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> Is Nietzsche dead or God is dead?
holyst
post May 19, 2007, 11:56 PM
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Nietzsche: God is dead!

God: Nietzsche is dead!

Me: You are both dead, here comes the Ubermansch
!

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Technologist
post May 20, 2007, 01:41 AM
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Right...... huh.gif

Nietzsche wasn't entirely correct. God isn't dead, it's dying.
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Hey Hey
post May 20, 2007, 08:14 AM
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God was never alive. People were just afraid to say it.
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Technologist
post May 20, 2007, 08:23 AM
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It depends on how one defines *God* and *alive*.

If God=meme, which is more or less what Nietzsche was contending (of course, the concept of memetics didn't exist in Nietzsche's time), then its existence and declining prevalence in modern times isn't all that controversial.
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Hey Hey
post May 20, 2007, 09:05 AM
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QUOTE(Technologist @ May 20, 2007, 05:23 PM) *

It depends on how one defines *God* and *alive*.

If God=meme, which is more or less what Nietzsche was contending (of course, the concept of memetics didn't exist in Nietzsche's time), then its existence and declining prevalence in modern times isn't all that controversial.

And how one defines *God* and *dead*.

Of course, due to the efficient modern mechanisms by which memes can be transmitted and received might imply that information on religion/god has an insipid penetration into society - more than ever before. That such worthless information can take so much human mind time is worrying. Some might argue that the historical significance is worth the effort. Like Dawkins, I believe that we should discourage the discussion as it give credence to a destructive element of human civilisation and delays progression to a true enlightenment that revolves around the human intellect and not make-believe. There is also an insulting aspect to religion, where believers purport to simplistic explanations of phenomena rather than encouraging truthful education of the masses who are no longer in fear of hellfire-based power.
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Technologist
post May 20, 2007, 09:36 AM
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In principle, I agree with everything Dawkins (and you) are saying about the negative aspects of religion and God belief. However I tend to favor Dennett's more pragmatic and less hard nosed approach.

Religious psychology is deeply entrenched in the human consciousness and it's not going to be "cured" by "screaming rationalism". The "cure" will come as a gradual process that corresponds with increasing levels of education in society.

Take Dennett's proposed solution to religious fundamentalism in the United States (compulsory education about world religions). IMO it is a truly brilliant idea because it appeals to the *tolerance meme* of modern democratic societies while also indirectly promoting secularism. In effect, it would be creating a hostile environment for fundamentalist memes that depend on isolation for their survival.

Here is Dennett's elaboration on his idea:

QUOTE
*Teach Our Children Well*

In my recent book, Breaking the Spell,, I argued for compulsory education about world religions in all schools, public, private and home schoolers. This is what I said:


“Maybe people everywhere can be trusted, and hence allowed to make their own informed choices. Informed choice! What an amazing and revolutionary idea! Maybe people should be trusted to make choices, not to make the choices we would recommend to them, necessarily, but the choices that have the best chance of satisfying their considered goals.

"But what do we teach them until they are informed enough and mature enough to decide for themselves? We teach them about all the world’s religions, in a matter-of-fact, historically and biologically informed way, the same way we teach them about geography and history and arithmetic.

"Let’s get more education about religion into our schools, not less. We should teach our children creeds and customs, prohibitions and rituals, the texts and music, and when we cover the history of religion, we should include both the positive–the role of the churches in the civil rights movement of the 1960's, the flourishing of science and the arts in early Islam, and the role of the Black Muslims in bringing hope, honor and self-respect to the otherwise shattered lives of many inmates in our prisons, for instance–and the negative–the Inquisition, anti-Semitism over the ages, the role of the Catholic Church in spreading AIDS in Africa through its opposition to condoms.

"No religion should be favored, and none ignored. And as we discover more and more about the biological and psychological bases of religious practices and attitudes, these discoveries should be added to the curriculum, the same way we update our education about science, health, and current events. This should all be part of the mandated curriculum for both public schools and for home-schooling.

