1. Joined
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    06 Mar '07 23:16
    Reading the Thermodynamics thread, I thought I'd mention Michael Shermer's book "Why People Believe Weird Things". Anyone else read it? Thoughts?

    Weird beliefs are given as things like Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creationism, UFO Abductions, Holocaust denial, Witch crazes

    The book does not explicitly list all the reasons in one place but I'll list a few (fairly obvious ones) here:

    Culture & Upbringing - if you are raised in a predominantly evangelical state and taken to the local church from an early age etc etc, then evangelical teachings are likely to be accepted as fact.

    Comfort - Loosing a loved one tends to bring great sorrow. It is comforting to believe that they continue in some ethereal realm or that we can still communicate with their spirit.

    Simplicity - Its hard to imagine what it would be like to not exist (partly because it would not be 'like' anything. It's much easier to imagine your 'self' continuing after death.

    Control - Early civilizations did not understand how the weather worked and so were unable to predict it. Inventing a God who controlled the weather and who could be appeased gave an illusion of control.

    Immediate Gratification - You can phone a 'psychic' and hear what makes you feel good right now, or you can expend significant effort to sort out your real problems.

    Pattern Matching - "I saw a black cat walk in front of me and then I tripped over so black cats must cause bad luck". "I was just thinking of my friend when they phoned me so we must have a telepathic link"

    Morality and Meaning - Religions provide you with a ready-made moral code with tangible rewards and punishments for followers and deviants. Secular moral codes have less obvious justifications.

    And lots of other reasons. Anyone else care to suggest a few?

    The current edition has an extra chapter on why smart people believe weird things. It conclude that they believe them for exactly the same reasons as everybody else. Being smart just enables them to better defend beliefs they arrived at for the same non-smart reasons as everyone else. I'm thinking of the likes of DJ2Becker here who, although supposedly studying Physics & Chemistry at University level seems to have a pathological blind spot when it comes to the 2nd law of thermodynamics and will make fundamental logical errors in order to argue that it poses a problem for the theory of evolution. Anyone got any other suggestions why intelligent, educated people still believe weird things?

    --- Penguin.
  2. Joined
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    06 Mar '07 23:27
    It's weird to think it's weird to believe in God.
  3. Melbourne, Australia
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    06 Mar '07 23:43
    Originally posted by josephw
    It's weird to think it's weird to believe in God.
    That's culture for you.
    Makes you comfortable with some funny stuff sometimes.
  4. Melbourne, Australia
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    06 Mar '07 23:44
    Originally posted by Penguin
    Reading the Thermodynamics thread, I thought I'd mention Michael Shermer's book "Why People Believe Weird Things". Anyone else read it? Thoughts?

    Weird beliefs are given as things like Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creationism, UFO Abductions, Holocaust denial, Witch crazes

    The book does not explicitly list all the reasons in one place but I'll list ...[text shortened]... ns why intelligent, educated people still believe weird things?

    --- Penguin.
    Carl Sagan wrote a nice book in a relatd area - The Demon Haunted World. It's worth a look.
  5. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    06 Mar '07 23:44
    Originally posted by josephw
    It's weird to think it's weird to believe in God.
    Not if you apply logic to the universe. Then you see that the requirement some people have for God is, ... anomalous.
  6. Melbourne, Australia
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    06 Mar '07 23:51
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    Not if you apply logic to the universe. Then you see that the requirement some people have for God is, ... anomalous.
    It's perfectly understandable though for a person born into a society that predominantly shares those beliefs.
  7. Donationkirksey957
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    07 Mar '07 00:07
    Originally posted by josephw
    It's weird to think it's weird to believe in God.
    You may find comfort in the words of Flannery O'Conner who said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd."
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    07 Mar '07 00:14
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    You may find comfort in the words of Flannery O'Conner who said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd."
    I think I was odd before I new the truth.
  9. Donationkirksey957
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    07 Mar '07 00:22
    Originally posted by josephw
    I think I was odd before I new the truth.
    You must have been a Christian then and didn't know it.
  10. Earth
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    07 Mar '07 01:34
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    Not if you apply logic to the universe. Then you see that the requirement some people have for God is, ... anomalous.
    Well, why don't you give us some of this logic so we can all benefit from it. Let's also see what requirement some people have for God.
  11. Melbourne, Australia
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    07 Mar '07 01:45
    Originally posted by Varqa
    Well, why don't you give us some of this logic so we can all benefit from it. Let's also see what requirement some people have for God.
    Surely that last point would be a better one for you to answer. Why do you require a belief in a god?
  12. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    07 Mar '07 02:071 edit
    Originally posted by Varqa
    Well, why don't you give us some of this logic so we can all benefit from it. Let's also see what requirement some people have for God.
    For example, the universe exists.

