Core thinking error underlies belief in creationism, conspiracy theories: study

August 20, 2018, Cell Press
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

It's not uncommon to hear someone espouse the idea that "everything happens for a reason" or that something that happened was "meant to be." Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on August 20 have found that this kind of teleological thinking is linked to two seemingly unrelated beliefs: creationism, the belief that life on Earth was purposely created by a supernatural agent, and conspiracism, the tendency to explain historical or current events in terms of secret conspiracies or conspiracy theories.

"We find a previously unnoticed common thread between believing in and believing in conspiracy theories," says Sebastian Dieguez of the University of Fribourg. "Although very different at first glance, both these systems are associated with a single and powerful cognitive bias named teleological thinking, which entails the perception of final causes and overriding purpose in naturally occurring events and entities."

A teleological thinker, for example, will accept as true propositions such as "the sun rises in order to give us light" or "the purpose of bees is to ensure pollination," he says. "This type of thinking is anathema to scientific reasoning, and especially to evolutionary theory, and was famously mocked by Voltaire, whose character Pangloss believed that 'noses were made to wear spectacles.' Yet it is very resilient in human cognition, and we show that it is linked not only to creationism, but also to conspiracism."

In previous work, Dieguez and colleagues showed that conspiracism wasn't explained by the tendency to assume that "nothing happens by accident." They realized that conspiracism isn't driven by a rejection of the idea that the world is random and complex, but that it still could be linked to the notion that events in the world are actively and purposely fabricated. They also noticed that this looked "striking similar" to creationism. If correct, they reasoned, then conspiracism, like creationism, should be associated with teleological thinking, and both types of beliefs should be correlated with each other.

To find out whether this was the case, the researchers asked more than 150 college students in Switzerland to complete a questionnaire including teleological claims and conspiracist statements, as well as measures of analytical thinking, esoteric and magical beliefs, and a randomness perception task. The survey data showed that the tendency to ascribe function and meaning to natural facts and events was significantly, though modestly, correlated with conspiracist belief scales. Drawing on a large-scale survey of people in France, the researchers also found a strong association between creationism and conspiracism.

To look more closely at this pattern, the researchers next recruited more than 700 people to complete questionnaires online. Those data again confirmed associations among teleological thinking, creationism, and conspiracism. The data also show that those relationships are partly distinct from other variables, including gender, age, , political orientation, education, and agency detection.

"By drawing attention to the analogy between creationism and conspiracism, we hope to highlight one of the major flaws of conspiracy theories and therefore help people detect it, namely that they rely on teleological reasoning by ascribing a final cause and overriding purpose to world events," Dieguez says. "We think the message that conspiracism is a type of creationism that deals with the social world can help clarify some of the most baffling features of our so-called 'post-truth era.'"

The researchers say the findings have important implications for science educators and communicators. They may also help in formulating policies to "discourage the endorsement of socially debilitating and sometimes dangerous beliefs and belief systems."

The researchers are now in the process of assessing the effectiveness of ongoing attempts to educate kids and adolescents about the nature of and other types of misinformation. They say what's ultimately needed is a thorough understanding of the factors that contribute to a conspiracist mindset, which is relevant to many beliefs, including global warming denialism and vaccine rejection, and they are developing a general framework to help disentangle the relevant factors.

The findings may help to explain how certain types of misinformation spread so easily aided by social media channels. "It's possible that content framed in teleological terms are easier to process and spread faster than other types of information, and this could be tested on a much larger scale," Dieguez says.

Explore further: Coincidence or conspiracy? Studies investigate conspiracist thinking

More information: Current Biology, Wagner-Egger et al.: "Creationism and conspiracism share a common teleological bias" https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(18)30863-7 , DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.072

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dogbert
1.5 / 5 (17) Aug 20, 2018
Another study designed to conclude that people who believe in God suffer from mental deficits.
Such studies point out the insecurity of atheists who continually feel the need for affirmation.
mqr
1.3 / 5 (15) Aug 20, 2018
It is very ''logical'' to think that life was originated ''somehow'' in a random and meaningless act.

And I like to drop my evolutionary question? how the first organs were formed?

How few similarly functional cells arouse randomly and got together and syncronized their activities to configure an organ? and how the new organ integrated to the rest of the systems of the existing organism? or were all organs and systems originated randomly at the same time? How many cells were necessary for the first heart to pump? were the blood came from? (blood and heart are two different tissues, although heavily inter related.)

