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(New Scientist)   Why our brains are predisposed to believe in a God   (newscientist.com) divider line 147
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3942 clicks; posted to Geek » on 05 Feb 2009 at 6:12 AM (5 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2009-02-05 03:28:23 AM
Too bad extremists don't read New Scientist.
 
2009-02-05 03:39:40 AM
All the researchers involved stress that none of this says anything about the existence or otherwise of gods: as Barratt points out, whether or not a belief is true is independent of why people believe it.

It's almost as though we can have a frank, mature discussion about religion.

Fascinating stuff all around.
 
2009-02-05 03:45:21 AM
It's almost as though we can have a frank, mature discussion about religion.


For only a short while I'm sure...I'll have to check back on this one in the morning.
 
2009-02-05 03:50:28 AM
It does, however, suggests that god isn't going away, and that atheism will always be a hard sell. Religious belief is the "path of least resistance", says Boyer, while disbelief requires effort.

God damn you Science.
 
2009-02-05 04:32:43 AM
New Scientist is the brainwaves that keeps God from eating tinfoil hats.
 
2009-02-05 04:40:13 AM
There is a much simpler explanation for belief in God (and society's constant reinforcement of such belief) than the one in this article. To wit:

All mammals have a strong parent-child bond. A person's need to believe in God is a person's natural need to maintain a relationship that is innate to our emotional makeup.

At a certain age in growing up we realize that our parents are not really the all-powerful, all-giving loving beings that we think they are when we are babies. But (for most people) the desire to have that relationship with an all-powerful caretaker continues.
 
2009-02-05 04:54:15 AM
Sgygus

How would that evolve and/or provide an evolutionary benefit? Also, would this apply to other animals too?
 
2009-02-05 05:13:27 AM
Last One Left: How would that evolve and/or provide an evolutionary benefit? Also, would this apply to other animals too?

The strong mammalian parent-child relation has obvious advantages to a species. You are asking, why does it extend past childhood?

It doesn't in most mammals, in many species the parents have to physically drive their children away at a certain point.

The human evolutionary track is not so simple in that the survival of a group (tribe) is as important as the survival of an individual. The head-man of a group tends to claim his authority derives from his close connection to God. He takes over the role of everyone's father.

/this subject could fill a book (I'm sure it has filled many a book)
 
2009-02-05 05:24:03 AM
Sgygus: The human evolutionary track is not so simple in that the survival of a group (tribe) is as important as the survival of an individual. The head-man of a group tends to claim his authority derives from his close connection to God. He takes over the role of everyone's father.

I can see how this could work, but I don't see why this would be necessary. Physical strength (as is the case with some mammals) or wealth (or any number of factors) could be used to determine the leader.

I'm not saying you're wrong, mind you. I'm just curious about your idea. I, myself, thought religion was an emergent property of the brain.
 
2009-02-05 05:43:14 AM
Last One Left: I don't see why this would be necessary

It's not necessary. Many people grow out of a belief in God. But our mammalian natures predispose us to want to emotionally maintain that ideal relationship we had when we were babies.

Religion is a cultural construct that is built upon this need, religion has evolved as has human culture in general.
 
2009-02-05 05:53:31 AM
Religion could be the result of many factors:

1) humans have a vivid imagination, it's part of our ability to think in abstracts and thus enables us to think ahead. We can figure out a situation that has not happened yet, or we can go over a previous situation and learn from our mistakes. Our ability to think in abstracts is therefore also our ability to create knowledge, to formulate our experiences and relate them to others.

2) humans live in their own consciousness, it's the total sum of what we have experienced. Imagining the end of all that is bloody horrifying so when our vivid imaginations come up with the everlasting world of gods and souls, we go "Oh, it's all okay then" and go on with our lives.

3) the concept of divine power can be used to lend credence to those "wielding" it. In everyday situations, it becomes a means to influence and/or control a population. It becomes doubly important when we try to and fail to explain why we do certain things at certain times. It happens that we cannot fully explain the workings of our theories, though it is quite evident that they work. In lack of an exhaustive explanation, it can become a divine creed. Unfortunately, it can also be misused, as can any other system of social power and authority.

At least, that's sort of my little pet theory.
 
