Evolution

Happy Darwin Day: Belief in Vengeful God Makes You Nicer

"Moralistic gods, supernatural punishment and the expansion of human sociality" in Nature

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DarwinDay
humanist

Happy Darwin Day! Around the world, folks celebrate Charles Darwin's February 12 birthday in support of science and science education. As the press release from the American Humanist Association explains:

International Darwin Day was founded in 1993 by Dr. Robert Stephens to honor the accomplishments of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution continues to inform groundbreaking discoveries in biology, genetics and medicine, among other fields of research. A project of the American Humanist Association, Darwin Day also observes the contributions of scientists across the globe whose findings have advanced human progress and the betterment of our lives on this earth.

Among the other fields of research that benefit from Darwin's insights is evolutionary psychology. A fascinating new study by researchers at University of British Columbia finds that belief in a vengeful sky-god tends to make people more generous towards strangers. From Nature:

Since the origins of agriculture, the scale of human cooperation and societal complexity has dramatically expanded. This fact challenges standard evolutionary explanations of prosociality because well-studied mechanisms of cooperation based on genetic relatedness, reciprocity and partner choice falter as people increasingly engage in fleeting transactions with genetically unrelated strangers in large anonymous groups. To explain this rapid expansion of prosociality, researchers have proposed several mechanisms. Here we focus on one key hypothesis: cognitive representations of gods as increasingly knowledgeable and punitive, and who sanction violators of interpersonal social norms, foster and sustain the expansion of cooperation, trust and fairness towards co-religionist strangers. 

The researchers tested their hypothesis using data from eight different ethnic groups around the world. They asked the participants about their beliefs and then had them play a couple of different economic games to probe their generosity toward strangers. They report:

Participants reported adherence to a wide array of world religious traditions including Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as notably diverse local traditions, including animism and ancestor worship. Holding a range of relevant variables constant, the higher participants rated their moralistic gods as punitive and knowledgeable about human thoughts and actions, the more coins they allocated to geographically distant co-religionist strangers relative to both themselves and local co-religionists. Our results support the hypothesis that beliefs in moralistic, punitive and knowing gods increase impartial behaviour towards distant co-religionists, and therefore can contribute to the expansion of prosociality.

Somehow it seems nicely appropriate to apply Darwinian insights to the study of religion today.

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  1. If anything makes you something instead of being associated with something, then we don’t have free will and all moral debates are meaningless.

    Ron you would be better off believing in tarot cards or crystals than you buying into evolutionary psychology. Those things are no less a load of hokum and are at least fun and not tiresome.

    1. I wonder if there’s a formal fallacy associated for taking a headline literally while ignoring the more nuanced position presented in the article.

      1. “John’s Other Law, You Know, Not the Main One, the Other One”

      2. I thought that was the Didn’t RTFA Fallacy.

        1. Its a fallacy to not read the article? I think you have that backwards.

          1. You commit the fallacy because you didn’t read the article.

            1. I disagrer. Its not a fallacy to comment on the headline. It can be treated independently.

      3. Who has time to read the articles? I got ill-informed comments to write, man!

        1. “Readin’? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

          1. Besides, reading is for fags! Now where can I got get me that latte handjob?

    2. The idea that at least some of our mental and psychological traits are a result of useful adaptations due to evolutionary pressures shouldn’t be controversial, since we already accept that nearly all of our physical traits have been forged in that same furnace.

      What’s your problem with this idea?

      1. It’s a bit reductionist, firstly. Most of the physical universe is not the result of evolution; certainly it would be bizarre to describe a star or a rock as being molded by biological evolution. So there are plenty of attributes in the physical world which are explained more readily by factors other than biological evolution and natural selection.

        Secondly, it assumes an understanding that physical universe = all that there is. That assumption isn’t *wrong*, but it ain’t proven neither and needs to be made explicit.

        Thirdly, evolutionary psychology almost always boils down to prehistory mixed with fairly misunderstood findings in cognitive science, oftentimes applied by biologists who have little understanding of either subject. It is one of the more egregious maladaptations of academia, in that it supposes a level of understanding and expertise that simply isn’t there among practicioners.

        1. But evolution is reductionist at its core, primarily consisting of a battle between the hazards of nature and the ability of creatures to adapt.

          Still I get the second point, which is I think your best. The idea that what we observe in the physical universe is all-encompassing is one that has troubled me for most of my life.

          1. It is a little unfortunate that materialistic atheism has a monopoly on atheism these days. Part of the reason I stopped being an atheist is precisely because I didn’t get very good answers to this question; not that I particularly miss those days intellectually, but I would like to see what a robust, non-materialistic atheism could add to the conversation.

            1. If you’re looking for answers in atheism you’re doing it wrong.

              1. It’s like worrying that you don’t know how a book ends when you refuse to read it in the first place.

                1. Everybody’s looking for answers. Whether they find them is another question entirely, but not having questions about the universe is the mark of an astonishingly incurious mind. It is especially odd in light of Enlightenment atheism’s embrace of curiosity in the physical domain.

                  Atheism would be more robust if it were more curious and open-ended outside that domain, as well.

                  1. Nothing about being an atheist restricts intellectual curiosity. It is not a dogma and it is not proscriptive. All it is is not believing in something for which there is no evidence.

                    1. Nothing about being an atheist restricts intellectual curiosity. It is not a dogma and it is not proscriptive. All it is is not believing in something for which there is no evidence.

                      Correct. If you want concrete answers look to science. If you want to wank off about what does it all mean, go find some hermit in the woods.

                    2. Just to be clear:

                      Atheism is the belief that there is not god.
                      Agnosticism is the lack of belief that there is or is not a god.

                      Some folks will attempt to elide this distinction, and will continue to mislabel themselves and others as a result.

                    3. Atheism is the belief that there is not god.
                      Agnosticism is the lack of belief that there is or is not a god.

                      Atheism is a lack of theism, which means a lack of a belief in god(s).
                      Agnosticism is a type of atheism that acknowledges the possibility that a god might exist and makes no decisive claim either way.

                    4. I see the confusion here:

                      There are two in-use definitions of the word ‘atheist’:

                      1.) A person who lacks belief in a god or gods. People who use this definition categorize atheists as either negative (or implicit or weak) atheists or positive (or explicit or strong) atheists. Negative atheists, while they don’t believe in a god, do not positively assert that no gods exist. Positive atheists, however, do.

                      2.) A person who believes that no god or gods exist.

                      So if you think about it, definition #1 (in the Negative Atheism sense) is roughly synonymous with agnosticism, while 2) presents a distinct categorization more in line with what I consider to be an atheist.

                      So to reiterate my beliefs (regardless of preferred nomenclature) I have truly not settled on any specific explanation for why I am here, where I came from, and where I’m going.

                      In other words, I simply do not know. And I’m ok with that.

                      But at the core, I remain

                  2. Everybody’s looking for answers. Whether they find them is another question entirely, but not having questions about the universe is the mark of an astonishingly incurious mind.

                    Really? I thought having questions about the universe was the mark of a limited human mind that sees agency and teleology for evolutionary reasons that have no bearing on metaphysics or epistemology.

                    1. I thought having questions about the universe was the mark of a limited human mind that sees agency and teleology

                      I fail to see where the limitation lies. If the origin of the questions has an evolutionary impulse, then they are no less a limitation to me than questions about where I’ll get my next meal (also rooted in evolutionary imperatives). If the questions are satisfactorily answered in the workings of the physical universe, the answers will shed light on aspects of the universe which are difficult to approach otherwise. If the questions do have answers outside the domain of the physical, then it really is difficult to argue that they are of no use.

                      In either case the questions are valid. Since we are talking about whether allowance for the answers to be found outside the physical universe would make atheism more robust, I’d argue that you still haven’t answered this since the non-physical universe has no more inherent cause to be one imbued with agency or teleology than our own.

                    2. If the origin of the questions has an evolutionary impulse, then they are no less a limitation to me than questions about where I’ll get my next meal (also rooted in evolutionary imperatives).

                      I didn’t call the questions a limitation. I said that you have the questions because your mind is limited.

                      If the questions are satisfactorily answered in the workings of the physical universe, the answers will shed light on aspects of the universe which are difficult to approach otherwise. If the questions do have answers outside the domain of the physical, then it really is difficult to argue that they are of no use.

                      In either case the questions are valid.

                      What about the case where the questions have no answer? You mysteriously left that option out of your false dichotomy.

                  3. I prefer agnosticism, since that means that I have truly not settled on any specific explanation for why I am here, where I came from, and where I’m going. It allows me to approach every bit of new evidence with honesty, instead of trying to fit it into an already-established worldview.

                    1. Why would you think that there even was a specific explanation for why you are here, etc? Even thinking about things that way is a huge and (to my mind) unfounded assumption. Of course it’s possible and conceivable. But there are practically infinitely many conceivable ways that the world could be that have no evidence to support them. So why do we spend so much time on the odd idea that the universe should have some objective meaning? Unless you are already assuming an intelligent creator, it seems like a pretty absurd idea.

                    2. DEATFBIRSECIA, it’s also the most honest outlook. No one knows the origin of the universe. Anyone who says they do is lying to themselves. Also, no one can honestly say they know for a fact there isn’t something somewhere in existence that others might call a “god.” The fact that people don’t know, that they lack knowledge, that they are a-gnostic, is just that, a fact.

                      With that said, we do have actual factual knowledge of how life forms developed and changed over time on the Earth, so anyone claiming things like a literal account of Genesis are demonstrably wrong.

                    3. I completely agree here.

                  4. “Everybody’s looking for answers.”