And conspiracy..... until this year, the USA government accepted in the New York Times that for a long while they had contact with alien starships. Before that day of acceptance, they lied for decades.... that is where conspiracy comes from....

and they lied too about the causes of obesity (sugar is the cause, not fat), lied about pharmaceutical drugs, etc.
julianpenrod
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 20, 2018
Note that an unmentioned but fundamental premise behind the article is that "scientists" and those in government cannot lie. That everything they say is true and that those who don't accept what they say are flying in the face of eminent truth.
Those the article praises, then, are the type who don't think about situations, who only depend on what those in positions of power and influence tell them to think. They accept "evolution" although, among other things, speciation has never been seen to occur. They accept that there are no conspiracies even though, among other things, in any finite hierarchical system, there has to be a highest level, and these control all the obedient below them.
LariAnn
1 / 5 (11) Aug 20, 2018
Anything that has been formulated by the human mind is/was done with a purpose, unless the evolutionists and others who seem hell bent on eliminating all purpose and meaning from human existence wish to propose that all human thought is random and meaningless. If that is the case, then all laws, ethics, and moral systems are random and meaningless. So what is going to motivate humanity to thrive, survive and advance? Isn't randomness and meaninglessness a great motivator? Hah!
barakn
4.7 / 5 (13) Aug 20, 2018
the evolutionists and others who seem hell bent on eliminating all purpose and meaning from human existence wish to propose that all human thought is random and meaningless.
There it is, the flawed assumption that renders the rest of your argument invalid.
Misquoth
5 / 5 (11) Aug 20, 2018
There is a distinct difference from an a priori "meaning" linked to the emergence of a thing, and the emergent meaning of the thing once it exists. Things exist, and because of their relationship to other things, gain meaning.

Scientists are not out to "destroy" meaning, but to understand the relationship between things (their meaning).

"all laws, ethics, and moral systems are random and meaningless"

certainly not. We (humans) are an emergent property of life, which is an emergent property of the universe. Our ideas are emergent properties of us. They are as valid as gravity or time, although more complex since they are a much further down the line of emergent properties.

What is true is that those things have the meanings that we give them since we are their creators. This does not negate meaning, it just means that the meaning is not an inherent property of said 'thing'.

Misquoth
5 / 5 (9) Aug 20, 2018
An example:

Justice. Look out into the universe and find a speck of Justice. You will find none if we only look outside of our experience. Justice is a human made concept; it has emerged from us. So, once we include ourselves in the solution set, we *do* see Justice in the universe.

Time. Time is super important for much of what goes on in the universe, however at the quantum scale, it seem that time is *not* a fundamental property of the universe, but an emergent property. That doesn't mean that time doesn't exist, but it's not a fundamental building block of the universe (as we currently understand), like electromagnetism or the weak / strong nuclear forces.
Misquoth
5 / 5 (7) Aug 20, 2018
wailuku1943
5 / 5 (5) Aug 20, 2018
I'm saddened by the first four comments, though hardly surprised. I have a hard time believing that (a) they understood the article, (b) they understand what teleology is, and (c) they understand anything at all about the concepts of "random" and "meaning."

And for julianpenrod, of course he has yet to demonstrate any understanding whatsoever of modern (or even not-so-modern) evolutionary theory -- and data.

It's very depressing.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 20, 2018
wailuku1943,
I'm saddened by the first four comments...

It is sad when people are so insecure that they must denigrate others to feel good about themselves. Happens with depressing regularity.
Anonym518498
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 20, 2018
Yes indeed, conspiracy theories like global warming and the russia collusion hoax
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Aug 20, 2018
wailuku1943,
I'm saddened by the first four comments...

It is sad when people are so insecure that they must denigrate others to feel good about themselves. Happens with depressing regularity.

Ha! You're doing exactly what you are accusing him of doing...
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2018
wailuku1943,
I'm saddened by the first four comments...

It is sad when people are so insecure that they must denigrate others to feel good about themselves. Happens with depressing regularity.

As for speciation - there are some species of canines (both wild and domesticated) that cannot mate to produce successfully mating offspring. Or even just offspring...
What about alligators and crocodiles? Horses and donkeys? Humans and other great apes?
Dolphins and whales?
The've ALL "speciated" from the original common ancestor..
greenonions1
5 / 5 (4) Aug 20, 2018
Dogbert
Such studies point out the insecurity of atheists
So Dogbert - If I read the Scientologists creation story - https://www.thoug...nu-95929 and want to express my atheist position - that there is no evidence to support this mythology - in your view - that makes me insecure?
LariAnn
wish to propose that all human thought is random and meaningless
Lari - I am an atheist. By that I mean - that I do not believe in the existence of a supreme being. I interact a lot with other self disclosed atheist. Suggesting that human thought is random and meaningless is the exact opposite of what I see from atheists. Why else would I read boards like physorg? It seems you have a very child like understanding of what is both a simple, but complex topic of the existence of meaning, vs the existence of a supreme being...

