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August 28, 2009

Why religion may not be hardwired in our brains

Why Religion May Not be Hard-Wired | Newsweek Voices - Sharon Begley | Newsweek.com
I'll leave to braver souls the question of whether religiosity leads to social dysfunction, as the new breed of public atheists contends. More interesting is the fact that if social progress can snuff out religious belief in millions of people, as Paul notes, then one must question "the idea that religiosity and belief in the supernatural is the default mode of the brain," he told me. As he wrote in his new paper, "The ease with which large populations abandon serious theism when conditions are sufficiently benign . . . refute[s] hypotheses that religious belief and practice are the normal, deeply set human mental state." He posits that, rather than being wired into the brain, religion is a way to cope with stress in a dysfunctional society—the opium-of-the-people argument. This doesn't have to be an either-or proposition, however. The brain may indeed be predisposed to supernatural beliefs. But that predisposition may need environmental input to be fully realized. Something like that seems to explain a number of animal behaviors that have long been thought of as innate. For instance, ducks are supposedly wired to prefer their mother's call and not, say, a goose's. But in the egg, ducklings hear the sounds of their mother, their embryonic siblings, and themselves; deprived of those experiences, they do not exhibit the "hard-wired" imprinting. Similarly, studies seem to show that fish have an innate sense of geometric direction. But if the fish do not first explore their tank, their sense of direction stinks, suggesting that they acquire it and are not born with it. "Researchers sometimes claim we're hard-wired for things, but when you peel through the layers of the experiments, the details matter and suddenly the evidence doesn't seem so compelling," says psychologist John Spencer of the University of Iowa.

When you get Raptured, who will care for your pets?

Home Page For a small fee of $110, a group of atheists will agree to take care of your pets should you be Raptured in the next ten years. Payable up front.
You've committed your life to Jesus. You know you're saved. But when the Rapture comes what's to become of your loving pets who are left behind? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind. We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you've received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus. We are currently active in 20 states and growing. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral / ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet's natural life.
*Thanks, Jeff!*

August 12, 2009

Dude-ism

YouTube - VW See Film Differently ident: Dudeism

August 10, 2009

PZ Myers visits the Creationist "Museum"

The Creation “Museum” : Pharyngula Of course he gets thrown out, but not before noting that the taser-armed guards are there to actively discourage discussion of the exhibits.
Think about the genuine museums you might have visited. Can you imagine the curators at the American Museum of Natural History being concerned that someone might openly disagree with an exhibit? Do you think Niles Eldredge bustles about the museum, shushing anyone who questions the displays? Would they turn away a visitor wearing a Jesus shirt, or one that baldly declared evolution is false? At real museums, the attitude would range from indifference to active encouragement of discussion. The Creation "Museum" cannot tolerate that. We were asked to sign a document before we entered that required us to be "respectful" of their facilities, which apparently meant more than simply appropriately regarding their building as private property. One of our atheists was in an entirely friendly conversation about evolution with a creationist visitor, when one of the guards came up and asked them to stop, saying that we had signed an agreement not to even discuss anything in the building where others could hear. (To his credit, the creationist said that he welcomed the discussion the guards wanted to silence, and they continued outside.) They knew we disagreed with them, and they were clearly on edge…and they knew that their beliefs could not stand up in the face of free speech. . . . This was not a museum: it is a haunted house. It is a carnival ride. It shows throughout in the layout — the rubes are supposed to be shuttled through efficiently, get their little thrills, and exit so the next group can make the trip. If they'd had a few million more, I imagine they would have invested in tracks and little cars and turned it into the Creation Ride. The creators of this place wouldn't recognize a museum if they woke up in the middle of the Smithsonian on a bed of museum maps with a giant sign saying "MUSEUM" in front of their faces and an army of docents shouting directions at them. They seem to have gotten all their information about how a museum works by visiting Disneyland.