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← Death anxiety prompts people to believe in intelligent design, reject evolution: research

Death anxiety prompts people to believe in intelligent design, reject evolution: research - Comments

Matt B's Avatar Comment 1 by Matt B

It is okay to feel fear. It is even okay to be a coward. It might even okay to shed rationality and grasp desperately at an imaginary philosophy when faced with death. It is not okay, however, to allow these fear-induced fantasies into the public sphere. I suppose groundless faith is easier to swallow if others also believe in it, though. Therein lies the danger.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 13:47:47 UTC | #609716

Stefan Udrea's Avatar Comment 2 by Stefan Udrea

Then I guess, when Dawkins is 90 years old, he will begin disliking himself and start liking Behe.Maybe then Dawkins and Behe will become friends, who knows.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 13:51:24 UTC | #609720

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 3 by Stevehill

Hard to comment without more data about the study and the results... how big a majority is there? And how were people selected for participation? Was it truly random?

That said, if you ask people to imagine their own death then ask them if they prefer a world view that offers immortality, it's a fairly predictable outcome.

Hence my wanting to know exactly how rigorously independent this study is.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 13:54:31 UTC | #609722

Checkmate's Avatar Comment 4 by Checkmate

Very interesting report, its a great scope into the knee-jerk reaction of believing comforting thoughts when faced with our own morality. Maybe I'm on my own here, although I think I may not be, but I find the theory of evolution to be a fascinating and uplifting one. The idea that I am a product of millions of years of rivalry, changing environments and evolutionary pressures seems much more appealing then being the by-product of a elusive and and somewhat distant supernatural figure.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 14:07:09 UTC | #609729

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 5 by God fearing Atheist

There! Scientific proof Richard is being too strident!

I'm joking. On second thoughts, maybe I'm not. Sagan gets away with it but Dawkins doesn't?

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 14:09:39 UTC | #609733

Lapithes's Avatar Comment 6 by Lapithes

Richard, now there's a study explaining why people don't like you. That must be something of a relief.

(Of course I'm being insincere.)

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 14:11:06 UTC | #609735

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 7 by Cook@Tahiti

Euphemisms for death (passed away, moved on, gone to sleep) are all very well for children, but religion keeps adults infantilised.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 14:21:29 UTC | #609739

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 8 by Hendrix is my gOD

You're going to die. Get over it! Knock off the retarded fantasies about living forever.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 14:25:50 UTC | #609743

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

First I'll echo earlier comments about wanting figures and sample details. Having said that, it is no surprise if the ignorant choose wishful thinking over understanding reality.

If the tabloids ran a poll tomorrow for people to choose from figures on the size of the the Galaxy, the Solar System or the Earth, I'd bet a majority would guess wrong rather than look it up or admit they did not know.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 14:43:24 UTC | #609748

AsylumWarden's Avatar Comment 10 by AsylumWarden

No real surprises there. Fear of death is one of the main selling points the Religi-Co's use to attract more customers.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 14:58:28 UTC | #609755

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 11 by SaganTheCat

fear makes you credulous?

wow i hope politicians never find out about this

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:06:15 UTC | #609761

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 12 by AtheistEgbert

I'm reluctant to accept this highly subjective based evidence, although it's a common sense to assume that religion gives people a comfort blanket. However, religion also provides a big stick along with the carrot, perhaps it is more likely that the big stick makes them grab the carrot, while non-religious people don't really see religion as comforting at all.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:09:06 UTC | #609763

Scruddy Bleensaver's Avatar Comment 13 by Scruddy Bleensaver

ike the majority of scientists, argues that life's origins are best explained by Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection

Isn't it amazing how poorly evolution is taught that a misunderstanding like this is still so commonplace? Darwin's theory explains the origin of species, but says nothing about the origin of life itself.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:10:21 UTC | #609764

ajs261's Avatar Comment 14 by ajs261

Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!

Isaac Asimov.

But to be honest, thinking rationally, uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing. No rational person should have a fear of death. Even though the most rational human could sometimes lapse into irrationality, it's clearly a good way to be:

I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring.

Richard Feynmann's last words. Now THAT is an attitude I'd aspire to.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:25:51 UTC | #609767

Austin K's Avatar Comment 15 by Austin K

I sure hope the last thing I think of before death is a spontaneous contempt for Richard.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:33:14 UTC | #609771

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 16 by Hendrix is my gOD

Comment 12 by AtheistEgbert

I'm reluctant to accept this highly subjective based evidence, although it's a common sense to assume that religion gives people a comfort blanket. However, religion also provides a big stick along with the carrot, perhaps it is more likely that the big stick makes them grab the carrot, while non-religious people don't really see religion as comforting at all.

Having went to catholic schools where yard-stick-wielding penguins told us we could either burning in hell forever or go to heaven to be with dOG - just like in church, I assume - I find non-existence the most comforting option.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:40:05 UTC | #609778

edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 17 by edmundjessie

I think i could have scribbled something similarly coherent to this groundbreaking research on the back of a napkin after a few glasses of wine and still come up with some more convincing 'data'.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:42:28 UTC | #609781

PurplePanda's Avatar Comment 18 by PurplePanda

Well if Ray Kurzweil is right, then it'll be the end of religion in about 50 years.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:50:45 UTC | #609786

Hellboy2's Avatar Comment 19 by Hellboy2

A most interesting report and understandable in many ways. Of course no one likes to think about their own mortality and a certain amount of fear is perfectly natural. But again, there is a large distinction between self delusion and an acceptance of the inevitable.

