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The persistence of religion August 25, 2007

Posted by Atma in atheism, Christiane Amanpour, creationism, critical thinking, education, fundamentalists, God's Warriors, religion, science.
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The persistence of religion, despite the far greater explanatory power of scientific knowledge, relies upon this emotional side of human nature. However, those who wish to impose their religious views on society are also well aware that the Idea of God must be instilled into children while they are still stuck in the magical-thinking stage. Let any child, even a child of average intelligence, grow to adulthood before attempting to convince them that some old book holds more “Truth” than empirical facts, and that mind will most likely have escaped religion’s clutches. Only early indoctrination can keep the synagogues, mosques, and churches filled with individuals willing to put an inculcated obsession ahead of humanity.

We humans have all inherited remnants of the “reptilian brain”, by which I indicate the autonomic/emotional core that is found throughout the animal kingdom.

The apes that ultimately evolved into humans enjoyed survival advantages over those of their cousins who had not inherited genes for the Great NeoCortical Leap Forward. That is, in hominid evolution, those apes with the greatest cognitive advantage were able to survive, proliferate, and outnumber their rivals.

The persistence of religion, despite the far greater explanatory power of scientific knowledge, relies upon this emotional side of human nature. However, those who wish to impose their religious views on society are also well aware that the Idea of God must be instilled into children while they are still stuck in the magical-thinking stage. Let any child, even a child of average intelligence, grow to adulthood before attempting to convince them that some old book holds more “Truth” than empirical facts, and that mind will most likely have escaped religion’s clutches. Only early indoctrination can keep the synagogues, mosques, and churches filled with individuals willing to put an inculcated obsession ahead of humanity.

Catch ‘em young and many of them will never outgrow magical thinking because some are not genetically endowed with the cognitive powers to overcome illogic. Religionists seem unwilling to grasp the fact that atheists have escaped religious indoctrination through the operation of critical thinking rather than that atheists are victims of scientific cultism, naturally immoral, or incapable of emotional response.

Religionists, however, are scared of scientific knowledge because at some deep level that they are too scared to admit science refutes the creation mythology in Genesis. Religionists are so scared of knowledge that many, such as the creationist family in “God’s Christian Warriors”, are home-schooling their children to ensure that they cannot bite the forbidden fruit of secular knowledge. If the facts supported religionist beliefs, then creationists would not need to attack or defend against knowledge.

Sites Elsewhere : Catch ‘em young : Reptilian Brains and Magical Thinking

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Comments»

1. Anonymous - August 25, 2007

2. Anonymous - August 25, 2007

3. Anonymous - August 25, 2007

4. Anonymous - August 26, 2007
5. blue_calumet_satyr - August 26, 2007

I think you’re absolutely right.
I was raised in a religion that never supported free thinking. Hell, no one was encouraged to go to college. It would make you too “worldly.” I always fought with logic the teachings laid before me. Though I was young, I managed independent thought but, this was merely a fluke. I had fairly liberal artistic parents who where of the 60’s generation. Essentially my parents knew I would not become a devout follower. I can look back now and can appreciate the experience and the knowledge this sort of background in religion gave me. I appreciate the morals I recieved, and I appreciate the fact I pretty much stayed out of trouble as a young woman. The problem being – the brainwashing. To this day I possess this sort of fear, or paranoia that everything they taught me is true, and I am wrong.

6. adeistic - August 26, 2007

Ah, yes, the flip side of Pascal’s Wager!

You might have wathced Amanpour’s “God’s Islamic Warriors.” In the program a young American Muslim from a regular American background had taken to wearing the hijab. She said that once you start wearing the hijab, you never take it off.

It strikes me that your “paranoia” is a bit like that — once you believe that God might exist, you are a little afraid not to believe.

I don’t think that you are alone in that discomfort. I think that a lot of moderates of whatever religion do not dare to give up their belief just in case the hype is true.

As for moral training, we can learn decent morals without all the religious trimmings, but many religious absolutists don’t seem to realize this.

7. Bubbles - September 5, 2007

I personally have accepted that there are people who will find the idea of a belief in God ridiculous. In the first place, it’s impossible for everyone to be a bleiever. For me it’s not an ‘either or’ scenario. It’s not beleive in God or believe in science. There are many things science has failed to explain. Like if there is an afterlife and the nature of our soul. Because of the great leaps that have been made in the scientific world some people are starting to think humans are omnipotent.

Sorry for rambling on your blog. 😉

8. adeistic - September 5, 2007

Science has answered the afterlife question – it is simply that those who wish to believe in an afterlife do not wish to face what science tells us. As for “soul”, that is merely a fancy term for the emotional side of consciousness and neuroscience has demonstrated that this function has a neural basis. This is not to say that neuroscience can yet reconstruct how consciousness is itself constructed, it is merely to say that there is absolutely no reason to believe that consciousness operates independent of physical process.

If I did not understand how people operate it would be even more extraordinary to me that those who insist on believing in something for which there is absolutely no evidence – counter-evidence, in fact –are so very eager to dismiss actual knowledge.


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