    Christians would say this is proof of God.

    I'd say its proof the universe exists, and nothing more.

    Christians (and they are not alone in this) have invented the requirement for God, because they cannot deal with the concept of a universe that either (a) always existed, or (b) came into existence by random chance.

    I guess it comes down to the fact that people are narcissistic, and cannot accept, even today, that we are not the centre of the universe.
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    07 Mar '07 02:07
    Originally posted by Varqa
    Well, why don't you give us some of this logic so we can all benefit from it. Let's also see what requirement some people have for God.
    Logic is a strange thing. I think most people would consider something logical if it makes sense to them. But this thing about god is just too far-fetched--at least the gods of the religions. The gods of the religions demands us all to be good, kind to others, loving etc. Yet god himself can lose his temper and go on a killing spree. We see no justifications for such behavior, and so far god apparently has no desire to explain his acts because we are just too dumb to understand. Therefore we are expected to just accept his actions solely on faith. Well, not all of us can do that.

    I think one should not be mistaken that 'logic' must be something that is right. We may be wrong. For example, I think it is logical to assume that in this vast universe, there are other lifeforms in a far away solar system. My logic is that if it can happen here on earth, then it can happen elsewhere too. If it can happen randomly here, then the same thing can happen there. BUT! I may be wrong! In a faraway galaxy, maybe the Newton Law may no longer be correct. Maybe some other laws of physics would be applicable. Maybe apples would 'fall' to the sky instead of to the ground (although this is an unlikely scenario in my opinion).

    But when it comes to god, we see no logic. There are just too many inconsistencies about the gods of the religions. God says don't kill, yet he himself kills. And when we question such act, the religious people often say, well, he has the right to kill what he has created in the first place. Ask yourself from the bottom of your heart, do you really buy such craps?
  14. Standard memberorfeo
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    07 Mar '07 02:34
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    For example, the universe exists.

    Christians would say this is proof of God.

    I'd say its proof the universe exists, and nothing more.

    Christians (and they are not alone in this) have invented the requirement for God, because they cannot deal with the concept of a universe that either (a) always existed, or (b) came into existence by ran ...[text shortened]... le are narcissistic, and cannot accept, even today, that we are not the centre of the universe.
    It's not the existence of the universe that's relevant. If anything, it would be the degree of order in the universe.

    People would quite happily accept that the universe merely popped into existence if was a chaotic shambles.
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    07 Mar '07 02:471 edit
    Originally posted by ckoh1965
    Logic is a strange thing. I think most people would consider something logical if it makes sense to them. But this thing about god is just too far-fetched--at least the gods of the religions. The gods of the religions demands us all to be good, kind to others, loving etc. Yet god himself can lose his temper and go on a killing spree. We see no justification the first place. Ask yourself from the bottom of your heart, do you really buy such craps?
    I think some people are put off by God as depicted in some religious books.

    You must admit that mankind today is far more intelligent than he was a millenia ago. Is it possible that these religious book tried to talk down to the level that man could understand back then?

    What if God is an entity far beyond our comprehension? It is like trying to explain the painter to the painting. Most people can believe in a mysterious force at work in the universe, but the words of the Bible or the Quran are too simplistic for them.
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