Modulus64
5 / 5 (5) Aug 20, 2018
Would't this theory be more easily described by saying that some people have a cognitive bias that makes them believe that sentient entities (including Gods) do everything consciously and deliberately, unlike real sentient beings?
cgsperling
5 / 5 (4) Aug 20, 2018
It's funny how mqr in comment #2 confirms the very thesis of the paper by stating his belief in creationism AND conspiracies.
RobertKarlStonjek
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2018
Part 1] The belief in the common functional properties of electricity, gravity, life, and many other things believed by modern people is the empirical evidence of the underlying connection as established by science. But most people have no idea at all what that empirical evidence is and accept it in the same way that people accept beliefs in other things such as those associated with religion.

This is not an error in thinking but the essential step required for language communication to be useful, that we trust what other people tell us about the world and make the connection between verbal communication and actual physical events.

Without this error language would be pointless as we would only trust what we see with our own eyes, and we would not 'believe in electricity', for instance, until we studied the engineering and established the concept for ourselves.

How is this 'an error'?
RobertKarlStonjek
2 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2018
Part 2] How is this 'an error'? For the average person, the difference between science and religion is a choice of which group to believe. This is not an error.
greenonions1
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 21, 2018
Robert
But most people have no idea at all what that empirical evidence is and accept it in the same way that people accept beliefs in other things such as those associated with religion
I disagree that most people accept it 'in the same way' as religion is accepted. Religion is generally presented to children very early in their development. Children often cannot see the dissonance. I believed that god answered my prayers, even though in retrospect - he clearly did not. My GPS works - every time I use it. Do you see the difference?
Veneficus
4.5 / 5 (6) Aug 21, 2018
Another study designed to conclude that people who believe in God suffer from mental deficits.
[...]


O, the irony. It's way too early in the morning to deal with trolls...
FredJose
1 / 5 (6) Aug 21, 2018
they rely on teleological reasoning by ascribing a final cause and overriding purpose to world events,

For Christians, this is very specifically stated in various places in the bible, e.g. Isaiah 45:18
"18 For thus says the LORD— He who created the heavens; He is God; He formed the earth and fashioned it; He established it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— "I am the LORD, and there is no other. "

driven by a rejection of the idea that the world is random and complex,

On the other hand, atheists reject God and gods and find solace in a random event in which everything appeared from nothing - aka the big bang - wherein space accelerated at super-luminal speeds for no apparent reason and then stopped equally at random (inflation) with subsequent formation of stars from clouds of gas(contravening known physical laws) and likewise planets from dust.
So how does life arise from dead materials all by itself, at random?
FredJose
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 21, 2018
...continued..
Atheists and their priests, the scientists, have a knack of discarding the real science in biological life and inventing their own story to satisfy their own erroneous thinking.
It is being solidly confirmed by the day that the Human ( and other organisms ) genome is not a product of random chemical or physical processes. Firstly, just to put it all together in the arrangement it is found is impossible on a random basis. Secondly, the tools required to un-zip and zip it up and translate the codes from it cannot happen at random. The process itself cannot happen at random. Most basically one cannot create an abstract entity from purely random materialistic processes(try it and see!). Codes and decoding, diagnoses and repair, replication - all are examples of such abstract processes. No random physical event can give rise to those kind of things - it all required a-priori knowledge.

So here's the question again dear atheists: How did life arise all by itself????
FredJose
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 21, 2018
@greenOnions
I disagree that most people accept it 'in the same way' as religion is accepted.

Then be very disillusioned of your belief. Just go out and do an informal survey of most people across the educational spectrum and see just how many now believe the evolutionary story even though they have not delved deeply into just what it really means.
Specifically, just how many know that atheists and their scientific priests have separated the abiogenesis from the darwinian evolutionary paradigm in order to not have to deal with the extremely vexing question of the origin of life.
Furthermore, how many have pondered the most basic requirement of evolution - multi-cellular organization and self-replication? Those are clearly impossible without prior programming - it is just not going to happen by itself at random, exactly the same problem as abiogenesis.

People just accept the atheistic thought without dissecting it because the priests have spoken.
FredJose
1 / 5 (5) Aug 21, 2018
@wailuku1943
I'm saddened by the first four comments,

Why would you be saddened? It really does not matter in the evolutionary pond what anyone believes because there is no objective arbiter of what is good, evil, sad, joyful, uplifting or repressive or any other abstract emotion or moral entity one would now associate with human beings. All there is is what there is. In the atheistic, amoral origin of things, there is no judgement or discernment, only what is. So it is equally as valid to steal, rape and murder and torture as it is to donate help, affirm lovingly, heal or raise up another human being.
So again, why are you saddened at all. Perhaps you need to discard this false notion of caring for or about others since such a concept in really foreign to the origin you ascribe to.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (5) Aug 21, 2018
Fred
it is found is impossible on a random basis
Evolution is not random.
So it is equally as valid to steal, rape and murder and torture as it is to donate help
I don't steal, rape etc. How do you explain that? On the other hand - male lions often kill the cubs of their competitors, when they take over a pride. The world is full of parasites - that inflict horrible torture on their hosts. Nice god you made up - who would create such a cruel world.
dogbert
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 21, 2018
greenonions1,
Dogbert
Such studies point out the insecurity of atheists


So Dogbert - If I read the Scientologists creation story - https://www.thoug...nu-95929 and want to express my atheist position - that there is no evidence to support this mythology - in your view - that makes me insecure?


