The Eleventh Commandment: Punish Free Riders

Religion and the evolutionary origin of cooperation

Two of the deep puzzles in human evolution are religion and cooperation between genetically unrelated strangers. In recent years, many researchers have come to believe the two phenomena are intimately linked. If people believe they are being watched and judged by an omnipresent supernatural entity, they may be more willing to perform emotionally binding and costly rituals to signal commitment to a group. The same sense of being watched may also encourage people to be helpful to others—even when there is no obvious reproductive payoff. In other words: Science suggests that God—and His followers—hate free riders.

A 2007 study by University of British Columbia psychologists Azim Shariff and Ara Norenzayan found that players in an anonymous economic game were more generous if they were primed with religious concepts before beginning play. In the case, the subjects participated in the dictator game in which they get to anonymously divvy up $10 between themselves and an unknown individual. The researchers assigned players into three groups. One group was primed with religious concepts by having them unscramble 10 five-word sentences, dropping an extraneous word from each to create a grammatical four-word sentence. For example, “dessert divine was fork the’’ would become ‘‘the dessert was divine.” The religious words were spirit, divine, God, sacred, and prophet. A second group was primed with words connoting secular moral institutions, e.g., civic, jury, court, police, and contract. The third group unscrambled sentences containing neutral words. So what did they find?

Earlier studies using the dictator game consistently found that subjects in general behaved selfishly by taking most of the money for themselves. In this case, players in the neutral game offered an average of $2.56 to other players. However, players who had been primed with religious concepts offered an average of $4.56. Interestingly, players primed with secular moral concepts offered $4.44, nearly as much as players exposed to religious primes. Self-reported belief in God was not a good predictor of generosity in the neutral prime version of the game; it seems believers needed reminders to be more generous.

But how do the invisible omnipresent gods encourage generosity to strangers? Of course, the gods can reward believers for good behavior, but they also punish them for bad behavior. It is how this aspect of religious belief affects cooperation that a team of researchers led by University of London psychologist Ryan McKay attempt to probe in a study released last week, “Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment.”

One of the chief fears of people who want to cooperate is that they will be chumps who are taken advantage of by free riders. Earlier research using public goods economic games found that cooperation was considerably enhanced if players had an opportunity to punish free riders. In these games, players can invest in a common pool which then grows and is divvied up among all the players. Free riders, however, can make more money by refusing to invest and yet get a share of the growing pool. Research shows that cooperation breaks down completely when such free riders cannot be punished by other players. But when other players can pay to reduce the holdings of free riders, they begin to play fairly and cooperation dramatically increases.

In the new study, McKay and his colleagues sought to find out if religious priming promotes costly punishment of unfair behavior. In this experiment, one player could choose between splitting a pot of money evenly between herself and a second player or she could choose another option in which the split was about nine to one. If the second player believed the choice was unfair, she could punish the first player by spending a portion of her allocation to reduce the take of the first player at a rate of three to one, e.g., if she spent 50, the first player would lose 150. The players were subliminally primed by words flashing on a computer screen. Divided into four groups, one group was exposed to religious words, another to punishment words, the third to punishment and religious words, and the fourth to neutral words. Afterwards, players were asked about their religious beliefs and if they had donated to a religious organization in the past year.

The results? “Our study reveals that for those who financially support religious institutions, subliminal religious messages strongly increase the costly punishment of unfair behavior, even when such punishment is to their individual material disadvantage,” says McKay in a press release describing the research. Subliminal religious priming did not have a significant effect on other players. 

So why does religious priming induce committed believers to punish unfair behavior? The researchers suggest two possibilities. The first is that religious primes trigger the idea that one is being watched by the gods. “In this case primed participants punish unfair behaviors because they sense that not doing so will damage their standing in the eyes of a supernatural agent,” they speculate. The second hypothesis is that religious primes “activate cultural norms pertaining to fairness and its enforcement and occasion behavior consistent with those norms.” McKay and his colleagues acknowledge that religious primes might actually invoke both mechanisms. In either case, while the gods may punish uncooperative sinners, their work is considerably enhanced if believers go out of their way to punish sinners too.

These studies do bolster the idea that ancestral belief in supernatural entities enhanced group cooperation, enabling believers to out-compete other groups. As Shariff and Norenzayan observe, “If the cultural spread of supernatural moralizing agents expanded the circle of cooperation to unrelated strangers, it may well have allowed small groups to grow into large-scale societies, from the early towns of Jericho and Ur to the metropolises of today.”

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.

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  • Realist ||

    Religion is used to control stupid people.

  • Max||

    Yes, it explains why dimwits keep making donations to Reason.

  • Max||

    ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Realist ||

    What the hell is this "ARFARFARFARFARF" crap? You must be Mad Max.

  • ||

    Max is a chronic troll who contributes nothing but ad hominem comments.

    Some posters have described him as "Hit & Run's Pet Yorkie", which is the reason that the ARFARFARF respsonse appears after many of his posts.

  • Max||

    And it's so clever!

  • xaM||

    1!!!!!!frArfArfArfAfrArfArfArfAfrArfArfArfA

  • -||

    It would be really clever to ignore it. But that's something that can never happen in an anarchy.

  • waffles||

    Hit and run is anarchy? Not that I care to back it up with numbers but it certainly seems that over the years reading H&R as if the number and frequency of posters has gone up while the average post length has probably gone down.

    Started typing this and got distracted. Now it's 2 hours later. I blame ADD.

  • -||

    Look at the quality of commentary here. The trolls, flame wars, obscenities, utter disregard for civil discourse...it's anarchy in principle and practical application. Given the opportunity to shine, most of us choose to wallow in the mud.

  • ||

    It's really FARTFARTFARTFART but his anus is too loose for the final consonant sound.

  • ||

    "Religion is used to control stupid people."

    Actually faith (especially faith in Christ) can be broken down with some simple cost benefit analysis.

    Don't believe and there is no God, no harm no foul

    Don't believe and there IS a God, spend eternity in hell.

    Belief costs nothing, not believing could be very expensive.

    Of course for most Christians it goes much beyond that, but I have a feeling that you're the type of person who doesn't believe a personal relationship with God is possible.

  • Realist ||

    So your god is so fucking stupid he can't tell you are faking it???

  • Some Guy||

    I can't wait to get to Heaven and find out that God is an introvert and hates people who worship him, so he sends all religious people to Hell.

    And I'll take vacations down there to laugh at all you suckers who try to use Pascal's Law.

  • ||

    "God is an introvert and hates people who worship him"

    Would this mean God could be Neil Peart?

  • theunknown||

    Its impossible to 'fake it' if God is stupid. The reason for this is if God has an IQ score in which he can be judged stupid then he must be real and if he is real then it is not possible to 'fake it' since he is real to begin with.

  • Realist ||

    Lots of reasonable people believe in Tinker Bell!

  • ||

    Pascal's Wager is very old hat, and, as Realist points out, an omniscient God would be perfectly aware that your worship was nothing more than 'fire insurance.'

    Besides, any God who wants to be worshipped is not worthy of being worshipped.

  • Realist ||

    Very good! What the hell are you doing here? You must feel so alone!

  • ||

    I didn't say anything about faking it.

    Salvation requires two steps. Belief in your heart, and confess with your mouth. That's it.

    And no I don't feel alone. Why should a belief in God be contrary to libertarian principles?

    I believe what I believe, and you can believe what you want to believe. I don't force you, and you don't force me.

    Of course as I've mentioned before, I don't think most people are all one set of beliefs.

    On many things I've very libertarian, on some conservative, and then on some others I'm even a bit liberal.

    I look at each belief and evaluate it on my own, not looking to some group to decide how I should behave or what I should believe.

  • ||

    Your original post referred only to the "cost/benefit analysis" - i.e. a weighing of the costs of belief vs. the costs of unbelief. The emotional component was not brought into it.

    Therefore, Realist's critique was accurate within the terms you framed.

  • ||

    I thought I said belief in God. Belief doesn't require an emotional compontent.

