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This just in from evolutionary psychology: Hardwired to believe in God – part zillion and three


Bill’s recent exchange with an American sci jo who has suddenly discovered (how, I wonder?) that Darwinists’ promotion of evangelical atheism is a poor match for their claims of religious neutrality made me decide to cross-post an item from the Post-Darwinist.

I keep up with the steady stream of nonsense from evolutionary psychology, because that is the form of Darwinism that most laypeople encounter most regularly.

Stories like the one from the Dallas Morning News, linked below, help us understand why so many Americans cannot take Darwinism seriously. It drips with the vast contempt that the Darwinist feels for people who have had experiences he (or she) cannot account for, let alone (apparently) have.

(I don’t take too seriously the claims that Westerners other than North Americans are more accepting of evolution (= Darwinism). As a Canadian, I know full well that Americans are generally much freer than other peoples to simply disagree with their elite about how to interpret the evidence. There’s nothing shocking about that there, as there is in Canada, let alone Europe. )

According to the Dallas Morning News, a recent experiment in the British University of Newcastle psychology department tells us great stuff about how we come to believe in God.

“I had been looking after the coffee and tea in our department for ages,” she said.

A sign set the prices for tea, coffee and a bit of milk – 30, 50 and 10 pence.

In January, without telling anyone, Dr. Bateson and her colleagues added one feature to the payment sign: They put up a picture of eyes for five weeks, alternating with a picture of flowers for five weeks.

When the eyes were posted, payments averaged 2.76 times larger than the weeks with the flowers.

The experiment confirmed two earlier studies, including one run by Dr. Fessler and a colleague, that used eyes or faces on computer screens. In all three experiments, people faced by even a hint of a face tended to act nicer.

So, putting the links together:

Our ancestors were hard-wired to pay attention to faces and to change behaviors if they were being watched. They were also inclined to believe in supernatural beings.

And they seem to have been programmed to subconsciously respond to the concept of an immaterial supernatural observer as if it were another person – which is what the break room experiment demonstrated.

Note that marvelous expression, “putting the links together … ” Somewhat the way the consiprazoid puts the links together and discovers that no celebrity from Marilyn Monroe onward died of causes other than murder…

Having decided at the outset that belief in spiritual occurrences must be the result of a psychological disposition and not the result of experience, the evo psycho Melissa Bates goes on to build a whole theory out of, essentially thin air. In fact, even Jeffrey Weiss, who is in her camp, admits

A few last-minute caveats: Every link in this chain is controversial. Behaviorists, psychologists and biologists have alternate theories about why humans cooperate and practice religion. Even those who agree on the broad outlines disagree about important details.

I’ll bet. As a matter of fact, the best explanation for the improved collection record has nothing to do with belief in the supernatural at all, but with the – well-justified – suspicion that the picture of the eyes meant that one’s petty pilfering had come to the notice of the coffee convenor …

It never seems to occur to evo psychos and similar folk that, given that they are most unlikely to have a genuine spiritual experience, they are actually in a much poorer position than most people are to understand or comment lucidly on such experiences. They stand in about the same relation to spiritual experiences as the blind do to art or the deaf to music. Thus they are suckers for any fool theory that comes along. And some journalists are no better.

...hardwared... Smidlee
I haven't been harewired to believe this evolutionary psychology nonsense so I wonder what gene am I missing? Smidlee
Of course, evo would have those who commit crimes to lose their life and therefore their genes. So, the inclination to commit crime would disappear, except of course for smart or attentive criminals who get away with it. So, naturally we would expect that only highly intelligent humans to have a tendency for crime -- the genes would be correlated. Oh, what is that you say, most criminals are clearly not so bright? The correlation appears to be lacking? Hmmmm. Oh, yes, and of course evo would expect that the genes of those who turn to a life of crime in old age would also continue on, since they have already reproduced. So, most criminals probably start when they get past their reproductive age. What is that you say, most crimes are committed by the young, those who are in their prime reproduction age? There must be some mistake! Ah, but nothing that will slow down the NDE theory-generators we can be sure. Ekstasis
I am consistently amazed by what science has been able to discover. In the referenced article, David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University in New York, tells us that “all kinds of critters – from tropical fish to jungle monkeys to mall shoppers – act more honestly... if they think they're being observed.” I’m wondering what honest behavior in a fish looks like and how that is measured--scientifically, of course. Perhaps someone out there can point us to the peer-reviewed studies on The Evolution of Ethical Behavior in Tetra. Or maybe, When Good Guppies Go Bad. He also informs us that “Early humans who were attentive in that way were less likely to get caught and punished for doing something wrong,” which in turn, “made them more likely to pass their genes along.” On this score too, Dr Wilson doubtless can pass along the peer-reviewed studies that compare the groups of “attentive” early humans with the non-attentive ones. Which groups? How was it determined that one group was more attentive than the next? How was attentiveness measured? How was the punishment meted out and who did the punishing--members of the groups who were less attentive? If so, why would they punish members of their own group for acting according to their own mores? Furthermore, apparently the punishment was so severe that the less attentive were prevented from procreating. How do we know this? Finally, Mr Weiss of the The Dallas Morning News tells us that “Humans seem to have evolved to jump to conclusions. We often decide we know what's happening before we have all the evidence.” Indeed. Evolutionary biologists and fawning uncritical journalists most of all. SteveB
Ah, my comment was in support of the valid point which Saxe makes about the tautology in Darwinian thinking:
Oh yes, I forgot…we evolved therefore we evolved consciousness and our consciousness is evidence of our evolving.
I think what Saxe is getting at is that a consistent atheist cannot trust that their own beliefs are true. Do you think it is true or are the laws of physics constraining that? As for the overall topic: doesn't Romans 1 pretty much say we are hardwired to know God? That would be my explanation. geoffrobinson
Interesting post Denyse. The study you describe reminds me of another recent study in which the researches placed sick people into two groups. They had a third group of “prayers” (by which I mean not more than one prayer, but more than one person praying) say prayers for one group of sick people but not the other. Then they measured the delta of the recovery rate between the two groups of sick people. Not surprisingly, there was no statistically significant difference in the recovery rate, from which they concluded that praying for people does not make them get well. The stupidity of this study beggars belief. BarryA
From moderator Denyse: Scott, how be you explain your point? I'm not psychic, so I can't guess what you think is circular reasoning if you can't explain. I bet a lot of other people would have the same reaction. O'Leary
Holy circular reasoning, Saxeman! Scott
Yes, how does the COE (cult of evolution) explain their own thoughts & beliefs? After all, how do molecules in motion derive a thought life? Oh yes, I forgot...we evolved therefore we evolved consciousness and our consciousness is evidence of our evolving. Saxe saxe17

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