2009-02-05 05:56:58 AM
Last One Left: I don't see why this would be necessary

I don't think I quite understood the direction of your question in my last post. Leaders become leaders because of and for all kinds of reasons. But to maintain their position, most all of them know to align themselves with prevailing religious feelings.
 
2009-02-05 06:10:09 AM
Sgygus: I don't think I quite understood the direction of your question in my last post. Leaders become leaders because of and for all kinds of reasons. But to maintain their position, most all of them know to align themselves with prevailing religious feelings.

This is possible. But this has a chicken/egg problem: did religions originate first, to be adopted later by leaders to cement their power, or did leaders (who became powerful through other means) initiate these religions (like the LDS, for example) and used them to maintain power of a small group?

/if this thread remains sane, does that mean there is a God?
 
2009-02-05 06:16:34 AM
ZurkisPhreek: Religion could be the result of many factors:

1) humans have a vivid imagination, it's part of our ability to think in abstracts and thus enables us to think ahead. We can figure out a situation that has not happened yet, or we can go over a previous situation and learn from our mistakes. Our ability to think in abstracts is therefore also our ability to create knowledge, to formulate our experiences and relate them to others.

2) humans live in their own consciousness, it's the total sum of what we have experienced. Imagining the end of all that is bloody horrifying so when our vivid imaginations come up with the everlasting world of gods and souls, we go "Oh, it's all okay then" and go on with our lives.

3) the concept of divine power can be used to lend credence to those "wielding" it. In everyday situations, it becomes a means to influence and/or control a population. It becomes doubly important when we try to and fail to explain why we do certain things at certain times. It happens that we cannot fully explain the workings of our theories, though it is quite evident that they work. In lack of an exhaustive explanation, it can become a divine creed. Unfortunately, it can also be misused, as can any other system of social power and authority.

At least, that's sort of my little pet theory.


The other 60% is society, personally.
 
2009-02-05 06:19:27 AM
Last One Left: this has a chicken/egg problem

The egg is the mammalian parent-child relationship. Religion is a cultural meme, a construct that lives off this innate parent-child relationship. People in power use religion for their own purposes.

Our great religious leaders (as best as I can tell) had no need nor use for secular power (unless you count the popes as great religious leaders).
 
2009-02-05 06:23:50 AM
PC LOAD LETTER: The other 60% is society, personally.

I'd bet you're right. It would be obvious to anyone that the authority derived from one field (religion) could affect the secular authority of the spiritual leaders, thus making religion into a political power with sort of unfair advantages (do what I say or the spirits will rain misery upon you).

Also, religion could help stabilize an otherwise fragmented society and help people work together. As with all authority, it has no inherent intent, only the wielders have that.
 
2009-02-05 06:57:33 AM
Because God created our brains that way. Duh.


/tee-hee
 
2009-02-05 07:06:11 AM
I do find this interesting:

Much of that evidence comes from experiments carried out on children, who are seen as revealing a "default state" of the mind that persists, albeit in modified form, into adulthood. "Children the world over have a strong natural receptivity to believing in gods because of the way their minds work, and this early developing receptivity continues to anchor our intuitive thinking throughout life," says anthropologist Justin Barrett of the University of Oxford.

Many people consider rejecting the idea of religion as an aspect of "growing up" or "maturity" - and even the scriptures suggest that there is a difference in perception of religion between children and adults:

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18)

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
(Mark 10)

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
(Luke 18)

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little achild, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
(3 Nephi)

Note - I am not quoting scripture to force it down anyone's throat - just to show that the necessity to become again "like a child" is a recognized and stated pre-requisite for religion (at least the christian religion)

I just found this synergy interesting.
 
2009-02-05 07:08:40 AM
If I'm read the article correctly, this is an old idea. Even Jesus said:

"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven"

Sgygus I agree with what your saying, but god/gods weren't always benevolent beings. The Greek gods were awfully flawed beings for example. I agree though gods and religion are an extension of our ability for abstract thought which is hardwired in. Gods and religion provide an explaination for the unexplainable, which by extension provides a certain amount of comfort. You're either being punished, rewarded or just farked with by the gods.
 