"Here’s a proposal, then: As long as parents don’t teach their children anything that is likely to close their minds -- through fear or hatred or by disabling them from inquiry (by denying them an education, for instance, or keeping them entirely isolated from the world) then they may teach their children whatever religious doctrines they like.

"It’s just an idea, and perhaps there are better ones to consider, but it should appeal to freedom-lovers everywhere: the idea of insisting that the devout of all faiths should face the challenge of making sure their creed is worthy enough, attractive and plausible and meaningful enough, to withstand the temptations of its competitors. If you have to hoodwink–or blindfold–your children to insure that they confirm their faith when they are adults, your faith ought to go extinct.” (p327-8)

In the year since my book was published this proposal has generated a lot of discussion, and first let me say that I was not surprised to find that many religious spokespeople, including some very conservative ones, have come out in favor of it.

They are not at all afraid of exposing the children of their members to a large, balanced dose of facts–not values, not propaganda–about all the world’s religions, including their own. They agree with me that this is, in effect, a public health measure: by opening the minds of all the young people and giving them a shared store of mutual knowledge about all religions, they protect all those minds from the toxic forms of religion that spring up in every tradition.
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lucid_dream
post May 20, 2007, 09:41 AM
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Nietzsche's gripe was against the notion of the Christian God. In his 'Will to Power', Nietzsche says that the problem with Schopenhauer was that he didn't deify the Will, which suggests that Nietzsche believed that his notion of Will was tantamount to God.

Also, in the mystical/Buddhistic interpretations of Nietzsche, it can be argued that Nietzsche's higher self lives in all of us, and in everyone who has ever lived. Nietzsche's one-time companion, Salome, has confirmed that this was what he believed. Whether Nietzsche's higher self is the same in each of us does not change the fact that his ideas are very much alive today, so in that sense he is not dead.

Techno, how can you ever trust anything Dennett says or writes, or ever give him the benefit of the doubt, after his 'Consciousness Explained' shenanigan? The guy's a charlatan.
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Technologist
post May 20, 2007, 10:04 AM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ May 20, 2007, 01:41 PM) *

Techno, how can you ever trust anything Dennett says or writes, or ever give him the benefit of the doubt, after his 'Consciousness Explained' shenanigan? The guy's a charlatan.


Trust? I have very little respect for claims of authority, Lucid. I try to evaluate all ideas on their merits, rather than their source.

And Dennett's a charlatan? laugh.gif He is one of the most prominent analytic philosophers alive. Disagree with his interpretation of consciousness all you like (and I am not entirely lock step with his position on consciousness), but at least acknowledge it as a valid interpretation based on a particular conceptual framework. Jeez, I don't find Chalmer's account of consciousness to be remotely convincing, but that doesn't mean I view him as a charlatan.

BTW, I am a functionalist philosopher of the mind. I am not convinced that consciousness has been fully explained, but I do believe that functionalism is currently the superior model for analysis (despite its possible short comings).
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Hey Hey
post May 20, 2007, 10:34 AM
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Anyway, so is god alive or dead then? If dead, are we heading to replace it? If alive, is there any hope for me? Do you think I might be able to apologize in the afterlife, whilst living a life of heresy until then?
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maximus242
post May 20, 2007, 08:23 PM
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Weve gone over this many times, you cant define life or death so you cant decide whether something is alive or not. If you manage to come up with a concrete definition of life or death, let me know.

For those of you who havent gone through the discussions, on a quantum level a living and a dead organism look pretty much like everything else. When you get right down to it, us and everything around us is made up of elements, even the air we breath is an element, we eat everything around us and it eats us.

Our bodies can become plant food (dirt) or we could turn into oil, or diamonds, or prehaps reform elemental structures to become a rock. Ever hear of getting enough iron? well Iron is a metal, you eat iron, what does that say about you?