    Still, if I wasn't clear enough I apolgize for that.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    I hypothesize that belief in God and belief in a powerful state are similar. In both people put faith (the most overrated of supposed virtues) in a patriarchal overseer who cares about the trivial decisions you make.

    In both, you're living on your knees.

  • Realist ||

    "And no I don't feel alone." Do you understand how this board works?? Those replies offset just to the right of the comment above are for those comments! My reply was for Aresen...not you.
    "I didn't say anything about faking it." But of course you did, in your comment on whether to "believe" or not. People who "believe" are afraid of life and need a daddy to give them security.

  • ||

    No, people who believe (at least most I'm aware of) are concerned about death and what comes after, and want to make sure we don't end up in the wrong spot.

    Also

    "Realist |11.30.10 @ 5:25PM|#
    So your god is so fucking stupid he can't tell you are faking it???

    reply to this "

    unless of course that was out of order, I know the servers can play tricks.

  • Realist||

    "Realist |11.30.10 @ 5:25PM|#
    So your god is so fucking stupid he can't tell you are faking it???

    reply to this "

    unless of course that was out of order, I know the servers can play tricks."???? You really should try this sober! You replied "No I don't feel alone." You were answering a comment I made to Aresen....just sober up. Maybe your thumper fanaticism will subside.

  • seguin||

    Wow. Angry much?

  • colin||

    "are concerned about death and what comes after, and want to make sure we don't end up in the wrong spot."

    so their belief in God stems almost entirely from their fear of the unknown so they look for comfort where ever they can find it.

    If there is a God, he created reason, and I don't think he would be flattered by this abandonment of it.

    Maybe God will punish those who abandoned the only gift he bestowed on humanity, rationality, instead of those admitted to not knowing but resisted those who would use fear of the unknown to control them and humbly resigned themselves to whatever fate (and possibly God) have or do not have in store for them.

    everyone else is just taking the preachers word for it that if they don't say the words "i believe" they'll go to hell. That belief in your heart is just a misnomer for the fear that they feel.

    Any God who wanted to punish me for acknowledging the rationality that he gave me contradict every moral principle I have (and ironically that most religions have) and so I cannot believe in a literal hell.

    "And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil..." and I don't. We all die, we don't all waste our life listening to people who want us to be afraid of that fact.

  • colin||

    *syntax correction:
    'instead of those who have admitted to not knowing, but still resisted those who would use fear of the unknown to control them...'

  • Atheist||

    Interesting ideas

  • ||

    Realist: I wasn't sure if you had misplaced that comment "You must feel so alone!" as I don
    t know what you are referring to. A very large portion of the posters here are atheists* and agnostics, so I don't feel alone in that sense. (So many posters here fit that category that I would not have been surprised to see another post identifying Pascal's Wager by the time I hit the "submit' button.

    *I class myself as a "hard" atheist, BTW: I believe there is no god. (Given the usual difficulties with proving a negative - especially a negative of a concept with attributes that are by definition undefinable - I cannot "prove" that god does not exist.

  • Realist||

    "A very large portion of the posters here are atheists* and agnostics, so I don't feel alone in that sense." There aren't many tonight.

  • sevo||

    Add one.

  • Not Tony||

    This "you can't prove a negative" crap needs to stop; I have no idea why atheists go along with god worshipers on that point.

    And yes, there is no god.

  • sevo||

    Kroneborge|11.30.10 @ 5:43PM|#
    "Salvation requires two steps. Belief in your heart, and confess with your mouth. That's it."

    Thank you Fr. Kroneborge.

  • ||

    Catholics don't believe that claptrap. Leave us out of it.

  • Chad||

    "So your god is so fucking stupid he can't tell you are faking it???"

    Of course, this is the same God whose will can be thwarted by a bit of latex.

  • DLM||

    Of course, this is the same God whose will can be thwarted by a bit of latex.

    And what is God's will? Whatever someone claims it is? I could claim your will is to screw the next dog you encounter. That doesn't make it true, though admittedly it's remains a possibility.

  • ||

    Salvation requires two steps. Belief in your heart, and confess with your mouth. That's it.

    "See then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off" (Rom. 11:22)

    "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt. 24:13)

    ‘Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord" shall enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 7:21).

    "By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10)

    "If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20)

    "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3)

    "I [Paul] pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:27)

    "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil 2:12)

  • ||

    The Bible was written by human beings.
    Human beings make mistakes.

  • DLM||

    Human beings make mistakes.

    Libertarians don't make mistakes. Just ask them.

  • DDavis||

    ### Besides, any God who wants to be worshipped is not worthy of being worshipped.

    That's a little rough on the gods. Who doesn't like a little worship, after all? Let's just focus on the more egregious cases.

    To demand abject and servile worship, completely sacrificing your mind and your heart, under threat of eternal torture, is the act of a Celestial Psychopath, not a god worthy of worship.

  • IceTrey||

    Any God who sends people to Hell for ALL OF ETERNITY for not believing can go fuck it's self.

  • ||

    Any God that is compassionate enough to give us an easy way out of the penalty of our sins (death) is all right with me.

  • ||

    That is dependent on the notion that humans are inherently sinful (which is not the same as 'imperfect').

  • Realist||

    KIRK: You are flawed and imperfect! Execute your prime function!

  • ||

    Considering that God is the one who set us up to get penalized in the first place, that doesn't make him very compassionate.

    Unless you think God is not omnipotent, in which case we're going to have to break out the Hume.

  • DLM||

    Any God that is compassionate enough to give us an easy way out of the penalty of our sins (death) is all right with me.

    You think it's easy? LOL.

  • Wesley||

    I know some people believe you will go to hell if you don't believe in God, but that's not what I believe, and it's not what most Christians that I know believe. They believe that if you don't believe in God, that God will judge you. Belief in Jesus Christ as savior gets you a pardon, whether you need it or not. Not believing gets you a trial.

  • Meiczyslaw||

    This reminds me of a joke:

    A priest goes to Alaska, and meets an Eskimo. The priest tells him of the Word of God, and that belief in Jesus will lead to his salvation.

    Eskimo: But I didn't know that before I met you. What would have happened to me if I'd died without meeting you?

    Priest: God is just and merciful, and would have accepted you.

    Eskimo: So why the hell did you tell me?!?

  • Hooha||

    I hadn't heard this, and it is wonderful! XD

  • ||

    Though, if you go by Dante, this 'merciful' god will place you, as a virtuous non-christian(meaning one who has not heard the Word of God), into a relatively nice part of Hell.

    Such mercy.

  • ||

    Belief costs nothing, not believing could be very expensive.

    Some serious issues with this presumption:

    1. Belief does not cost nothing in any significant religion. Most religions come with a moral code pre-packaged, and obeying that code is going to carry with it a lot of opportunity costs. Plus most religions demand some sort of financial support, which literally costs a lot.

    2. If you believe in the wrong divinity, belief could be very expensive in the afterlife too.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    The idea that knowledge can be gained by revelation is also very costly. It will cause you to choose your emotions over your reason any time there is a conflict between them.

  • Zeus||

    The Christian God doesn't exist, Christians and non-believers in Hellenic religion will be sent to Hades for all eternity!

  • ||

    Oh yes, you titanian by-blow, are you really Zeus? See, Zeus would know that everyone goes to Hades. While there, some go to Tartarus, and some to the Elysian Fields.

    Embrace Chaos and you can go wherever you want!

  • Kathy Kinsley||

    There is no Goddess but Goddess and She is Your Goddess. There is no Erisian Movement but The Erisian Movement and it is The Erisian Movement. And every Golden Apple Corps is the beloved home of a Golden Worm.
    Hail Eris!

  • Not Tony||

    "Belief costs nothing"

    It seems that one of your premises is false. Try again.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I got from the dictator study that it was actually sentence scrambles that were used to manipulate mind of a type willing to participate in dubious studies.

    Who knows how that 10 spot would have been divvied up if they used the power of Sudoku!

  • Steve||

    Very Nice! I really like your blog - keep up the great work!!