                    Particularly people whose questions are gibberish.

            2. What do you think about materialist theism?

              I am pretty much a materialist because if we did find some evidence for God or a spiritual realm or whatever, I wouldn’t think that there is something else besides the material universe. I would just think that we don’t have an adequate understanding of the material universe to describe all phenomena. If the possible other spheres of being, or whatever you’d call it, can interact with what we’d call the material universe, then they must actually all be the same kind of stuff in some sense. It’s the same reason why philosophers could never really make the complete mind/body distinction work.

              So I pretty much think that anything that we can perceive or interact with must be part of the material universe. Everything that is is a thing.

              1. Materialistic theism seems to converge better with polytheism and pantheism than creational monotheism; the unique emphasis on a being who exists before all else and generates all that is without being all that is seems to place God outside the physical universe to a certain extent. I would imagine that material theism is a perfectly fine and natural way to describe other beliefs in deity, however.

                Outside of that, as far as materialism/spiritualism goes, it’s hard to tell whether we’re using useful language to describe things, or if we haven’t larded ourselves up with dualistic language that doesn’t particularly work outside that discussion. Many of those discussions do seem to go in “how many angels can fit on the end of a pin” directions; my point was merely that the clockwork Newtonian universe, purely physical and describable by the laws of nature had problems when it was first posited in a Christian context and even more problems now that it is the basic statement of belief for many atheists. I would like to see atheists step outside that box which wasn’t even originally meant for them.

        2. Most of the physical universe is not the result of evolution

          if evolution means slow change over time, then the whole damned thing is the result of evolution.

          1. That’s pretty much the idea that Herbert Spencer lays out in his book “First Principles”. His theory is that evolution is a process of change from a homogeneous, indefinite mass into a heterogeneous, well-defined whole. Most of the text is examples of how this rule holds true with galaxies, planets, societies, economies, all the way down to the smallest living organisms.

            Whether or not you agree with everything he writes, “First Principles” makes for a very interesting read.

      2. What’s your problem with this idea?

        It doesn’t have a lot of predictive power.

        1. No. But science in general does a lot more describing than predicting.

          I’d say evolutionary psychology is not a very well developed science. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate thing to study.

          1. Studying it is fine, adhering to it, or far worse, forcing it upon others, is where the problem starts.

            If all your field has is explanatory power, then all you can do is make explanations. Making inferences, rules, polices, regulations, and laws requires predictive power.

            1. I’m certainly against making any rules or policies based on current evolutionary psychology, given it’s state.
              In general, any claim that says that science tells us what political policy should be is highly suspect.

          2. Unless you are getting down to the physical mechanics of why people think what they think, I’d say psychology is more of an art than a science. IOW:

            This input results in this outcome, EVERY time is science.

            This input gets you this outcome 69% of the time isn’t science as you haven’t identified the real, repeatable, causal relationship.

            1. Hmm except for stochastic processes like quantum…

              1. I’m sceptical of current quantum theory. Sounds too much like magic. I suspect it’s a lack of understanding that will eventually be revealed.

                But, hey, I’m not a particle physicist, so weight my opinion appropriately.

                1. I’m sceptical of current quantum theory.

                  Then you’d better stop typing on that computing device right now.

                  1. Newtonian physics was a good enough model to give us the airplane, but not the GPS. I can show (or used to be able to show) you an equation for drag that worked well at subsonic speeds, but predicted a sound barrier.

                    The current model may allow for my computing device, but I doubt it’s definitive. Especially when it doesn’t agree with models from the world of the large.

                    But, as I said, I’m speculating. Maybe the universe is fucked up and the need for elegance exists only in my head.

              2. I don’t really agree with FdA’s claim that “it’s not science”, I would say that it’s not a conclusion. “This happens 69% of the time we observe it” is a descriptive statement about a collation of observations. It doesn’t have predictive or explanatory power, but it may lead to something that does.

                To me, the stochastic nature of quantum mechanics reflects our inability to fully study natural phenomena at that scale. We describe what we can and build inaccurate but potentially useful models to direct further study.

                To phrase it somewhat differently, “God does not play dice with the universe” may be true but irrelevant because we are not God and all we can do is use the limited tools we have. But do not confuse our own understanding with truly knowing.

                1. No one said art isn’t useful. If the model works often, it’s useful. I’m happy psychologists can use their art to help people.

                  But evolutionary psychology? Saying we evolved to a certain point because this, and this, and this happened…??? You are simply making an educated guess. You may, in fact, be correct, but you may also be full of shit.

                  Hard science, soft science, art???

                2. I would highly recommend looking into the so-called “pilot wave” interpretation of quantum mechanics formulated by David Bohm. I find it to be the most satisfactory method for dealing with “wavefunction collapse” and “identical” initial states giving rise to different final states (scare quotes here because the pilot wave interpretation doesn’t see either of those things as actually being the case).

    3. Great. Your wish to have free will is suddenly a scientific principle, reason is “tarot cards”. It’s not very commendable that your free will chose your own idiocy.

      Human bodies evolved. Human minds evolved. (See behavioral genetics, personality factors, IQ.) Human bodies are subject to natural and sexual selection. Human minds are subject to natural and sexual selection.

      1. Yeah, I don’t get John on this. He seems to want to judge science based on his own preconceived notions of how free will works and how he’d like morality to work. Evidence to the contrary must be wrong because it contradicts John’s philosophical world view.

        1. Hey, you’re actually understanding how John operates! This is good!

          1. That part has been pretty obvious for a good while.

        2. Hm. Even folk psychology of free will should get that it’s seriously limited. How else would one explain inner conflict, ambiguity and struggle in carrying out ones plans? Frankly, psychology pretty much mirrors physiology. Each body is limited. And a will that dramatically exceeds the bounds of bodies would be curious thing.

    4. we don’t have free will and all moral debates are meaningless.

      That’s really not true. It’s quite possible to believe in determinism and free will. Free will doesn’t mean that everything we do or believe is a completely free choice that has nothing to do with the outside world. It means we can decide to do something and then do it if there aren’t any constraints that make it impossible.

      I’d say that all debates about free will are meaningless since the world with free will (in the non-deterministic sense) looks exactly the same as the world without it.

      And, unless you believe that God literally and directly created the human mind in his own image, I don’t see how you can dismiss evolutionary psychology entirely. How can you say that our minds didn’t come to be as they are through evolution? Seems absurd to say otherwise.

      1. By definition you cannot have free will in a dterministic universe. You can have some deterministic processes in a non-deterministic universe.

    5. The way I’ve seen evolutionary psychology discussed is that there are certain behavioral traits that were selected for by evolution. Genetics may pre-dispose certain individuals to express some of those traits more than others, but experience plays a large role in what traits actually are expressed.

      It’s like genetics developed through evolutionary pressures give you a variety but limitted number of possible roads to take, some more likely than others in any given individual, and experience and choice determine which of those you will actually take.

      Is that true? I don’t know. But it’s not at all absurd on first inspection.

      1. That’s why it was originally called “sociobiology”. There are concepts such as prepared learning, and windows of opportunity, along with norms of reaction, and conditional (frequency dependent) strategies. It’s not hard determinism.

      2. That’s about right. There are also truly reductionist biologists who would say that all of it goes back to the chemistry. That is, those “experiences” you describe give rise to chemical changes in the organism (such as the attachment/detachment of alkyl groups to various locations in the genome to regulate the expression of said genes). A true reductionist would disagree that there was ever actually any “choice” in what gets expressed. I’m sympathetic to such “epigenetic” ideas, but this is a very, very, very new field that is only beginning to be explored in any depth.

  2. “Holding a range of relevant variables constant, the higher participants rated their moralistic gods as punitive and knowledgeable about human thoughts and actions, the more coins they allocated to geographically distant co-religionist strangers relative to both themselves and local co-religionists. Our results support the hypothesis that beliefs in moralistic, punitive and knowing gods increase impartial behaviour towards distant co-religionists, and therefore can contribute to the expansion of prosociality.”

    So what this actually says is that it makes you nicer towards people who happen to share your religion, in much the same way that Muslims globally have positive feelings about Palestinians but don’t get too upset when some Palestinians get a bit stabby and murder a Jew or two.

    That doesn’t mean you’re ‘nicer,’ it means you’re more tribalistic.

    1. So what this actually says is that it makes you nicer towards people who happen to share your religion, in much the same way that Muslims globally have positive feelings about Palestinians but don’t get too upset when some Palestinians get a bit stabby and murder a Jew or two.

      That doesn’t mean you’re ‘nicer,’ it means you’re more tribalistic.

      Which is completely falsified by the real-world, collective ‘meh’ the Muslim world has given toward the plight of the Syrians, the Rohingya, etc.

      1. I hear Muslims mention the Rohingya all the time. In particular, it’s Reza Aslan’s go-to every time people criticize Islam.

        He’ll say “Well how can you say Islam is more violent when Buddhists kill Muslims in Myanmar!”

        It’s a perfect tu quoque and apologists love it so very much.

        1. Mention, yes. Actually do something, no. Indonesia and Malaysia not only turn away Rohingya as a matter of policy, but collect them and hand them over to Myanmar. That is when Malaysian organized crime isn’t enslaving them on shrimp boats.

          1. Now that you mention it, they don’t ‘actually do something’ about Palestine either. The Muslim countries around Israel are more than happy to keep Palestinians in refugee camps indefinitely rather than letting them integrate into society.

