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← Man made god - with Andy Thomson - Parts1-5

Man made god - with Andy Thomson - Parts1-5 - Comments

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 1 by QuestioningKat

Chocolate is my God. You can trace its origins from Mesoamerica to all around the world. It is my belief that my God is worshiped globally more than any other God.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 21:12:59 UTC | #904349

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 2 by Neodarwinian

That Swiss Army knife gets around! I think that strict modularity is being modified somewhat from the days that Leda Cosmides carried around her knife. Still the mind is what the brain does and is evolved.Dammit! Adaptions, or side effects of adaptions?

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 22:04:04 UTC | #904357

/Mike's Avatar Comment 3 by /Mike

Note: parts 2-5 just added

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 22:23:34 UTC | #904367

GregGorey's Avatar Comment 4 by GregGorey

Dr. Andy Thomson looks a good bit like Sigmund Freud (except Andy uses real science). This is a great interview on a fascinating subject.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 22:31:20 UTC | #904371

papa lazaru's Avatar Comment 5 by papa lazaru

Very good.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 00:37:04 UTC | #904400

andrewspringman's Avatar Comment 6 by andrewspringman

I've got a number of reactions / questions.

1) I wonder how the D.A.A.M.M.I.T. adaptations apply to individuals who convert later in life, who did not have religious upbringings. Does the book discuss it? Was there perhaps an edited-out portion of the video that discussed it?

2) The NYTimes article (about babies innate sense of morality) reminds me of this lecture by Noam Chomsky where he defends the idea that language ability is a genetic adaptation. (I don't know why it is so hotly debated at the end of the video).

http://www.archive.org/details/NoamChomsky-LanguageAndOtherCognitiveSystems-Cologne-2011

3) The trolley experiment, particularly the imaging element, is fascinating. This was the first time I had heard of it and thus it served as a mini experiment. At first I had the expected responses. However, even before moving on to the second senario I reconsidered my answer...applying reason (another adaptation, but not so visceral). I see the consequences on the immediate set of tracks. I don't know the consequences out of view. There may be a passenger train unloading down either of the tracks.

Along the same line, the NYTimes article (about babies innate sense of morality) ends with this statement:

"But our capacities as babies are sharply limited. It is the insights of rational individuals that make a truly universal and unselfish morality something that our species can aspire to."

The fact that genetically encoded morality has given us an evolutionary advantage does not make the actions those impulses encourage ethical.

More broadly, the debate over ethics without a God or gods is deeper than that. It may be true that most Christians can't even name the 10 commandments, but it doesn't advance your cause among thinkers to have public battle with straw men.

4) To the question of slavery, it is true that Jesus does not address slavery in the Gospels. However, the author of Galatians does. I'd be interested to learn about any historical scholarship into the effect of early Christianity on slavery and how that ideal was eroded. I'm somewhat familiar with more recent history of how slavery ended in Great Britain and the U.S.A. William Wilberforce and particularly Charles G. Finney were Christian leaders in each country (respectively) who argued from the New Testament that slavery should be abolished. Were they cherry picking, influenced more by external trends in their society than by objective biblical analysis? Again, I'd like to see some scholarship on the matter.

5) Concerning abortion, homosexual marriage, the death penalty and healthcare: there truly is an unfortunate pairing of religion and politics in the U.S.A. Religion and American Politics are both losers in the pairing. It is a particularly American thing. You will find that evangelical Christians outside the U.S.A. generally don't share it.

6) The most interesting topic was the paper discussed in video five (the location of thoughts of what you think God thinks being the same location as what you think). It is the greatest challenge to theists raised by these videos.

7) Finally, religion is discussed as arising out of adaptations that were formed for other reasons. To use Dawkins' term, Christianity has been a very successful meme itself, out-surviving many others. What are Christianity's evolutionary advantages? Also, the question of veracity aside, is atheism as advantageous a meme?

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 03:07:16 UTC | #904420

schnapster31's Avatar Comment 7 by schnapster31

In response to the difficulty of enacting universal healthcare in the United States

It seems obvious that the more insidious among the religious community would oppose giving healthcare to fellow humans for free because of the competition that it would pose to their respective religious institutions.

