, are both valid points. Its exploring this area, and that there is such an area, that I think has crucial pertinence to this thread.

 

Current participant in this thread, are both observers, and the observed, we each have ourselves, and the others to inspect for "points" and why they are reached, in respect to the subjectively viewed "human brain".

 

iNow an atheist and scientist.

JillSwift, a scientist who has found out she is an excellent person to understand when exploring this topic, since she doesn't have the exact same neurocortical facilities as most other humans.

Forufes who has "found" Christ.

TAR who has arrived at a worldview that parses the figurative and literal components of everybodies beliefs, to arrive at what is literally true, and what is figuratively true.

 

We are all here. We have knowledge of the world, we have knowledge of history, we have the internet to explore any aspect of reality, and any view of it we find pertinent.

AND we all have brains, and we all are making points.

 

Seems we might learn something.

 

Regards, TAR

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Long story short --> Christianity has the most historicity attached to it.

If 'historicity' means 'historical errors', then you may be correct.

 

 

The New Testament has some of the most pure sentiments of love in it.

Except the fact that none of the good is new and all of the good can be found without the bad elsewhere.

 

It's off topic for this thread(and the forums in general), but if you'd like to discuss this further, I do have a PM inbox.

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It's off topic for this thread(and the forums in general)

 

I have quoted this comment due to its importance.

 

 

Please, everyone... Remain focused.

 

This is a very specific topic about a very emotional subject, and the only way we can make it work is to focus on the evidence and the science of belief itself, or instead on things like statistical sampling regarding human proclivities and predispositions.

 

Everyone has done a really great job of staying crisp with their posts thus far (so thank you for that), but I sense a slight change in the momentum and vector of the conversation during the last few posts.

 

 

I could use each of your help trying to keep this train on the rails. Let's walk in the same direction on the same path together, and not toward one another with an intent to maim and destroy. ;)

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iNow,

 

"Our points" are an interesting analogy to religion. That is where discussion (in an objective, somewhat detached, stick to the facts way,) of the emotionality these areas raises is crucial.

 

Regards, TAR


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Consecutive posts merged

JillSwift, and Forufes,

 

I hope I didn't hurt your feeling, or make you think I was talking negatively about you at all, in my post suggesting we had some interesting mix of brains and viewpoints to add realistic info to the discussion. It might not be the usual scientific info, with proper study, and correlation, and error bars. But it does provide a certain level of peer review, being that we all have brains. I did however assume that you would be open to be "experimented" on. Which might not be the case.

 

Not that I am planning any secret agenda, or setting any traps, but how we respond to each other, what beliefs we hold, what ideas we protect, and what ideas we attack have a lot to do with the topic. That being "what nuerocortical structures and mechanisms, (hijacked or adapted) are in play when it comes to beliefs and religion".

 

(iNow, forgive my rewording, I don't think we are not talking about "How Religion Hijacks Neurocortical Mechanisms, and Why So Many Believe in a Deity", just wanted to give an idea of how I (TAR) am approaching the discussion.)

 

For instance, iNow uses an example to Forufes, saying more or less "if you were born in such and such a place with such and such religious and cultural background, you would have Muslim beliefs or Hindu beliefs, or whatever you were brought up believing."

 

What I found interesting about the example was, number one, a scientist (iNow), talking about Forufes's soul, as a thing that was detachable from Forufes's body, and placable in a different human body, with different history, in a different setting.

 

And number two, the fact that a human soul was being considered (in the example) in some plain vanilla version, that was as interchangable as an electron.

 

My point being, the person would not be Forufes. He/she would have different genes, different parents, different history, different culture, different lessons, different enemies, different friends, a completely different person. It would not be Forufes. It would be Abdul.

 

Now, I know what iNow meant. "Imagine" you are this other person. But he didn't say that.

 

And our ability to imagine what other people are thinking and feeling, and our ability to misunderstand what other people are thinking and feeling, based on what we think they should be thinking and feeling if we were "in their shoes", is at the very heart of this topic.

 

 

Regards, TAR

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For instance, iNow uses an example to Forufes, saying more or less "if you were born in such and such a place with such and such religious and cultural background, you would have Muslim beliefs or Hindu beliefs, or whatever you were brought up believing."

 

What I found interesting about the example was, number one, a scientist (iNow), talking about Forufes's soul, as a thing that was detachable from Forufes's body, and placable in a different human body, with different history, in a different setting.