No. You should read the article and my comment. The author proposes that people who believe in God believe in conspiracy theories at a higher rate than people who do not believe in God. This conflation, as in many other similar "studies", is designed to denigrate people who believe in God to inflate the ego of the designers of the "study". It shows an underlying insecurity in the author's belief system which needs to be validated by invalidating other beliefs.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2018
No. You should read the article and my comment
I did. I was responding to this comment of yours
Such studies point out the insecurity of atheists
Perhaps you use a different English than I do - but in my English - your comment accuses atheists of being insecure. You do not say "people who design this kind of study are insecure." You say "the insecurity of atheists." My reading of a lot of atheist literature - and interacting with a lot of atheists - does not support your assertion that atheists are insecure.
dogbert
1 / 5 (5) Aug 21, 2018
greenonions1,
I was plainly commenting on atheists who do such studies with the intent to denigrate non-atheists.
KBK
1 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2018
The disgusting and blatant attempt to smear logical analysis of history and data about little known fact points and accredited history, with belief in creationism and purposely mis-spoken lies and exaggerations --- that's what bothers me.

The meta view of the article ...witnesses the article as an attempt to kill off complex truths via turning the hesitant and the misinformed away from looking at the more complex scenarios they need to be looking at, if humanity is to move forward.

Plain and simple, it's propaganda designed to smear unwanted truths and data, and to hold it's intended audience in the mind-fark they currently live in.

It's intended as suckling re-enforcement... stabilization, retreading, reestablishing, reflections of desired mental positioning...

"Relax, everything is ok, those guys are crazy...just don't note the blatant attempt to relate the two data points, in a way that is entirely slippery and logically dishonest."

It's propaganda. On physorg!
steve_dutch_564
5 / 5 (5) Aug 21, 2018
Well, actually, purpose and design are testable. The problem is, believers in both don't want to accept the results.

If something is bad design, it's bad design. Such as running all the connections to the retina in front of it, like running all the wires to an imaging chip in front of it. Or routing the urethra through a piece of tissue that frequently swells and blocks the flow, instead of simply routing around it. No, you don't get to say there might be some other intent on doing it. Bad design is bad design, period.

Or consider the infamous video on how bananas are clearly designed to be held by the human hand. There are other applications for bananas, not suitable for discussion here. Clearly those are part of the purpose, otherwise it wouldn't work. Nobody sticks a banana in their ear canal. In fact, all the myriad way humans can fit their tabs and slots must be part of their purpose as well, or it wouldn't work. It's all perfectly testable.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2018
Dogbert
I was plainly commenting on atheists who do such studies
I don't think that was plain at all. You did not qualify the statement
Such studies point out the insecurity of atheists
However - having now made that qualification - I would challenge you to support your assertion that this study was done by atheists. Even if it was (and I could not care either way) - it is a reasonable area of research. It is reasonable to assert that belief in a supreme being is delusional. I am sure you would agree with that regarding Xenu. But all the other creation myths are based on believing things - not based on evidence - but on faith. In other words - that is irrational - or delusional. Exploring that connection - has nothing to do with insecurity.
TorbjornLarsson
2 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2018
Well, actually, purpose and design are testable. The problem is, believers in both don't want to accept the results.

I like how these comments agree with the study observations (while declaring on the surface that they do not), and when pressed revert to their magical text injunctions as if that is somehow relevant (to anything really).

Also the call for "atheism" when science is secular, but it is *nature* - to no fault of science - that is atheist.

2011 religious 'sin' inheritance was found impossible (sequencing: too large human population always), 2017 physicists started to speak of religious 'souls/ghosts/afterlife' as impossible (LHC results: too weak unknown interactions), 2018 we can start arguing religious 'gods' impossible (Planck results: a 100 % natural universe that is only affected by itself).

Or consider the infamous video on how bananas are clearly designed to be held by the human hand.

Said design by (artificial) selection. :-D
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Aug 21, 2018
greenonions1,
creation myths are based on believing things - not based on evidence - but on faith.


You have left discussion of the article and/or the purpose of the so called study and moved the discussion to a discussion of religion. But I will address your statement.

You define creation as a myth. In doing so, you have shown your prejudice. You have decided that the evidence for a creator doesn't exist, when in fact, you simply reject such evidence. And no, belief in God is not arrived at by ignoring evidence, it is based on the evidence.

Faith is God is not faith in his existence -- that is arrived at by examination of the evidence. Faith in God is simply belief that he has done and will do what he has said. This faith is no different than the faith you might have in anyone you believe is trustworthy.