  3. Speaking of science, there was an interesting announcement yesterday.

  4. Speaking of science, there was an interesting announcement yesterday.

    1. Oh, I saw it. They’ve found the eight foods to avoid if you want to shed pounds.

    2. One perpetual motion machine ran into another and made a big splash?

    3. They announced human cloning?

    4. Apparently I had to cover that in the comments for Ron, because it’s harder to argue about physics.

      See here

      And here

      1. I thought that a Science Correspondent would have found the LIGO announcement more interesting than some sociology of religion claptrap.

        1. Ron doesn’t seem to have as much interest in basic research. To each their own. That’s why I enjoy the commentariat – I usually learn more from you guys.

          So ask away if there is something you want to know about the LIGO result.

          1. Are there any other predictions from Einstein’s General Theory awaiting experimental confirmation?

            1. Not major ones that I am aware of. Some subtle things that you can test with astrophysical systems. There are, however, competing theories to general relativity that predict phenomena that Einstein doesn’t. That’s something I’ve actually had a little involvement in on the observational side. Those usually proceed by finding ever more extreme systems that can limit the parameter space for these theories (or not). So far GR passes with flying colors.

              1. What sorts of theories are you talking about here? Things like MONG? Are there any discrepancies in prediction between GR and such alternatives that might be tested by LIGO or its successors?

        2. They didn’t vote on it.

  5. “A vengeful Sky God.”???
    You prefer a vengeful earth god?
    Let’s see; the three greatest mass murderers atheism ever produced were;
    Mao Xe Dung,
    Joseph Stalin,
    Adolph Hitler (in descending order)
    When they bothered to justify their actions they didn’t appeal to a “vengeful sky god”, but rather to the principles of Darwinian Evolution; Survival of the Fittest; and to the “Superior Morality” of Marxist philosophy.
    Over one hundred million in one century.
    THAT is Vengeance.

    1. Yep, it was belief in evolution that caused those mass murders, not the psychopathy of the perpetrators.

      You nailed it!

      1. Atheist Pope commanded those murders!

      2. The whooshing sound was the point sailing past your head.

    2. Hitler was not an atheist. Talks about God in Mein Kampf.

  6. It isn’t clear to me that it’s the vengefulness of the sky god that’s the driving factor, but it shouldn’t be surprising to atheists to find that a social adaptation like religion was useful to societies in the past and remains useful today.

    Libertarians should find the usefulness of social adaptations like religion even less surprising. We’re talking about the invisible hand here a la Theory of Moral Sentiments.

    Upon that foundation, evolution was built. Smith described the methods and means by which social adaptations come to be and how they work in 1759–long before Darwin recognized and described these interactions among species.

    And atheists should be acutely aware of how things like altruism come to exist in the natural world. Otherwise, they would have a hard time explaining how survival of the fittest could produce a seeming incongruity like altruism. That benevolence–maybe in the form of religion–springs from competition shouldn’t be surprising to any libertarian. That’s what the invisible hand is all about!

    1. “a social adaptation like religion was useful to societies in the past and remains useful today.”

      Other than helping them sleep more soundly, what uses does it have?

      And don’t get me wrong, insomnia is a bitch, but do you have to rent your mind out to some mystical Man in the Sky, when you could instead consume a small glass of nice cold milk?

      1. I thought you were supposed to drink warm milk at bedtime.

        1. That’s not what my God says.

          Burn the warm-milkdrinker!

        2. I gotta have it cold. And it has to be soy. And it works pretty well, sometimes. When it doesn’t I just haul out the water pipe and smoke on a little nug of Granddaddy Purple, and zonk! I’m out.

          1. WARM Scotch?!

            *prepares witch-bonfire*

        3. Yes, but then it turned out that warm milk tastes terrible. Maybe a mother-thing.

      2. I mentioned the Protestant Work Ethic below–are you going to tell me that isn’t useful?

        If no culture survived into the historical record without some form of religion, doesn’t that indicate that it must have been a useful adaptation?

        How can an adaptation provide survival benefits without being useful?

        1. Many individuals have come to appreciate the utility of a work ethic without having been Protestant, Christian, or even having heard of the religion or its specific work ethic, so while it can be considered useful, it’s not because of the Protestant part, but, in my opinion, because of the realization that this is something successful people will want to incorporate into their lives, along with the empirical evidence of such.

          The second point is your worst, since it’s a simple logical fallacy of correlation vs causation. Utter fail on that one, and for rookie reasons.

          I completely agree that anything that provides survival benefits, in and of itself, can be considered useful, but we have to disentangle the religious aspect from it in order to see if it stands on its own.

          1. “Many individuals have come to appreciate the utility of a work ethic without having been Protestant.

            Which says nothing to the observation that the adaptation itself originated with the religion.

            I said as much and more about the Protestant Work Ethic myself below.

            “The second point is your worst, since it’s a simple logical fallacy of correlation vs causation. Utter fail on that one, and for rookie reasons.

            Ha! If only I’d invented that point! I’d be famous!

            If there is no example of a culture surviving into the historical record without religion, then it is perfectly reasonable to make inferences about that social adaptation.

            1. There is no record of a heroin addict that never breathed oxygen. Respiration is not a predictor of eventual heroin use.

              1. Again, correlation is not causation. It shouldn’t have to be stated.

              2. And yet, are there any non-breathing heroin users?

                The inferences we make from there being no examples are reasonable to the extent that they are reasonable.

                If there is no evidence of water on Mercury, then it is reasonable to infer that there is no water based life. The fact that someone could find that there is water under the surface of Mercury tomorrow after all doesn’t mean that the inferences we make based on the information we have today aren’t reasonable.

                Everything we know is subject to revision given new evidence that contradicts our inferences today. That doesn’t mean making inferences based on the evidence we have now is unreasonable.

                1. Ignorance is a prerequisite for knowledge. That all forms of human civilization had a period of ignorance is not remarkable. Clinging to ignorance in the face of knowledge is what is contemptible.

                  1. You’ll generally find that people don’t go to church to find out what to believe about science.

                    They go for social reasons–that continue to be effective.

                    They may be some of the same reasons that gave our prehistoric ancestors an edge.

                    1. They may be some of the same reasons that gave our prehistoric ancestors an edge.

                      Or it may be the very thing holding us back.

                    2. I shudder to think what the Protestant Work Ethic might be holding us back from, but thank Jesus of Nazareth, it’s holding us back.

        2. Throwing virgins into volcanos! You gonna tell me that doesn’t benefit society! Next you’re gonna question burning the best cuts of meat for sacrifices when your community is on the brink of starvation!

          1. The benefits of that religion may not have derived from throwing virgins in volcanoes.

        3. If no culture survived into the historical record without some form of religion, doesn’t that indicate that it must have been a useful adaptation?

          no

          1. Then how ’bout opposable thumbs?

      3. I’ve met enough people who say that but for the fear of God they would do bad things to people that I’m pretty happy about the existence of at least some religions. It does seem to make at least some people behave better.

        1. I don’t mind people being honest, but I don’t see how their moral depravity should dictate my beliefs.

          1. No, it shouldn’t. All I’m saying is that it is probably a good thing that some people are religious, even though I think it’s all just made up stories.

            1. And it’s likely a bad thing that certain other people are religious. See islamic terrorists, the crusades, Jim Jones…

              My guess is that science (real science) would serve us much better.

      4. I think a humanist can both appreciate that the qualities which make certain religions “useful” are not inextricably linked to those religions while also recognizing that those qualities are more important than the reasons why people express them.

        I’ll take a humble and industrious theist over an arrogant and unproductive atheist any day, because humility and industry are more important to me than navel-gazing conversations about the empirical evidence for God.

      5. Other than helping them sleep more soundly, what uses does it have?

        Strengthening in-group ties and enforcing behavioral norms that are conducive to living in groups.

    2. “And atheists should be acutely aware of how things like altruism come to exist in the natural world. Otherwise, they would have a hard time explaining how survival of the fittest could produce a seeming incongruity like altruism.”

      I don’t see how the human desire to help each other is an incongruity at all. Having a strong, prosperous society is in every human’s interest, and society will be better off if people help each other when they are visited by genuine misfortune such as being injured on a hunt or in battle, getting sick, etc.

      Needless to say, this kind of assistance is only a true virtue when it’s done voluntarily for someone who is suffering through no fault of their own (e.g. taking money by force to give it to someone who refuses to work is not real charity at all).

  7. “Somehow it seems nicely appropriate to apply Darwinian insights to the study of religion today.”

    And yet soooooo many of the atheists I meet are emotionally resistant to the idea that religion is in any way useful.

    If religion is a social adaptation, how can it be useless?

    1. “If religion is a social adaptation, how can it be useless?”

      Blind submission to authority is a social adaptation as well, and I guess it has its uses, but there are many types of usefulness, beneficial to a wide range of actors, not all of which are in any way benevolent.

      1. Blind submission to authority has proved to be an evolutionary dead end. Show me a society that featured blind obedience to authority, and I’ll show you the ash heap of history.

        1. You’re living in one, Ken.

          1. Nazi Germany prominently featured blind submission. So did Imperial Japan. So did the Soviet Union.

            My bet isn’t on North Korea to thrive and predominate over its rivals.

            If blind obedience is an adaptation, it’s a maladaptation.

            And you’re starting to act like Tulpa.

            1. Nice ad hominem, so two logical fallacies from you in just under ten minutes.

              You’re better than that Ken.

              But my point that you and I are living in a society that features blind obediance should not be controversial, see for instance blind partisanship, among others.

              1. Blind obedience is not featured prominently in our culture, and cultures that did feature it prominently ended up on the ash heap of history specifically because they featured blind obedience so prominently.