It is often said that wars are fought for resources, and for religion the true resource (that which allows it to exist as a power structure) is human capital and investment. A trade off has always existed, in instances where churches sent missionaries into populations of foreign indigenous people, that they could provide food, shelter and medical care for these natives in exchange for their religious conversion. While it would often be the case that these people had preexisting cultural practices and beliefs, the sheer benefit of aid in survival brought to them by these strangers would be persuasive enough to serve as proof of the superior nature of the beliefs they also held. (This, of course, excludes all instances in which religious conversion was forced upon such populations, a scenario that also occurred all too often).

Essentially, this healing ability of the newcomers replaced the former witch doctors and the previous religious connections the populations had with the beliefs of these new beings who seemed to possess a knowledge to which the more rudimentary cultures previously had no access. And so it would naturally follow that these formerly sovereign populations would not only heartily accept this great help, but would feel a particular curiosity, or perhaps even debt, toward accepting entirely new religious beliefs.

Now, flash forward to current day, to a nation that has no establishment of state religion and with a capacity and government capable of doing these great deeds without the obligations accompanied by religious affiliation or indoctrination. This is a society in which many different religions are believed simultaneously, but whose very essential daily needs are met without the distinct requirement to believe in ANY religion, leaving available the very tempting option of freedom of thought and expression.

This would certainly explain the very contradictory nature in which a thoroughly religious (in the case of the United States), predominantly Christian nation could possibly allow for there to be so many of its own citizens living without healthcare. Healthcare given by an entity other than a religious institution is a direct threat to one of the most marketable arguments given for the necessity of religion, world-wide...that of human sustenance and healing.

I am often reminded, when I think of this, of the brilliant Christopher Hitchins, who teased apart the need for religion so expertly. And he did so by simply asking, "What good does religion do that could not be done by any non-religious group?" The answer is actually even more simple than the question: "none." Of course there is plenty of great harm religion has done and continues to do (think from large scale massacres to opposing the use of condoms in HIV stricken third world countries) that would not occur in the absence of religion. Would murder continue in its absence? Surely. But without that added excuse, certainly the rate of mass murder and war would decrease, along with all those situations in which religion, or the need for religious domination, forced populations to act in a way that was actually self-detrimental.

(It should be noted that there are numerous religious peoples and congregations that actually DO support providing healthcare to all citizenry without such requirements (as I did see during the very long and heated healthcare reform debates of 2009). But it is also the case that some of the staunchest opposition to the very idea of universal healthcare also came from the many who do consider themselves to be religious, in this case Christian.)

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 04:20:10 UTC | #904431

Isaiah118a's Avatar Comment 8 by Isaiah118a

The conclusions Thomsen comes to in these 5 videos can be completely reversed with basic transcendental arguments for the existence of God. It is only by assuming these certain human conditions are causes rather than effects of God that he feels as if he's found a way to explain the persistence of religion. If we assume that the Bible is true in it's description of God and that we are created in His image (Gen. 1:27), we should fully expect...

Part 1:

...problem solving devices. We are made to reason (Isaiah 1:18)

..."decoupled cognition", where we can perceive a conversation with unseen entities or conceive of minds independent of bodies because we are made to relate to God (John 3:16).

...brain "architecture" and "design" (Thomsen uses this term 4 times) is a reality because there is an Architect and Designer.

Part 2:

..."the same mechanisms that make us human are the same that make us religious" because we are humans created with an innate sense of God's reality (Romans 1:18-24)

..."attachment systems" are a reality because, again, we are made to relate.

..."agency detection" and "innate moral inferential systems" that are a reality because we are morally aware of God's law (Romans 2:15).

..."adaptations" that are "designed" with "purpose" (there are those unavoidable terms again with their theistic implications)

...moral inferential systems that are evident in infants (Yale study) because we are born with a knowledge of our Creator (Rom. 1)

Part 3:

...morals without a belief in God make sense because, again, they are "written on our hearts" (Rom. 2:15)

..."hardwired...instinctive" (previous) moral obligations. We don't "get morals from the Bible", we get them from birth as creatures of God. The Bible explains moral law, but we don't need to read the Bible or even believe it to be morally aware.

...the "Trolley problem" as a moral dilemma we all try to solve because we are all morally aware. It isn't a "problem" for theism, it's actually evidence for it.