    Steve
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

  • OO=======D||

    Kiss me again, Steve! Make love to me the way you used to!

  • Kevin||

    "However, players who had been primed with religious concepts offered an average of $4.56. Interestingly, players primed with secular moral concepts offered $4.44"

    So this study shows that people with secular moral beliefs are 97% as generous as those with religious moral beliefs.

    The major difference is that secular moral beliefs leave out the discrimination against homosexuals, and the oppression of women.

    So much for needing the fear of God to be good.

  • ||

    Kevin: I would think that this would be a pretty interesting area for further research. This result hints that invoking cultural norms of fairness is enough. Of course, evolutionary psychology might suggest that the cultural norms arose initially from ancestral sky god worship.

  • cynical||

    Civic religion is still a religion. It just means that you justify oppressing homos because it serves an esoteric concept like Democracy or The Revolution than a personified one like Jesus or God or Obama.

  • ||

    The major difference is that secular moral beliefs leave out the discrimination against homosexuals, and the oppression of women.

    You're not familiar with Japan, are you? Oppression of woman and discrimination of homosexuals can have secular origins.

    OK, they're arbitrary and non-rational, but then again so are all secular moral beliefs, since at some point it comes down to just believing a premise.

  • ||

    "OK, they're arbitrary and non-rational, but then again so are all secular moral beliefs, since at some point it comes down to just believing a premise."

    This

  • seguin||

    He forgot athiest Cuba's incarceration of homosexuals as well...not to mention what Stalin did to the Jews.

    So secular /= superior on those counts too.

  • ||

  • ||

    We need to provide tigresses, hens, and all other females in nature with outreach programs and support networks," Secunda said. "We also need to impose standards through intervention. The males of all species need to hear loud and clear the message that this kind of animal behavior is not acceptable."

  • ||

    You are also missing a major difference. The 4 of the 5 Secular words were all words about temporal force: police, judge, jury, court. The religious words were not force centered and only one had any relevance to temporal presence (prophet). So, to me at least, this says to have secualr morality, you need a forceful state, which is quite un-libertarian.

  • shrike's broken beak||

    Secularists in the West derive most of their values from the value systems promoted by Western religions although they like to pretend that they derive them from rational thought.

  • ||

    Bingo!

  • Botox Porcupine||

    Yeah. That explains why only three of the Ten Commandments have been transmitted into laws. And adultery isn't prosecuted anymore, so really just two.

    And CLEARLY us secularists couldn't have figured out that killing and stealing was immoral without religion.

    And we left out animal and child sacrifice, genocide, rape, slavery, and torture. But of course you couldn't find evidence of those things in any [western] religion.

  • Kathy Kinsley||

    What I find interesting is that NONE seem to have offered $5.00. Where were the redistributionists in this study? (Don't answer that - bet they were the ones offering $2 or less.)

  • Hooha||

    But that was THEIR money. Redistributionists believe in redistributing YOUR money, so they held true to their core values.

  • Realist ||

    "If people believe they are being watched and judged by an omnipresent supernatural entity, they may be more willing to perform emotionally binding and costly rituals to signal commitment to a group." So people are so fucked up that the only way they will do "the right thing" is if they believe the butt kicker in the sky will disapprove? Why didn't the butt kicker just make good people to begin with???

  • The Real Steve||

    He did, and then we reasoned that we knew better. We were wrong and now we're paying the price for it.

  • Realist ||

    Well then "HE" must have fucked up, or we would not have reasoned "that we knew better." He made us imperfect, which makes him fallible.

  • Steve||

    It's called freewill, freedom. And yes, improper actions do have their consequences, but you already knew that, didn't you.

  • Realist ||

    So let me see if I have this "free will" thingy down right. I tell you you have free will and you can do as you please, but if you piss me off I'll kick your ass. Is that about right?

  • Steve||

    No, you are allowed to suffer for your actions.

  • ||

    +1

  • Realist||

    KIRK: You are flawed and imperfect! Execute your prime function!

  • ||

    Haters be hatin

  • Botox Porcupine||

    If God is omniscient people can't have free will. It's a simple logical impossibility. If God knows your every move billions of years before you were even born, you can't act any differently, lest you make God wrong. And who the hell are you to make God wrong?

    And if God isn't omniscient, perhaps it's not worth worshiping him.

  • Clark "Superman" Kent||

    Human beings have a lot less free will then us Kryptonians. We can fly while powered by light from a yellow star, you humans cannot.

    If the entity you refer to as "God" values free will, why did he constrain human beings to obey gravity?

  • d||

    Sounds like life. If I decide to not plant the crops and my children die of starvation, damn God.

    Etc.

    Why does AIDS seem to be concentrated in groups of people with particular behavior characteristics?

    Why do smokers have a higher chance of getting lung cancer?

    Evil unjust god.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    1.) God is omnipotent; there is nothing he cannot do.
    2.) God is omniscient; there is nothing he does not know.
    3.) God is omnibenevolent; he is "all good."

    Thus, God KNOWS about evil, has the POWER to stop it, WANTS to stop it, and yet does not.

    It's called the Problem of Evil, and it's one of the oldest responses to religious apologists like yourself.

  • Not Tony||

    Not that you'd care, but your beliefs seem stupid to a lot of thinking people. *sigh*

    http://www.youtube.com/user/NonStampCollector

  • DesigNate||

    I suggest checking out the PBS series "God in America". It follows the evolution of religion from the first settlers at Jamestown and Plymouth all the way up to today. Most interesting to me was the argument that the Protestant Reformation laid the foundation for the ideas libertarians hold dear.

  • The Real Steve||

    Cristianity -- properly understood -- is a libertarian philosophy.

  • Realist ||

    "Cristianity" is that the worship of Charlie???

  • No, dumbass||

    it's the worship of Christopher

  • ||

    It's actually Crisstianity, or worship of Peter Criss, and an offshoot of Kisstianity.

  • seguin||

    SPLITTERS!

  • Still better than||

    Crisstianity, or the worship of douchebag magicians.

  • Realist||

    It's just in code???

  • God is the ultimate Tyrant||

    Bullshit! Christianity is the ultimate totalitarian regime, because it advocates submission to a genocidal, filicidal, narcissistic, power-hungry deity.

    If anyone is a libertarian, it's Satan. He's actually trying to overthrow the celestial tyrant and the tyrannical Heavenly State that God rules with an iron fist.

    Satan also gave us knowledge of good & evil. This pissed off God so much that he had to punish us for this thoughtcrime. Reminds me of China's censorship.

  • DLM||

    He's actually trying to overthrow the celestial tyrant and the tyrannical Heavenly State that God rules with an iron fist.

    Anyone who loves Satan and 'Hell' so much is free to go there. All comers welcome. Nothing is stopping you. Your rant just shows you really just want to impose your own morality on those who'd prefer Heaven.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    Yes, Satanist, how dare you purport that Biblical values such as rape, slavery, and genocide are immoral?

    When I get to hell, I'm gonna grab a position in upper management ASAP. Do you think Satan prefers Speysides or Islays?

  • Botox Porcupine||

    Yes, we libertarians love living on our knees. If there's one thing libertarians (or paleo-liberals, which I prefer more) respect, it's authority.

  • Realist ||

    "Science suggests that God—and His followers—hate free riders." You think science suggests there is a god? What science would that be???

  • ||

    I believe Ron is being his usual agnostic facetious self.

  • ||

    Aresen: Agnostic? I am an atheist - in much the same way that I am a-unicornist. :-)

  • ||

    Sorry, Ron.

    I haven't kept my player card straight on the endless 'religion' threads at H&R.

    I stand by the 'facetious' part, though.

  • cynical||

    So you're saying that if we use genetic engineering to splice narwhal genes into horse DNA, we can create God? Seems a little farfetched to me.

  • ||

    Cynical:

    :-)

  • ||

    Only if that offspring can create offspring. Otherwise you just have a narhorse or a horwhal.

  • The Real Steve||

    You think science suggests there is a god? What science would that be???
    What science would that be?

