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"You may have heard me called an athiest, but that's not true. Athiesm is unprovable, so uninteresting. However unlikely it is, we can never be certain that God once existed-- and hasnow shot off to infinity, where no one can ever find him ... Like Gautama Buddha, I take no position on this subject. My field of interest is the psychopathology known as Religion."
"Psychopathology? That's a harsh judgment."
"Amply justified by history. Imagine that your an intelligent extraterrestrial, concerned only with verifiable truths. You discover a species that has divided istelf into thousands--no, by now millions--of tribal groups holding an incredible variety of beliefs about the origin of the universe and the way to behave in it. Although many of them have ideas in common, even when there's a ninety-nine percent overlap, the remaining one percent's enough to set them killing and torturing each other, over trivial points of doctrine, utterly meaningless to outsiders.
"How to account for such irrational behavior? Lucretius hit it on the nail when he said that religion was the by-product of fear--a reaction to a mysterious and often hostile universe. For much of human prehistory, it may have been a necessary evil--but why was it so much more evil than necessary--and why did it survive when it was no longer necessary?
"I said evil--and I mean it, because fear leads to cruelty. The slightest knowledge of the Inquisition makes one ashamed to belong to the human species...One of the most revolting books ever published was the Hammer of Witches, written by a couple of sadisitic perverts and describing the tortures the Church authorized--encouraged!--to extract 'confessions' from thousands of harmless old women, before it burned them alive... The Pope himself wrote an approving foreword!
"But most of the religions, with a few honorable exceptions, were just as bad as christianity... Even in your century, little boys were kept chained and whipped until they'd memorized whole volumes of pious gibberish, and robbed of their childhood and manhood to become monks...
"Perhaps the most baffling aspect of the whole affair is how obvious madman, century after century, would proclaim that they--and they alone!--had recieved messages from a God. If all the messages had agreed, that would have settled the matter. But of course they were wildly discordant--which never prevented self-styled messiahs from gathering hundereds--sometimes millions--of adherents, who would fight to the death against equally deluded believers of a microscopically differing faith.
"He sounds like the standard model. How long did he flourish?"
"Three or four years. And then he had to leave town in a hurry: he was caught running teenage orgies. Of course, he claimed he was using mystical soul saving techniques. And you won't believe this--"
"Even then, lots of his dupes still had faith in him. Their god could do no wrong, so he must have been framed."
"Sorry--convicted by faked evidence--sometimes used by the police to catch criminals, when all else fails."
"Hmm. Well your swami was perfectly typical: I'm rather dissapointed. But it does help to prove my case--that most of humanity has always been insane, atleast most of the time."
"Rather an unrepresentative sample--one small Flagstaff suburb."
"True, but I could multiply it by thousands--not only in your century, but all down the ages. There's never been anything, however absurd, that myraids of people weren't prepared to believe, often so passionately that they'd fight to the death rather than abondon their illusions. To me, that's a good operational definition of insanity."
"Would you argue that anyone with stron religous beliefs was insane?"
"In a strictly technical sense, yes--if they really were sincere, and not hypocrits. As I suspect ninety-nine percent were."
For much of human prehistory, it may have been a necessary evil--but why was it so much more evil than necessary--and why did it survive when it was no longer necessary?
An intelligent designer, also referred to as an "intelligent agent," is the entity that the intelligent design movement argues had some role in the origin and/or development of life and who supposedly has left scientific evidence of this intelligent design.
Phillip E. Johnson, considered the father of the ID movement has stated that the goal of intelligent design is to cast creationism as a scientific concept:
"Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools."
"This isn't really, and never has been a debate about science. It's about religion and philosophy."
The Discovery Institute's leaked Wedge document  sets out the movement's governing goals, including:
To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.
References to an angel prophet who some consider to be a god doesn't further your argument.
The strategy is a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to "affirm the reality of God". This religious goal, advanced chiefly by means of the wedge strategy, seeks to establish that life was created as the result of intelligent design.
The strategy was originally brought to the public's attention by a leaked fund raising tool, informally known as the Wedge Document, used by the Discovery Institute to raise money for its subsidiary charged with promoting its science and education agenda, the Center for Science and Culture, at the time called the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC). As stated in the Wedge Document , the strategy is designed to defeat "Darwinism" and to promote an idea of science "consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." The ultimate goal of the wedge strategy is to "renew" American culture by shaping public policy to reflect conservative Christian values. Center for Science and Culture Senior Fellow and Vice President and Discovery Institute co-founder, Stephen C. Meyer, alleges the Wedge Document was "stolen" from the Discovery Institute's offices  [pg 41] (PDF file).
Richard Dawkins has argued that "If complex organisms demand an explanation, so does a complex designer. And it's no solution to raise the theologian's plea that God (or the intelligent designer) is simply immune to the normal demands of scientific explanation," since such an answer would be unscientific. With religious creationism, the question "what created God?" can be answered with theological arguments, but in intelligent design, the chain of designers can be followed back indefinitely in an infinite regression, leaving the question of the creation of the first designer dangling. As a result, intelligent design does not explain how the complexity happened in the first place; it just moves it.
If intelligent design proponents invoke an uncaused causer or deity to resolve this problem, they contradict a fundamental assumption of intelligent design that a designer is needed for every specifically complex object and reduce intelligent design to religious creationism. Another possible counter-argument might be an infinite regression of designers. However, admitting infinite numbers of objects also allows any arbitrarily improbable event to occur , such as an object with "specific" complexity assembling itself by chance. Again, this contradicts a fundamental assumption of intelligent design that a designer is needed for every specifically complex object, producing a logical contradiction.