There is no concrete or viable definition to decide what is alive and what is dead. Therefore, neither exist.
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Hey Hey
post May 21, 2007, 07:02 AM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 21, 2007, 05:23 AM) *

Weve gone over this many times, you cant define life or death so you cant decide whether something is alive or not. If you manage to come up with a concrete definition of life or death, let me know.

For those of you who havent gone through the discussions, on a quantum level a living and a dead organism look pretty much like everything else. When you get right down to it, us and everything around us is made up of elements, even the air we breath is an element, we eat everything around us and it eats us.

Our bodies can become plant food (dirt) or we could turn into oil, or diamonds, or prehaps reform elemental structures to become a rock. Ever hear of getting enough iron? well Iron is a metal, you eat iron, what does that say about you?

There is no concrete or viable definition to decide what is alive and what is dead. Therefore, neither exist.

max, I don't think we were being literal wrt living/non-living/dead in the discussion of god. It was more to do with death of the essence/idea/belief of/in god or even religion generally. My last comment had entirely comedic intent, and I apologize for the lack of talent in this respect. wink.gif wacko.gif
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Rick
post May 21, 2007, 11:57 AM
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QUOTE(Hey Hey @ May 20, 2007, 11:34 AM) *

Anyway, so is god alive or dead then? If dead, are we heading to replace it? If alive, is there any hope for me? Do you think I might be able to apologize in the afterlife, whilst living a life of heresy until then?

It depends on which religion you pick. If you choose Christianity, then you will be forgiven all your sins, so you can rob and murder all you want.
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Hey Hey
post May 21, 2007, 01:21 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ May 21, 2007, 08:57 PM) *
QUOTE(Hey Hey @ May 20, 2007, 11:34 AM) *
Anyway, so is god alive or dead then? If dead, are we heading to replace it? If alive, is there any hope for me? Do you think I might be able to apologize in the afterlife, whilst living a life of heresy until then?

It depends on which religion you pick. If you choose Christianity, then you will be forgiven all your sins, so you can rob and murder all you want.
biggrin.gif
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Rick
post May 21, 2007, 02:34 PM
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QUOTE(Hey Hey @ May 21, 2007, 02:21 PM) *
biggrin.gif

I like it when people know that I'm joking.
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Jellybean2
post May 23, 2007, 07:23 AM
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QUOTE(Hey Hey @ May 20, 2007, 12:14 PM) *

God was never alive. People were just afraid to say it.



how can you be so certain God isn't alive?
There is more proof to show He is alive, than there is proof that He isn't happy.gif

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Technologist
post May 23, 2007, 09:21 AM
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Just because you say it doesn't make it true.

There is no evidence for a "loving, caring God". Childhood leukemia makes this fact abundantly clear.

There is also no evidence for the "power of prayer".

QUOTE
**No Prayer Prescription**

Seeking to assess the effect of third-party prayer on patient outcomes, investigators found no evidence for divine intervention. They did, however, detect a possible proof for the power of negative thinking.

The three-year Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP), published in the April 4 American Heart Journal, was the largest-ever attempt to apply scientific methods to measure the influence of prayer on the well-being of another. It examined 1,800 patients undergoing heart-bypass surgery. On the eve of the operations, church groups began two weeks of praying for one set of patients. Each recipient had a praying contingent of about 70, none of whom knew the patient personally. The study found no differences in survival or complication rates compared with those who did not receive prayers. The only statistically significant blip appeared in a subgroup of patients who were prayed for and knew it. They experienced a higher rate of postsurgical heart arrhythmias (59 versus 52 percent of unaware subjects).
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Jellybean2
post May 23, 2007, 09:27 AM
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QUOTE(Technologist @ May 23, 2007, 01:21 PM) *

Just because you say it doesn't make it true.

There is no evidence for a "loving, caring God". Childhood leukemia makes this fact abundantly clear.

There is also no evidence for the "power of prayer".