    True science.

  • Realist ||

    Spoken like a true fundie dick head!

  • ||

    I serve Gesell and guard the Gateway.

  • ||

    Christ, what a sloppy piece. Here's a wonderful connection to explore, and we fail elementary logic.

    Correlation is not causation, Bailey. Yes, religion might cause cooperation. Or perhaps cooperating a lot makes you turn to religion (particularly if you're cooperating with shitheads). Or maybe both religion and cooperative behaviour stem from a third, unexplored source.

    Bah.

  • ||

    Carl, what a sloppy reader you are.

    You didn't find the part relevant where it was noted that self-reported belief in religion didn't make a difference, that people had to be "primed" with a reference to religion?

    That would seem to somewhat decrease the "it's a third, unexplored source" argument.

  • cynical||

    Did you actually read the piece. Putting religion on the minds of believers caused them to cooperate more. That sounds an awful lot like causation to me.

  • MNG||

    +1

    Lately I've noticed that the number of times people point to the fact that correlation is not causation is correlated with their being a doofus.

  • Realist ||

    "Putting religion on the minds of believers caused them to cooperate more." Wouldn't religion already be on the weak, little minds of believers?

  • cynical||

    No. I believe that socks exist, but I'm not always thinking about them.

  • ||

    I always think about underwear, but never wear them

  • sevo||

    cynical|11.30.10 @ 6:04PM|#
    "Did you actually read the piece. Putting religion on the minds of believers caused them to cooperate more...."

    Please define "religion".

  • Realist ||

    "Correlation is not causation, Bailey." Oh sure it is for proof see AGW!

  • ||

    Religious authority is the backbone of Conservatism - just ask Burke, Buckley, Reagan, or Bushy-Boy.

    Or the Taliban as well.

    As Soros says - there are no preconceived gods. All knowledge is subject to permanent skepticism.

  • ||

    shrike: Soros was quoting Karl Popper.

  • ||

    Good enough! I like standing on the shoulders of giants myself.

    As you are well aware Bailey, the posters on this site are mealy-headed conservatives for the most part.

    Give them a a few flag-words and god-words (as you note) and they will stumble all over each other to vote for the Patriot 'Spy on Americans' Act.

  • sevo||

    shrike|11.30.10 @ 6:03PM|#
    "As you are well aware Bailey, the posters on this site are mealy-headed conservatives for the most part."

    Except for the brain-dead lefty ignoramuses like shrike.

  • scineram||

    "All knowledge is subject to permanent skepticism."

    As such I am very skeptical of this statement.

  • ||

    Ask yourself if you'd rather live in a world organized on the principles of Burke or those of Soros.

  • Aquinas||

    "The first is that religious primes trigger the idea that one is being watched by the gods."

    Does he believe the people participating in the survey were polytheists? He uses "the gods" a lot, but I suspect most of the religious participants are monotheists.

  • Sarah Palin||

    Cooperatin' is not something that evolved because nothing evolved. God made us Americans cooperatin' folks, folks with can-do and know-how and the greatest country ever in the universe.

    [wink]

  • Bill Clinton ||

    Well, God made you good enough to bang!

  • ||

    And he made you suspicious enough to have me whacked!

  • ||

    Aquinas: "Gods" was used to encompass belief in ancestral polytheism as well as contemporary monotheism. Since the research was done in Europe and North America, most believers were monotheists.

  • ||

    What is interesting is the entire man-made concept called "sin" - which authoritarians use to keep classic liberals in a moral straight-jacket.

    I maintain that "sin" does not even exist other than as noted above. Is pre-marital sex a "sin"? How fucking ridiculous is that?

    Sin is merely what conservative authoritarians disprove of - nothing else. The real definition is a moving target.

    Now conservatives will not admit such as their entire political philosophy rests on the punishment of this artificial construct.

  • ||

    Question then, if right and wrong doesn't come from God, where does it come from?

    Is it just up to each of us to decide?

    Or is it whatever the majority decides?

    But of course that would mean that right and wrong changes over time?

  • sevo||

    Kroneborge|11.30.10 @ 7:22PM|#
    "Question then, if right and wrong doesn't come from God, where does it come from?"
    Well, before you can answer what might look like a real question, please show physical evidence of your sky daddy.

  • Nykos||

    Right & Wrong comes from neuroscience.

    Right = what increases wellbeing.
    Wrong = what increases suffering.

    Both wellbeing and suffering are objective states in the brain which can, in principle, be measured.

    Sam Harris TED talk about morality

  • Nykos||

    Right & Wrong comes from neuroscience.

    Right = what increases wellbeing.
    Wrong = what increases suffering.

    Both wellbeing and suffering are objective states in the brain which can, in principle, be measured.

    Sam Harris TED talk about morality

  • ||

    But causes of wellbeing and suffering are subjective. Therefore, you're saying that right and wrong are subjective.

    Which is true, but for the purposes of this conversation, it puts us back at square one.

  • ||

    Aristotle, Kant, and Gandhi all established perfectly good moral imperative systems without reliance on a a generic supreme being.

  • ||

    You must be an idiot. Each of the people you mentioned had an intrinsic belief in the "Divine". Aristotle is the person from whom Aquinas got the idea of the "Prime Mover." Kant believed even if God did not exist, humanity would need to create one just to give morality some meaning. Ghandi was a devout Hindu.

  • shrike's broken beak||

    Gandhi was a douche.

    The link contains a money quote about Hinduism:

    As can be seen, Hinduism, by its very theology, with its sacred triad of karma, reincarnation, and caste (with caste an absolutely indispensable part of the system) offers the most complacent justification of inhumanity of any of the world's great religious faiths.

  • sevo||

    Kroneborge|11.30.10 @ 7:22PM|#
    "...But of course that would mean that right and wrong changes over time?"

    You bet! Why, some folks now drink milk while eating meat! Can you believe it?

  • Realist||

    "But of course that would mean that right and wrong changes over time?" For a conformation of this see the Pope and his silly proclimations!

  • TheFamilyDog||

    It's the pack, stupid. Rules are inherent therein. Works for us.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    Follow up question: If you didn't believe in God, you'd be completely devoid of morals? If you became an atheist you would kill and rape?

    If yes, seek help.

    Oh, and to answer your question, morality came from Darwinian natural selection. Try reading "The God Delusion."

  • ||

    Be careful around those infected with 'mono-theism' Ron. Many of them carry proselytes.

  • ||

    There are a lot of things I don't agree with Bill Maher on but I share his views on religion 100%. His film Religulous is one of the biggest pieces of truth to ever be shown on a movie screen.

  • ||

    Yes, lets use a documentary made by Bill Maher singling out the obvious nutters to single out every individualizes that chooses a religion. IMO Nothing Bill Maher makes or says should ever be taken seriously, he is a swarmy fuck just like Michael Moore or Rush Limbaugh.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    He does appear to Michael Moore some people he interviews.

    But his argument is sound and none of the questions he poses is answered.

    I agree with you 100%, Brian from Texas.

  • -||

    People tend to cooperate with one another not because of religion, but because it makes sense to do so, in keeping with our unique nature as volitional creatures with the capacity of reason and self-awareness.

  • sevo||

    -|11.30.10 @ 8:00PM|#
    "People tend to cooperate with one another not because of religion, but because it makes sense to do so,..."

    And that tendency has been formalized (or co-opted) by every method of self-organization that mankind has attempted.
    Some among those, religions in particular, then claim to have *originated* the concepts; see Kroneborge, above.
    'If not the tribal chief to tell us right from wrong, then who?'

  • scineram||

    Show me the proof!

  • ||

    WHAT WE ALL MISS BECAUSE WE HAVE NO IDEA OF WHY WE ARE HERE IS THAT OUR PURPOSE ON EARTH, OUR LIFE, GIVEN BY GOD, IS TO DO ONLY ONE THING......
    WE ARE HERE ONLY TO GIVE HONOR AND GLORY TO GOD.
    THAT'S WHY WE ARE GIVEN LIFE AND WITH JESUS' HELP WILL GET US TO HEAVEN.

