Friday, March 20

Religion is "Natural"

Or at least a natural thought, while evolutionary thinking is unnatural, according to psychological researchers - although that doesn't make it right (from
Presently I’m attending a small symposium on “Belief and Reason” at Trinity College, Cambridge, being sponsored by the Perrott-Warrick Fund. It’s a rather intimate affair with mostly cognitive scientists discussing the latest research and theory on everything from paranormal beliefs to free will to the placebo effect. One of the standout talks Monday was by Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, who gave a presentation titled “Is Religion Natural?” He focused on the puzzling case of creationist beliefs.

As Bloom pointed out, many people believe that one’s acceptance of evolutionary theory boils down to whether that person was indoctrinated as a child by religious parents or educated by science-minded teachers. But it's not that simple. By her own accounts, even Helen Keller, who was born deaf and blind, spontaneously pondered, “Who made the sky, the sea, everything?” prior to being taught how to communicate. As a retrospective anecdote, the example should be taken with a pinch of salt, as they say—but if true, it’s quite something, since her linguistic isolation meant that Keller hadn’t a culturally transmitted concept of God to revert to but nevertheless intuited ‘someone’ had created the world. Read more...

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