QUOTE
**No Prayer Prescription**

Seeking to assess the effect of third-party prayer on patient outcomes, investigators found no evidence for divine intervention. They did, however, detect a possible proof for the power of negative thinking.

The three-year Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP), published in the April 4 American Heart Journal, was the largest-ever attempt to apply scientific methods to measure the influence of prayer on the well-being of another. It examined 1,800 patients undergoing heart-bypass surgery. On the eve of the operations, church groups began two weeks of praying for one set of patients. Each recipient had a praying contingent of about 70, none of whom knew the patient personally. The study found no differences in survival or complication rates compared with those who did not receive prayers. The only statistically significant blip appeared in a subgroup of patients who were prayed for and knew it. They experienced a higher rate of postsurgical heart arrhythmias (59 versus 52 percent of unaware subjects).



Sin is what has brought the curse of death and sickness on the earth.. and that is our fault not God's.
He loved us enought NOT to destory us... He loved us enough to send His own Son to die on the Cross for our sins... smile.gif....
Life is life...things happen that we can't control...." A man is born into trouble, as the sparks fligh upwards"
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Rick
post May 23, 2007, 09:47 AM
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QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 10:27 AM) *
Life is life...things happen that we can't control...." A man is born into trouble, as the sparks fligh upwards"

So it sounds like you are saying that if there were a universe without a god in it, it would be just like this one.
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Jellybean2
post May 23, 2007, 09:53 AM
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QUOTE(Rick @ May 23, 2007, 01:47 PM) *

QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 10:27 AM) *
Life is life...things happen that we can't control...." A man is born into trouble, as the sparks fligh upwards"

So it sounds like you are saying that if there were a universe without a god in it, it would be just like this one.


lol.. without God we wouldn't be here...
God created a perfect world... we are the ones that chose sin. Sin is a Curse...
it has always been... started with Lucifer and it will end at the Great White Throne Judgement.
Sin is destroying the world
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Hey Hey
post May 23, 2007, 11:01 AM
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QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 06:53 PM) *
God created a perfect world...
You mentioned evidence above. Where is your evidence for a perfect world?huh.gif

But there is plenty of evidence for evolution, where organisms (through natural selection) strive to adapt but never quite make perfection, due to the ever changing environment. So even if your fairy story was modified (cf intelligent design) to include natural selection, your idea of perfection would still be wrong.
QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 06:53 PM) *
Sin is a Curse...
Do you fly a broomstick? wink.gif
QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 06:53 PM) *
Sin is destroying the world
Aside from sensible predictions regarding the natural winding down of our solar system, with an eventual solar consumption of the Earth, I see no evidence for the world being destroyed. Maybe there are issues to do with better management of our resources and a way to go with social and political endeavours, but I see an overwhelming construction (rather than your destruction) in the human race's expanding social enlightenment. OK, I also see some destruction, but religion will hopefully eventually be entirely commuted for evidence and then its present followers will see no reason for prejudice, violence and war. Oh, and of course we will have to get clever to deal with those periodic comets that remain from the natural processes that created our solar system.smile.gif
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Jellybean2
post May 23, 2007, 12:29 PM
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QUOTE(Hey Hey @ May 23, 2007, 03:01 PM) *

QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 06:53 PM) *
God created a perfect world...
You mentioned evidence above. Where is your evidence for a perfect world?huh.gif

But there is plenty of evidence for evolution, where organisms (through natural selection) strive to adapt but never quite make perfection, due to the ever changing environment. So even if your fairy story was modified (cf intelligent design) to include natural selection, your idea of perfection would still be wrong.
QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 06:53 PM) *
Sin is a Curse...
Do you fly a broomstick? wink.gif
QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 06:53 PM) *
Sin is destroying the world
Aside from sensible predictions regarding the natural winding down of our solar system, with an eventual solar consumption of the Earth, I see no evidence for the world being destroyed. Maybe there are issues to do with better management of our resources and a way to go with social and political endeavours, but I see an overwhelming construction (rather than your destruction) in the human race's expanding social enlightenment. OK, I also see some destruction, but religion will hopefully eventually be entirely commuted for evidence and then its present followers will see no reason for prejudice, violence and war. Oh, and of course we will have to get clever to deal with those periodic comets that remain from the natural processes that created our solar system.smile.gif


