Monday, September 17, 2007

Why atheists are doomed if they are right, but not if they are wrong

In “The future of atheism: Damned if you do; damned if you don’t”, English teacher Alan Jacobs comments on the infinity of silliness that modern atheists have come up with to try to explain spirituality. He shows why atheism, is, well, doomed:
... if the evolutionary account of religious belief that many atheists are now promoting is correct, then atheists don't have much of a future. Their own arguments, plus some elementary demographic data, show that their position cannot become dominant. The only real chance that atheism has to flourish is if it's wrong.

[ ... ]

Perhaps my thought experiment has gone awry somewhere—I am not convinced of its correctness—but I am sure of one thing. After having spent a great deal of time and energy trying to come up with an evolutionary explanation of religion, atheists now need to turn their attention to a still greater puzzle: What's the evolutionary explanation for atheism?

Seriously, the biggest problem, as we detail in The Spiritual Brain, is that there is NO consensus among materialists on whether religious belief is in fact an adaptation or a glitch. They know for sure they don’t like it, but so? That’s hardly a foundation for a discipline, only a lobby group.

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State senator sues God

Well, it had to happen some time. I’m not sure if this is funny. The Nebraska state senator is trying to make a point about frivolous lawsuits. Clever story, but probably lost on people who don’t know what “Omniscient” and “Omnipresent” mean. That’s their own fault, though.

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How is The Spiritual Brain doing?

As I write this (around 7:30 EST), The Spiritual Brain is

#3 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Psychology

#4 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Other Practices > Mysticism

#6 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Science & Religion

Tomorrow, I will be taping a show with Lorna Dueck on her excellent Listen Up! Program in Burlington, near Toronto. The program may be viewable on line, in which case I will certainly link to it. Wednesday, I will be talking with host Barry Arrington on Crosswalk in Colorado at 5:00 pm Mountain Time (7:00 pm Eastern Standard Time).

Your brain is a kludge - especially if you are religious

Here’s a review of David J. Linden’s recent Accidental Mind, according to which, the brain is a kludge and - wait for it! - the religious right in the US is a menace.

Reviewer Konrad Talmont-Kaminski thinks that the combination of topics doesn’t quite work (hullo?):
... it feels unfair to the reader that Linden does not explain more clearly where he is taking them at the start -- otherwise they may be left feeling like a very personable taxi driver had just taken them for a ride to a part of town they'd rather not visit. The turns of phrase that previously were so charming now sound forced and out of place: his breezy patter -- most appropriate for a lively introduction -- undermines the more serious matter. While I understand Linden's aim given the very difficult position of scientists such as him within the United States at this point in time, I do not even think that such an approach is effective. It would be better to have taken the readers most of the way to the conclusion he wishes to reach and to let them make the final leap of imagination themselves.

But Konrad, Linden can’t risk the possibility that your kludge of a brain might not get the point strongly enough that the Religious Right is a menace..

Anyway, Talmont-Kaminski goes on,
On the other hand, in attempting to make his point about religion Linden ends up outside of his area of expertise, losing his sure-footedness in the process. Whereas he had been able to bring in lively examples from the neurosciences whenever he'd needed them, Linden tries to go it alone when dealing with issues in philosophy or the cognitive study of religion.

Aw you know, Konrad, that happens all the time. People like Linden start with the assumption that religion is all nonsense and treat it that way and then, when they make a mess of their explanations, well, guess what - it’s all the fault of the Religious Right!

With their formula, you can’t go wrong. On the other hand, you can’t go right. Or anywhere at all, actually ...

Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose.

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