                America predominated over its rivals, like the Soviet Union, specifically because we featured individual rights more prominently than they did.

                If you think American culture won out over the Soviet Union because our culture featured blind obedience, then you are wrong–and you are acting like Tulpa.

                1. Tulpa again! I’d just point out that ad hominem is a deservedly discredited form of argumentation, not suitable for reasonable or informed discourse.

                  I’d also like to point out that you moved the goalpost when you added “prominently” as a modifier to featured. So you do admit that it’s a feature of our society? You just don’t think it’s “prominent.”

            2. You’re wrong, Ken. How do you think groups respond to authoritarian enemies? It’s no surprise that militaries are highly hierarchical. You’re not going to beat a German-style military with a heap of Hippies. Did you notice how powerful the German military was, measured against the numbers of its enemies.?

              1. To describe the hierarchical systems in organizations like militaries as blind obedience shows a simplistic understanding of how command works in such organzations.

                1. In addition to that, we didn’t defeat Germany because our blind obedience was more blind or more obedient than theirs.

                  We didn’t even have superior armaments. They had better tanks. They had jet fighters! Hitler commanding blind obedience often negated their advantages.

                  The Nazis also inspired high resistance in the countries they invaded because of their authoritarianism.

                  Our advantages in respecting people’s rights were chiefly seen through economic power. War profiteers were able to convert to military uses with startling rapidity. We certainly did a better job of it than the Nazis did with directing their war economy from on high.

                  Germany was physically destroyed because of blind obedience–by a culture that featured respect for individual rights. The same thing happened to Imperial Japan. The same sort of thing happened to the Soviet Union.

                  China had to abandon central planning for fear they’d end up like the Soviet Union. Whether perestroika is enough to save the CCP without some glasnost remains to be seen–but jettisoning blind obedience to the party on central planning was an important part of ensuring their survival thus far. They had blind obedience during the Great Leap Forward–and millions of people literally starved to death.

                  Blind obedience is a maladpatation. And I don’t understand why any libertarian would claim otherwise.

                  1. “Blind obedience is a maladpatation. And I don’t understand why any libertarian would claim otherwise.”

                    Hyperbole. Elaborate on “blindness”. Is risking your life for your country a reasonable decision? Is sacrifing your life for a members of your unit? Myths, honor, and emotional ties make you do that. These are as trascendent as religious beliefs. And again, you haven’t said anything against Germany’s superior military power. Which, by the way, rested on brilliance, as it did on myth, honor, emotional ties (and fear). Obedience is not necessarily a maladaptation. It depends on the task and circumstances. In times of group conflict, indvidualism decreases. This is “group selection”. As a side note, consider the Lucifer effect/Stanford Prison Experiment.

                    Why would it be necessary for a libertarian to hold that obedience is a maladaptation? Looks like a naturalistic fallacy, in reverse order: autonomy is good, thus human nature must be one of autonomy. (The classic is: hierarchies are natural, thus hierarchies are good.) Speaking of which, check out Hierarchy in the Forest, on the tension between egalitarian and hierarchical (animal) nature.

        2. Ken, watch the experimenter, you’ll thank me or hate me.

        3. Islam (I.e. blind submission to the will of God) seems to be doing pretty well.

          1. We’ll see.

            My bet isn’t on the Daesh.

            1. They will probably end up on the ash heap (I hope). But the whole religion is really about blind submission. That’s what the word means.
              Anyway, I think that a religion like that is a better example than North Korea or USSR or Nazi Germany. In those cases, a whole lot of the submission to authority isn’t blind. It’s largely out of fear and self preservation to the extent that it actually happens.

  8. “Vengeful sky god” as opposed to what? Sexy sky god? Vengeful water deity? Are we talking monotheism or simply anthropomorphized gods? What aspect of divinity is being analyzed, exactly?

    And what is the control group for the study? Animism? Atheism? Pantheism? Buddhism?

    This study, to put it mildly, looks like unvarnished horseshit. For that matter, it’s not exactly autre to apply Darwinian thought to mainstream religion, or Darwin’s findings on natural selection — the mainstream religions themselves do it all the time. But sure, please feel free to apply a supposed anti-Darwinian bias to religion at large, because that’s not ignorant at all. Internet atheists gotta atheist, I s’pose.

    1. “Participants reported adherence to a wide array of world religious traditions including Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as notably diverse local traditions, including animism and ancestor worship. Holding a range of relevant variables constant, the higher participants rated their moralistic gods as punitive and knowledgeable about human thoughts and actions, the more coins they allocated to geographically distant co-religionist strangers relative to both themselves and local co-religionists.”

    2. It’s even dumber than that – it looks at religious people who believe in a ‘vengeful’ God and compares them to religious people who don’t believe in a vengeful God.

      What they actually discovered is that people with more extreme religious beliefs feel more connected to people who belong to that religion than people with more wishy-washy religious beliefs, which is a staggeringly unsurprising conclusion.

      This finding could also apply to anything. A Communist who is SUPER Communist will feel more connected to global Communism then some college Marxist who pretends to care because he thinks it’s cool, etc.

      1. That was the second point I thought of making — I’m pretty sure that you could do the same study on, say, Communism or Freemasons and find exactly the same sort of “pro-social” effects emergent from similar beliefs.

        Building a tribe around similar belief system is robust across geography, not robust across belief systems. Unsurprising result is unsurprising.

      2. Why are you equating “vengeful” with “more extreme” slash a general idea of “strength”? Isn’t that the whole point?they are testing the hypothesis that “vengeful God” does indeed translate to something resembling “stronger belief.”

        1. Maybe what they’re actually finding is a belief in eschatology — that is, the idea that one’s actions on Earth have consequences at the end of history, so to speak. This would explain why an ideology like Marxism would engender the same type of “pro-social” behavior (Marxism definitely has an eschatology).

          1. I think it may be something like that, though I don’t think it’s necessary about the end of history?could be about how God will punish you much sooner than that, I think.

        2. “Why are you equating “vengeful” with “more extreme” slash a general idea of “strength”?”

          Because it makes sense belief in a ‘vengeful’ God would lead to more extreme belief since you believe you will be punished if you fail to obey his dictates.

          1. So your argument is, “because my speculative argument came to the same conclusion as the study, the study was pointless”?

            And you’re making “more vengeful” do way more work than that here:

            What they actually discovered is that people with more extreme religious beliefs feel more connected to people who belong to that religion than people with more wishy-washy religious beliefs, which is a staggeringly unsurprising conclusion.

            This finding could also apply to anything. A Communist who is SUPER Communist will feel more connected to global Communism then some college Marxist who pretends to care because he thinks it’s cool, etc.

            The idea that not believing in an omniscient God that punishes immorality makes your religious beliefs “wishy-washy” is both unsupported and highly contentious. I don’t see any reason at all to assume “believes in vengeful God” and “has wishy-washy beliefs” are opposed.

            Is a Communist “more Communist” because he thinks the Stasi does a good job of spying on citizens?

            1. No, what I’m saying is that any extreme belief system creates the same peer bonding described in this scenario, that this is therefore not a religious phenomenon, but a tribal phenomenon that can be achieved through a thousand other means, and that therefore the claim that a vengeful God is necessary is inaccurate.

              Ron also completely misrepresented what the article actually says since he claimed religion makes you ‘nicer,’ but this actually has nothing to do with niceness, it has to do with tribal loyalty.

              1. any extreme belief system creates the same peer bonding described in this scenario

                Peer bonding? There’s no bonding involved. These people don’t know each other.

                I think you are missing a serious point actually in your willingness to chalk this up to simple “tribalism.” Typically we understand humans to have evolved to live in small groups; that is what makes us tend to care more about our near neighbors. This study identifies beliefs that make you care more about farther neighbors. They ma be co-religionists, but the study identifies changes in behavior toward nearer vs. farther co-religionists, so the point holds.

                1. Nicely done, Nikki.

  9. I understand the principle, but never really got it.

    If your neighbors can’t see what you are up to then no worries. There is an invisible guy spying on you all of the time. I understand this, but I don’t really get that.

    I have had people ask me why I should be a good person if I don’t believe in the supernatural; no reward, no punishment., no accolades.

    My answer is simple: You may not know what I did, God may not know what I did, but I do. I know what I did. This usually is met with confusion. These same people that know me personally trust me enough to let me hold money for them and look after their children. I don’t feel that way about them.

    If you have to have a threat in order to behave well it tells me that you will try to get away with whatever you think you can.

    1. My experience has been that a lot of religious people feel more comfortable with you when you say nothing about your religiosity and let them fill in the blanks as opposed to pronouncing your agnosticism/atheism.

      1. That is exactly how I handle it. I only used to ever mention it if asked specifically and that hasn’t happened for years now.

    2. Gay rights activists think like Christians in certain respects. For instance, they believe they should be treated the same way we would want to be treated if we were them. Why do they believe that? Why does that logic resonate with them?

      We’re talking about culture, here. If you’re culturally American, then you’ve been influenced by Christian thought. You don’t have to believe in Calvinistic predestination to be influenced by the Protestant work ethic. You can still come to believe in hard work and delayed gratification anyway.

      If there are benefits to the culture for believing in a vengeful sky god, you probably don’t have to believe in him yourself to be infused with the same values that predominate in the culture. You may just come to believe that you should do unto others as you would have others do unto you–without believing in the sky god yourself.

      1. You are exactly correct Ken. I have enormous respect for Christianity specifically because of the ideas and values it promulgated and the culture it produced. The enlightenment didn’t just happen in a vacuum, it was the evolution of Christian ideas that gave us the civilized world we know today. The secularist is culturally Christian even if they don’t believe in the supernatural tenets of the religion.