When God first created the world... it was perfect..until Adam and Eve fell... therefore bringing the sin curse on the earth( Where is that darn broomstick *searches frantically smile.gif )
When God created the earth it was mature.. it was 7days... not 7million years smile.gif...
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Technologist
post May 23, 2007, 12:43 PM
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One of my posts from another forum in which I discuss religious psychology:

QUOTE
To understand christianity one must have an understanding of religion. And to understand religion, one must have an understanding of psychology. And to understand psychology, one must have an understanding of anthropology…very well then, here is a very rough sketch that I put together.

The modular view of the mind is not a particularly controversial conceptual model for lower level cognitive processes such as sensorimotor coordination. There are different subsystems in our mind, each of which serve a different functional purpose. Sometimes these mind modules even act together in unison or feed off of one another.

The more controversial, yet perfectly reasonable position is to extend the concept of mind modules to higher level cognitive processes. Over the past few decades this line of reasoning has spawned a novel approach that has produced remarkable results with impressive explanatory power.

A great deal of our conscious experience is produced by mental machinery that operates below a level that is available to conscious introspection. Fully functioning adult humans are fortunate enough to possess the innate infrastructure that allows them to develop their social intelligence. This social intelligence requires the ability to take on the "intentional stance" whereby an individual can entertain the possible mental states of others; such as their thoughts, beliefs and desires. In contrast, autistics, to varying degrees, are deficient in terms of their social intelligence. What researchers have become progressively more convinced of is that autism is indicative of underdeveloped mind modules that specialize in "theory of mind". (it is my opinion that unlocking the mysteries of autism may also provide insights on how we can create a "human level AI")

So, we have these mind modules that allow us to take what Dennett has coined the "intentional stance". But why? How did these mind modules come to be and what fitness advantage did they convey?

Well for starters, homo sapiens' evolutionary fitness was clearly not conferred by its superior morphology (though I suppose opposable thumbs should count for something) – compared to most of the natural world we're slow and weak creatures! No, our evolutionary advantage came from our intelligence which was largely, though not entirely, focused on coalition building and social cooperation. This type of fitness – which enhanced the collective human gene pool's ability to perpetuate itself in the natural world – can be conceived of as "group level fitness". Eventually the development of human intelligence reached such heights that it largely removed the human species from the selection pressures of the “natural” world.

However, it is in each and every gene's evolutionary interest to perpetuate itself forward, and with some interesting exceptions, there is a generally cooperative relationship between genes that share the same vessel (ie, organism, "us"). This reality means that there is a separate level of selection known as "organismal selection". And as Steven Pinker pointed out, the most serious threat to an individual human's ability to perpetuate its genes into the next generation were – other humans! Thus, there was a general correspondence between human cleverness and fecundity, with the result being an intra-species cognitive arms race that included the enhancement of social intelligence.

One of the fallacies of strict adaptationism is the belief that all qualitative aspects of biology must be accounted for according to the fitness value they confer. To illustrate this point, take the redness of blood (I believe this example was used by Gould in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory). The fact that there is a change in the conformation of hemoglobin when exposed to oxygen, and that this alters how the molecule absorbs light, is the reason that our blood appears red when we cut ourselves. Blood itself is a direct product of biological evolution, but the qualitative aspect of redness has nothing to do with “fitness” – it is selectively neutral. (The concept of selective neutrality was also developed by Kimura with his neutral theory of molecular evolution). These selectively neutral characteristics of the phenotype were coined by Gould as **Spandrels**