2009-02-05 07:15:18 AM
At this point in time we, humans, are the only known awareness that the universe has of itself. Everything else, from tiny quarks to galaxies and from paramecium to rhinoceroses, keeps doing what it does without realizing the true scope of reality. Humans have broken out of their shells and are able to not just exist in the universe but also try to measure and understand everything around us.

We believed in god(s) to explain the unexplainable. When lightning struck in the forest thousands of years ago most animals just scurried off out of preserving instinct; humans tried to understand it. The wrath of an angry higher power made more sense to early man than any nonsense about static electricity. If man did not develop such an awareness of his surroundings (perhaps the very same awareness that first allowed for the use of tools?) then there would not be a religion or belief in god because there would be no need for it.

It stands to reason that as humanity develops a deeper, richer understanding of the universe that belief in god(s) may subside. We are still too near our past reliance on god(s) as explanation for the inexplicable to really gauge whether or not belief has truly waned. It is this past reliance that drives us to worship when crisis strikes. Chaos is one thing humans still do not deal with particularly well and when chaos comes we tend to try to pray it all away, or at least pray to get through it.

That's my 2 pennies.
 
2009-02-05 07:23:34 AM
yarnothuntin: god/gods weren't always benevolent beings

You are quite right to point this out. Religion can be made up out of anything. Major religions are the result of thousands of years of evolution. Our current well-behaved God mirrors our (relatively) well-behaved societies.

The God-Loves-You New Testament God has proven to be wildly successful though and I am postulating that it is because it patterns itself more closely on a happy parent-child relationship than old-style fire/brimstone gods.
 
2009-02-05 07:29:10 AM
Owangotang:

Put more eloquently than I ever could have.

You can consider superstition in much the same light. Granted, most superstitions we know today are tiny relics of past religions, but I'll use them as examples anyway. Walking under a ladder is a great example. Sure, it might not really be bad luck, but it costs next to nothing to walk around the ladder. If, however, you were to walk under every ladder you come across, eventually Darwin's Great Hammer (or Darwin's Great Paint Can) statistically will fall on your head and kill you. Early humans without the pattern prediction tendencies would have eventually died out. This leaves humans with the predilection for superstition to sire us all.

I suppose that in the Stone Age, they could have easily had the same belief about walking under mammoth asses. (snicker)
 
2009-02-05 07:32:22 AM
Sgygus: The God-Loves-You New Testament God has proven to be wildly successful though and I am postulating that it is because it patterns itself more closely on a happy parent-child relationship than old-style fire/brimstone gods.

I think the reason for difference between the hard assed Old Testiment/Tora God and the New Testiment "love you" God is because he finally got laid. Course, he had a kid, but he was pretty dead beat about it. Making Joseph raise his kid and pay the bills and what not. LOL

nah, I totally agree with you
 
X15
2009-02-05 07:36:14 AM
Owangotang: At this point in time we, humans, are the only known awareness that the universe has of itself. Everything else, from tiny quarks to galaxies and from paramecium to rhinoceroses, keeps doing what it does without realizing the true scope of reality. Humans have broken out of their shells and are able to not just exist in the universe but also try to measure and understand everything around us.

We believed in god(s) to explain the unexplainable. When lightning struck in the forest thousands of years ago most animals just scurried off out of preserving instinct; humans tried to understand it. The wrath of an angry higher power made more sense to early man than any nonsense about static electricity. If man did not develop such an awareness of his surroundings (perhaps the very same awareness that first allowed for the use of tools?) then there would not be a religion or belief in god because there would be no need for it.

It stands to reason that as humanity develops a deeper, richer understanding of the universe that belief in god(s) may subside. We are still too near our past reliance on god(s) as explanation for the inexplicable to really gauge whether or not belief has truly waned. It is this past reliance that drives us to worship when crisis strikes. Chaos is one thing humans still do not deal with particularly well and when chaos comes we tend to try to pray it all away, or at least pray to get through it.

That's my 2 pennies.


THIS.
 
2009-02-05 07:38:57 AM
TopoGigo: Owangotang:

Put more eloquently than I ever could have.


Thank you, I admit I think about this more than I likely should. The idea of humanity as the universe's awareness of itself just blows my mind.