  • sevo||

    Spoof? I hope so.

  • Realist||

    No, it's the real thing....you can tell because it's all caps!

  • sevo||

    Hard to tell, but I'll yield to your opinion.
    By now a spoof woulda come back and posted something even sillier.

  • ||

    AND IN HEAVEN OUR PURPOSE IS TO GIVE HONOR AND GLORY TO GOD FOR ALL ETERNITY.

    APPARENTLY THERE IS NO OTHER PURPOSE FOR ANYONE OR ANYTHING.

    WHAT A BORE.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    "I want to get down on my knees and starting pleasuring Jesus. I wanna feel salvation all over my face."

  • Chad||

    But...but...but....

    In a "free market", one assumes that there CAN'T be any free riders. Your whole theory collapses if you do! Free riders, after all, are just soaking up positive externalities of other peoples' behavior.

    Thanks for admitting they exist, suckers.

  • sevo||

    Chad|11.30.10 @ 8:32PM|#
    "But...but...but....
    In a "free market", one assumes that there CAN'T be any free riders."

    Did you really waste time typing this to prove your stupidity?
    Brain-deads should only attempt strawmen under adult supervision; they're highly flammable.

  • ||

    Straw man argument.

    Libertarians are well aware of "free riders" and there has been a fair bit of analysis on the "free rider problem."

    The basic answer is that any individual acts for his own purposes. If someone else benefits from those actions, it is irrelevant to the purpose and does not negate the value to the original actor.

  • sevo||

    @ Ron Bailey:
    "players in an anonymous economic game were more generous if they were primed with religious concepts"
    I checked the link, and they refer to a 'scrambled sentence' procedure (no link).
    They also point out that an appeal to superstition ('ghost of student in room') affects behavior.
    I'm having a hard time imagining a test which separates "religion" from "superstition".

  • Realist||

    "I'm having a hard time imagining a test which separates "religion" from "superstition"" They are one in the same..

  • ||

    Wrong!

    "The Right People, Chosen of God" practice 'RELIGION.'

    Everything else is 'paganism', 'error', 'worshipping false gods', 'heresy', a 'cult', etc.

  • sevo||

    Realist|11.30.10 @ 9:48PM|#
    "I'm having a hard time imagining a test which separates "religion" from "superstition"" They are one in the same.."

    I agree, but I'm hoping someone at least offers what they claim to do so for examination.
    Maybe because I enjoy the amusing misdirections involved.....

  • El Duderino||

    Though what I am about to say may suggest that I am an atheist, I trust that by the time you get to the bottom of this post and evaluate it honestly you will see that I am a devout believer in God.

    God is the term we give to the experiences and observations we have made of certain complex events and systems in the universe. The studies in this article point to specific observations that are at once very complex and reasonably predictable. Our complex social interactions include our participation in the economy, our efforts for sexual reproduction, our explorations of the world, the universe and science and our general quest for knowledge. All of these things actually work to compliment each other in ways that escalate our progress in all of these matters. Our exploration of biology helps us produce more food, the wealth we create from this added food production allows us to develop other technologies, these technologies further reinforce our other survival efforts and give us more time to pursue sexual reproduction and family. I don't think it is too much of a stretch of the imagination for people to see these complex systems as a creative force moving in a generally positive direction. Almost every religion believes as a core precept that God is good and God is creative. Now, I do not know for sure how the universe was created, but it is not unreasonable to extrapolate the infinite array of complex systems out to a larger force, but this is beyond my imagination and my capability of measurement and therefore it is a legitimate mystery and arguably the only real mystery we cannot solve with science, but even if I am wrong about that, it really does not matter. The complex systems I mentioned here are just a very small handful, but they are the systems humans interact with the most if not exclusively, please feel free to add any others you think I missed, there is only two criteria for these systems. One is that they are large network systems of seemingly random moving or changing parts from which an identifiable and generally predictable (not controllable) property emerges (from limited supply of resources and a demand for said resources emerge a complex economy, from which emerges innovations that further accelerate the efficient use of the limited resources). Second, they must be beyond the control of the individual participants. An ant does not even know what an anthill is, nevermind how to build one, yet a colony of ants can build an anthill with great success despite the fact that the knowledge or instructions for said hill do not exist. The ants have no control over whether or not an anthill is built, it just happens as a result of their normal comings and goings. Similarly, humans cannot control the economy (despite our insane efforts to do so). Economics exists outside of our individual action.

    The idea that God will punish those who do not follow "Gods will" comes from very real consequences of actions that are not synchronized with these complex systems. Consider the concept of the biblical axiom "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat fish for life" This like many other religious axioms points to a certain core truth of economics that freeloaders can only survive as long as there are enough people who are doing some actual fishing who can give them fish. Let me be clear, I am not a bible scholar, nor am I a scholar of any other religious book, but generally speaking religious books and religious orthodoxy more often than not express these types of truths, though I am sure you could find just as many retarded ideas about killing infidels and women. My point about religious texts and orthodoxy is that it is the social component of what we already understand from observation. Observation of the world, particularly the deep revelations of truth that emerge from these complex systems is essentially the spiritual experience. Experiencing something that is positive, creative and beyond our control is experiencing God. Experiencing God means that you gain greater understanding of these complex interactions so as to make appropriate decisions. It makes sense to help others because if others are suffering, the system is suffering and that suffering will retard the natural creative forces of these complex systems. Helping the poor to get a job means that there are more people contributing to the creative forces. The poor must exist, not simply because the basic rules of supply and demand necessitate a certain number of winners and losers, but because the social dynamic of poverty is in itself another feedback loop within the system that further reinforces the creative process, in other words, if there was no poverty, there would be no reason to innovate ways to harvest food more efficiently and we would never progress intellectually or technologically (nevermind the fact that we would just die when the food supply is no longer capable of supporting the growing population, assuming of course we are even motivated to fuck in this really long aside).

    Now, if you are religious and you are getting upset that the God I described is not the God you believe in, just know this. The manifestation of God, in terms of belief, sacred text and orthodoxy is unimportant to this explanation of God. Your particular God is important to you because it is how you parse the complex universe around you so that you can act in such a way as to be in synchronicity with the truth. If however, your religion defies the emergent and plainly visible result of these complex systems, then you are either not properly understanding your own orthodoxy or, your religion is just completely wrong. Oh, and here is yet one other complex system. The existence of many differing religions creates a competitive system that is constantly testing various observations of reality as well as seeking out the best possible way of acting within the complex network of systems we call life.

  • El Duderino||

    Hmm... i think this post may well be one long run-on sentence... My apologies.

  • sevo||

    "God is the term we give to the experiences and observations we have made of certain complex events and systems in the universe."

    We? Got something stinky in your pocket?
    Personally, I use the terms 'known' (as in I can see the scientific argument for why that thing is or that process happens), or 'as yet unknown' for those that haven't yet been defined.

  • El Duderino||

    Science is part of the whole network of systems. All I am saying is that we observe, or if you prefer "know" certain truths about our reality. We have always observed and on various levels understood these truths and we continue to explore the emergent properties of these complex systems through SCIENTIFIC exploration. The fact that we understand them through science does not make these experiences any more or less spiritual, at least in a general sense. For me these experiences are enhanced by scientific understanding. Just because we may have used the term "God" to identify these things in the past doesnt make these things any less real and the fact that science can support more and more of these observations does not somehow remove the God concept from the whole thing.

    Many religions stick to dogma and people of a more scientific or "rational" head will often look at this dogma and call it mysticism, hokum, or just plain nonsense, but the fact remains that much of this dogma (certainly not all) reveals truths about our world that we have observed over time. The bible is just a written and oral tradition of people passing down these observed truths revealed through emergence.