 

And number two, the fact that a human soul was being considered (in the example) in some plain vanilla version, that was as interchangable as an electron.

 

Again, you seem to have misunderstood my point. First, I was responding to A Tripolation, not forufes. Second, I was not referring to this idea of "souls" in any way, shape, or form. Souls had nothing whatsoever to do with my point, I find them to be a rather silly and childish idea, and worse, the concept is ill-defined and not supported by one iota of evidence. It's a rhetorical short-hand used by lazy people to describe some mixture of human characteristics and fantasy based wish thinking, and has no place in a discussion where science and precision are key.

 

Speaking of precision, let me use this opportunity to clarify what I was saying above.

 

A Tripolation suggested that he would still have Christian-like beliefs even if he hadn't grown up in a Christian household. I challenged this, and suggested that had he instead been born on the other side of the planet, he'd much more likely be Muslim or Hindu... in essence that which set of beliefs he holds is largely a result of chance. I was not referring to transplanting unicorns souls, or suggesting that his mind was detachable, or any other similar nonsense. I was stating that our choice of which specific set of beliefs we hold is highly related to where we were born, and to which parents we were born.

 

Let me say this another way.

 

We are all born with certain predispositions, but the way those predispositions manifest is largely contingent upon what we've been taught, and in what culture or environment those teachings occurred.

 

I hope this has helped to clarify my intended point. Souls and peoples feelings are hogwash. Let's stick the science, and ask questions if we don't understand it.

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iNow,

 

Sorry. I did get the posters mixed up. I went by memory, I should have paged back.

 

But one error in fact does not invalidate my entire post.

 

I will step away if my "contributions" are a distraction from the thread's purpose.

 

Just say the word.

 

I know you don't believe in souls.

 

I believe your example was well stated and correct.

 

I was looking at it, at a different level. Stripping it down to components and mechanisms that would be available to a TAR organism and an iNow organism.

 

We both have the ability to form analogies. And we both have the ability to make an analogy between our brain's state, and another's brain state. We can "put" ourselves in the other person's brain. And of course we are not literally doing this. There is no physical aster fibers that reach out to the other mind. But the analogy can be made. We can imagine what the other is thinking.

 

This morning I was driving along a road, sort of rural, with houses on both sides and a doe crossed from left to right about a hundred yards ahead. Knowing that deer often travel together, I slowed, and watched the left side for another to cross, a fawn crossed, and as I reached the spot, still looking to the left, a buck emerged from the woods. I stopped to let him cross to his family (now out of sight in the woods somewhere to my right). Instead, he stopped, so as not to be hit by a car. We looked at each other, and once I saw he was stopped and waiting for me, I proceeded.

 

Regards, TAR

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... in essence that which set of beliefs he holds is largely a result of chance.

 

Only if you define chance as "reading up on the various philospophies of life and after-life and making an educated assumption from there, without asserting complete metaphysical certitude as some belief/non-belief systems do".

 

 

Anyways, an issue you might could help me with iNow. Where does the ORIGIN of dualism come from? How does evolution explain WHY we assign causes to everything? Basically, how did these neurocortical mechanisms evolve in the first place?

 

You might have already answered this or linked to it (LOTS of info in here :D ) and if you did, a simple post # would suffice as a reply.

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Where does the ORIGIN of dualism come from? How does evolution explain WHY we assign causes to everything?

Science doesn't generally bother with "why," it more commonly deals with "how."

 

Check posts #8, 14, 16, and 24. I feel those (and links contained within) come closest to addressing your questions. :)


Merged post follows:

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As for the origin of dualism, sounds like that might make an interesting thread. ;)

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iNow,

 

"I'm actually pretty awful with analogies, but I appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt."

 

Actually I believe you are rather excellent at it. Consider the fact, that there is really no tree in your brain, but an analog of one that your brain has managed to form from photons striking your rods and cones. You "see" a tree. The tree is not in your brain. Only an analog image. An "imagined" "analogy". The tree is real.

The great majority of your consciousness, is built from analogies. You are truely (as a human) very excellent at forming analogies.

 

Regards, TAR

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iNow,

 

I thought that was the topic. Our opinion of the truth or falseness of what other people believe. And our opinion of what is going on in the mind of the universe.

 

Regards, TAR


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To quote JillSwift.

 

"It isn't until our brains started thinking in terms of purpose that the universe started having purpose."

