Tag Archives | God

Analytical Thinking Erodes Belief in God

The ThinkerDebora MacKenzie writes on New Scientist:

Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein famously did not believe in a supernatural God, and neither do some scientists today. It now appears there may be a good reason for this: thinking analytically dims supernatural beliefs, apparently by opposing the intuitive thought processes that underpin them.

The vast majority of people believe in a supernatural god or gods, says social psychologist Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of atheists and agnostics who do not. While scientists have begun to study the psychology of belief, we know little about what causes disbelief.

Humans use two separate cognitive systems for processing information: one that is fast, emotional and intuitive, and another that is slower and more analytical.

The first system innately imputes purpose, personality or mental states to objects, leading to supernatural beliefs. People who rely more on intuitive thinking are more likely to be believers, while the more analytical are less likely.

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What Kind Of Believer Are You? Take The Dawkins Test

As Mark Cheney writes on Big Think, the criteria:

Richard Dawkins’ Belief Scale Scoring Rubric

1. Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
2. De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
3. Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
4. Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
5. Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
6. De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
7. Strong Atheist:
I am 100% sure that there is no God.

Do you believe in God? Sometimes this question warrants more than just a yes or no answer. To categorize one’s own beliefs about the possibility of the existence of a deity, Dawkins proposed a “spectrum of probabilities” in his book The God Delusion.

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The Politics of Belief

Aboriginal War Veterans Monument

Photo: Padraic Ryan (CC)

A tribal shaman was once interviewed by a skeptical anthropologist and asked whether or not he actually believed in the truths behind the spiritual medicine he practiced. The shaman’s reply was surprisingly candid, for he admitted that his technique was completely fraudulent, and yet he still defended it for the simple reason that it often seemed to heal the patients.  This brief exchange cuts to the core of the issue of why some people are religious and others are not. It all boils down to two simple questions – “Is it true?” and “Is it good?”

An atheist is someone who answers “no” to the first question, and usually (but not always), “no” to the second question as well. As such, there are a variety of tactics that atheists will employ in promoting arguments against religion. Charles Darwin, for example, was supposed to have been nudged permanently over the cusp into disbelief after having studied the behavior of a certain species of parasitic wasp.… Read the rest

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In Norway’s Hills, Anyone Can Be The Voice Of God

It seems like a very egalitarian, Scandinavian approach to divine pronouncements. No matter whom you are, you may dial the number and hear your voice echo across the land. Via Unsworn Industries:

Telemegaphone Dale stands seven metres tall on top of the Jøtulshaugen mountain overlooking the idyllic Dalsfjord in Western Norway. When you dial the Telemegaphone’s phone number the sound of your voice is projected out across the fjord, the valley and the village of Dale below.

mountain

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The Violence Of God

Angry GodJulie Shoshana Pfau, a graduate student in religion at Emory University, and David R. Blumenthal, who teaches and writes on constructive Jewish theology, medieval Judaism, Jewish mysticism, and holocaust studies, discuss “How can you relate to an abusive God in a positive way?” at CrossCurrents:

Introduction

In 1993, I published my post-shoah theology entitled Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest (Westminster John Knox). The book did not have the impact on Jewish and Christian theologians, on psychotherapists, or on holocaust survivors that it should have had. The reasons for this are complicated and I have tried to explain them elsewhere. However, the book has been read very steadily by survivors of child abuse and occasional doctoral students from whom I receive a steady stream of letters. The exchange below is a very good example and I am grateful to Julie Pfau for her willingness to publish these letters, as well as for her forthrightness in expressing herself.

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Does God Still Belong On Our Money?

1in_god_we_trust

An opinion piece by Skeptic Magazine’s Michael Shermer in the LA Times has stirred up lots of strong opinions amongst Angelenos. What do disinfonauts think?

The House voted 396-9 this week to reaffirm as the national motto the phrase “In God We Trust” and encouraged its pronouncement on public buildings and continued printing on the coin of the realm. The motto was made official in 1956 during the height of Cold War hysteria over godless communism and — in the words of Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove” — “Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”

As risible a reason as this was for knocking out a few bricks in the wall separating state and church, it was at least understandable in the context of the times. But today, what is the point of having this motto?

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How To Start A Dance Kult

BreakdanceLet’s start with what God is: the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

The confusion about the nature of God starts with the idea God is separate from Existence. Also, there seems to be a tendency to treat the Father as God itself and the Son & Holy Spirit as a part of, but not equal to the Father. From these simple misunderstandings comes the logical paradoxes we’re all familiar with.

So here’s where we begin to clear things up. God is the single thing, but there are three aspects that make up the totality of God. Here’s the analogy: we take a piece of cheese. The cheese is one thing; however, there are aspects to the cheese that make up the whole thing: we have the shape, color & taste of the cheese. So where does the cheese end and its aspects begin? Well obviously that’s an impossible question.

So now the issue is defining the Father, Son & Holy Spirit aspects and how they together define God.… Read the rest

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Christian Faith Requires Accepting Evolution

Darwin FishJonathan Dudley writes on Huffington Post:

As someone raised evangelical, I realize anti-evolutionists believe they are defending the Christian tradition. But as a seminary graduate now training to be a medical scientist, I can say that, in reality, they’ve abandoned it.

In theory, if not always in practice, past Christian theologians valued science out of the belief that God created the world scientists study. Augustine castigated those who made the Bible teach bad science, John Calvin argued that Genesis reflects a commoner’s view of the physical world, and the Belgic confession likened scripture and nature to two books written by the same author.

These beliefs encouraged past Christians to accept the best science of their day, and these beliefs persisted even into the evangelical tradition. As Princeton Seminary’s Charles Hodge, widely considered the father of modern evangelical theology, put it in 1859: “Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science.”

In this analysis, Christians must accept sound science, not because they don’t believe God created the world, but precisely because they do …

Read more here.… Read the rest

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God’s Choice For President Of The United States

So who does God favor in the 2012 presidential race? LZ Granderson tries to unravel the competing claims of the candidates for CNN:

Vote for me or burn in hell.

I can’t imagine someone running for office saying that.

And yet four candidates — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum — have said they had a sense that God was leading them to run. How far can we be from “vote for me or burn in hell” when it seems we’re already comfortable with “vote for me, I’ve been called by God”?

There was a time when if a candidate wanted to inject faith into a campaign he or she would be photographed going to church or shaking the Rev. Billy Graham’s hand…

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