Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky, one of the most interesting anthropologists I’ve heard lecture, gives us 90 minutes on the evolutionary basis for literal religious belief, “metamagical thinking,” schizotypal personality and so on, explaining how evolutionarily, the mild schizophrenic expression we called “schizotypal personality” have enjoyed increased reproductive opportunities.
This one you just have to see for yourself.
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The revelation this month in GQ Magazine that Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary embellished top-secret wartime memos with quotations from the Bible prompts a question. Why did he believe he could influence President Bush by that means?
The answer may lie in an alarming story about George Bush’s Christian millenarian beliefs that has yet to come to light.
A teenager is facing prosecution for using the word “cult” to describe the Church of Scientology.
The unnamed 15-year-old was served the summons by City of London police when he took part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the London headquarters of the controversial religion.
Officers confiscated a placard with the word “cult” on it from the youth, who is under 18, and a case file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Are they sure that The Church of Scientology isn’t owned by the RIAA?
Scientist and author Simon Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for saying that the claims made for the “therapy” are unproven.
Are they sure that the British Chiropractic Association isn’t owned by … never mind.
The Museum’s two themed alternatives—God’s Word versus Human Reason—might make it sound like it is presenting a choice between those famous opposites: blind faith and science. In fact, the Museum won’t concede that science points away from Genesis (although “secular scientists” and the “mass media” can make this mistake); it argues that when both are understood properly, Genesis and scientific findings support one another. It’s not so much that God is better than science; it’s that God is a better scientist. This is a pattern you will notice throughout: the Museum co-opts the hallmarks of the scientific method for its own ends. In his Dictionary of Received Ideas, Flaubert notes the common view: “A little science takes your religion away from you; a great deal brings you back to it.” This could be the Museum’s motto.
I want to talk about the power that religion has to twist the human moral compass.
I’m going to start by being fair. Religion is far from the only belief system or ideology that can inspire people who think they’re doing good to commit terrible, heinous acts. Political ideology, for instance, can do the same thing: as we’ve seen in the Stalinist Soviet Union, or the United States in the W. Bush administration. The process of rationalization is far from limited to the world of religion. And because rationalization is often self- perpetuating — when we do something bad, we find a rationalization for why it wasn’t bad, which makes us more likely to do that bad thing again — it can lead otherwise sane and moral people, step by step, into committing atrocities we would otherwise recoil from in horror. This is not limited to religion: it is a fluke of how the human mind works.
Maybe this will keep’em occupied so they’ll leave the rest of us alone.
Dwight Howard was asked a simple question. Howard’s answer shockingly veered off into some potentially highly controversial — if not offensive — territory.
Why, Howard was asked, should the Orlando Magic be picked by the media or others to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers?
“God,” was Howard’s response.
He apparently wasn’t joking. Howard was claiming that God favored the Magic.
Howard was given a chance to reconsider his words. He didn’t hesitate. “That’s the reason” the Magic would win, Howard continued, according to ESPN. “I’m telling you.”
This is one of those things that bugs me with religious believers: the tendency to give all credit to God. Apparently we mortals can do nothing without God making it so. Just had life saving surgery? God pulled you through. (Instead of just preventing the problem in the first place.) Survive a terrible accident? Lucky God was there. (It would have been even luckier if he’d stopped the accident, but anyway…) What about the humans who actually did the work of performing the operation or of engineering a car that could withstand the impact?
I think it’s nice for a religious believer to tell themselves that God was watching, that he cared, and that he stepped in. That means you’re favored a little more than the other guy who didn’t make it, ya know? Unless you’re a friend or relative of his. Then God just decided to “call them home” or something like that.
All I’m sayin’ is that there’s a lotta flip-flopping and rationalizing going on around here.