You can consider superstition in much the same light. Granted, most superstitions we know today are tiny relics of past religions, but I'll use them as examples anyway. Walking under a ladder is a great example. Sure, it might not really be bad luck, but it costs next to nothing to walk around the ladder. If, however, you were to walk under every ladder you come across, eventually Darwin's Great Hammer (or Darwin's Great Paint Can) statistically will fall on your head and kill you. Early humans without the pattern prediction tendencies would have eventually died out. This leaves humans with the predilection for superstition to sire us all.

I suppose that in the Stone Age, they could have easily had the same belief about walking under mammoth asses. (snicker)


Very true. Understanding how and why we have always drifted towards believing in higher powers begins when you ask the question "how does this benefit our ability to survive?". This benefit changes over time as well. Early man may have learned to stay in caves during thunderstorms to avoid the lightning-wrath of an angry god. People today may get some sort of less tangible benefit when belief is used as a bulwark against a vast, impersonal, violent universe.
 
2009-02-05 07:42:25 AM
Owangotang: GOOD POST

Yeah, totally. Honestly, I believe if it weren't for religion we wouldn't have science. It's kind of where it all began.
 
2009-02-05 07:45:02 AM
Break out the popcorn....
 
2009-02-05 07:46:14 AM
Owangotang: It stands to reason that as humanity develops a deeper, richer understanding of the universe that belief in god(s) may subside.

One might think that. One might think that science will dispel ignorance and knock religion out. 'cept it isn't happening.

The article says that humans have a inbuilt biological impulse to believe in God. I myself say one could simple subscribe it to the need to have a parent figure (who takes care of us, who also explains the unknowns to us).

Religion isn't going away any time soon.
 
2009-02-05 07:47:46 AM
abb3w: Break out the popcorn....

Does anyone really give a shiat anymore though? Aren't 500 threads of this nonsense enough for us to just stop the idiotic debate?
 
2009-02-05 07:53:15 AM
Phil Moskowitz: abb3w: Break out the popcorn....

Does anyone really give a shiat anymore though? Aren't 500 threads of this nonsense enough for us to just stop the idiotic debate?


See: John Gabriel's Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory. The short answer is no. The simple fact that every possible stance on this topic results in offending someone means that it's irresistible grade-A trollbait.
 
2009-02-05 07:55:51 AM
yarnothuntin: Owangotang: GOOD POST

Yeah, totally. Honestly, I believe if it weren't for religion we wouldn't have science. It's kind of where it all began.


Thanks!

Religion took the unknown and made it something early man could at least comprehend in his own terms. This is the break from other lifeforms. Humans developed the most basic understanding of what phenomena were, meanwhile other animals continued responding out of instinct. Understanding these phenomena as divine events began to, over time, familiarize humans with such happenings. In time the other great human trait, curiosity, began tugging at us until someone finally asked, "what if that wasn't god/the gods interacting with us? What if it was something else entirely?". That's where science began.
 
2009-02-05 07:56:25 AM
Phil Moskowitz: Does anyone really give a shiat anymore though? Aren't 500 threads of this nonsense enough for us to just stop the idiotic debate?

If a few millennia aren't enough to stop the debate, a few Fark threads certainly won't be sufficient.

Very interesting article. I agree with others who have posted that religion may have developed to provide cohesion and to ensure adherence to somewhat abstracted rules for early societies. The idea of "don't do that because it will make god mad" is much easier for someone to understand than "don't do that because it may result in more carrion eaters which could itself result in drawing predators."
 
2009-02-05 08:09:06 AM
Sgygus: One might think that. One might think that science will dispel ignorance and knock religion out. 'cept it isn't happening.

The article says that humans have a inbuilt biological impulse to believe in God. I myself say one could simple subscribe it to the need to have a parent figure (who takes care of us, who also explains the unknowns to us).

Religion isn't going away any time soon.


Oh I certainly agree. Religion is not just going to be cast aside one morning in 2009, 2100, or even 3000. Chaos is something that is beyond the scope of human understanding. There will likely never be scientific progress revealing enough to allow us to respond to crises without invoking god.

We have, however, developed unique awareness, curiosity, and an ability to reason. Who knows if humanity will develop even more tools for analyzing the world around us? If we somehow do manage to develop a sufficiently robust knowledge of the universe (and I use universe not strictly in the cosmic sense) we would no longer have a need for belief. It would simply fade away.
 