        1. I didn’t mean to spark a 1000 reply discussion with my discussion of conscience vs threat comment.

          Ken had a much more interesting comment above.

    3. If you have to have a threat in order to behave well it tells me that you will try to get away with whatever you think you can.

      Premise: All humans act in their own perceived best interest.

      Now, if you can do something that you know is “bad”, and no one will ever know you did it, but it will result in a lot of “good” (in your view), will you do it or not? After all, you may know that you did that bad thing, but a few billion lives saved and a few more trillion dollars can buy a lot of psychological help…

      Let me put it directly, I don’t actually think you’re just a “good” person, who will do “good” (however you happen to define it) just because your own conscience will condemn you. I think you’ll act in your own perceived best interest, and if the reward is great enough to overcome your conscience, you will do it.

      1. ” I think you’ll act in your own perceived best interest, and if the reward is great enough to overcome your conscience, you will do it.”

        I have made that mistake before. Rewards don’t last. Your conscience does.

        1. So you’re absolutely sure that your conscience triumphs all other rewards, huh? (To be fair, you’re still acting in your own perceived best interest.)

          You won’t steal in order to avoid starving to death? Have you ever actually felt what it is like to start starving?

          So, if the alien invasion takes Earth hostage and tells you to slap one person in order to save 7 billion humans, you wont do it, right?

          Oh and no-one will ever catch you or know it was you, excepting that everyone on Earth will know you saved them; you’ll be a hero.

          1. You’re really allergic to actually making a point. Do you have one? If so, just state it.

            1. Suthenboy condemned anyone who “ha[s] to have a threat in order to behave well” and “it tells me that you will try to get away with whatever you think you can”.

              I am trying to prove that he acts in the same way.

              1. Well, you’re failing, miserably. Why don’t you just come out and say the thing you’re dancing around?

                1. Here: All humans act in their own perceived best interest.

                  Suthenboy lives under the threat of his conscience. Ergo, his condemnation of those who “have to live under threat in order to behave well” also applies to him.

                  1. What “threat” does his conscience pose to him?

                    Again, you’re still being weaselly and won’t just come out and say what you really believe. Why not? I know what it is, because it’s obvious. Why won’t you just say it?

                    1. From Suthenboy:

                      I have made that mistake before. Rewards don’t last. Your conscience does.

                      A perpetually guilty conscience is a threat, as surely as violence is.

                      Again, you’re still being weaselly and won’t just come out and say what you really believe.

                      In this argument; “All humans act in their own perceived best interest” and therefore all people live under a threat of one type or another in order to behave. Therefore, Suthenboy wouldn’t even trust himself and is condemning himself.

                    2. A perpetually guilty conscience is a threat, as surely as violence is.

                      LOL WUT

                      Are you fucking serious?!?

                    3. Are you fucking serious?!?

                      Yes, I would much rather have a physical threat made to me than psychological torture. I can kill and end the threat of the aggressor, not so much the conscience. I’d rather be dead than in the rubber room.

                    4. A “guilty conscience” is psychological torture? Rubber rooms? Wow. No wonder you still won’t just come out and say what you actually believe.

                    5. No wonder you still won’t just come out and say what you actually believe.

                      I believe that Suthenboy is trying to claim the moral high ground when he doesn’t have it. Any more “belief” that you would require of me in this argument would be used for one of three reasons, red herrings, ad hominem attacks, or tribalism.

                      Don’t worry about my beliefs, just prove me wrong.

                    6. *scratches ace_m82 off of the ‘don’t trust that guy’ list*

                    7. I think you have constructed a bit of a tautology there.

                    8. I’m sorry if I did. Where was that?

                    9. “”All humans act in their own perceived best interest” and therefore all people live under a threat of one type or another in order to behave. Therefore, Suthenboy wouldn’t even trust himself and is condemning himself.”

                      There. Sorry, I replied in the wrong place.

                    10. I’m truly at a loss as to how that’s a tautology. If you mean by assuming the “threat”, at the time I meant a “threat” of conscience. Otherwise, I’m lost. Then again, I’m having 3 conversations at once, so it’s entirely possible that’s my fault.

                  2. I should have specified. An external threat.

                    *scribbles ace_m82 on the ‘don’t trust that guy’ list*

                    1. *scribbles ace_m82 on the ‘don’t trust that guy’ list*

                      ? 🙁

                      I should have specified. An external threat.

                      Fair enough.

              2. RE ace:

                Pain is a threat. Hedonism is as much threat, as it is reward. So yeah, those who pursue pleasure, and be it delight in “altruistic” acts, “act in the same way”.

          2. I don’t know about Suthenboy, but my conscience wouldn’t bother me for slapping one person to save 7 billion from suffering.

            1. It would be very hard to convince anyone otherwise. But, it is a triumph of Utilitarianism over Deontology. Ergo, the ends justify the means.

              1. And the ends are determined deontologically. What a triumph.

          3. Those are pretty ridiculously extreme examples of what he’s talking about. Suthen is talking about his conscience and I’m pretty sure if he had to slap a person to save the human species, his conscience would be okay with him doing so.

            1. So, he’s right as long as he gets to define right and wrong.

              Of course! Everyone is right if they get to define right and wrong! Do you think Stalin and Mao slept well at night? It didn’t matter because the ends justified the means.

              In other words, you are willing to do evil as long as you don’t think you have to pay for it, just like everybody else will. Ergo, Suthenboy is incorrect in claiming the moral high road because the only thing preventing him from committing evil is a “threat” of some kind, either of conscience or of external punishment.

              1. The problem with asking (what you think is a) gotcha question, see, is too many people rush the punchline. It’s such a good punchline, they worked so hard on it. Oooh, the looks on everyone’s faces when they get the punchline. It’s gonna be shweeet!

                Then people lean in for any opportunity they can crowbar that punchline into, and wind up jumping the gun. And now they look like an overeager moron who thinks they’ve found the Secret To Life Itself.

              2. Ultimately, everyone does get to define right and wrong. There have never been two Christians, two Muslims, two Buddhists, etc. who absolutely agree about every aspect of doctrine. Scriptural, theological religions may have more consistency and internal coherency than other sets of beliefs, but consistency and coherency are not the same thing as immutability and correctness.

                The man who says he does not kill because of God and the man who says he does not kill because of the cops are not materially different, any more than the man who says he does not want to kill because he has been filled with the spirit of Christ and the man who says he does not want to kill because it violates his conscience.

                The first is an example of “punishment” or “threat”, but the second is not.

                1. Ultimately, everyone does get to define right and wrong.

                  They do try, true. They usually fail, but they do try.

                  There have never been two Christians, two Muslims, two Buddhists, etc. who absolutely agree about every aspect of doctrine.

                  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ I believe that would cover all pertinent parts of right and wrong, though not technically doctrine. And the Christian who fails at this is simply being a poor Christian (or an incorrect one).

                  Also, the man who doesn’t kill due to cops may kill if he is fairly certain the cops won’t see it. The one who doesn’t kill due to God (assuming that’s ‘God’ with a big ‘G’) will never think that.

                  Next, if one doesn’t kill due to his conscience, we (should) all recognize that consciences are very flawed things, they can be affected by the mental state of the human, the results of an act (Utilitarianism), and they even change their mind. Consciences are fallible.

                  Lastly, anyone who claims to be “filled with the spirit of Christ” is either correct or not. If he is, then he will act no differently than the one who doesn’t kill because of God. If he isn’t correct, then he may kill or may not kill. As I can’t see into their minds, I won’t know in an absolute way.

                  1. If you can’t translate the abstract words into doctrine, then they’re just collections of letters on a page. And the minute you do translate them into doctrine, someone will disagree with you. And even if someone else claims to agree with you, you have to assess their actions anyway.

                    If fear of God were enough to motivate people to righteousness, why was Christianity even necessary? God already laid out his rules and his punishments.

                    1. And the minute you do translate them into doctrine, someone will disagree with you.

                      Yes, but I didn’t make the doctrine. Nor did any mere human.

                      And even if someone else claims to agree with you, you have to assess their actions anyway.

                      Yes, morality is absolute.

                      If fear of God were enough to motivate people to righteousness, why was Christianity even necessary?

                      There’s a reason why it says, “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

                      A person may claim to believe in “God”, but if they really did, they’d listen to him. Those who don’t listen don’t believe very well. Those who slip be forgiveness.

                      I’m ignoring the whole “who pays the price for sins?” part. Also, that’s the answer to your question, we ignored the life-bringer and separated ourselves from him so we will die. The only way to live is to “pay our debt”, the debt being the life we were given. As we can’t really pay that, Christ did it for us.

                    2. *beg forgiveness

                      (my kingdom for an edit button)

                    3. Now we’re pretty much in full-on theology which is fascinating but completely abstract. At some point, you have to be able to connect these ideas back with people and their behavior in an observable and testable manner.

                    4. Theology isn’t completely abstract or you’re doing it very wrong. “Do unto others” and all that.

                      At some point, you have to be able to connect these ideas back with people and their behavior in an observable and testable manner.

                      I remember the study on behavior, where they looked at Christians in America verses non-Christians. I don’t remember the exact measurements, but they looked at divorce rates and whatnot. They reproved that there was no statistical difference between the two groups.

                      But then they looked at the Christian group and broke it into regular church attendees and irregular (an imperfect method of measuring if they actually believed or just said they did). Shockingly enough, the church regulars were much better than the non-Christians and the irregulars were much worse.