    Religion is given a bad name by people who have perverted it, misunderstood it or just simply used it to gain power, but there is some real value to religion in society and to dismiss it as a self regulating mechanism for a FREE society is foolish. MOST of the devout religious people on the planet are normal good hearted people, but it is the very small fraction of dickheads that get all the attention. People see these true dickheads, like priests who rape alter boys or hate on gay people or Muslims who blow up airplanes etc... and then simply state that religion is bad and only science can reveal truth. Science can verify truth, but the scientific process ALWAYS begins with observation.

    God plays a role in society. If people have faith in God, they can trust that their actions will more often than not benefit themselves, their family and the whole of society. Based on the explanation of God above, wouldn't you think that having a good foundational understanding of how the various complex systems of society actually interact with each other would be a helpful thing to anyone looking to survive in the system? Not every person on the planet is going to be inclined towards science no matter how compelling you make it. Religion gives those people a way to understand on some levels the world around them and if they choose to validate their understanding with science, that is a nice cherry on top, but it is mostly not necessary as long as religion is taught thoughtfully, carefully and properly.

    It does not make sense to divide religion from science. They can compliment one another rather than contradict one another. You cant simply point to dogma and say that it proves science is superior and you cant simply point to scientific failure and say that religion is superior. Science helps us explain the universe, religion tells us how to interact with it by giving us a set of basic principals to follow. Those principals are based on historical observations of how we can interact with these complex systems to achieve the maximum good.

    Both religion and science have their serious flaws. Scientists opt to satisfy their ego over scientific integrity may decide to tweak their experiments either knowingly or subconsciously to favor their desired result. Religious people may favor one rule or dogmatic principal over another to suit their own interpretation of their gods "will" or they may simply misunderstand the core principals. Scientific dogma regarding climate, the environment, medicine and physics has killed plenty of people as has religious dogma about birth control and any number of other sins against humanity.

  • sevo||

    El Duderino|11.30.10 @ 11:25PM|#
    "Science is part of the whole network of systems."
    No, it's not. That is a truly ignorant statement.

  • El Duderino||

    You cant just say "no its not" and then leave it at that. Support your point.

    The scientific process is not somehow segregated by invisible barriers from the rest of society, nature, economics and all of the other complex systems that make up our reality. Science is a human undertaking and as such it is directly tied to all other human interactions and systems.

    You cannot have science without the forces of supply and demand, or without the forces of human society that demand knowledge and seek to improve the human condition. Look, I like science just as much as the next guy, but it is not this sacrosanct thing that is above all else, it is just another aspect of life.

    Of course, you either don't like or simply don't understand my message here and so you want to take science and separate it from the other aspects of humanity and nature that you believe are less pure. Science philosophically speaking is pure, but in practice it is just as complicated and prone to influence by outside forces of society, economics, politics, and even limits on human observation as any other philosophy including religion.

  • Nykos||

    So you believe in the the Einsteinian God.

    Sarah Palin and other would beg to disagree about your idea of God, but also would happily use the words of anyone who subscribe to your views as evidence that the majority of people believe in the Biblical God, therefore it's OK to ban stem cell research, abortions, gay marriage, etc.

  • El Duderino||

    First of all MOST people who believe in the Biblical God do not want to force anything on anyone. The bible is meant to be for INDIVIDUAL consumption and INDIVIDUAL guidance. The fact that there are some loudmouth zealots out there who are constantly trying to force their beliefs on others through government doesnt necessarily mean all or even many of the people who subscribe to that particular religion are of the same mind. Most people who think homosexuality is a sin live their OWN personal lives accordingly. I am not making a judgment here on the value of that particular belief, but they are not FORCING it upon anyone or even seeking to do so. Most Catholics are TOLERANT people, they are not the bigots you see on television all the time, those assholes are just the loudest people in the room so of course they stand out.

    Second of all, let me address the real reason why Stem Cell research, abortion and gay marriage are an issue in politics so that you can understand why there is such a strong divide. Before I do, let me just say I have no issue with any of these things, though I do believe that there are some ethical limits to abortion, because at some point, you are destroying another human being. That said, the reason why these issues even exist is because of the governments (both federal and state) insistence on having kind of say in these matters. While stem cell research may be a valuable scientific endeavor, it, like any scientific research should be left to the private sector. If the government is funding research of any kind, it is doing so with money collected from the citizens and therefore anyone who has an ethical, moral or religious concern about the research HAS A SAY in whether or not their tax dollars should go to something they believe to be wrong. There are similar issues with abortion, but as I mentioned, abortion is not cut and dry. There are real ethical questions here that need to be respected. At some point, the brain of the fetus achieves consciousness. A person in a COMA that has a high potential to return to normal human function is protected from harm under the law. A retarded person who is incapable of any higher reasoning is protected under the law. A fucking DOG is protected under the law. Hell, you cannot even kill a chicken without following certain protocols. A conscious fetal mind is no different, it is a CITIZEN of the US and therefore protected under the law. Gay marriage is only an issue because of a handful of ignorant assholes making a lot of noise.

    Third, just because a politician thinks gay marriage is a sin, doesnt mean that they are going to force their views through the government. A politician is well within their right to be against anything they want as long as they understand the proper role of government. I don't have all the facts about Sarah Palin's social policy issues, but her economic policies for most part are very libertarian and the way she describes her economic policies are in keeping with individual economic liberty. If any of her economic points of view are present in her social policy views, then I have my doubts that she would give a shit about my personal beliefs in god.

    Finally, your basic assertion that people would use my words to suggest that alot of people believe in the biblical god is just plain stupid for two reasons. First, i am not going to change my beliefs or keep quiet about them just because someone might try to use them to push policy ideas. Second, the fact is that the the majority of Americans subscribe to some kind of mainstream dogmatic religion, mostly various forms of Christianity. While these people vary in terms of their intensity of belief and practice, it would not be untrue to say that the majority of America believes in the Christian Biblical God. If someone is using this FACT to push public policy measures, then use your libertarian brain and your big people words to convince them it is a bad idea. I promise you MOST people in America are not as stupid and closed minded as you might think.

  • DLM||

    You cant just say "no its not" and then leave it at that. Support your point.

    Sure he can. Children do it all the time. BTW, very good posts.

  • El Duderino||

    I'm taking my ball and I'm going home.

  • I am not the government's ATM||

    Oh boy, the sky daddy thing again.

    Ok, who is the biggest mass murderer of all time? Please don't give me the Lenin-Stalin they were atheists crap.

    It is the Christian god who murdered millions of people with the flood* because he didn't like his creation.

    * assumes you believe a literal Genesis interpretation.

  • ||

    and who will murder countless billions more, according to Revelations.

  • ||

    I don't think it's murder when God does it. If it were, then everyone would be a murder victim, no?

  • I am not the government's ATM||

    No Tulpa, everyone would be the result of incest seeing that we are descendants from Noah's family*.

    *if you believe the literal interpretation of Genesis

  • ||

    If you really want fun with biblical literalists, ask them to reconcile the geneaologies of Christ given in Mark 1 and Luke 3.

  • I am not the government's ATM||

    No kidding, Aresen. I was stuck in a carpool with a YEC who couldn't wait to share his new found knowledge, what a lively 3 hour round trip that was!

  • ||

    OOPS.

    Matthew 1, not Mark 1.

    It's been some time since I finished my "Self Defense Bible Studies for Athiests" program.

  • ||

    Argh!

    AthEIsts.

    joe's law strikes again.

  • Hooha||

    Wait just a second, I know this one;

    "'i' before 'e', except after 'c', or when sounding like 'a', as in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'."

    Atheist. a - THEE - ist. Clearly, it must be spelled Athiest. Wierd, huh?

    Seriously, folks. At least as far as english is concerned, being a grammar/spelling nazi is like trying to juggle sand. Anyway, WE KNOW WHAT YOU MEANT! And if we don't, we'll tell you. Or make fun of you.

  • I am not the government's ATM||

    No worries I got it.

    It's odd the Redactor missed so many of these errors.

  • sevo||

    I am not the government's ATM|11.30.10 @ 9:24PM|#
    "Oh boy, the sky daddy thing again.
    Ok, who is the biggest mass murderer of all time? Please don't give me the Lenin-Stalin they were atheists crap."