Your comment deserved an answer, but I don't intend to hijack Physorg for a useless discussion of religion.
Misquoth
5 / 5 (2) Aug 21, 2018
All science is, is a language with which we can best describe and *predict* our shared reality with.

Dogbert if you want to propose something about religion that you can measure and predict, then we can have a science conversation. You know, since this is a science site. Otherwise it's not science. That doesn't mean it's invalid for individuals, but it's not science.

Here's an example:

I say something to a god (of whomever's choosing) then someone else can talk to that god and retrieve what I've said. There's some great evidence.

Measure, predict, have others try to get the same results.

I'm not trying to shut you down, but you've mentioned "evidence". Neither of us are the first ones to this science/religion party.

So if you'd like to substantiate your claim of religions evidence, please provide that. But it can't be personal or subjective. It must be something that can be measured and used to predict something about how that aspect of our shared reality works
greenonions1
5 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2018
Dogbert
You have left discussion of the article
It was you who introduced the term atheist - and do not support your assertion that the authors of this article are such.

Would you agree with me that the scientologist story of Xenu - is a myth, and without evidence?

, belief in God is not arrived at by ignoring evidence, it is based on the evidence
No it is not. When looking at evidence - and conclusions derived from that evidence - science insists that you look at alternative possibilities. Now we do run into a problem in terms of evidence - when we invoke the possibility of magic. So I can say that such and such evidence refutes the existence of …(fill in the blank). So for example - y.e.c.'s say that the earth is 4,000 years old. I can point to the evidence of dinosaur bones - and the y.e.c.'s say - 'magic' - or more completely 'Our magic god put the bones there to screw with your head.' cont.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2018
cont. So as soon as you start to invoke magic - you can basically argue anything that you want. I was raised a fundamentalist Christian - and speak from first hand experience. I engaged in a great deal of delusional thinking. If I prayed to god, and did not get a response - I ignored that evidence. In other words - I cherry picked my evidence. I see it happening all around me now by religious people of all persuasions.

Most religious folks I have listened to are at least savvy enough to not claim that their belief is based on evidence, but on faith. If you truly claim that belief in god can be supported with evidence - please write a paper detailing that evidence - and I would love to read it - and write a rebuttal. Remember that one of the hallmarks of scientific evidence - is repeatability.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2018
greenonions1,
Would you agree with me that the scientologist story of Xenu - is a myth, and without evidence?

No, I would not. Scientology has never been about any kind or type of god or gods. It was founded by L. Ron Hubbard after he lost control of Dianetics. It hardly qualifies as any sort of religion, but it has been granted that status by the United States Government.

Of course, you bring up young earth creationists. I can easily discount just about anything by citing fringe groups.

As I said when I answered your question, "I don't intend to hijack Physorg for a useless discussion of religion."

You have decided that the evidence for God is not evidence because it is not proof. Yet you have no problem with science proposing many things based on evidence without proof.

I have no intention to try to correct your beliefs. I only pointed out your error in confusing faith (i.e., trust in) with belief in existence.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (2) Aug 21, 2018
Yet you have no problem with science proposing many things based on evidence without proof
I think you mis-use the word proof. A principle of science is that nothing is ever considered proven beyond all question. As I am sure you know - many of the linch pins of science - were refuted - when new evidence came to light. Science adapts - and recognizes that the current thinking in science - is always up for question - but of course you have to make your case with evidence.
I can easily discount just about anything by citing fringe groups
So what you do here - is create a hierarchy of religion. The religious groups you approve of - are acceptable - but you are free to label others as 'fringe.' My point is that you have no framework for evaluating information. Science has that framework - it is called evidence. You are wrong - no religion is based on an evidentiary based system - they are all based on magic.
Misquoth
5 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2018
And, I might add, science really just describes the world around us as we see it in a reliable and relateable manner. The Scientist is really just a messenger of repeatable observation- that anyone can do and is encouraged to do. So are you angry at the scientist for revealing how the world works around us in a repeatable way? Or mad at reality for not being what you had hoped and expected? Science is not about invention, though much is invented from what science finds. Science is about discovery about how reality works. It may invent a hypothesis (based on previous observations)- but that is with the specific and immediate action of testing that hypothesis; and inviting other to test and refute that. What is observed determines the veracity of the hypothesis. The more it is tested by more people the "truer" it can be said to be, since you can reliably predict: if you do a thing; what will happen as the result of doing that thing.
LaPortaMA
not rated yet Aug 21, 2018
As I read this, I thought,
"SO?"
( and my usual MedEx question/point: "Cause or effect?")

But SO MANY good answers and comments make me proud!

Please note some things that Werner Heisenberg is quoted as saying, changing things a bit:
+What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.

+Natural science, does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves.

PS>> respectfully, most people do not know what RE-LIGION is about; it is most often confused with sect, denomination, institution, or dogma. True religion, ne plus ultra, is deeply personal.
Misquoth
5 / 5 (2) Aug 21, 2018
"Natural science, does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves."