Now as most our us are well aware, evolution is a very resourceful process and it will use any materials available to it to optimize fitness – including phenotypic spandrels. Unfortunately, this sometimes makes reverse engineering biological designs difficult, if not impossible, because the previous selection pressures can disappear and be replaced by new selection pressures which build on top of the preexisting organic design (thus “burying” the original evolutionary logic), but I digress. A simple way to conceive of this somewhat haphazard design process is to think of the evolution of the wing. Originally a wing was a limb. The limb evolved for terrestrial locomotion. Then somewhere along the line the selection pressures changed and acted upon (used as material) the existing morphology to design the wing for aerial locomotion.

The phenotype is defined as the morphological and behavioral characteristics of an organism. The social interaction produced by human psychology are behavioral characteristics that correspond to inference systems (a type of module) in the human mind. As such, inference systems were designed by the same mechanism of natural selection as the rest of the biological world.

At its most basic level, religious representations are a byproduct (a spandrel) of inference systems, such as those that handle human agency and social exchange. The over activity of the human agency representation inference system is the reason why many religious notions are anthropomorphic, such as Elijah repeatedly referring to God as a “he” (can someone please explain to me why God needs sex organs?). A nonveridical representation which does not have an affect on fitness may continue to exist indefinitely, especially if it is co-opted to deal with other psychological needs.

Combined with this misfiring of inference systems, are violations of our common sense notions of conceptual categories, which results in “salient memories”. For example, thoughts such as walking through walls, turning wine into blood and the virgin birth are all likely to stand out and be remembered by the average mind – precisely because they are violations.

Like everything, religious thought has evolved over time. More primitive forms of religion can still be found in the undeveloped corners of the world and are known as animism. The specific beliefs of the numerous strains of animism are extremely diverse and vary greatly over short geographic distances. This amorphic characteristic of animism is a consequence of the undeveloped cultures which it exists within lacking external data storage technologies. Without a means to “solidify” communal beliefs, animistic memeplexs have a difficult time remaining stable and are often changed drastically by “high salience” memetic mutations (produced by over active inference systems in individuals) that are adopted by the community as a whole.

On the other hand, modern religions are highly codified. This was made possible because of the literate guilds that arose with the advent of writing. And not only have religious notions become codified, they have also become more complex because external “communal” data storage allows individuals to more easily work with the data, both individually and collaboratively through either discourse or debate.

In regards to morality, it is a product of the natural dynamics of human evolution. It’s plainly obvious that intra-group cooperation was “good” for the group's survival. The advent of moral intuitions which favor cooperation should therefore come as no surprise. Religious representations simply conform and often co-opt moral intuitions (sadly, they usually restrict further analysis of moral dynamics as well), plus their presence may have been used occasionally to measure “defection probability” (ever wonder why mainstream America considers atheists to be the least trustworthy demographic?) Viral religious memetics attach themselves to aspects of human psychology such as morality because of what Boyer calls “aggregate relevance” – IOW, concepts that have maximal appeal to archetypical human inference systems and human emotional responses will be assimilated and passed forward from one generation to the next.

And that, in a nut shell, is why modern religions such as Christianity exist. They are an accumulation, codification and extension of false mental representations which are often salient because they violate common sense intuitions. Of course, it is a much much more complex issue than what I’ve written here, but I’m just trying to give a brief over view for those who weren’t familiar with the evolutionary psychology of religion.
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Rick
post May 23, 2007, 02:29 PM
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A very nice piece of writing. The powerful appeal of the religious meme to wishful thinking should also be mentioned.