 

Regard, TAR

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2008/nov/25/religion-children-god-belief

Developmental psychologists have provided evidence that children are naturally tuned to believe in gods of one sort or another.

 

  • Children tend to see natural objects as designed or purposeful in ways that go beyond what their parents teach, as Deborah Kelemen has demonstrated. Rivers exist so that we can go fishing on them, and birds are here to look pretty.

     

  • Children doubt that impersonal processes can create order or purpose. Studies with children show that they expect that someone not something is behind natural order. No wonder that Margaret Evans found that children younger than 10 favoured creationist accounts of the origins of animals over evolutionary accounts even when their parents and teachers endorsed evolution. Authorities' testimony didn't carry enough weight to over-ride a natural tendency.

     

  • Children know humans are not behind the order so the idea of a creating god (or gods) makes sense to them. Children just need adults to specify which one.

     

  • Experimental evidence, including cross-cultural studies, suggests that three-year-olds attribute super, god-like qualities to lots of different beings. Super-power, super-knowledge and super-perception seem to be default assumptions. Children then have to learn that mother is fallible, and dad is not all powerful, and that people will die. So children may be particularly receptive to the idea of a super creator-god. It fits their predilections.

     

  • Recent research by Paul Bloom, Jesse Bering, and Emma Cohen suggests that children may also be predisposed to believe in a soul that persists beyond death.

 

That belief comes so naturally to children may sound like an attack on religious belief (belief in gods is just leftover childishness) or a promotion of religious belief (God has implanted a seed for belief in children). What both sides should agree upon is the scientific evidence: certainly cultural inputs help fill in the details but children's minds are not a level playing field. They are tilted in the direction of belief.

 

 

 

http://impartialism.blogspot.com/2009/03/born-believers-naturalness-of-childhood.html

Recent scientific study of children’s conceptual structures reveals that children’s minds are naturally receptive to god concepts… In this presentation, relevant scientific evidence is presented. Children are ‘born believers’ in the sense that under normal developmental conditions they almost inevitably entertain beliefs in gods.”

 

<...>

 

Evidence exists that children might find especially natural the idea of a non-human creator of the natural world possessing super powers etc. From infancy one strategy to understand the world is "promiscuous teleology" (Kelemen) we seek purpose even where it does not exist. From an early age children give "intelligent design" - final purpose explanations for a range of phenomenon. 12month old babies know that agents create order (Newman and Keil).

 

The false belief task cannot be dealt with by 3-4 yrar olds, but older kids can.

 

<...>

 

Developmental support for a super-knowing god:

 

When children are evaluated for the knowledge of the contents of a closed box from the age of 3 to 6, after the age of 4 there is a divergence between the understanding of god and human beings (e.g. mother). This was replicated with Mayan children thinking humans are like god when younger and only diverging when older that humans are trickable whereas god is untrickable.Other tasks he covered were the "secret game". As the child gets older there is a divergence between an "untrickable" god and their mom and dog (although a dog is more trickable than mom). This is the first study in the theory of mind that shows that three year olds can make distinctions between different types of mind even if there is still over-attribution of knowledge to different minds. As kids get older their capacity to differentiate different types of mind increase but it takes them longer characterise the knowledge capabilities of people than gods (by two years)!

 

By four years of age half have imaginary friends. Even infants show evidence of reasoning that coloured discs as intentional agents with goals. Reasoning about unseen or non-present agents is a normal activity.

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iNow,

 

I thought that was the topic. Our opinion of the truth or falseness of what other people believe. And our opinion of what is going on in the mind of the universe.

 

Regards, TAR

Eh? The topic is "How Religion Hijacks Neurocortical Mechanisms, and Why So Many Believe in a Deity".

It's not about making a judgment about the validity of those beliefs, it's about how those beliefs likely came about.

 

Until and unless we establish the universe has a "mind", there's no point in worrying about what goes in inside it.

 

To quote JillSwift.

 

"It isn't until our brains started thinking in terms of purpose that the universe started having purpose."

Which simply means that purpose is something we grant the universe. It's called "purposeful thinking", and relates only to our own perspective.

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iNow, Jillswift,

 

I submit myself for inspection on this topic. I have the mind of a child. Just have had it for 50+ years. I still consider some minds trickable, others less trickable, others more trickable. And I consider that reality itself is not trickable. I do not assign the universe a human mind, because a human mind would be trickable. However, I am perfectly aware that the universe can create trickable minds. My evidence is that I have one. Now I am with JillSwift, that there is no evidence of any purpose, any direction to the universe, other than to exist and create all the entities that arise when stuff and energy exist and create entities, and the entities have no meaning or form, cause or effect, definition or purpose, until a trickable mind observes such. But here on Earth we have a lot of trickable minds. Observers of an untrickable, purposeless, previously unobserved universe.