Yes, especially at the quantum level ;)
greenonions1
5 / 5 (2) Aug 22, 2018
respectfully, most people do not know what RE-LIGION is about
Well LaPorta - you would have to explain what you mean by 'true religion.' As an atheist - I am comfortable living without 'religion' in my life. I watch the tortured mess of human civilization - all the Allahu Akbars used to detonate yet another suicide bomb (just an example - I am an equal opportunity atheist), and I conclude that we will be so much better off when we end the tribalism of religious thinking...
LaPortaMA
not rated yet Aug 22, 2018
I refer you to William James's seminal
THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE (1902) a scientific/ empirical treatise on the nature of religion itself, including the ideas of atheism, by America's first psychologist.

Public Domain.

BTW it's a coincidence I came back to add this to my note and found yours.
Best wishes for a deeply personal and positive experience.
Steelwolf
5 / 5 (2) Aug 22, 2018
The major problems with religion in general is that there is no actual Proof other than word of mouth that has been passed down for 'thousands of years'. There seems to be breaks in our religious history with certain groups dominating Religion to make it their Government, but even those all come down to word of mouth passed down and as such would not be admissible evidence in a modern court. It is Heresay evidence only.

As far as conspiracy Theories go, there tends to be actual conspiracies, often in plain sight, such as that with the Catholic Priest's and their coverups. That has long been a 'conspiracy theory' and derided as such for a long time by those protecting themselves. Conspiracies and the theories behind them tend to be all too real, look at the setting of bank loan rates, the LIBOR scandal as well as currency manipulations. No longer conspiracy Theory, just plain real conspiracies unearthed.

It is a matter of proof available, religions tend to not have any.
S3v3N
not rated yet Aug 22, 2018
We know for certain many conspiracy theories have later been revealed to be actual conspiracies. One can postulate that there are many conspiracy theories that are actual conspiracies, but have never been revealed as such.

The ability of an observer to formulate a theory of coordinated action which is hidden from the observer is a method of perception which is, according to this article, unavailable to some humans. It looks like some gestalt-type ability.

For those without this method of perception, mental acuity, and depth of thought, I think what we are looking at is the proverbial "sucker born every minute." If a person is incapable of "reading between the lines" they are incapable of defending themselves from clandestine actions intended to defraud and deceive them.

How sad to be constantly within the realm of only those things that are of blatant face value.
dudester
not rated yet Aug 22, 2018
I am not an atheist. At one time in fact, I was both a believer in the god of the Bible and creationism. However, as I continued to read that book and organize the actions of the god described therein, I found myself unable to continue believing. I have also examined Islam fairly closely and also Judaism and cannot believe in those either. I do have a general working understanding of many of the "minor" religions around the world but as yet I have found nothing anywhere to convince me that believing in an entity or entities who refuse/s to show itself/themselves in any way, shape, or form is a rational thing to do.

However, I do grant that the existence of some deity or deities or other will never be "disproven" by the scientific method.

I do wonder, however, if such a deity or deities do exist, who made them?

It seems to me if some thing/s came from nothing or has/have always existed I can cut out an inconvenient extra step and accept those things are matter and energy?
greenonions1
5 / 5 (3) Aug 22, 2018
I do grant that the existence of some deity or deities or other will never be "disproven" by the scientific method
Here is how I look at this one. I do not believe in martians. I of course cannot currently PROVE they do not exist - as they may be hiding below the surface out of sight - around the back side of Mars. However - given that we currently have no evidence to support a belief in martians - I call myself an atheist regarding martians. Meaning - I do not believe in the existence of martians. If new evidence ever comes to light - happy to re-evaluate. I personally don't have to have definitive proof that martians do not exist - in order to call myself an atheist. Pretty simple for me - "until you prove they are there - as far as I am concerned - they are not there."
dudester
not rated yet Aug 23, 2018
I understand. No argument here. I just prefer not to describe myself with the negation of something that I don't think exists whether it be unicorns, aether, or the Loch Ness monster.

This link is not meant to prove or disprove anything-- but I think you might find it interesting if you haven't seen it before, greenonions1:

The Bead On The Wire Model
Excerpted from:
THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE
by R. A. Lyttleton 1977
From:
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF IGNORANCE, edited by R. Duncan and M. Weston-Smith
1977 Pergamon Press Ltd, Oxford UK pp13-14

http://amasci.com...ead.html
greenonions1
5 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2018
dudester - interesting link - thanks. Do you not recognize that my post above reflects exactly what was being said in your link? I use the term atheist - as I feel it is a good descriptor of my position. It puts me further along the wire towards the 0 position than would the term agnostic. So we have limited vocabulary - and I feel fine with the label I have chosen. One of the most interesting things I see in the exchanges on physorg - is religionists need make claims about my understanding of myself. They claim that atheism is a religion - instead of just accepting that I do not believe in a supreme being - while of course accepting that I may be wrong - and I may be a part of a science experiment - run by some freshman god - in some god university that is running an infinite number of experiments on the development of universes...
dudester
not rated yet Aug 23, 2018
Yes I recognize that. As I said it wasn't intended to prove or disprove anything or take issue with anything you said, the bead on the wire has just been my "go to" mental model of the scientific method for decades. I was pretty sure you would appreciate it based on your posting history, and I like to spread it around. It also reflects what I said in my post too though. I know the theists will howl and downvote me for the following examples but I wouldn't anymore define myself as a non-murderer or a non-rapist-- though I certainly could-- than I would a non-theist. The normal modes of thinking or being do not necessitate negating prefixes, abnormal ones do. I'm an evolutionist, not a non-creationist, a heliocentrist not an anti-flat earther or anti-geocentrist, and so on. I am, however, an anti-semanticist and I can certainly understand how someone could argue that I'm splitting hairs but it just feels more accurate to me to see things this way. And my beads are all still on the wires
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 23, 2018
Last post - and thanks for the exchange dudester. I see your points - and as I was trying to get at before - we do face the awkwardness of vocabulary choices. The main reason I use the term atheist for myself - is that I am very angry with religion. I now understand that the human mind is an incredible thing - with a very limited window of opportunity in terms of development. Scaring children, and lying to them about things we cannot know - is in my view one of the highest crimes of religion. Of course generally not done knowingly, but the effect in terms of the arrested development of the species - in staggering. One reason I was interested in this article. Look - we can believe that Xenu - the leader of the intergalactic federation - seeded the earth millions of years ago - with no evidence. We are gullible. Science fights that gullibility. I plant my flag in the camp of atheists....:-)
Pooua
5 / 5 (1) Aug 25, 2018
I've been a Creationist most of my life, and I've spent the last five years arguing with conspiracy theorists, particularly regarding the 9/11 attacks in the US. In my experience, few people advocate conspiracy theories based on the facts of the incident. They advocate them to serve an ulterior motive, promote some agenda, to which the facts are fit. Unlike conspiracy theorists, Creationists do have guiding principles (which sometimes are tested by non-Creationists). One is the principle that orderly systems rarely arise spontaneously from disorder. Another is that information content doesn't increase spontaneously. An observation is that all known life originated from other life. Nobody has found a natural cause that would lead to the spontaneous generation of life from non-life. So, Evolutionists are prone to their own magical thinking.
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 25, 2018
Pooua
So, Evolutionists are prone to their own magical thinking
No they are not. Evolution is based on evidence. Nothing magic about it. If you can produce evidence that disproves the process of evolution - go ahead and publish.

orderly systems rarely arise spontaneously from disorder
That principle of course does nothing to discredit evolution. Surely you understand the definition of 'rarely?' I would hope you also understand that evolution is not a random process, and that there is mountains of evidence to support our understanding of the process. If you think evolution does not happen - you have a whole field of science to duke it out with - publish your paper - and have at it.

Evolution is a different topic than abiogenesis. I doubt any one on this board is qualified or interested in rehashing the abiogenesis debate. Here - https://www.ibiol...of-life/
Nero_Caesar
not rated yet Aug 25, 2018
Some of these comments really hurt my brain. Both because some of them are just really stupid, and because some of them are actually really intelligent.

It really is shocking and disappointing to see that so many people will still cite the bible as though it is proof of anything except of people's desire to pursue cosmology for several millennia. I personally consider myself to be an atheistic leaning agnostic.

Personally I believe that if any God were to exist, it would of course have to be explained by science. I also believe that if God did exist, he wouldn't have any direct control over our universe, or have any consciousness comparable to our own. Rather the galaxies that make up the universe would be comparable to a person's internal organs. The person they inhabit has no direct control over them, or any share function that would be necessarily comparable to them either. I also do not believe in creationism. (CONTINUED)
Nero_Caesar
not rated yet Aug 25, 2018
Additionally, I personally feel that the majority of people on both sides of the debate misinterpret religion. I've never read the old testament from the angle of it being gospel. I read it more as a framework containing metaphors and parables to try and guide people through life in a world where science was lacking. I still see religion as beneficial in today's society, however I think a new religion needs to be created. One that accepts science as it's doctrine, while containing a set of tenants to guide people through life in a manner which is morally good. The central text should also aim to paint the history of our world from a scientifically accurate and simplified approach. (CONTINUED)
Nero_Caesar
not rated yet Aug 25, 2018
I also believe that daily rituals are beneficial for the mind and for the character. In the morning taking account of recent events, taking a moment to think about certain people, and to focus your mind on being good. In the afternoon, taking a small rest while focusing on the day ahead, and taking a moment to remind yourself of the good in your life. And at night, taking into account the events of the past day, and what will need to be accomplished in the future. Appreciating all the individuals and other entities who are responsible for providing you with the life that you have. (I mean really, how often do you stop to appreciate the people who are responsible for the power output to your city?)