I find that the power of the religious meme persists to be somewhat mystifying in view of the fact that most rational people understand the danger of wishful thinking. Could it be that most people are not fully rational? I suppose that must be the case.
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Technologist
post May 23, 2007, 02:57 PM
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Thank you Rick. I believe that I had wishful thinking in mind when I made the comment about "appealing to human emotional responses". Not to bore everyone with my ramblings, but here is a post where I work out my opinion on wishful thinking and religiosity:

QUOTE
Regarding the highly abstract form of irrationality present with religious mind sets, it is hard to deny that there are innumerable examples of religious individuals who are extremely successful members of society and go through their entire lives without having their perspective "cracked" open by reality. This could be seen as indicative of a few things, namely:

(1) Like Russell’s tea pot, many religious tenets are not falsifiable. The practical utility of these notions is neutral and their only functional purpose is to preserve the integrity of the memeplex.

(2) All of the major world religions have evolved for thousands of years. They are survivors, resisting and/or adapting to empirical challenges (literal vs metaphorical interpretations of Genesis).

(3) With resistance to challenges (eg, Creationism), there is no upper limit on the level of cognitive dissonance that can be endured because (1) falsification always contains a degree of uncertainty that can be clung to and (2) faith contains the heuristic that cognitive dissonance is actually a desirable condition (ie, “this is a test of one’s faith” “he’s taking a great leap of faith”). The more difficult it is to reconcile one’s beliefs with reality, the greater one’s “faith”. If faith is a primary value, then the integrity of the memeplex is maintained.

The three points that I’ve made above are all based on the premise that possessing a standard religious mind set is selectively neutral. Yet the argument could also be made that religion, and the faith that produces it, are net positives in terms of their practical utility.

Possessing a psychology that utilizes the concept of *faith* to artificially inflate confidence levels in what constitutes the actual nature of a "higher order reality" can greatly reduce, if not outright eliminate, the need to commit to the activity of abstract reasoning. By not being "worried warts" individuals can dedicate themselves much more fully to accomplishing the mundane objectives of their day to day lives.

I suspect however that, even though you were addressing comments I made about religious irrationality, what you had in mind was the various types of cognitive bias that can have a negative impact on practical utility. In this regard I am in total agreement with you. Most of the cognitive bias I witness with those around me in my personal life I lump under the heading of “wishful thinking”.

The desire to achieve one’s goals can be corrupting. Making legitimate progress towards a goal brings with it the emotional state of happiness. Unfortunately humans crave happiness so much that they often unconsciously try to cheat the process. This is one of the reasons I often caution against happiness for its own sake. (While I write this I am thinking of someone in particular I care for a great deal, but who also frustrates the shit out of me ) The switcheroo comes by falsely believing that a goal has been accomplished or, more often, by having an unwarranted high degree of confidence that a goal will be accomplished (such as by being overly confident in one’s abilities or making light of/disregarding the obstacles one is facing).

Like you’ve mentioned, sometimes reality will step in and the walls will come crashing down. More often what happens is small set backs, small “flashes of reality”, that gradually revise the original strategy to what it should have been in the first place. I have found, based on personal anecdotal evidence, that neither outcome makes a dent in the cognitive bias of wishful thinking. Of course, I am sure that “learning your lesson” will vary from individual to individual, but I do not believe “self-debugging” of this type of bias is common. The personal instances I have in mind involve individuals who are very intelligent, so I can only imagine how improbable it would be for the average Joe to change his ways. In order to make the necessary improvements, one would have to be rather perceptive about their own psychology and this requires a level of introspection that most people do not possess.

Lacking the ability to be introspective is particularly the case for the individual I’m considering - a frenetic extrovert, a bundle of pent up creative energy that is constantly looking to make things happen. Instead of going with a more targeted approach, a “scatter shot” strategy is adopted. And, as a matter of probability, successes do occur. The successes are then glorified and the failures conveniently forgotten. Is this a recipe for disaster? Quite possibly, but when even major set backs are rationalized as “meant to be” can you really ever see this perspective changing its ways?