2009-02-05 08:18:48 AM
It's like C.S. Lewis said: "I believe in God like I believe in the sun; not because ... not because I can see him, but because... If you look at him he burns your farking eyes out."

/or sump'nlikedat
 
2009-02-05 08:19:53 AM
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Romans 1.18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
 
2009-02-05 08:21:36 AM
Sgygus: Our great religious leaders (as best as I can tell) had no need nor use for secular power (unless you count the popes as great religious leaders).

History does not agree with you.

The most charismatic political leaders were either religious leaders themselves (look at the origin of the pontificus maximus from Roman times), or aped religious trappings (Mao, Stalin, Paul Pot) or adopted/co-opted religion.

Most European kings/queens were/are also heads of their churches.

What you will actually find, is that the few religious leaders who don't have political power are that way because they have been prevented from having that power: Dahli Lama and....I can't think of anyone else. (Most American religious leaders are working hard to knock down that church and state wall...)

The whole Catholic church tries to insinuate itself in the political framework of every country it exists in. Look at what the religious right has been doing in the US for the past 30 years (or more... the Scopes trial was about not allowing the teaching of science. The law stated that the Christian story of creation be taught in science classes)
 
2009-02-05 08:23:03 AM
Owangotang: Religion took the unknown and made it something early man could at least comprehend in his own terms. This is the break from other lifeforms. Humans developed the most basic understanding of what phenomena were, meanwhile other animals continued responding out of instinct. Understanding these phenomena as divine events began to, over time, familiarize humans with such happenings. In time the other great human trait, curiosity, began tugging at us until someone finally asked, "what if that wasn't god/the gods interacting with us? What if it was something else entirely?". That's where science began.

Right out of your ass eh?

Actually, a lot of "pre-science" came from simple day-to-day activities. People watched the stars because it allowed them to accurately judge the passing of the seasons, which allowed them to farm better. People studied the anatomies of the animals that they killed to find better killing methods. None of these things require religion.
 
2009-02-05 08:28:31 AM
Smarshmallow: None of these things require religion.

I don't think he was saying it REQUIRED religion.
 
2009-02-05 08:30:15 AM
Smarshmallow: Right out of your ass eh?

Actually, a lot of "pre-science" came from simple day-to-day activities. People watched the stars because it allowed them to accurately judge the passing of the seasons, which allowed them to farm better. People studied the anatomies of the animals that they killed to find better killing methods. None of these things require religion.


I suppose the difference between "pre-science" and science is negligible to you?
 
2009-02-05 08:32:35 AM
Even so, religion is an inescapable artefact of the wiring in our brain, says Bloom. "All humans possess the brain circuitry and that never goes away." Petrovich adds that even adults who describe themselves as atheists and agnostics are prone to supernatural thinking. Bering has seen this too. When one of his students carried out interviews with atheists, it became clear that they often tacitly attribute purpose to significant or traumatic moments in their lives, as if some agency were intervening to make it happen. "They don't completely exorcise the ghost of god - they just muzzle it," Bering says.


"Dear God, please help me to not believe in you. Amen."
i224.photobucket.com
 
2009-02-05 08:38:11 AM
Owangotang: I suppose the difference between "pre-science" and science is negligible to you?

That's exactly what you're talking about. Explaining the stars and such:
Humans developed the most basic understanding of what phenomena were, meanwhile other animals continued responding out of instinct.

These early attempts to explain things generally arose out of utility, not religion, and it can't really be argued that religion's dogmatic method of explaining phenomena did anything but postpone any further research into them.

Science is the use of the scientific method, which didn't happen, at least in Europe, until the 18th century.
 
2009-02-05 08:40:12 AM
kronicfeld: I don't think he was saying it REQUIRED religion.

Well, I've never seen any evidence that religion did anything but stagnate "scientific" thought.
 
2009-02-05 08:40:45 AM
And now for something lighter...

If ever there was a headline t-shirt just waiting to be stretched out by some young woman's ample breasts this has to be it.
 
2009-02-05 08:44:14 AM
Fascinating stuff, but I always thought that the explanation for
the human 'god reflex' was even simpler.

The human brain is a pattern matching engine. Language and tool
use are outward expressions of this basic function of figuring
out "If A then B" (which is why Chomsky's theories about grammar
primatives in the brain is hooey: language arises as a specific
application of generalized pattern matching).