A lot of people may scoff at this idea, and say that this is simply what is expected of good humans, and I agree. However many people simply do not have this. They weren't raised with these values, and were never taught these values. (CONTINUED)
Nero_Caesar
not rated yet Aug 25, 2018
As a result, they probably never really associated with people who thought this way, and if they did, they probably didn't consider becomming this way themselves. Personally I think a particular group of religious people's in the west are responsible for creating generation after generating of narcissistic entitled and self-centered children who have no concept of right and wrong. Coincidentally it also these types of religious peoples who seem to be so obsessed with Conspiracy Theory. (finished)
EnricM
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2018
Another study designed to conclude that people who believe in God suffer from mental deficits.
Such studies point out the insecurity of atheists who continually feel the need for affirmation.


Strange that you sought this conclusion. It didn't said a word about religion.

And I am not sure you know: Most Christians outside of the USA are not creationists. Evolution is even included in the Dogma of the Catholic and Anglican churches.

So, maybe it's not Them Evil Atiehts but anybody who does not believe in the same god that you do?
EnricM
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2018
How sad to be constantly within the realm of only those things that are of blatant face value


Yeah, reality makes live so dull and boring, right?

Well, I have to go as I am Researching how SPECTRA and the IPCC confabulate with the Aliens from Vega to brainwash the humans and transform them all in Hippies!

Sheeple! Wake Up!

Q
dogbert
not rated yet Aug 27, 2018
EnricM,
Another study designed to conclude that people who believe in God suffer from mental deficits. Such studies point out the insecurity of atheists who continually feel the need for affirmation.

Strange that you sought this conclusion. It didn't said a word about religion.


Yes, the article does. It talks about a belief in creation, a religious concept, and concludes that people who are religious are not as bright mentally as atheists.

And I am not sure you know: Most Christians outside of the USA are not creationists. Evolution is even included in the Dogma of the Catholic and Anglican churches.


You should know that belief in creation and belief in evolution are not exclusionary concepts.

Evolution specifically does not speak to the creation of the Universe and excludes abiogenesis.
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 27, 2018
Dogbert
and concludes that people who are religious are not as bright mentally as atheists
Please quote the relevant section of the article that you think draws this conclusion.

I think it would be much more fair to say that the conclusion is that creationism, and conspiracy theories, are based on a certain type of flawed thinking (called here teleological). Many like myself, use to be creationists, and have subsequently changed their analysis, and now identify as atheists. This shift was not as a result of becoming more mentally 'bright,' but more as a result of an evolution of thinking, as new information caused us to rethink our world views. The beauty of science for me - is that it gives me a framework of evaluation. Learning that framework does not make me more 'bright,' just more independent.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2018
greenonions1,
When you declare that non-atheists cannot think as well as you, you are saying that that person is not as bright as you. You agree with the study authors in declaring that atheists are brighter than religious people.

It is a sign of insecurity when you must denigrate others to feel better about yourself. Such conclusions are definitely not scientific.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2018
When you declare that non-atheists cannot think as well as you, you are saying that that person is not as bright as you
No I am not Dogbert. There is a very simple distinction. I used to be a creationist. I am now an atheist. I was just as 'bright' when I was a creationist, as I am now. Do you not find it interesting that you are unable to understand such a clear distinction? I am not saying that creationists are not bright. I am saying they have fallen trap to a certain kind of thinking. I think there are some incredibly 'bright' people - who believe that Xenu - the leader of the intergalactic federation - came to the earth hundreds of millions of years ago - and seeded the earth with thetans - even though there is no evidence for this. Does that anomaly not interest you?
greenonions1
5 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2018
It is a sign of insecurity when you must denigrate others to feel better about yourself
My motivation is in no way to denigrate others. How do you know my motivation? My motivation is be a part of a process - of the human race - moving from a superstitious base - in which we do things like kill each other in the name of god - to a rationalist base - in which learn to live together - and not destroy our planet in the process.
RobertKarlStonjek
5 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2018
greenonions1 "I disagree that most people accept it 'in the same way' as religion is accepted."

Most believers DO find evidence of their beliefs, usually down to something psychologists call 'confirmation bias'. For instance when they pray for something good then the next good thing that occurs is attributed to the prayer, when they have sinned according to their beliefs then the next bad thing that happens can be seen as punishment for the sin.

An interesting twist on this is the attitude of some people toward the failure of mechanical, electrical and computer devices as evidence that science is not as deterministic as it claims to be, further reinforced bay failed hypothesis and retracted papers.

In your experience confirmation Bias did not kick in and you took an objective approach to correlation between religious belief and real world outcomes, but I think you can see how people can easily treat science as unreliable and religion as pragmatic.

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