The example I gave above is a bit extreme but as I stated earlier, I think there is a fundamental choice between *thinking* and *doing*. Different dispositions will be more prone to one over the other. In past discussions Ken pointed out that taking swift action is often vital to evolutionary fitness. A predator is approaching. Sit around for too long pondering the best route of escape and you’re lunch meat. Depending on the circumstance the ratio varies between action (which provides a chance of success) and analysis (which increases the certainty of success). But at some point action must be taken - and in a natural setting, usually the sooner the better.

So, the thinking/doing dilemma is always present, even for the most rational individuals. The *moment of decision* when action is taken will contain a degree of uncertainty (ie, “a leap of faith”). The rationality of the decision depends on whether the individual is consciously aware that uncertainty exists.
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post May 23, 2007, 03:16 PM
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Rick: Could it be that most people are not fully rational? I suppose that must be the case.


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Technologist: This nagging frustration that you feel, this annoying itch that claws at the back of your mind whenever you let it, is Nihilism. It is a core aspect of the human condition or, more broadly speaking, the condition of “Being”. This ultimate existential challenge/threat faces each and every one of us, and we all deal with it in different ways. Some Most of us retreat to irrational frameworks which possess a self-sustainable level of internal consistency and also repel external threats to this consistency. For all intents and purposes (meaning subjectively, psychologically, and for the time being), this solves “the problem”. Then there are those of us, a distinct minority, who embrace varying degrees of rationality.

I would argue that pure nihilism can not be endured (edit: or for that matter, even truly embodied, as it contradicts itself). It must be overcome, at least to some extent. Lesser degrees of nihilism can be tolerated and are experienced as angst (that nagging feeling). Overcoming nihilism requires the construction of what we refer to as “meaning”, “purpose” or “significance” which, from a functionalist standpoint, and regardless of the specifics, would simply refer to the aspects of a framework that allow a cognition to persevere over time.

Yet if we are to be rational, then we can not allow our realism to be corrupted by our desire to imbue our existence with significance...


Thus, I would define irrationality as a state of affairs where one allows hir realism to be corrupted by their desire for "meaning". Personally, my philosophical prioritization is as follows: Operate without illusions and then, and only then, look to construct a "meaning" for oneself.

However, not everyone subscribes to the same definition of rationality that I do. wink.gif
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Rick
post May 23, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Again, quite nice. You have anticipated some aspects of Dawkins' The God Delusion.

Freeing one's self from the god delusion allows reality to do its work.
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post May 23, 2007, 03:38 PM
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QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 10:53 AM) *
God created a perfect world... we are the ones that chose sin. Sin is a Curse...
it has always been... started with Lucifer and it will end at the Great White Throne Judgement.
Sin is destroying the world

yet another pawn thoroughly brainwashed by religious institutions. I hope you appreciate the degree to which you've been manipulated by others into your beliefs. Christianity is all but dead, and for good reason, and I would not recommend trying to revive it here.
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post May 23, 2007, 04:47 PM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ May 24, 2007, 12:38 AM) *
.... I would not recommend trying to revive it here.
laugh.gif
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post May 24, 2007, 12:50 PM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ May 23, 2007, 07:38 PM) *

QUOTE(Jellybean2 @ May 23, 2007, 10:53 AM) *
God created a perfect world... we are the ones that chose sin. Sin is a Curse...
it has always been... started with Lucifer and it will end at the Great White Throne Judgement.
Sin is destroying the world

yet another pawn thoroughly brainwashed by religious institutions. I hope you appreciate the degree to which you've been manipulated by others into your beliefs. Christianity is all but dead, and for good reason, and I would not recommend trying to revive it here.

How can one revive that is not dead? lol
I wasn't brainwashed... nor have i been under any teaching by someone of a "degree"... what i believe is what I have proven to be true myself...not because some man in a suit and tie told me so...because i know happy.gif... trust me..i am not forcing this on anyone.. just stating my believe just like everyone else on the site... mine just so happens to be contrary to everyone else's smile.gif
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post May 24, 2007, 01:05 PM
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Prove to me that god exists and I'll eat my hat. wacko.gif
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