Because of this, our brain is always looking for patterns, even
when there are none to be found (shapes in clouds, Jesus in a
grilled cheese sandwich, believing everyone is out to get you),
and when you think you see organization everywhere, your
pattern matching consciousness will immediately ponder just why
everything is organized. The leap to a humanoid god is
incrementally small from there.

/Believes in God, but is prepared to be disappointed.
 
2009-02-05 08:44:42 AM
Bevets: "The most common criteria for truth is 'Do I believe it?'. I spend more time in my thoughts than I do anyone else's so I tend to trust my instincts more, however I am still faced with the dilemma of how to justify my beliefs when they are contradicted by another person's beliefs. With over 5 billion people on the planet, it is unlikely that I am the only person to be correct 100% of the time, so I am forced to acknowledge that my beliefs may not be 100% correct. If some of my opinions are false, there are two possibilities: I do not have an adequate command of the facts or I am not sufficiently persuaded by the facts. In either event I am still wrong.

So it would seem that Christians are no better off than non Christians. There is another factor to be considered however. If God exists and He possesses all Truth, He would know how to impart Truth to humans. If God were all powerful (conveniently this has also been attributed to Him), He would be able to impart Truth to humans.

Again, this is an intriguing possibility, but this, by itself, does not guarantee that God exists."



Well said, Bevets.

/yes, those are actually his words, from his website he rabidly links to
 
2009-02-05 08:46:29 AM
Smarshmallow: These early attempts to explain things generally arose out of utility, not religion, and it can't really be argued that religion's dogmatic method of explaining phenomena did anything but postpone any further research into them.

Science is the use of the scientific method, which didn't happen, at least in Europe, until the 18th century.


I must not have made myself clear. Religion did not give rise to our attempts to explain things, rather it gave us our initial frame of reference regarding the unknown. It was from this initial frame of reference that our own curiosity, not religion, led us to scientific investigation.

Religion certainly has impeded our collective progress throughout history, however it could also be argued that man's greed for power and dominion over one another is just as much to blame. The Dark Ages didn't just happen because everyone was perfectly content with the aggregate knowledge of the day.
 
hej
2009-02-05 08:47:28 AM
I attribute societal believe in a God to the fact that primitive humans ate everything to find out what was good, and probably consumed a good amount of halucinogenic berries. Combine that with passing information from generation to generation via folklore.
 
2009-02-05 08:51:22 AM
DjangoStonereaver: Fascinating stuff, but I always thought that the explanation for
the human 'god reflex' was even simpler.

The human brain is a pattern matching engine. Language and tool
use are outward expressions of this basic function of figuring
out "If A then B" (which is why Chomsky's theories about grammar
primatives in the brain is hooey: language arises as a specific
application of generalized pattern matching).

Because of this, our brain is always looking for patterns, even
when there are none to be found (shapes in clouds, Jesus in a
grilled cheese sandwich, believing everyone is out to get you),
and when you think you see organization everywhere, your
pattern matching consciousness will immediately ponder just why
everything is organized. The leap to a humanoid god is
incrementally small from there.

/Believes in God, but is prepared to be disappointed.


I like it. Chaos and crisis are just the patterns we are accustomed to breaking down. It makes sense that in such times we would seek out the ultimate organizer to restore the status quo.
 
2009-02-05 08:51:31 AM
Sheeple
 
2009-02-05 08:52:03 AM
Smarshmallow: Science is the use of the scientific method, which didn't happen, at least in Europe, until the 18th century.

It happened a bit among the Greeks, before the Platonists and the Pythagorean cult put a stop to it.

In any case, they've done some interesting experiments with pigeons. Take one group of pigeons, and set up a food dispenser. When the pigeon performs some specific task, give them food. Very quickly, pigeons will figure out what task results in food, and they'll start doing that task regularly.

Take another group of pigeons. Set up a food dispenser, but this time, have it spit out food at random intervals. Nothing the pigeon does will have any impact on when food arrives. Even so, the pigeon will link the action it was performing when food came out to food coming out, even though the events are unrelated. The pigeons will become "superstitious", and they'll build elaborate rituals in an attempt to control the uncontrollable.

Sound familiar?
 
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