                      As this is a half-remembered study, not much proof, but still was fascinating. It turns out self-reporting as “Christian” really skews studies!

                    5. Show me some causality that doesn’t require “a leap of faith” and maybe you’ll get somewhere.

                    6. As we’re talking about Christians, they’ll always have some sort of “leap of faith”.

                      I was trying to find the study on the divorce rates of Christian couples who pray together. In more than one study, if the articles on the study, not the study itself, are to believed, the rate was somewhere below 1%.

                      What type of data would satisfy your need for “causality”? It’s not like I can force people to become Christian (and if I could, I wouldn’t).

                    7. As we’re talking about Christians, they’ll always have some sort of “leap of faith”.

                      Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? The leap of faith contravenes the faculty of reason. “If you would believe, then you will believe” is a useless tautology. And it still doesn’t address that problem of being unable to know everything and read others’ minds.

                      I know nothing about the study or its methodology, but hooray for Christian couples who pray together and their low divorce rates. I don’t remember where I said that was relevant to anything, though.

                    8. The leap of faith contravenes the faculty of reason.

                      That doesn’t follow. If there is a probability of over 50% for something, then belief in it is reasonable. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a “leap of faith”.

                      “If you would believe, then you will believe” is a useless tautology.

                      A good thing, then, that I didn’t use it. I said “they’ll always have some sort of leap of faith”, not that you will have to.

                      And it still doesn’t address that problem of being unable to know everything and read others’ minds.

                      No, but it give you a much better idea. As this study bears out, those who believe in a god of some sort are more honest.

                      I don’t remember where I said that was relevant to anything, though.

                      Again, I was trying to guess about what you precisely meant for “causality” in these studies. If I were to ask, this conversation would go on even longer and no one wants that…

                      Again, if you want “causality” proven, then any “social science” is right out, any ethical study of humans is right out, too. In order to give evidence for causality instead of correlation, I would have to have a control group, who I would force to not do [A] and a test group I would force to do [A]. Even if that were possible in this case (it’s not possible to force someone to become a Christian), it would be highly unethical and very immoral.

          4. Your hypothetical situations are a bit absurd.

            Of course, like all people, I act in my own best interest. It is in my best interest to have a relatively clear conscience.

            1. It is in my best interest to have a relatively clear conscience.

              Wow, that was a weak statement. I really want to know why you put the word “relatively” in there… Is it sometimes OK to violate your conscience?

              1. I am not a saint and I have done things in the past that bother me a lot. I was young and stupid when I did them. Whatever reward I got from it is long gone but my conscience is still there.

                Thus the ‘relatively’.

                I learned my lesson and live by simple but strict rules now.

                Don’t break things you can’t fix.
                Don’t take things you can’t put back.
                Dont do things you can’t undo.

                1. I love squirrels…

                  Your answer is fair enough.

                  But, can you still slap the one to save the 7 billion? If so, how does that square with your ethical rules? If not, why not?

                  Do you trust your conscience in all things? Hasn’t it changed it’s… um… “mind” before?

      2. What does that have to do with a god? You just described psychology.

        1. Look at which part I responded to. I don’t believe that anyone acts in any other way (with one exception I can think of).

      3. I don’t see what you’re getting at other than your personal system for rating someone’s trustworthiness.

        1. Again, look at which part I responded to. I don’t believe the commenter acts differently from the way he condemns other people for.

          1. A lack of trust is not a condemnation.

            1. In this case, it certainly appears to be both. He is implying (or I am incorrectly inferring) that he doesn’t trust certain people because they live under threat but does trust other people who he thinks don’t live under a threat.

              1. Your reading comprehension sucks.

                I have had people ask me why I should be a good person if I don’t believe in the supernatural; no reward, no punishment., no accolades.

                The obvious implication is the questioners do not trust themselves to be good persons without the influence of the supernatural. That being the case, why should he trust them?

                1. The obvious implication is the questioners do not trust themselves to be good persons without the influence of the supernatural. That being the case, why should he trust them?

                  Exactly. Contracts made under duress are invalid, for example.

                2. The obvious implication is the questioners do not trust themselves to be good persons without the influence of the supernatural. That being the case, why should he trust them?

                  Why should he trust people who only follow their own consciences when we’ve shown that they get to define “right” and “wrong” as they go along? Massive amounts of money certainly cloud the best person’s judgement, as evidenced by all of politics.

                  But to answer your question directly, he should trust them because they do believe in the supernatural. You can’t say “they only act good because of their inescapable belief in [A]”and then imply “what if they quit believing in [A]?” Well, because their belief is inescapable…

                  Also, given the actual results of this study, the people who believed in [A] were more honest than those who didn’t. Therefore, you’re questioning the honesty of the wrong group, statistically speaking.

                  1. Finally, you admit what you actually believe, even though you still did it in an amazingly weaselly way. Honesty does not come naturally to you, does it. I guess that’s in keeping with your needing to be under duress and threatened to be trustable.

                    1. Finally, you admit what you actually believe, even though you still did it in an amazingly weaselly way.

                      I believe you are guessing, at best. I’m showing that Suthenboy was using incorrect thinking.

                      Honesty does not come naturally to you, does it.

                      ? I haven’t lied since I was 12 years old! Veritas Liberabit Vos.

                      I guess that’s in keeping with your needing to be under duress and threatened to be trustable.

                      And yet, why should I trust you? Do you follow your conscience to the end? What if your conscience is a Utilitarian or a simple narcissist?

                      You have no moral high road here. All humans are evil, some just hide it better than others.

                    2. All humans are evil, some just hide it better than others.

                      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                      Man, you really had to be prompted to say what you actually believe. The fact that you believe in inherent “evil” says everything possible that needs to be said about you. And also what you actually think about yourself. I would never, ever trust you or want to have anything to do with you if you can’t even trust yourself and think that you would do horrible things if not restrained by a supernatural caretaker.

                      You’re the problem. Not all humans. And your projection of your own nastiness and “evil” on to others is pathetic projection and a complete avoidance of responsibility for your own behavior and impulses.

                      No wonder you’ll do anything to displace that responsibility onto something–anything–else.

                    3. Any more “belief” that you would require of me in this argument would be used for one of three reasons, red herrings, ad hominem attacks, or tribalism.

                      Thanks, Episiarch, for proving me right, that you can’t actually argue the point now. You’ve stooped to what I predicted.

                      And your projection of your own nastiness and “evil” on to others is pathetic projection

                      You are evil too. If I had the power to make you king of all Earth, you’d do (some) evil. Power doesn’t corrupt, it shows corruption.

                      a complete avoidance of responsibility for your own behavior and impulses.

                      I am ultimately, completely responsible for my behavior and impulses. I deserve death.

                      I would never, ever trust you or want to have anything to do with you

                      And yet, the statistics from this very study show how poor your judgement is here. I fall into the category of those who were measured to be more trustworthy than your category.

                      Did you ever wonder why that is? Or does that stray too far from your preconceived notions?

                    4. I fall into the category of those who were measured to be more trustworthy than your category.

                      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA this is fucking comedy gold, it’s always hilarious when you take off your mask finally.

                      Maybe if you spent less time projecting your own vile temperament on others and more time wondering about why you have the impulses you have, you’d be better off. But that’s too hard; it’s so much easier to say “everyone is as shitty as me, so I don’t have to take any responsibility for that”.

                      You’re pathetic. But deep down, you already know that.

                    5. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA this is fucking comedy gold, it’s always hilarious when you take off your mask finally.

                      And yet, what I said was true. You fall into the untrustworthy category and I do not. What, you don’t believe in the science?

                      Maybe if you spent less time projecting your own vile temperament on others and more time wondering about why you have the impulses you have, you’d be better off.

                      I don’t project it at all. I was told it. It’s not my fault that it best fits all the data.

                      it’s so much easier to say “everyone is as shitty as me, so I don’t have to take any responsibility for that”.

                      You don’t read well. Everyone is as bad as I am and I’m responsible for my own evil actions.

                      You’re pathetic. But deep down, you already know that.

                      True, I am. “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” But, again, that’s true of all of us. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

                    6. All I needed to do was let you talk, and you let everyone know exactly what you are. It’s so fucking telling that you wouldn’t just be honest at first. But your mask couldn’t help slipping.

                      You’re a really vile human being, ace. I wouldn’t let you be around my pet rock let alone a human. You’ve flat out admitted you have zero conscience, zero control, zero trustworthiness, and that if it weren’t for the voices in your head telling you that some supernatural being will punish you if you “misbehave” (as defined by…what exactly?), you would be out doing terrible things because you want to.

                      If you’re evil, why haven’t you just settled the problem and offed yourself yet? Shouldn’t you, to prevent anything awful you might do?

                    7. All I needed to do was let you talk, and you let everyone know exactly what you are. It’s so fucking telling that you wouldn’t just be honest at first.

                      It’s so telling that you think that not giving you info that doesn’t pertain to the logical consistency of my argument is considered “dishonesty”. For such a “libertarian”, you seem to be just a “team player”… It’s also quite telling that I predicted your next moves to your face, and you still did them!

                      You’re a really vile human being, ace.

                      No argument there.

                      You’ve flat out admitted you have zero conscience

                      Wrong, I have one. I violated it every now and then just like everyone else does. I don’t trust myself to follow it and only it.

                      if it weren’t for the voices in your head telling you that some supernatural being will punish you if you “misbehave”

                      I have no voices in my head. That would worry me.

                      (as defined by…what exactly?)

                      Moral absolutism requires a moral absolute. “I am what I am”, the Creator, the inventor, etc seems to be a good absolute.

