Predisposed to believe

Science Daily reports “A three-year international research project, directed by two academics at the University of Oxford, finds that humans have natural tendencies to believe in gods and an afterlife.”

As my friend added, “This research was quite costly – they could have saved money by reading the Bible!”

Link here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714103828.htm

I wonder how the New Atheists will take this research. There are two possible logical spins on it I can see, if you take the research’s conclusions at face value. You could say, “Belief is hard-wired – that’s why it’s so hard to reprogram people to think rationally!” But this avoids the key issue of why it would be hard-wired. That leads to the second possible response: “Belief is hard-wired; which is exactly what you’d expect if we were beings who were deliberately created to worship”.

If the “why” question is answered by the New Atheists with the “selective advantage” gambit, then you’ve got the horns of a dilemma: it means that so-called “rational thinking” could actually be dangerous, and Dawkins et. al. are doing humanity a dis-service by promoting it. On the other hand, if it conferred no selective advantage, then it shouldn’t be there (which would cast doubt on the reality of the evolution of the mind via natural selection).

What do you think?

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18 Responses to Predisposed to believe

  1. KF, as I’m sure you already know, the sort of folk who assert that that sort of think somehow always exempt themselves from their dragnet.

  2. “… that sort of thing …”

  3. 4

    What do I think?

    I think that type of research is bullcrap designed by atheists trying to explain why they have generally failed to convince more than 5% of the population.

  4. 5

    Oh yeah, so because children are more likely to believe their mothers are all-seeing and all-knowing lose that belief as they grow older proves that belief in God as all-seeing and all-knowing is “hard-wired.”

    What a bunch of shit.

    That research shows most people believe in an afterlife and that they have the a soul proves we are hard-wired to believe in such things.

    What a bunch of shit.

    The other conclusion is that these things are believed by most people because it makes more sense than the alternatives. But of course that’s impossible because “we all know *winkwink*” that atheism REALLY makes the most sense.

  5. OT: this ought to ruffle a few more feathers over at PZ Myer’s echo chamber:

    ,,,Casey Luskin continues his series methodologically dismantling atheist professor PZ Myers favorite Icon Of Evolution;

    Three Flawed Evolutionary Models of Embryological Development and One Correct One – Casey Luskin
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....48541.html

  6. The fact that something was evolutionarily advantageous in the environment of evolution adaptation does not mean that it is still advantageous today. If your modal cause of death is starvation at the age of 26 then eating a lot of sugary foods will make it more likely that you survive and have successful offspring; if your modal cause of death is heart disease at age 82, then not so much.

    Likewise, even if religious belief is an evolutionary adaptation (and it could easily be a spandrel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandrel_(biology) ), there is no reason to suppose it would still be useful today. This is not to say that it is or isn’t, just that the argument put forward in this post is completely specious.

  7. Jason you state: ‘just that the argument put forward in this post is completely specious.”

    Are you certain that what you said is a absolutely true statement??? or Is could your statement be just a false belief that has been foisted upon you by your genes to improve your survival advantage???

    notes:

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind?
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    What is the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism? (‘inconsistent identity’ of cause leads to failure of absolute truth claims for materialists) (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yNg4MJgTFw

    Can atheists trust their own minds? – William Lane Craig On Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byN38dyZb-k

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” – Charles Darwin – Letter To William Graham – July 3, 1881

    It is also interesting to point out that this ‘inconsistent identity’, pointed out by Plantinga, which leads to the failure of neo-Darwinists to make absolute truth claims for their beliefs, is what also leads to the failure of neo-Darwinists to be able to account for objective morality, in that neo-Darwinists cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a cause for objective morality;

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvDyLs_cReE

    “Atheists may do science, but they cannot justify what they do. When they assume the world is rational, approachable, and understandable, they plagiarize Judeo-Christian presuppositions about the nature of reality and the moral need to seek the truth.
    As an exercise, try generating a philosophy of science from hydrogen coming out of the big bang. It cannot be done. It’s impossible even in principle, because philosophy and science presuppose concepts that are not composed of particles and forces. They refer to ideas that must be true, universal, necessary and certain.” – Crevo Headlines

    This following video humorously reveals the bankruptcy that atheists have in trying to ground beliefs within a materialistic worldview;

    John Cleese – The Scientists – humorous video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

    ============

    Materialism simply dissolves into absurdity when pushed to extremes and certainly offers no guarantee to us for believing our perceptions and reasoning within science are trustworthy in the first place:

    Dr. Bruce Gordon – The Absurdity Of The Multiverse & Materialism in General – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5318486/

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in a God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Proof That God Exists – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.faqs.org/periodical.....27241.html

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  8. We must not allow a divine spandrel in the door.

    …it could easily be a spandrel

    See how easy it was to say that?