Think about it. Evolutionists offer a hypothesis of why we walk on two legs, why we crawled out of the ocean to become land-dwelling creatures, why we lost so much hair, why we have such large brain—and now they are focusing on the last icon that stands in the way of a completely materialistic/atheistic society: how to explain away God.
And what many do not understand is that evolutionists today are not taking aim at the cross and Jesus Christ. They are smart enough to know that such tactics would cause an uprising among faithful Christians all across this nation.
Belief special: How evolution found God
28 January 2006
Magazine issue 2536
In the beginning religion didn't exist, so why did we feel the need to create it, asks evolutionary biologist Robin Dunbar
RELIGIOUS belief is a conundrum. In our everyday lives, most of us make at least some effort to check the truth of claims for ourselves. Yet when it comes to religion, studies show that we are most persuaded by stories that contradict the known laws of physics. Tales of supernatural beings walking on water, raising the dead, passing through walls, foretelling the future, and the like, are universally popular. At the same time, however, we expect our gods to have normal human feelings and emotions. We like our miracles, and those who perform them, to have just the right mix of otherworldliness and everyday characteristics.
Why are we humans so willing to commit to religious beliefs we can never hope to verify? You might well think that question falls outside the realm of scientific investigation. Evolutionary biologists in particular have taken their cue from their own guru, Charles Darwin, and ...
Some scholars report the first emperor of China Huang Di (Yellow Emperor) used a snake for his coat of arms. Every time he conquered another tribe, he incorporated his defeated enemy's emblem into his own. Huang Di was immortalized into a dragon that looks like his emblem.
The largest and most vivid discovery is a jade, pig-headed dragon about 26 centimeters long and bent like the letter "C." It had a pig head, snake body, tight-lipped snout, bulging eyes and a hole dug in its back, said Liu Guoxiang, an archaeologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
Many pig bones were found buried with the deceased at Hongshan sites, indicating pig had already been a very important animal at that time and might have symbolized prosperity, said Sarah M. Nelson, an archaeologist from the University of Denver in the United States.
It is not unusual that such peoples would have deep memories of floods and have developed mythologies surrounding floods to explain and cope with an integral part of their lives. To these ancient cultures, a flood that covered their known world would likely be considered local flooding by First World standards instead of literally the entire planet. Scholars point out that most cultures living in areas where flooding was less likely to occur did not have flood myths of their own. These observations, coupled with the human tendency to make stories more dramatic than events originally warranted, are all the points most mythology scholars feel is necessary to explain how myths of world-destroying cataclysmatic floods evolved.
Some of the genes likely to be involved are those which control levels of different chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain. Dopamine is one neurotransmitter which we know plays a powerful role in our feelings of well-being; it may also be involved in the sense of peace that humans feel during some spiritual experiences. One particular gene involved in dopamine action - incidentally, by no means the only one that has been studied in this way - is the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4). In some people, because of slight changes in spelling of the DNA sequences (a so-called polymorphism) making up this gene, the gene may be more biologically active, and this could be partly responsible for a religious bent.
[EDIT] Shorter url to article :: /cw335
Ask true believers of any faith to describe the most important thing that drives their devotion, and
they'll tell you it's not a thing at all but a sense—a feeling of a higher power far beyond us. Western
religions can get a bit more doctrinaire: God has handed us laws and lore, and it's for us to learn and
practice what they teach. For a hell-raising species like ours, however—with too much intelligence for
our own good and too little discipline to know what to do with it—there have always been other, more
utilitarian reasons to get religion. Chief among them is survival. Across the eons, the structure that
religion provides our lives helps preserve both mind and body. But that, in turn, has raised a
provocative question, one that's increasingly debated in the worlds of science and religion: Which
came first, God or the need for God? In other words, did humans create religion from cues sent from
above, or did evolution instill in us a sense of the divine so that we would gather into the communities
essential to keeping the species going?
From the same site above this external quote.
It's also monoamines that are not so carefully scrambled by ecstasy,
'___', peyote and other mind-altering drugs—some of which have long been used in religious rituals
Culture requires extensive social contact in order for the behaviours to be passed on. But unlike their more friendly chimpanzee counterparts, orangutans tend to be more solitary.
However, some orangutan groupings are more sociable than others, and these groups showed more of the identified behaviours, strengthening the argument that they are cultural.
The research adds weight to decades of field studies on wild primates suggesting that they have rich cultural traditions unmatched in species other than our own.
Chimpanzees in West Africa, for example, use stones and pieces of wood to crack open nuts for food; but this has never been observed in chimps living in East Africa.
Aug. 9, 2004 — Koko, a 33-year-old gorilla that was taught to communicate using American Sign Language, recently told her caregivers that she desired oral surgery to remove an aching tooth, which was extracted with success on Sunday.
For twenty four years Michael signed his thoughts and dreams, his likes and dislikes, his deep sensitivities to Koko, Penny, and Ron. He took up painting, made friends with a young male gorilla named Ndume, enjoyed classical music. Yet all the while Michael seemed slightly aloof. Over the years he began to flex and posture and rumble when strangers came to his home. It was as if he were warning us to keep our distance. As if he were remembering something about other strangers, long ago.
Then one morning Michael woke in a state of extreme distress. Penny sat calmly with him while Ron set up the video. They talked. A story unfolded -- Michael told Penny of the dream that he had that night. It was the story of the morning in the rainforest when he had been captured and his family had been slaughtered. Michael remembered and described the horrid sound of gunshot, the cries of pain, the terror and trembling, the bright red blood, the shock, the struggle and submission as strong cruel arms carried him off while his mother lay dead in the bush.
Originally posted by Valorian
I am not sure how one is supposed to 'prove' ones faith, beliefs with backups to the fact????????