 

When I had my long talk with God, when I was 13, I remember thinking about the cosmos, with an infinite amount of Universes, created and ended, for an infinite amount of time, and it all happening in one mind, which had no beginning, and no end. No father, no mother, nobody and nothing that wasn't it. No friends, no neighbors, nowhere to go, nothing different to be. I felt bad for this entity. It was all there was, ever, and all that would ever be. Seemed like an empty, lonely state for the cosmos to be in, to know everything like that. No surprises, nothing new, no movement, and no where to go. But I was part of it, a tiny, temporary part, and that was my job, to be me, and NOT know everything. I understood this entity and appreciated my role. But it was sort of a private agreement, just between the entity and me. No one else would understand.

 

 

Regards, TAR

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I thought this was interesting, and helped to explore the topic a bit more clearly. Enjoy.

 

 

http://web.uvic.ca/~lalonde/sawa/index.html

The false belief measure used was part of a "droodle task" developed by Chandler and Helm (1984). Because this same task also served as the basis for assessing participant’s interpretive understanding of ambiguous stimuli, the procedure and stimuli are described in full in the following section.

 

In this task, children are shown a cartoon drawing depicting an elephant eating a peanut (see Figure 1), and asked to describe the picture. A cover is then placed over the drawing, leaving only a small portion of the original drawing visible. Participants are then introduced to a doll (Michelle), who has "seen" only this small portion of the original picture. They are asked what Michelle might think this is a picture of.

 

A child who has is unable to attribute false beliefs to others will typically respond that Michelle will think this is a picture of an elephant eating a peanut. Because it would be extremely unlikely for anyone who has seen only the limited view of the picture to interpret the picture in this way, such a response can be considered a "reality error" and indicates that the child is inappropriately attributing her own privileged knowledge to the puppet.

 

Children who understand the role of perception in belief formation will attribute a false-belief to the doll; they will say the doll thinks this is a picture of a chimney, or a hockey stick, or some other imagined thing. This first portion of the task served as the measure of false belief understanding. Children who attributed a false belief to Michelle (that is, said that she would think the picture was something other than what the child herself knew it to be), were credited with an understanding of false belief and a copy theory of mind. <
>

 

Figure 1: Elephant eating a peanut (Droodle task)

figure1.gif

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iNow,

 

Boy that study was sort of a flop, wasn't it?

 

Seems we could learn more about mind in interpreting the actions and thoughts of the test givers, than the children.

 

Brings me back to a response I had over in the evolution thread to the statement by the guy in the clip, about how 40% or something like that, of the population of the U.S. believes the Earth was created 4,000 years ago.

My response was, at the time, "Well I won't give fodder to ignorance" and pursue a line of thought over a fine point, that would potentially reinforce people's false belief in a rather large point. Later that day, I rethought my reaction and wondered why I let one guy's statement of a fact, which was contrary to my understanding of the facts, erase my observations and understandings of people, over a 55year lifetime?! What question was asked? How did we arrive at that 40% figure? Was not explained in the clip, just the statistic, and the statistic certainly affected me emotionally and drew me toward the desire to be on the team that would seek to erradicate this ignorance. Maybe I should slow down a bit, I thought, and trust my worldview, a little more. 40% of the people I have talked to in the U.S. are NOT that ignorant. What sorts of people are in that statistic? After reading the report of the study you linked, above, I am doubly sure, I can doubt the statistic, and trust (for the time being) my worldview.

 

I am not saying that I am not making some false assumptions about the concepts other's are entertaining. In fact I am saying that I know, I am making false assumptions, I have to be. To some I attribute too many insights, and to some I attribute too few.

 

Can we talk about intelligence for a moment? I think it has pertinence to our topic in terms of what "mind" we assign to others. This relates to assigned attributes of any diety we might believe in, and also relates to religion, in terms of one human's ability to "trick", another. ((along the line of thought, that religions often have "followers" that listen to authority figures (Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, preists, cult leaders, mullahs, Popes, philosophers, and such.))