  9. 10
    Elizabeth Liddle

    David Anderson:

    If the “why” question is answered by the New Atheists with the “selective advantage” gambit, then you’ve got the horns of a dilemma: it means that so-called “rational thinking” could actually be dangerous, and Dawkins et. al. are doing humanity a dis-service by promoting it. On the other hand, if it conferred no selective advantage, then it shouldn’t be there (which would cast doubt on the reality of the evolution of the mind via natural selection).

    What do you think?

    I think that evolutionary psychology is a bit silly. I do think it’s natural for people to believe in God, but not necessarily because somehow that gave them a selective advantage.

    To believe in God (or to know God, if you prefer) certainly cognitive capacities are essential:

    The capacity for symbolic thought
    The capacity to assign agency
    Theory of Mind capacity
    Curiosity

    In addition, you would need the capacity to communicate a narrative – to tell stories, to make hypotheses, to test predictions against data.

    The same capacities as gave us science, in fact.

    In fact you could argue that science is just religion with better data :)

  10. 11
    Elizabeth Liddle

    F/N should have said:

    And all those attributes I listed would tend to promote our survival and that of our offspring.

  11. as to ‘And all those attributes I listed would tend to promote our survival and that of our offspring.’

    So your beliefs, being merely a ‘emergent property’, would merely tend to be true and there is no way you could know for sure they were absolutely true since they may well be merely imaginary beliefs!!! It is the inconsistent identity towards a concrete cause for absolute truth that defeats your argument.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-390880

  12. 13

    Check out the book, How God Changes your Brain by Andrew Newberg, M.D.

    Apparently, God is not going anywhere.

    “Over the past decade or so, numerous studies have suggested that prayer and meditation can enhance physical health and healing from illness. In this stimulating and provocative book, two academics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Spirituality and the Mind contend that contemplating God actually reduces stress, which in turn prevents the deterioration of the brain’s dendrites and increases neuroplasticity. The authors conclude that meditation and other spiritual practices permanently strengthen neural functioning in specific parts of the brain that aid in lowering anxiety and depression, enhancing social awareness and empathy, and improving cognitive functioning”

    The whole idea that [God, religion] once being advantageous “does not mean that it is still
    advantageous today” has been apparently refuted by neuroscience.

  13. Could it be that the religious impulse a powerful driving force behind the zealous ideological sycophantism of so many Darwinistas?

  14. Get your piece of Darwin Day Cake here:

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com.....8c2a_m.jpg

  15. 16
    Elizabeth Liddle

    mike1962

    Could it be that the religious impulse a powerful driving force behind the zealous ideological sycophantism of so many Darwinistas?

    Show me a zealously ideological sycophantic Darwinista, and I’ll see what I can do to answer your question.

  16. This is not to say that it is or isn’t, just that the argument put forward in this post is completely specious.

    There is nothing in that argument that says that it is inescapable that religion is an actively useful adaptation. It’s first a good idea to identify the argument that somebody is actually making. This is a typical I’m-categorically-smarter-than-religious-and-they-don’t-make-sense-anyway-so-I-will-trap-them-in-the-argument-I-think-they-are-trying-to-make-and-it-doesn’t-matter-anyway-’cause-they’re-categorically-dumber-than-me approach that I’ve seen over and over again from atheists.

    That you can find an escape hatch only proves that it’s not an inescapable conclusion. Nobody ever said it was. Possibilities do not trump the burden of trust.

    Out of the total of creatures ever said to have lived the ratio between the sum and any of them that could correctly assess their adaptations–or their current effectiveness–is as close to 0 as you please. And still it’s never stopped nature from using those adaptations where the rubber meets the road–empirical–not academic, or theoretical–survival. So it’s highly unlikely on just a supposition (conveniently backed by your worldview), plus it’s hard to see a selection pressure to evolve this capacity for a species to judge it’s own adaptations, since it’s been rather successful without it.

    Talking Darwinism, the brain is a survival instrument. It is adapted to “figuring things out” as long as the things that it figures out promote its survival.

    If “belief” is hardwired into the brain it does not follow that everything else about the brain is not beset with some other flaw simply because it does not have the flaw of belief. Belief isn’t really even settled as a “flaw” except by one small minority of the population who keeps talking about the brain as it if is a “figuring all things out” instrument. But even if “belief” be recognized as a flaw, it does not follow that everything else the brain outputs, is not flawed by virtue of not being belief. That would be a distribution fallacy.

    The anti-cognitives out there argue that their brain can be determined to an outcome, but that outcome can actually be the optimal solution by some optimal solution wiring inside the body. But if you start by saying the wiring is faulty, then simple supposition based on buy-in to a worldview is no more “understandable” on the other side than any number of things the reductionists castigate the traditionalists for.

  17. Also, Jason, in future, please realize the difference between a sketch of an argument and the full argument. David sketched an argument.

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