Part 4:

...Christian views against abortion and for capital punishment, because God values unborn life (Psalm 139:13) and also justice for serious crimes against the lives of His creation (Exodus 21:22-25). These are not contradictory because God's justice applies to both the taking and giving of life. It isn't arbitrary or paradoxical. Judgment of sin is foundational to Christian theology.

...Christians and others who care about the health and well-being of others, as God cares for His creation. Healthcare issues and the US are a strawman; a complex political issue with many facets and not very relevant to the moral instincts of individuals.

Part 5:

...Jesse Bering's mouse/alligator analogy. Our inability to simulate our non-existence is because God has "put eternity into the hearts of men." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We have an innate awareness of eternal things.

...thoughts of God occurring in the same area of the brain as thoughts of self. Knowledge of God is as innate as self-awareness. This doesn't mean that the latter invented the former.

The fact that throughout history and across the world we have many differences in what God is like (or gods) only shows that we all have a basic, God-given knowledge of our Creator that we interpret differently because we are merely humans limited by mortality and sin's corruptive effects (Gen. 3). The argument for God is even stronger than the argument against if Thomsen were to leave out his numerous causal assumptions and simply look at the world as if the Bible were actually true.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 05:09:55 UTC | #904438

Greyman's Avatar Comment 9 by Greyman

Yes, if you assume that the bible is true you will conclude that the bible is true because the bible says it's true.

Circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 05:36:42 UTC | #904442

schnapster31's Avatar Comment 10 by schnapster31

Comment 9 by Greyman :

"Yes, if you assume that the bible is true you will conclude that the bible is true because the bible says it's true."

"Circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works."

I love this response. A whole page worth of argument, but because it is based on faulty logic, it can be disassembled with two sentences. Brilliantly played, Greyman.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 05:48:25 UTC | #904445

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 11 by QuestioningKat

The conclusions Thomsen comes to in these 5 videos can be completely reversed with basic transcendental arguments for the existence of God.

I was wondering why you did this for the Bible and not a pagan God, Hindu God, Muslim God or New Age Goddess?

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 05:50:24 UTC | #904446

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 12 by susanlatimer

Comment 9 by Greyman

Circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works.

Somebody here last year had this as a gravatar. The words went in a circle so that it read infinitely, "Circular reasoning works because Circular reasoning works because Circular reasoning..."

I never wear words on clothes but if I had that on a t-shirt, I'd be happy to wear it.

I wish I could remember which poster it was. The gravatar and their comments always made such an impression that I didn't notice their name. That should be taken as a compliment.

Was that you? If it wasn't, does anyone remember who it was?

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 06:08:35 UTC | #904447

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 13 by susanlatimer

Comment 8 by Isaiah 118a

transcendental arguments for the existence of God

You mean those fatally flawed arguments for the existence of some god that isn't necessarily your god?

If we assume that the Bible is true in it's description of God and that we are created in His image (Gen. 1:27), we should fully expect...

Why would we assume that? A faulty premise leads to outlandish conclusions. You really need to establish your premise before you go blathering on with the rest of it.

The fact that throughout history and across the world we have many differences in what God is like (or gods) only shows that we all have a basic, God-given knowledge of our Creator that we interpret differently because we are merely humans limited by mortality and sin's corruptive effects (Gen. 3). The argument for God is even stronger than the argument against if Thomsen were to leave out his numerous causal assumptions and simply look at the world as if the Bible were actually true.

How did you manage to make that leap? Lots of people believed in thousands of different gods and suddenly we should look at the world as if Yahweh is real? Why?

I think Andy Thomson has the upperhand right now in terms of explanatory value. Would you care to explain how your position accounts for all those other gods and Andy Thomson's version is flawed?

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 06:17:51 UTC | #904449

sbooder's Avatar Comment 14 by sbooder

I am not sure I agree with the human psyche reasoning. It seems to me, man invented god/s through a lack of options.

Bill O'Reilly is living evidence of a lack of options, "tide goes in, and tide goes out". His lack of options because he has no understanding of science, leaves him with only one logical answer? It is supernatural, ergo, a magic man did it!

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 07:13:11 UTC | #904451

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 15 by debonnesnouvelles

Comment 12 by susanlatimer :

Somebody here last year had this as a gravatar. The words went in a circle so that it read infinitely, "Circular reasoning works because Circular reasoning works because Circular reasoning..."

I wish I could remember which poster it was. The gravatar and their comments always made such an impression that I didn't notice their name. That should be taken as a compliment.