                      If you’re evil, why haven’t you just settled the problem and offed yourself yet?

                      Because that’s murder (or, conversely, “‘Vengeance is mine’ declares the LORD”). Apparently you don’t understand what moral absolutism means.

                    8. “All humans are evil, some just hide it better than others.”

                      Wow. Smells like projection.

                      I had a friend who recently died. He was a paraplegic and suffered from both rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. In spite of that he got out of bed every day and went to work. He didn’t take any money from any entitlement programs, he paid his own way all the way. He was always friendly and cracking jokes. He owned a gun store, the kind where all the old farts sit around drinking coffee and telling lies and there were always plenty of us around.

                      He always had a donation jar on the counter. He raised money for children with cancer, people whose houses had burned, people injured in accidents, people who got sick and couldn’t work. He held fundraisers. Over the years he raised untold thousands and people were always stopping in to thank him, and us old farts too because we contributed heavily.

                      He was politically connected and so people also stopped in constantly asking for help with difficult situations. He was always willing to help if he could.

                      He raised three of his own children and one foster child.

                      His daughter told me that in the 50 years he was married to her mother he never once cursed or so much as raised his voice to her or his children.

                      That guy was evil, he just hid it well?

                      I think you should check your premises ace.

                    9. That guy was evil, he just hid it well?

                      Whether he hid it well or his own perceived best interests happened to line up with your idea of “good”, I don’t know.

                      Give the guy lots of power and you’ll see who he really is. Some, even in that case, can continue hiding much of their evil, but most go full bore into it.

                    10. He had lots of power. He got some of the most powerful political figures in the state elected.

                    11. He had lots of power. He got some of the most powerful political figures in the state elected.

                      The power to murder and get away with it?

                      Are you sure he did only good with his political power? After all, most powerful political figures are quite evil (wouldn’t you say?). Were they all good politicians?

                    12. Oh good lord.

                      Trust is earned and exists on a sliding scale.

                      And you’re using morally imperfect as the definition of evil (at least I hope you are or you’ve got some serious issues)

                    13. Trust is earned and exists on a sliding scale.

                      Very true.

                      And you’re using morally imperfect as the definition of evil (at least I hope you are or you’ve got some serious issues)

                      “Morally imperfect” is a very nice euphemism for evil. Just because modern humans only use the word to describe people like Hitler (Godwin!) doesn’t mean I’m using it like that.

                      All human act in their own perceived best interest, true. What most can’t see is the logical ramifications of that. In other words, if their own perceived best interest is the death of all other people* then they will try to do that.

                      *Not thinking historically, I’m thinking of the “Time Enough at Last” episode of the Twilight Zone

                    14. In other words, if their own perceived best interest is the death of all other people* then they will try to do that.

                      So you’re saying no non-believer ever sacrificed themselves for others.

                      And in response to your ridiculous alien hypothetical, I might add that choosing not to take action is still a choice, one that would (in your scenario) condemn others to die. It’s just a variant of the “trolley problem” in which there are only utilitarian choices.

                    15. So you’re saying no non-believer ever sacrificed themselves for others.

                      Hey, Leonidas and the 300 Spartans were no Christians by any means, but did sacrifice themselves. Then again, they were taught to worship Sparta and think that the greatest thing in life was to die for it in glorious battle.

                      So, as weird as it is to think of, they were acting in their own perceived best interest by dying. After all, they knew they would die anyway, so they just died sooner than they otherwise would, and look, we remember them even today! They got their wish.

                      It’s just a variant of the “trolley problem” in which there are only utilitarian choices.

                      True. And the correct Deontological option is to “do no evil”. Still, put a man in that case and they’d likely turn Utilitarian quite quickly. The example makes you choose, and wonder why you chose what you did.

                    16. All humans are evil, some just hide it better than others.

                      If this is true, then the only solution in the end is the extermination of the human race, although no human being would be fit to carry it out.

                    17. If this is true, then the only solution in the end is the extermination of the human race, although no human being would be fit to carry it out.

                      Well, there was that one guy. He was killed around 2000 years ago. And actually, he is predicted to exterminate the human race, so good guess.

                    18. But that “one guy” also created us. Why create that which ultimately must be destroyed?

                    19. Remember that line from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”?

                      “In the beginning the Universe was created.
                      This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

                      Well, the same goes for free will. It makes a lot of people mad.

                      I don’t know the answer to your question, but then again, the ant doesn’t know the mind of the human either.

                    20. I don’t know the answer to your question, but then again, the ant doesn’t know the mind of the human either.

                      If I am to accept that “man cannot know the mind of God”, then I must conclude that the entire effort of theistic faith for its own sake is in vain. All we have are artifacts of man and other men’s claims about their meaning and provenance.

                    21. If I am to accept that “man cannot know the mind of God”, then I must conclude that the entire effort of theistic faith for its own sake is in vain.

                      Ah, you are correct. In fact, the ant, through it’s own efforts, can’t know the man. That being said, the human, if it’s clever, can perhaps communicate with the ant.

                      Or the human could just become an ant to show what the human is like…

                    22. Or the human could just become an ant to show what the human is like…

                      An event to which I did not bear witness, and as alluded to before, would have to trust the word of other men concerning.

                    23. An event to which I did not bear witness, and as alluded to before, would have to trust the word of other men concerning.

                      True. So, did Alexander the Great live or not?

                      Also, given that those other men all died, seemingly just because they believed in what they’d seen, doesn’t that ascribe more credence to that belief?

                      “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.”

                    24. Many people have died for Islam, Buddhism, and other faiths as well. All that their deaths, and the deaths of the Christian martyrs, prove to me is that they were sincere in their own beliefs. But the sincerity of their belief does nothing to establish who God is or what he wants. The most I could be convinced of is that the those who have died for their faith have worthwhile beliefs, but I can take those beliefs by themselves and apply them without the faith.

                      Scripture and martyrdom is letters and blood. Many people can write, and everybody can bleed.

                    25. All that their deaths, and the deaths of the Christian martyrs, prove to me is that they were sincere in their own beliefs.

                      Not too many died as actual martyrs, most died in wars. Also all the apostles (save John who was merely exiled) who claimed to be eyewitnesses died for it. So, either they had many group hallucinations, or they actually did see the risen Christ. As modern science is still looking for any kind of proof of a mass hallucination (last time I checked), which is the more likely scenario?

                    26. Perhaps they hallucinated, perhaps they really saw it, perhaps they made it up. You can apply the same Occam’s Razor test to any faith with “supernatural” claims, but that is not proof. And if it was, then are they all true?

                      And honestly, I don’t know that Alexander the Great lived with any more confidence than I know John the Baptist or Paul of Tarsus or even Christ himself lived. People say they lived, there’s some evidence that they lived, but they’re all dead now. But I wasn’t advocating for Hellenism, anyway…

                    27. Perhaps they hallucinated, perhaps they really saw it, perhaps they made it up.

                      As they died for it, without a fight, what is most likely? “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

                      You can apply the same Occam’s Razor test to any faith with “supernatural” claims, but that is not proof.

                      Nope. There is no “proof” (as used by the scientist) for any of this. There is much evidence, however. Some would say a preponderance, even.

                      And if it was, then are they all true?

                      I know there are other claims, but have seen little evidence of their truthfulness. Do you have any readily available?

                      And honestly, I don’t know that Alexander the Great lived

                      I don’t “know” that either. I do believe it is true, though. I think the evidence is much in favor of him being real.

                      People say they lived, there’s some evidence that they lived, but they’re all dead now.

                      True, but the life of one very good ant may be easily ignored. If the human actually came down as an ant, however, that would seem to be much more important. And, as we are talking about the existence of a “human” here, I would think it requires some sort of position on the issue, if truth is to be found.

                    28. What you are saying is based on the supposition that you are right and others are wrong. I don’t believe in Islam, so I have no interest in defending it. But the people who do believe in it say, or at least could say, the same sorts of things you do. There is no extrinsic evidence of the faith on offer here, from you or from them, so it is the same to me either way. I will judge actions over words, and even then only the words that have meaning in the context of this world. No greater faculty has been afforded me, and so that is the faculty that I shall exercise.

                    29. What you are saying is based on the supposition that you are right and others are wrong.

                      Let’s be honest, everyone argues with that in the back of their mind. We just try to be as objective as possible.

                      But the people who do believe in it say, or at least could say, the same sorts of things you do.

                      Not really. Those who invented Islam killed tens of thousands and very few of them sacrificed their lives until much later.

                      There is no extrinsic evidence of the faith

                      Other than the dead people? That’s kind of a big thing to ignore. Not many die for their beliefs, not on purpose, anyhow.

                      I will judge actions over words, and even then only the words that have meaning in the context of this world.

                      Then trust those who died to tell you something. If someone ran to you with a message, and died as they arrived, would you listen to them?

                      Also, if indeed the human did become an ant, then the human’s world all of a sudden matters, maybe even more than the ant’s world. If the human told the ant that it could live forever, better than an ant, in the human’s world, would you really ignore that?

                      No greater faculty has been afforded me, and so that is the faculty that I shall exercise.

                      Well, you have been given reason, while much ignored in this current age. It seems like the existence of the “human” really matters, doesn’t it?

                    30. Do you honestly think yours is the first or only faith to have martyrs?

                      How many Zoroastrians are left? How many died because they refused to convert to Islam? Should I be learning more about Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu?

                    31. Do you honestly think yours is the first or only faith to have martyrs?

                      Nope, though it is telling that all of the apostles who (apparently) saw him risen were willing to die for it.