 

Years ago, in high school, I came up with a personal view or "personal theory of intelligence" which I still entertain. It goes like this. One person cannot even "imagine" what it is like to have more intelligence than they have. If they could imagine it, then they would BE more intelligent. One CAN imagine being less intelligent however, by handicapping aspects of their own abilities, and imagining the results. As such, it is reasonable to assume that one sits somewhere in a chain where many people are less intelligent and many people more intelligent. There thus exists the one most intelligent person in the world, and the one least intelligent, with EVERYBODY, other than these two, falling somewhere inbetween. Now, given the fact, that one cannot imagine what it means, to be more intelligent (although one can be aware that there is such a thing.) and given the fact that one can imagine the limitations of one less intelligent, there arises the potential for a more intelligent person to "fool" or trick a less intelligent one, and the potential to not be able to fool or trick someone with more intelligence, who could instead consistently fool you. Someone around your same level could fool you, sometimes, and sometimes not. (Parents can fool their children into believing Santa Claus is real, people can play jokes on you, cult leaders can earn your devotion, con men can operate, etc.) One person can know something is staged while another believes it to be real. I developed a "professional sports" continuum around this personal thesis. Professional Wrestling, Roller Derby, Horse Racing, Pro Basketball, Pro Football, and Pro Baseball. Each one successively having more people that considered the sport "real" competition. I personally think the last two or three are real competition, but just because its hard for me to see how they could stage it. (Although I have noticed an unusual amount of forth quarter, game changing holding calls, and some hits up the middle in late innings where the short stop seems to run across and wave at the ball as it goes by.)

 

Back to topic.

Thus, one of our mechanisms, assigning agency, is affected, in terms of the intelligence we ourselves possess. Both individually, and as a group, (maybe even as a Species.)

And our ability to imagine, what another is thinking, is also saddled with the handicap, or complication, that the other mind may be more or less intelligent than our own. This complication is in addition to the complications already discussed of different culture, history, intentions and such.

 

Regards, TAR

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TAR,

 

I'm honestly not certain if you understand what is being discussed here. Your posts are rather tangential and more philosophical than scientific. This has been somewhat consistent in your posts to many threads at these fora, where it is difficult to ascertain your level of understanding, and worse, how your posts relate to the subject under discussion.

 

Either way, as for this:

 

 

Brings me back to a response I had over in the evolution thread to the statement by the guy in the clip, about how 40% or something like that, of the population of the U.S. believes the Earth was created 4,000 years ago.

 

My response was, at the time, "Well I won't give fodder to ignorance" and pursue a line of thought over a fine point, that would potentially reinforce people's false belief in a rather large point. Later that day, I rethought my reaction and wondered why I let one guy's statement of a fact, which was contrary to my understanding of the facts, erase my observations and understandings of people, over a 55year lifetime?! What question was asked? How did we arrive at that 40% figure? Was not explained in the clip, just the statistic, and the statistic certainly affected me emotionally and drew me toward the desire to be on the team that would seek to erradicate this ignorance. Maybe I should slow down a bit, I thought, and trust my worldview, a little more. 40% of the people I have talked to in the U.S. are NOT that ignorant. What sorts of people are in that statistic? After reading the report of the study you linked, above, I am doubly sure, I can doubt the statistic, and trust (for the time being) my worldview.

 

http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/darwin-birthday-believe-evolution.aspx

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Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,018 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Feb. 6-7, 2009, as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

 

 

Your worldview and personal feelings mean nothing, especially since they are contradicted by the evidence.

Now, I will kindly request from you... yet again... to stay on topic, and... if you cannot figure out how, then simply stop posting.

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Your worldview and personal feelings mean nothing, especially since they are contradicted by the evidence.

Now, I will kindly request from you... yet again... to stay on topic, and... if you cannot figure out how, then simply stop posting.

 

So why is your worldview relevant, but no-one else's? Your last post was completely off-topic (at least, just as off topic as tar's), and you have the cheek to complain about other people? What a hypocrite.

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Severian,

 

Although I appreciate the defense of possibly pertinent tangential forrays, and the underlying defense of "being able to talk on different levels at the same time," I will yield to iNow, the authority to police this thread.

 

I do not possess the proper language to stay on topic. I might have some of the ideas, but large portions of them are already understood, already defined, and terms are already agreed upon to address them, and deal with them and their combinations, and interrelationships.