    Oh, boy the sorry 'atheists did it' thing again. And you left out Mao who did far worse.
    But it's irrelevant anyhow; they killed people because they were dictators profiting from those deaths in power and treasure.
    Some few (at least in that group) were killed supposedly for their beliefs, but there's no way you can claim the deaths were the result of the personal religious beliefs of the thugs.

  • ||

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  • sevo||

    Hey! Just in time!

  • ||

    belief in God is not incompatible with libertarian philosophy. The only reason I'm not a card-carrying Libertarian is due to the number of anti-religion fanatics that inhabit the Party, look at this thread, the anti-religionists are hateful, angry and hostile to anyone who doesn't believe what they believe... how are you any better than the collectivists?

  • ||

    +1

  • Botox Porcupine||

    I would consider anti-theists like myself vigilant, not hateful. But yes, I hate memes which perpetuate human misery and suffering.

  • sevo||

    Shoey|11.30.10 @ 11:04PM|#
    "The only reason I'm not a card-carrying Libertarian is due to the number of anti-religion fanatics that inhabit the Party, look at this thread,"
    Uh, someone who doesn't buy the sky-daddy story is a fanatic? Might that say more about *you* than about them?

    "the anti-religionists"
    You mean the folks who don't buy the sky-daddy story? What do you call the folks who don't buy the Santa story?

    "are hateful, angry and hostile to anyone who doesn't believe what they believe"
    Projection is entirely too obvious. Please quote any "hate" you've seen from those who don't believe in Santa or the sky-daddy. We'll give you a week or so; it's tough to defend foolishness.

  • El Duderino||

    Calling God a "sky daddy" is condescending and condescention is one way to express hatred.

    Anyway, I think that all too often people pick some piece of religious dogma and put it out there as proof that religion is nonsense. I am not a zealot, I do not believe in a mystical "sky daddy" with a fluffy beard, I do not believe in Santa, though it was really fun to believe in him when I was like 5. Religion is a matter of moral principals and if you want to have a free society in the true libertarian sense, then you have to agree that we will have much much less government to force us to act a certain way or another.

    I am a libertarian. In terms of government, I am about as close to the anarchist line as you can get without standing directly on top of it. Anarchy is not the same as chaotic violence and social upheaval, it is simply a state in which there are no laws. I happen to think that some laws protecting life, property, expression and contracts would be beneficial to society, but even those laws would have to be very specific in their scope and very week in their enforcement. If I were to get my wish then my free society would need to govern itself and therefore INDIVIDUALS will need core principals and communities who support these core principals that they may freely CHOOSE to join. I have said before (see above) that religion and science are not incompatible. Science can help us better understand the universe, but we need religion to help us develop our core principals so that we know how we should act. You cannot rely on science to make your day to day decisions. If you believe that you can rely on science to make objective daily decisions, then how do you decide whether or not to hold the elevator door for someone you see coming towards the elevator. Do you even have time to evaluate the situation objectively? Yet it is these simple day to day interactions along with other more major decisions that make up our lives. It is these interactions with society, with our economy and with the world around us that influence the outcomes of these complex systems. We have learned over time the consequences of making bad decisions and the benefits of making good decisions and our ancestors have written them down for us. Not all of the shit in the bible is useful today, but you cannot dismiss it all because a few things no longer make sense.

    I have no issue with atheists. I know several personally. I also know bible scholars, monks and religious people of various creeds and they are all human beings with the same failings, needs and desires and they are all good people, but they all live as best they can according to their principals (with a couple of exceptions which will remain unnamed).

  • sevo||

    El Duderino|11.30.10 @ 11:50PM|#
    "Calling God a "sky daddy" is condescending and condescention is one way to express hatred."

    Oh, oh! A "hate crime"!
    Making up some mythical sky daddy and calling that fantasy god is stupidity.
    Go away bozo; laughing at you isn't hate; it's an expression of derision.
    See US Constitution, Amendment 1.

  • El Duderino||

    Just because you are free to say something doesnt make it any less hateful.

    And BTW, if you somehow think that I am suggesting that you shouldnt be allowed to make an "expression of derision" then you obviously don't know me to well. You can say any damn thing you want, all i am saying is no matter how free you think you are, you cannot escape your own anger towards me and others like me and it is evident in what you say.

  • ||

    +1

  • Realist||

    The Republicans have their daddy, god, and the Democrats have their mommy, government. Both suck just in different ways.

  • El Duderino||

    I would say that Republicans have the Mommy govt and Democrats have the God Govt.

    Government FORCES people to act a certain way.

    Religion is a set of principals INDIVIDUALS choose, so living by these principals is not through force. In the short term, both government and religion are capable of achieving the same things, but government cannot force people to do things indefinitely it is simply unsustainable.

    Forced religion is just as bad as forced government, but government cannot exist without force. Religion however can exist without force and in fact, religion works best when individuals choose to believe and abide by the principals.

    Anarchy + Religion = Peace and Freedom

  • Realist||

    "Religion however can exist without force and in fact, religion works best when individuals choose to believe and abide by the principals."
    But religion can not exist without ignorance and duplicity.

  • El Duderino||

    Please feel free to explain.

    Just because someone believes in God doesn't necessarily make them ignorant of Science and Reason. Like I have said about a dozen times so far, Science explains the world around us, but it does not tell us how to live in it. People need to have principals to guide day to day decisions. Sometimes you can use science and reason to make decisions, but other times it is simply not possible. If you get to a line of people at the same time as someone else, how do you decide whether to take the spot ahead of him or let him take the spot ahead of you. These social interactions cannot always be determined through the scientific process or even be considered objectively. Is one decision better than another? There are too many unknowns. EVERY DAY you are confronted with simple decisions, religion provide principals based on thousands of years of past experience that will help you make the most beneficial decision. Religion is SOCIAL evolution, and SCIENCE is intellectual evolution and both are equally important to a free society.

    As for "duplicity", that is just your own biases showing through.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    +1

  • Smokey||

    His condom was broken. . .

  • ||

    Sevo

    you only damage the cause of libertarianism when you strike out at the belief of individuals that you simply disagree with. It might feel cathartic for you to make childish statements, but honestly, it is about the dumbest fucking thing I can think of if you honestly want to advance the cause of libertarianism. Who honestly gives a flying fuck who believes what as long as they don't try to ram it down my throat. And don't give me the religious right bull crap of trying to do that, the militant atheists are just as fucking guilty.

  • sevo||

    k2000k|12.1.10 @ 12:07AM|#
    "Sevo
    you only damage the cause of libertarianism when you strike out at the belief of individuals that you simply disagree with."

    Oooh, well, I'll take your silly opinion as, well, a silly opinion.
    Sorry, I reserve the right to make fun of people who bleeve without evidence that the government is great, that Santa Claus is coming ad that there's some sky daddy.
    Who honestly cares what your stupidity tells you, asshole?

  • DLM||

    ...it is about the dumbest fucking thing I can think of if you honestly want to advance the cause of libertarianism

    I doubt he's interested in advancing 'the cause'. He seems to be more on a mission to demonstrate his own excruciating lack of intellectual prowess.

  • ||

    the comment you just made drips with contempt and disrespect, a child could pick up on it in a heartbeat.

  • sevo||

    Shoey|11.30.10 @ 11:17PM|#
    "the comment you just made drips with contempt and disrespect, a child could pick up on it in a heartbeat."

    Absolutely! I have a ton of disrespect for those who believe in fantasies!
    Now, I see you haven't answered my question, you've just whined about being laughed at for silly beliefs.
    Let me add: Ha, ha, ha!
    Now, care to cite 'hate' or just whine?

  • El Duderino||

    Forgiveness is a virtue that will allow you to avoid conflict and open your mind to others. Of course there is little scientific support for forgiveness, but I am sure it is something science can and will study (if it hasn't already).

    Let is go. Getting into a flame war is a waste of everyone's time. Both atheists and religious people should spend more time DEBATING not yelling.

