Evolutionary psychology

None of the Above: All the Modern Explanations for Religion Except the Most Obvious

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Did you know that: Religion is good for you; also, Religion is bad for you; also, Religion makes no difference; also, Religion can be explained by a God gene, or a meme, or part of the brain . . . or whatever the editor of your local paper’s “Relationships” section will buy for this weekend’s edition?

You didn’t know any of those things? Aw, no surprise. But never fear: One outreach of the new atheist movement, currently making its way around the lecture rooms of the nation, is the academic attempt to account for religious belief, and to do so on any basis whatsoever, except one.

We will get to that forbidden one in a moment. First, let’s look at the permitted ones.

Go here for more.

Anyway, if you are paying taxes for this, why are you? Has it never occurred to you that you might have been born free and able to make up your own mind?

5 Replies to “None of the Above: All the Modern Explanations for Religion Except the Most Obvious

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    That religious belief is so widespread and persistent in human society does indeed call for an explanation.

    Denyse O’Leary implies here that science is deliberately ignoring the most obvious explanation which is that the religious explanation is true.

    The problem with that hypothesis is that there are, and have been, hundreds of different religions around the world. A few have become very successful if measured in terms of the numbers of adherents but there is no one faith that has become dominant in the way we might expect if it alone were true and all the others were false.

    The only explanation that seems to fit what we observe is the pragmatic one that religion in general tends to promote social cohesion and adhesion. The number of different faiths suggest that the theological fine details are less important than that the beliefs are shared and supported by enough people. One measure of the importance of those beliefs as social bonds might be the lengths believers will go to in order to explain or ignore contradictions or inconsistencies in scriptures.

    A few days ago I caught part of a TV documentary about the discovery and translation of the Gospel of Judas. I have to confess I knew little about the Gnostic Gospels so I began Googling Gnosticism. When I read this passage from the Salvo article:

    The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous, “and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist,” he says. Dawkins then criticizes Abraham, compares Moses to Hitler and Saddam Hussein, and calls the New Testament “St Paul’s nasty, sado-masochistic doctrine of atonement for original sin.”

    it immediately reminded me of this passage from the Wikipedia entry about the Gospel:

    Irenaeus mentions a Gospel of Judas in his anti-Gnostic work Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), written in about 180. He writes there are some who:

    declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. . .They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictional history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.[4]

    This is in reference to the Cainites, an alleged sect of Gnosticism that especially worshipped Cain as a hero. Irenaeus alleged that the Cainites, like a large number of Gnostic groups, were semi-maltheists believing that the god of the Old Testament — Yahweh — was evil, and a quite different and much lesser being than the deity that had created the universe, and who was responsible for sending Jesus. Such Gnostic groups worshipped as heroes all the Biblical figures who had sought to discover knowledge or challenge Yahweh’s authority, while demonizing those who would have been seen as heroes in a more orthodox interpretation.[My emphasis]

    If you read the Old Testament accounts of God’s behavior without the spin placed on it by Christian apologetics, then the attitudes of the Gnostics and Dawkins are quite understandable. Yet rather than repudiate those accounts in the way that Lutherans distanced themselves from the worst of Luther’s anti-Semitic excesses, Christians defend them. In other words, the nature of the beliefs is less important than that everyone stays “on message”

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, and exactly why would you, one who has not had a personal revelation of Christ, nor, as far as I can tell, do you desire one, seek to refute the New Testament with the discredited gnostic gospels? i.e. Tell me exactly why do you even care about this matter so deeply if you really and truly don’t believe it to be true? Is there some nagging doubt lurking around in your mind somewhere that you have been unable to kill with deception? Well if that be so, let me, by all means, fuel that doubt and see if your gnostics can pass this following test:

    The Holy Bible – God’s Watermark Of Authenticity – Ivan Panin
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4136566
    Sevens In the Bible, Part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDsR_piL36Q

    COMPUTER VERIFICATION OF A MIRACLE
    Excerpt: The Bible begins with “IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.” The number of words, in this one verse, in the original Hebrew (which was the language of the Old Testament) is SEVEN words.

    These SEVEN words have 28 letters (4×7). These 28 letters are divided like this: The first three words (containing the subject and predicate of the sentence – “In the beginning God created”.) have 14 letters (2×7); the last four words (containing the object of the sentence – “the heavens and the earth”.) also have 14 letters (2×7). The last four words are thus subdivided: The fourth and fifth words (containing one object -“the heavens”.) have SEVEN (1×7) letters; the sixth and SEVENTH words (containing the second object -“and the earth”.) also have SEVEN (1×7) letters. In relation to the importance of the words, themselves, the 28 letters are thus divided: The three leading words, GOD the subject, heaven and earth the two objects, have 14 letters (2×7); the four words have also 14 (2×7).