Was that you? If it wasn't, does anyone remember who it was?

Same here, that gravatar was great - it reminded me of a very beautiful drawing of a renaissance canon I once saw. Anyhow, did a little search and the gravatar doesn't seem to show anywhere any more. You know that when a user changes his gravatar, it gets automatically switched in all the discussions that the person ever commented on. I noticed that e.g. with InYourFaceNewYorker's grav. Sorry Mod, slightly off topic...

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 09:58:13 UTC | #904470

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 16 by susanlatimer

comment 15 by debonnesnouvelles

Sorry Mod, slightly off topic...

True. But an excellent point, well worth investigating.

Thanks for remembering it too. It made a solid impression.

I wish I knew how to find it in the archives.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 10:02:51 UTC | #904471

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 17 by debonnesnouvelles

Comment 16 by susanlatimer :

...I wish I knew how to find it in the archives.

Have a look on this discussion by Steve Zara:

http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/641922-the-wtf-fallacy-and-others

You find your man under comment47 I believe!

If not, you could make a short, witty discussion out of it - I am sure someone from the regulars will see it and then come to your rescue with the right answer ;-)

off topic over.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 10:33:37 UTC | #904476

achromat666's Avatar Comment 18 by achromat666

As others have already rendered much of my planned retort pointless, I will simply examine a few of the faulty points of this post:

If we assume that the Bible is true in it's description of God and that we are created in His image (Gen. 1:27), we should fully expect...

The priori reasoning has already been made apparent, so I will only add that we could make the assumption you have about any deity that's ever existed, based on their creation myths. You realize that there are many civilizations with deities far older than Yahweh and indeed there are many other cultures with deities of their own. They could make the identical claim you have and would still be just as wrong.

...thoughts of God occurring in the same area of the brain as thoughts of self. Knowledge of God is as innate as self-awareness. This doesn't mean that the latter invented the former.

Based on what precisely? Here's a question...if we say that the Greeks, Norse, Babylonians and numerous others worshiped deities they created and that what they created was a result of their cultural inclinations (as has been the case in all faiths) what exactly makes the biblical God any less man made? Putting all of the bible in context to the time of its origins and the culture of the writers actually gives the same clues of its man made nature as with any other. It is the primary reason for the disconnect that happens when people try to apply the bible stories to contemporary life, because it was never meant to be taken in that context.

And is there any evidence for the claim of god thoughts occurring in the brain as you posit it? The prevalence of deities has always been due to the lack of knowledge in the ancient world, hence why each culture has a different viewpoint of how their deity (or deities) function.

The fact that throughout history and across the world we have many differences in what God is like (or gods) only shows that we all have a basic, God-given knowledge of our Creator that we interpret differently because we are merely humans limited by mortality and sin's corruptive effects (Gen. 3). The argument for God is even stronger than the argument against if Thomsen were to leave out his numerous causal assumptions and simply look at the world as if the Bible were actually true.

God (or gods)? Interesting that you acknowledge the existence of deities in other cultures, but still wish to play the 'my god is better than theirs' game without explanation. And by the way, as has been explained by numerous people in this and other threads on this site, the bible is not a factual referencing text. You can't use the bible to successfully prove the bible. You have to give evidence for the veracity of your claims. Stating that we should take the bible as truth isn't evidence of anything but your own belief, which is not fact based.

And do we really want to look at the world as if the bible were actually true? Do we wish to see the world as a contradictory, spiteful, bronze age, self referential text? Haven't we seen enough of what happens when others take the bible as truth?

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 11:14:16 UTC | #904485

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 19 by susanlatimer

Comment 17 by debonnesnouvelles

NICE WORK, debonnesnouvelles! I'm a little embarassed that the gravatar belonged to Reason Matters. You'd think I would have remembered that name, all considered. Although, it makes sense that the name itself would have slid past my limited mind.

off topic over.

The Mods put up with a lot. I feel compelled to say, "Happy New Year, Mods!" I don't know how you do it but you put on a clinic in herding cats. Whatever you do, you manage a wonderful website that encourages conversation while managing trolls. It can't be easy. I think in the case of RD.net, it requires exceptional skill and patience. Thank you for an enlightening year.