  • sevo||

    El Duderino|11.30.10 @ 11:53PM|#
    "Forgiveness is a virtue..."
    Your sky daddy rep told you that?

  • El Duderino||

    See yet again, you just come out swinging blindly. Please, tell me just how forgiveness is not virtuous? Feel free to spell it out for me using ANY objective standard at all.

  • ||

    You must be a glutton for punishment, Dude. You have to come to the fact that people like sevo don't hate religion anywhere near as much as they hate religious people.

  • El Duderino||

    There is a sick part of me that is aroused by this sort of abuse.

  • ||

    some libertarians believe in God, some don't and that's ok with me, but some people call themselves libertarians only because the Dems aren't anti-religion enough, you can always spot them by listening to and reading their words, they always reveal themselves when the subject of "social justice" comes up, they always end up supporting that cause, they get around to it by some very fuzzy logic but they always get there.

  • sevo||

    ^?
    Care to render that in English?

  • ||

    It's written in 'Dinesh Desousaish", also known as "High Falwell". It is derived from "Authentic American Gibberish" (see Blazing Saddles for further reference.

    The involuted syntax and contradictory lexicon does not permit translation into English.

  • sevo||

    Sure it's not archaic "bafflegab"?

  • ||

    Archaic Bafflegab does not have the pious self-righteousness tense for verbs and dutiful earnestness case for adjectives.

  • sevo||

    Damn. I need to study 'stupid languages' more than I have.

  • ||

    every word you say only proves me right.

  • sevo||

    Sanctimonious BS.
    No, I haven't proven you "right", you've proven yourself "stupid".

  • ||

    And you have proved yourself a troll sevo, congrats.

  • sevo||

    Hey, that leaves me better off that those who've proved themselves brain-dead ignoramuses!
    I'll presume you are also stuck in the middle ages?

  • seguin||

    Somebody has tiny penis rage.

  • Barney The Frank||

    It's not me!

  • ||

    The Libertarian Party isn't a national Party, how can it go national with such contempt for the beliefs of the average citizen?

    do you like being powerless and irrelevant?

  • sevo||

    Shoey|11.30.10 @ 11:51PM|#
    "The Libertarian Party isn't a national Party, how can it go national with such contempt for the beliefs of the average citizen?"

    Oh, look here! If libertarians don't appeal to 'average' bozos, why, they might even, well, reject FDR? Bush? Obama? The HORROR!

  • ||

    If libertarians EVER want to have any national prominance on things that should matter to them (economy, civil libertities etc)

    then insulting the 90% or so of Americans that believe in a God isn't the best way to do it.

  • Realist||

    "The Libertarian Party isn't a national Party, how can it go national with such contempt for the beliefs of the average citizen?" It's the beliefs of the average citizen that have gotten us where we are.

  • DLM||

    do you like being powerless and irrelevant?

    But it's much easier to be a self-righteous prick this way.

  • ||

    by the way, if my words have offended you I apologize, most were not meant to offend, but I am human and some of them were and I apologize for that as well.

    but I stand by my basic point - belief in God is not incompatible with libertarian philosophy.

  • Bill||

    No, it is not incompatible. And most libertarians know and respect that, even if they themselves are agnostic or atheist.

  • ||

    if libertarianism is to go mainstream there has to be a place in it for people of faith.

  • sevo||

    Shoey|12.1.10 @ 12:08AM|#
    "if libertarianism is to go mainstream there has to be a place in it for people of faith."

    OK by me, but if that means you get to tell people not to laugh at your bleefs, you lose.

  • El Duderino||

    When did anyone ever say that religion would be forced upon you.

    The fact is, he stated that "belief in God is not incompatible with libertarian philosophy." NOT "All ye libertarians repent and give thine self to Jeeeesus!" followed by "If you do not accept Jeeeeesus, we will mandate it by federal law."

    Get over your fucking "sky daddy" fear for Christ sake.

  • ||

    He won't. His daddy must have repeatedly shoved crucifixes up his poor, prepubescent asshole while chanting psalms. This would explain his contempt for people choosing not to believe as he does.

  • Nykos||

    I will always have nothing but contempt for human beings worshipping an authority, be it terran or celestial!

    Praising God = praising Obama

    Except that Obama didn't create human beings that have to slowly become decrepit and die a (usually) tortuous death from age-related diseases. Obama didn't allegedly create smallpox, chicken pox, cholera, bubonic plague, cancer.

    It's God that's responsible for the death of your grandparents, and eventually your parents.

    If he were to exist (which I doubt), I would do whatever I can to support Satan in his rebellion and effort overthrow the celestial tyrant.

  • Nykos||

    Scientists like Aubrey de Grey are already working on curing aging (and death). The cure can, and most likely will, be delayed by:

    1) religious people stupid enough to believe the heaven stories and opposing "playing God". Islam is the main enemy (with martyrdom and nuclear terrorism), but Christianity will also put up a fight to maintain its grip on adherents (biologically immortal healthy and happy people - due to science - don't make for good believers in God)

    2) Chronic misallocation of resources, i.e. theft. Socialism & Environmentalism are the biggest enemies of progress in this area.

  • El Duderino||

    Why do scientists seek to cure diseases?

  • Realist||

    "He won't. His daddy must have repeatedly shoved crucifixes up his poor, prepubescent asshole while chanting psalms." That sounds more like a priest to me.

  • DLM||

    His daddy must have repeatedly shoved crucifixes up his poor, prepubescent asshole while chanting psalms.

    That explains it. He needs his fix.

  • Realist||

    ...with a cruci.

  • Brubaker||

    What an incredible collection of hate filled anti-religion posts from pompous posters who are anything but "Reason"-able.

  • Nykos||

    We are merely using words to describe our repulsion, God on the other hand drowns every living thing on Earth (except one male + one female of each species) just because a few humans didn't behave in a slavish manner towards him.

    Now THAT is hate-filled! Not to mention the continued existence of the cholera bacteria, HIV - the latter transmissible from mother to baby, that little sucker must PAY for his mother's sins according to GOD!

    Read the Bible (or the Qur'an) if you want to know what real hate looks like!

  • Nykos||

    I want Christians who feel offended by our attacks on their arrogant, psychopathic deity to publicly admit that the genocide of all but 2 individuals of each living species on Earth is a good thing done by a benevolent God!

    If enough do so, I will stop any and all verbal attacks against the celestial Tyrant!

  • DLM||

    God on the other hand drowns every living thing on Earth

    You do realize that was a story, don't you? Or maybe you were there to witness the event and haven't recovered from the trauma.

  • El Duderino||

    God also causes football players to literally drop the ball on important plays.

  • Nykos||

    If it is only a story, than maybe the whole Bible is only a story.

  • Nykos||

    What I'm trying to prove is that, even considering the remote probability that God exists (equal to that of the existence of Santa Claus), a God creating people for the sole purpose of being worshipped by them is unworthy of worship and morally repugnant.

  • theunknown||

    Even if proving the existence of God is remote it still does not alter the fact of his existence. He could not exist or exist and if he does exist it does not matter if it is 'remote' since it is true. At one time it was remote to prove the existence of any planets beyond Neptune and it was considered remote. Proving Pluto existed might have been remote but it still existed regardless of how impossible it was to prove.

  • DLM||

    Only 50 subjects. Is this really considered an adequate sample for any kind of meaningful research like this?

  • ||

    I was reading along and enjoying this article when suddenly a totally irrelevant woman popped up, signalled by the gratuitous use of "she" and "herself" when she hadn't been properly introduced. That knocked me right off track and I never got back on. Can "reason" be interpreted to include sensible English? Please?

  • theunknown||

    To me PC almost behaves like the religious primer word. When people are confronted with PC they comply with PC as if they are being judged for what they say and think by the state in the same way fear being judged by God. I fear that PC is some kind of evolving political religion.

  • shiroi neko||

    it's just a story.

  • Ryan||

    If you're interested in the subject, I'd look up Daniel Dennett's "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon." Although it's focused more on purely scientific/philosophical inquiry into the subject, it's a lot more in-depth.

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