The way I think of it is the way Mark Twain matter of factly put it - 'I wasn't in the least inconvenienced by my non existence for billions of years before my birth, and I'm sure I won't be after my death..'

Okay, I'm paraphrasing it a bit but you get my drift.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:57:03 UTC | #609792

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 20 by Stafford Gordon

I'm reading Peter Atlins's "On Being"; chapter four's entitled 'Death', and gives details of the chemical processes which take place after one's popped ones clogs, which lead to rigor mortis, decomposition, the production of extremely nasty smells, skin slip, (I once had occasion to haul a corpse out of a river, so I know about skin slip) flys and maggots.

The author didn't exactly enjoy writing the chapter, and it's not much fun to read, but it's true.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 16:16:23 UTC | #609803

Monsignor Del Scitte's Avatar Comment 21 by Monsignor Del Scitte

Our results suggest that when confronted with existential concerns, people respond by searching for a sense of meaning and purpose in life

Meaning - like/love good people, all animals, nature in general. Purpose - live happy, productive life. Fear of death/ pain have always been at the base of supernatural. Come to our church! Cardinal Dawkins and archbishop Harris will take care of you: the more you know the less you fear. Amen.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 16:48:15 UTC | #609825

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 22 by Peter Grant

Big surprise there! :P

Personally, I don't see what's so scary about death... It's dying that I'm afraid of.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 16:52:04 UTC | #609829

Don Quijote's Avatar Comment 23 by Don Quijote

How did Prof. dawkins put it? A skirt to hold or a thumb to suck? I am trying to give up smoking. Why? Not because I am afraid of dying, just the manner in which I die. Mind you, I have smoked for so long, giving up will probably make little or no difference.

Antybody interested in a realy beautiful account of a near death experience should look at P. Z on the subject over at Pharyngula.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 16:58:21 UTC | #609834

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 24 by KenChimp

I dunno. There must be something wrong with me. I've been convinced of the FACT of evolution by natural selection for about 47 years now. Now, deeply entrenched in "middle age", I don't feel any less sure of placing my existential wager on science, scientific principles and discoveries than I did at age eight. In fact, I am more certain now than ever that my decision was correct.

We all have fear of the unknown. Death is the largest of unknowns. Sure, we may intellectually understand what happens at and after the moment of our deaths, but none of us (alive now) have experienced this. So fear of death is nothing more or less profound than the fear of the most impacting of unknowns.

When fear hits me, I focus on all the wonders I have had the privilege to bear witness to. Death Metal also helps. I don't know why. Perhaps it is the surge of adrenaline-soaked anger that accompanies a good, healthy dose of death metal music that flattens the fear and returns me to that profound and ecstatic sense of "Hell YEAH!" that is there for me when my fears are quiescent.

:-)

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 17:30:09 UTC | #609854

Sarmatae's Avatar Comment 25 by Sarmatae

Comment 3 by Stevehill

Hard to comment without more data about the study and the results... how big a majority is there? And how were people selected for participation? Was it truly random?

There is open access on the research article here for now. It might give you more information.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 17:49:48 UTC | #609861

GPWC's Avatar Comment 26 by GPWC

Is there a causal relationship between increased life expectancy and lack of belief in god? And if we were to become immortal, would all religions die?

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 18:02:40 UTC | #609869

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 27 by Neodarwinian

Sounds rather too correlation driven to me. Of course these suite of traits can be found among these people. Gear of death just being one of them. That it is the driver of their ID position is questionable. I think the meaning and purpose these death approach types look for is much " higher " than ID.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 18:06:00 UTC | #609871

Sarmatae's Avatar Comment 28 by Sarmatae

The participants were then asked to read two similarly styled, 174-word excerpts from the writings of Behe and Dawkins, which make no mention of religion or belief, but describe the scientific and empirical support for their respective positions.

Empirical support for intelligent design? Where would they have found that? I don't recall ever seeing empirical evidence that complex biochemical and cellular structures can be be attributed to a supernatural creator. I have read some ID proponents work that proved empirically that there are such things as complex biochemical and cellular structures, but the empirical evidence that attributes that to a supernatural creator, where? That's hardly a trivial detail as the whole hypothesis hinges on it.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 18:08:26 UTC | #609872

chawinwords's Avatar Comment 29 by chawinwords

Life is sort of like a piece of string, with a beginning and and end. Now, at my age, the end of the piece of string is in sight. Regardless, I don't fear death, but I do fear many ways of dying. As well, there is some comfort in knowing that no one gets out of this world alive, unless of course, they believe in an unseen spirit world, which I reject from a total lack of evidence and an insane irrationality.

Religion and belief based upon a faith in a made-up unseen, gives me no comfort at all. I will simply take the universe and nature as it presents itself, naturally, and the religious con men, etc., can go to their imaginary hell -- without a dime from me.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 18:08:26 UTC | #609873

RomeStu's Avatar Comment 30 by RomeStu

Comment 11 by Daniel Clear :

fear makes you credulous?

wow i hope politicians never find out about this

I thought that it was standard political procedure to keep the people in a constant state of fear in order to justify unpalatable or unnecessary political actions.

2 examples leap to mind.... Cold War Reds under the Beds Post 9/11 Patriot Act

But the religious puppetmasters have been the true masters of the art of fearmongering for 1000s of years.

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 19:02:42 UTC | #609898