    The numeric value of the first, middle, and last letters of this sentence is 133 (19×7), while the numeric value of the first and last letters of all seven words in this verse is 1393 (199×7). The first and last letters of the first and last words have 497 (71×7); the remaining words (between the first and last) have 896 (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 7). We break this amount down due to the factors being SEVEN and TWO taken as a factor SEVEN times. The three important nouns, God, heaven, earth, have 14 letters (2×7). The numeric value is 777 (111×7). The one verb, created has 203(29×7).
    http://www.rangeguide.net/panin.htm#verification

    Euler’s Number – God Created Mathematics Verified To Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003905
    This related website has the complete working out of the math of Pi and e in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Greek languages in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1:
    http://www.biblemaths.com/pag03_pie/

    Evidence of Design:
    An Example from the New Testament:
    Excerpt: The first 17 verses of the Gospel of Matthew are a logical unit, or section, which deals with a single principal subject: the genealogy of Christ. It contains 72 Greek vocabulary words in these initial 17 verses. (The verse divisions are man’s allocations for convenience, added in the 13th century.)

    The number of words which are nouns is exactly 56, or 7 x 8.

    The Greek word “the” occurs most frequently in the passage: exactly 56 times, or 7 x 8. Also, the number of different forms in which the article “the” occurs is exactly 7.

    There are two main sections in the passage: verse 1-11, and 12-17. In the first main section, the number of Greek vocabulary words used is 49, or 7 x 7.

    Why not 48, or 50?

    Of these 49 words, the number of those beginning with a vowel is 28, or 7 x 4. The number of words beginning with a consonant is 21, or 7 x 3.
    The total numbers of letters in these 49 words is 266, or 7 x 38 – exactly! The number of vowels among these 266 letters is 140, or 7 x 20. The number of consonants is 126, or 7 x 18 – exactly.
    Of the 49 words, the number of words which occur more than once is 35, or 7 x 5. The number of words occurring only once is 14, or 7 x 2. The number of words which occur in only one form is exactly 42, or 7 x 6. The number of words appearing in more than one form is also 7.
    The number of the 49 Greek vocabulary words which are nouns is 42, or 7 x 6. The number of words which are not nouns is 7. Of the nouns, 35 are proper names, or exactly 7 x 5. These 35 names are used 63 times, or 7 x 9. The number of male names is exactly 28, or 7 x 4. These male names occur 56 times or 7 x 8. The number which are not male names is 7.
    Three women are mentioned – Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. The number of Greek letters in these three names is 14, 7 x 2.
    The number of compound nouns is 7. The number of Greek letters in these 7 nouns is 49, or 7 x 7.
    Only one city is named in this passage, Babylon, which in Greek contains exactly 7 letters.
    And on it goes. To get an indication of just how unique these properties are, try the example in the inset.
    http://www.khouse.org/articles/1995/102/

    It should be noted that these patterns of sevens pervade the entire bible and are most heavily encoded in what would be considered the most important passages. I’ve seen all sorts of attempts to refute these patterns and as far as I can tell the atheists have only been successful in questioning marginal text at the outskirts of text. And yet as for the most important passages in the bible here sits this pervasive and inexplicable pattern of sevens. So seversky, can you please site such evidence of sevens permeating the gnostic gospels? If not why not?

    further note:

    The Works of Ivan Panin
    Excerpt: One of the most remarkable occurrences in our time is God’s preparation of one individual to produce positive evidence that would completely undermine all Biblical criticism and bring atheism toppling to the ground wherever honest, thinking men will face the facts.
    http://www.bereanpublishers.co....._Panin.htm

  3. 3
    Matteo says:

    The problem with that hypothesis is that there are, and have been, hundreds of different religions around the world. A few have become very successful if measured in terms of the numbers of adherents but there is no one faith that has become dominant in the way we might expect if it alone were true and all the others were false.

    Two things: First, the fact that there are many wrong answers says nothing about whether there are any right answers. Should science, for example be abandoned because there have been incorrect theories? Second: it is no claim of Christianity that the overwhelming majority will accept it (quite the contrary), so how can the failure of the overwhelming majority to accept it count as a strike against it?

    I expect that the usual dynamic in this discussion will obtain: the atheist makes the theological argument that if God existed, everyone would believe in Him, the theist explains that Christianity gives reasons why this is not the case, and the atheist cries foul because the theist’s explanation is theology, not science. Heads they win, tails the theist loses.

  4. 4
    Graham1 says:

    To Matteo: There are over 2850 gods (See godchecker.com), yet only 1 periodic table. Any country, any language, any culture and still only 1 science. This is telling you something.

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    Matteo @ 3

    Two things: First, the fact that there are many wrong answers says nothing about whether there are any right answers. Should science, for example be abandoned because there have been incorrect theories? Second: it is no claim of Christianity that the overwhelming majority will accept it (quite the contrary), so how can the failure of the overwhelming majority to accept it count as a strike against it?

    First, science makes no claim to possession of truth only to be a method of groping, by a process of trial and error, towards explanations which, hopefully, are true to the extent that they are ever closer approximations to the reality they are intended to describe and explain.

    Religions like Christianity, however, claim to have had some ultimate truth already revealed to them and that anything which contradicts that revelation is wrong by definition.

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