 

I drew iNow off topic in his last post, because he was giving me some info, backing up Dawkin on the challenge I had made to Dawkin's opening statement. He was not being hypocritical. Plus, iNow already knows, from a private message, that I WILL refrain from posting my opinions on this thread, at his request.

 

Regards, TAR


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P.S. And the request has been made, and other than this post, complied with. I will find a different way to voice my opinions.

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Your last post was completely off-topic (at least, just as off topic as tar's), and you have the cheek to complain about other people? What a hypocrite.

 

The post preceding mine was quite off-topic, but contained an assertion so counter to the facts that it warranted correction. No hypocrisy required. While off-topic, I was correcting a comment using evidence such that we could move past the digression and get on with the actual topic of this thread.

 

I also appreciate TAR for making the acknowledgment he did in the above post, and would like to openly apologize for being so curt and harsh with my words last night. I do not wish to make these challenges personal... not by any means... I'm just trying very hard to keep this thread focused since topics which even barely mention god or religion have such a horrible history here.

 

I'm merely seeking to avoid those emotional confrontations (apparently, based on replies such as yours, Severian, I must stipulate that I don't seem to be doing a stellar job with that) by staying clearly tuned into the data, and the illuminating work being done with the minds of children.

 

 

 

 

 

Now... With that said... I am going to return us... yet again... to the topic at hand by sharing the article below.

 

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13782-religion-a-figment-of-human-imagination.html

Humans alone practice religion because they're the only creatures to have evolved imagination.

 

That's the argument of anthropologist Maurice Bloch of the London School of Economics. Bloch challenges the popular notion that religion evolved and spread because it promoted social bonding, as has been argued by some anthropologists.

 

Instead, he argues that first, we had to evolve the necessary brain architecture to imagine things and beings that don't physically exist, and the possibility that people somehow live on after they've died.

 

Once we'd done that, we had access to a form of social interaction unavailable to any other creatures on the planet. Uniquely, humans could use what Bloch calls the "transcendental social" to unify with groups, such as nations and clans, or even with imaginary groups such as the dead. The transcendental social also allows humans to follow the idealised codes of conduct associated with religion.

 

"What the transcendental social requires is the ability to live very largely in the imagination," Bloch writes.

 

<...>

 

But Bloch argues that religion is only one manifestation of this unique ability to form bonds with non-existent or distant people or value-systems.

 

"Religious-like phenomena in general are an inseparable part of a key adaptation unique to modern humans, and this is the capacity to imagine other worlds, an adaptation that I argue is the very foundation of the sociality of modern human society."

 

"Once we realise this omnipresence of the imaginary in the everyday, nothing special is left to explain concerning religion," he says.

 

Chris Frith of University College London, a co-organiser of a "Sapient Mind" meeting in Cambridge last September, thinks Bloch is right, but that "theory of mind" - the ability to recognise that other people or creatures exist, and think for themselves - might be as important as evolution of imagination.

 

"As soon as you have theory of mind, you have the possibility of deceiving others, or being deceived," he says. This, in turn, generates a sense of fairness and unfairness, which could lead to moral codes and the possibility of an unseen "enforcer" - God - who can see and punish all wrong-doers.

 

"Once you have these additions of the imagination, maybe theories of God are inevitable," he says.

 

 

I wonder if anyone has any comments about this article, or perhaps one of those I've shared in my last 3 or 4 posts. :)

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The post preceding mine was quite off-topic, but contained an assertion so counter to the facts that it warranted correction. No hypocrisy required. While off-topic, I was correcting a comment using evidence such that we could move past the digression and get on with the actual topic of this thread.

 

So, in other words, it is fine to make off-topic posts as long as they are correcting the misconceptions of others? The only problem with that is that you define the misconceptions and only you are allowed to get the last word.

 

Well, you are most definitely a hypocrite, but since this is off-topic, I suggest that we all just accept that fact and move on. Please don't make any more off-topic replies refuting your hypocrisy. :P

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Enough, folks.

 

There was an off-topic debate in this thread that was found to be big enough to stand on its own. The posts were not deleted, they were moved to their own thread, to allow for the civil and logical continuance of both topics.

 

These arguments about whether or not things are off topic or shouldn't be off topic or will be off topic are not moving the thread forward.

 

Knock it off, and continue with the actual topic at hand, please. If you think a specific post is unwarranted, not civil, unfair or is not following the rules of conduct or the rules of civility, then please report it and let the staff deal with it, so you can go on to have a debate on the actual topic at hand.

 

Move along, please.

 

~moo

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