                      How many died because they refused to convert to Islam?

                      Lots. I would guess that most of them converted. That’s kind of par for the course when told “your faith or your life”. It’s a very effective way to see if they actually believe or not.

                      But again, they didn’t really believe that the human became the ant, just that the human gave the ant a book… which was later burned and stolen.

                      This, of course, isn’t to ignore the fulfillment of Scripture. The reason why the unbelievers date the book of Daniel when they do is because otherwise it would have fulfilled prophecy in it, predicting the Persian, Greek, divided Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Empires (as well as Alexander directly). Well, and then predicting Christ’s different kind of Kingdom, too.

                    32. Now you’re just getting into the weeds of apocrypha. I already told you that scripture and blood don’t prove anything, I don’t know what more you expect.

                    33. I already told you that scripture and blood don’t prove anything

                      It’s easy to say they don’t “prove” anything when you define the word to exclude those things. But again, I don’t need to “prove” it, I need to make it the most likely explanation.

                      If Daniel is dated when it says it is, then it is prophecy. The best explanation for prophecy is not from the predictive power of the ant.

                      I also missed one point concerning the deaths of the apostles, they didn’t die because they wouldn’t convert, but because they wouldn’t shut up. They had no “culture” to defend, they were Jewish and their own religious leaders told them to shut up and wanted to kill them. Again, they died because they were trying to tell the truth, not due to an invasion. That looks to be more or less unprecedented.

                      If I trust that Alexander existed, then I should trust that Christ was risen. That’s really important, as the best explanation of that is that he was the human/ant, and I should listen to him.

                      The question isn’t “proof” for another reason, if you are a kid at the top of the slide and your father tells you he’ll catch you at the bottom, you have no “proof” that he will. Yet, you do trust that he will (if he’s a decent father). Christianity isn’t science, it’s a relationship, like that of a child and father.

                    34. Well, there was that one guy.

                      Cthulthu?

                    35. this is true, then the only solution in the end is the extermination of the human race, although no human being would be fit to carry it out.

                      I’m your man!
                      /starts randomly swinging board with nail

                    36. Isn’t throwing alligators through windows more your style?

                    37. When I have time to prep I do, but board w nail was handy

                    38. The warmistas have that covered.

    4. With the Catholics, it’s complicated:

      “Contrition

      “1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.”

      “1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.

      “1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.”

  10. OMG, My workplace FINALLY installed Chrome so I can read Reason again!!

    (It was broken on Internet Explorer)

    1. Well, your god, at least, isn’t vengeful.

      1. But I can tell you IE is certainly a jealous god!

        1. Not sure. It appears to be a god of vengefulness, though, considering that it tends to infuriate me.

    2. Making people use Internet Explorer should be against the Geneva Conventions.

      Now get off the internet, and GET BACK TO WORK!

  11. It is Lincoln’s bday. And my Father’s. I celebrate the latter of the 3.

  12. Current Opinions in Psychology, 02-2016, on Evol. Psych.: http://www.sciencedirect.com/s…..2352250X/7 – free access, at the moment.

  13. OT: Related to last night’s “food babe” chatter on the debate story – “The Fear Babe” is a new book debunking Food Babe.

    https://www.facebook.com/thefearbabe

    1. not hot enough

  14. Q: As a matter of curiosity, let’s suppose that instead of a religion, Christianity were a philosophy: that Christ were a philosopher along the lines of a Socrates, making the same claims about ethics and being crucified in the same way that he did. (Indeed, this isn’t far from the speculations of at least a few New Testament scholars who place him as a Cynic philosopher.) Would you consider this philosophy, shorn of its claims about a creator God, attractive or convincing? Why or why not?

    1. Attractive yes, convincing no.

      attractive /= true

    2. Just read Haidt’s stuff on moral psychology and triablism, and you have your answer. People join parties, which are moral tribes, systems of philosophy/philosophers and quasi religious, lacking a personified god.

      1. Fenggang Yang is also worth reading RE: religion in Communist China, on those lines. People tend to treat religion, philosophy, and quasi-religions as like categories.

        I was more curious if the people on this board would find a meaningful difference if Christianity made no claims about a monotheistic God, though.

        1. Depends on the function of that creator god. The historical aspect can make it more believable. There’s the element of power. An idea itself has no power. A powerful god has two influences on believers: 1) fear; 2) awe. 2) essentially means that by virtue of his power, this god is more likely to be right (“intellectually” powerful). In the background of all this is the aspect of similarity, and there lies the question. I think a god that you can somewhat understand has a greater effect on humans. The simple fact that religion and god serve to explain things (gods of nature, gods of human psychology [see Rome and Greece, especially]), indicates that. It’s an interesting balance: observe the problem of (false) idols.

          Any specific book title, IT?

        2. I was more curious if the people on this board would find a meaningful difference if Christianity made no claims about a monotheistic God, though.

          I wouldn’t find a meaningful difference, since I already evaluate it on those grounds. I don’t care what you claim to believe, I care what you do.

    3. Q: As a matter of curiosity, let’s suppose that instead of a religion, Christianity were a philosophy:

      Is that you, Bill O’Reilly?

  15. The good news is if atheists are right, we won’t have to hear about it for all eternity.

  16. I honestly have never gotten people’s obsession with Darwin.

    The majority of “his” theory is just straight-lifted from Lemark’s Theory of Evolution. Darwin only made a “correction” to Lemark’s theory, correcting Lemark’s bogus ideas on inheritance (Lemark thought that learned/acquired traits could be passed on to children).

    But then again Darwin’s correction was also flawed (Darwin thought children had random differences from their parents), only to be corrected when Mendel’s genetic theory would be incorporated with the evolution theories.

    So Lemark did most of the work, Darwin made a correction that was itself later corrected. I don’t get why Darwin is the one who got the credit, ultimately.

    1. the beard.

    2. Similar to Christianity, he may not have had much that was original, but he popularized the idea.

      And what Idle Hands said.

    3. And even then, Lamarck was right to some extent. We now know that acquired epigenetic information can be passed from one generation to its offspring in at least some cases.

      1. Such as?

        (I’m not questioning the premise; I’m just legitimately interested in cases in which this happens)

  17. Speaking of vengeful gods, my father and his wife are on vacation and I went by their house to feed the kitties. Apparently he plays light contemporary Christian music at an absurdly loud volume for them while they are not at home. I’m not sure what to make of that.

    1. light contemporary Christian music

      Ugh. He couldn’t play some Handel instead?

    2. ‘light contemporary Christian music”

      Ugh, he couldn’t just feed them poison instead?

    3. Cats don’t like that. Seriously.

  18. *smiles to self for having refrained from commenting on this obvious turd-storm of a thread*

    Oh, wait…

  19. Among the other fields of research that benefit from Darwin’s insights is evolutionary psychology. A fascinating new study by researchers at University of British Columbia finds that belief in a vengeful sky-god tends to make people more generous towards strangers.

    ISIS wants to travel to foreign countries, meet people from other cultures… and kill them.

  20. International Darwin Day was founded in 1993 by Dr. Robert Stephens to honor the accomplishments of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution continues to inform groundbreaking discoveries in biology[…]

    Darwin didn’t propose the theory of evolution. He proposed a theory ON evolution. Evolution was a given among scientists in the 19th Century as it was obvious most species shared similar anatomical and morphological traits, except that they didn’t know how it worked. Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace (working separately and unaware of each other’s research) proposed that environmental circumstances and competition favored biological beings that were born with certain traits over other biological beings, which allowed them to survive and pass over those traits to their offspring; and that those biological beings of the same species that were born with mutations that provided traits that better suited them to survive natural changes than other biological beings of the same species, could then pass over those traits to their offspring; both instances resulted in the generation of different species. This theory was called Natural Selection. Neither came up with evolution as a theory to explain the origin of species, only the mechanism on how it worked.

  21. Our results support the hypothesis that beliefs in moralistic, punitive and knowing gods increase impartial behaviour towards distant co-religionists, and therefore can contribute to the expansion of prosociality.

    So. . . basically what they’re saying is. . . people give more when they live in fear – essentially buying the good graces of their “god.”

    Cretins and cowards.

  22. “beliefs in moralistic, punitive and knowing gods increase impartial behaviour towards distant co-religionists”

    And the effect toward people who don’t share their belief in a vengeful sky God?

  23. my classmate’s mother-in-law makes $78 hourly on the computer . She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her check was $17581 just working on the computer for a few hours. view website…..
    ???????======= http://www.workbuzz60.com

  24. My, well, my. Could have saved your money, but just as well. And just had to put that “vengeful” modifier for “sky god”, whatever that is.

    They may have studied non-Judeao-Christian beliefs, but it was an effect of the life, teachings and historical eyewitness claims of Resurrection that put fuel (and lots of martyrdom) to the salvation message.

    So true genuine belief in a God of love as described in the New Testament (and merciful in the Old), to which one must give account for the deeds done in this earth, makes people act on the love of Christ for their nearby and faraway neighbors.

    Yes, in spite of “Christians” who banned the Bible who anti-Christians always trot out for these discussions, the followers of the God of the Golden Rule shamed the world into largely ending such atrocities as human and infant sacrifice, slavery, and more, and institutionalized adoption, orphanages, clinics, hospitals, universities, charities, and so on. They were first on the scene to help after Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, Katrina in New Orleans (where the federal authorities made them wait for days outside the city), rebuilt homes and churches in southern Mississippi, and consistently donate more to charities in general, including “secular” charities.
    heists turn into the absolute worst mass murderers of history in power?

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