Friday 29 September 2006

We need a cognitive anthropology of religion, not the reverse!

I strongly disagree with Alberto's last post ("a naturalistic religion, why not?"). Trying to get rid of religion altogether, and replace it with an ersatz, is a foolish and dangerous enterprise. The "rationalist" cults, from Robespierre to Ron Hubbard via Auguste Comte, have either failed dismally or proven worse than what they sought to replace.

the picture shows Ron Hubbard, a man who made a lot of money.


a naturalistic religion, why not?

There has been quite a great amount of heated discussion about the problems created by extant religions (see the last books by Dennett 'Breaking the spell' and Dawkins 'The god delusion'). Even if much more research on cost-benefit is needed, I take as a reasonable conclusion that extant religions are at least not optimal: from a social and political point of view, if possible and everything being equal, we should get rid of them or, more precisely, put something better in their functional place (in any case, for the sake of the argument grant me this conclusion, with all respect for possible religious readers and knowing it is still not proven).


Thursday 28 September 2006

God is dead? Links between religious thoughts and fear of death.

Atheists (and religious people sometimes too) often think that people believe in God because it shields them from the fear of their own death, or protects them from the idea that their departed loved ones are, well, just dead. Two recent studies confirm this idea: one by showing that being aware of one's own mortality increases belief in supernatural agents and the other by demonstrating that showing contradiction in their sacred texts increases the accessibility of death related thoughts among fundamentalists.

Above, two ways to fight your fear of death: prayer and humour (pick your side).


Saturday 2 September 2006

French ID steps into the light

Le Monde enquires about a French "university" that supports neocreationists claims. Sadly, the journalist is not nearly critical enough and the paper ends with a plea to reintegrate theology into scientific studies and a criticism of the secularism of French scientists. This is annoying and a bit scary.


Thursday 31 August 2006

How to loose 10 000 dollars on fMRI

In Montréal, an fMRI study measuring 15 secluded carmelite nuns' brain activity while remebering an episode of "becoming one" with God yields uninterpretable results. "In the control condition", says the paper, "subjects were instructed to remember and relive (eyes closed) the most intense state of union with another human being felt in their lives while being in the Carmelite Order". Always mind your control...


Tuesday 29 August 2006

Benedict XVI gets Pastafarian

The Intelligent Design wave has not reached Europe so far ; Tuesday, however, in Castel Gandolfo, the Pope will gather his "Ratzinger Schulkreis" , a theological circle decided (or so it seems) to put an end to the Church's adhesion to Darwinism. But is it really ID that Ratzinger is preparing to embrace?


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