This place has done wonders for me. I have a long way to go yet but that's up to me.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 11:22:38 UTC | #904489

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 20 by susanlatimer

Comment 18 by achromat666

Another excellent post.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 11:24:03 UTC | #904490

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 21 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 6 by andrewspringman

6) The most interesting topic was the paper discussed in video five (the location of thoughts of what you think God thinks being the same location as what you think). It is the greatest challenge to theists raised by these videos.

I couldn't help but find the results a bit of a tautology. If person X volitionally believes in God, why should it come as any surprise that God believes the same things they do, when that degree of sameness is required in order to have the belief in the first place.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 11:34:51 UTC | #904492

wholewitt's Avatar Comment 22 by wholewitt

The trolley problem is a Strawman biblically and morally speaking. It is not a biblical dilemma since the command not to murder is clear. So in either scenario, whichever decison is made in harmony with the command not to murder, is not immoral.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 12:12:14 UTC | #904498

VyckRo's Avatar Comment 23 by VyckRo

DPRJONES, dear you and Mr.Thomson make some mistakes Generally they are based on wrong assumptions. But if as a lawyer, you are interested in "audiatur et altera pars" I am at your disposal.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 12:46:35 UTC | #904502

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 24 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 23 by VyckRo

DPRJONES, dear you and Mr.Thomson make some mistakes Generally they are based on wrong assumptions.

Okay, let's have them. You can't just make an assertion like that without support.

But if as a lawyer, you are interested in "audiatur et altera pars" I am at your disposal.

Never mind DPRJones and DR.Thompson, I want to hear the other side and what makes you the expert person to present it.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 12:54:04 UTC | #904507

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 25 by QuestioningKat

Here you go Susan. Scroll through the images. You may want to check out the pins under "atheist." Some are pretty funny.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 16:34:07 UTC | #904558

CEVA34's Avatar Comment 26 by CEVA34

The command not to murder, says Wholewitt, is clear. Something in the Bible is clear? Good grief, that's a novelty. Actually, that command is not at all clear, or rather most people's understanding of it isn't. It cannot be said too often that the Bible is mostly a Jewish book. The Old Testament certainly is.The command means, not that we mustn't kill another human, but that a Jew must not kill another Jew. No problem about killing anyone else, whether by accident or design (or, often enough, by God's explicit orders).

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 16:44:48 UTC | #904560

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 27 by susanlatimer

Comment 25 by Questioning Kat

Thank you! There it is!

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 18:40:22 UTC | #904591

wholewitt's Avatar Comment 28 by wholewitt

The original-language words variously rendered “kill,” “murder,” and “slay” refer to the taking of a life (not just a Jew as you suggest, though youi probably mean Israelite, jews being a later designation), the context or other scriptures determining whether the deliberate and unauthorized or unlawful taking of another person’s life is involved. For example, in the command, “You must not murder” (Ex 20:13), the Hebrew word for “murder” (ra·tsach′) here clearly refers to deliberate and unlawful killing. In Numbers 35:27 the same term denotes an act that an avenger of blood was authorized to carry out. Therefore, the command, “You must not murder,” has to be understood within the framework of the entire Mosaic Law, which authorized the taking of human life under certain circumstances, as in the execution of criminals.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 18:43:14 UTC | #904593

BenS's Avatar Comment 29 by BenS

Comment 22 by wholewitt :

It is not a biblical dilemma since the command not to murder is clear.

Comment 28 by wholewitt :

Therefore, the command, “You must not murder,” has to be understood within the framework of the entire Mosaic Law, which authorized the taking of human life under certain circumstances, as in the execution of criminals.

So, the command not to murder is clear... within a non-defined framework of a nebulous and debated law under certain non-specific circumstances where, say, the execution of an undefined 'criminal' is allowed.

Glad you cleared that up for us.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 19:26:32 UTC | #904609

GBile's Avatar Comment 30 by GBile

My twist on the trolley-problem would be to ask a theist, no make that Mitt Romney, the question: "Suppose on the first track were the 5 children of the reverend of the local church, while on the other track walked a wellknown (and, unavoidably, strident) atheist. What would jezus, sorry, what would you do?"
I wonder whether he would deny the children an immediate opportunity to spend their 'eternity in the presence of the lord' and deny the atheist more time to possibly convert to the lords side?
Well, maybe Isaiah118a can aswer.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 20:29:32 UTC | #904623