Tag Archives: Evolution

The brain’s default network: Anatomy, function, and relevance to disease. Plus three other important networks in your brain.

This is a very good and easy to understand article about the Default Mode Network (DMN) in our brain.

It is in the DMN the process of scene construction takes place, a kind of mental simulation of reality rather similar to what William James used to call the “stream of consciousness”.

Also read this article: http://emergentcognition.com/2015/11/17/scott-barry-kaufman-scientific-american-the-real-neuroscience-of-creativity/ . About how creativity is implemented in the brain.

In that article you can read about another default network in your brain: the Default Imagination Network (DIN).

The DIN is involved in constructing dynamic mental simulations based primarily on personal past experiences. It provides us with alternative perspectives and scenarios to the present “view”. The DIN is, in turn, dependent on how we are primed (i.e. what we are taught/conditioned to believe and/or how we interpret what we see, hear, experience and so on).

The DIN cooperates with two other neural networks: 1) the Executive Attention Network (EAN), and 2) the Salience Network (SN).

The EAN is all about attention vs. inattention. It helps us to focus and concentrate – or stop focusing/concentrating.

The SN tags the events (both external and/or internal) that we experience (become aware of), either consciously or unconsciously, and tells us how relevant (= salient) any information is with regard to solving the task at hand.

All three networks can, of course, be influenced by how our brains are primed. That’s why a believer in demons or angels interprets his experience as evidence of existence of spiritual other-worldly religious beings, whereas the UFO believer is convinced he has had an encounter with aliens.

Emergent Cognition Project

A shared human experience is our active internal mental life. Left without an immediate task that demands full attention, our minds wander jumping from one passing thought to next—what William James (1890) called the “stream of consciousness.” We muse about past happenings, envision possible future events, and lapse into ideations about worlds that are far from our immediate surroundings. In lay terms, these are the mental processes that make up fantasy, imagination, daydreams, and thought….

While remembering, envisioning the future, and conceiving the mental states of others are different on several dimensions including temporal focus (e.g., past versus present) and personal perspective (e.g., self versus another person), they all converge on similar core processes (Buckner & Carroll 2007). In each instance, one is required to simulate an alternative perspective to the present. These abilities, which are most often studied as distinct, rely on a common set of processes by which…

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A paper showing a link between belief in gods and intolerance of strangers (outside your own group). LESS belief in gods equals MORE tolerant behavior towards strangers (immigrants).

By directing magnetic force – so-called TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – towards the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) of the brain, scientists from the University of York have found a relatively strong link between religious faith and intolerance. Anyone surprised?

The targeted region of the brain is associated with detecting and solving problems that threaten the individual’s security. The threat in this study was being reminded of death and mortality. Thinking of death and mortality normally lead to stronger beliefs in divine beings and afterlife.

But after the targeted brain region – pMFC – was temporarily shut down, the subjects were instead less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas. In fact, they reported 32.8 per cent less belief in God, angels, or heaven after having their pMFC turned down! And at the same time they were also 28.5 per cent more positive in their feelings towards an immigrant who before the TMS treatment had criticised and derogated their native country.

The explanation? People often turn to ideology when they are confronted by problems. That is, they embrace – by trial and error learning and/or priming – a system of ideas and ideals, and this system then becomes their primary tool to reduce the fear factor (anxiety)  in their lives. Individuals of the same group (community) often learn from each other how to handle what causes fear and/or anxiety (in this case initiated by worry of death/mortality).

So belief in divine beings – as well as intolerance towards strangers threatening the harmony witihin a group of people – can be seen as a spin-off effect from ordinary problem solving. 

Read more about this interesting experiment here: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/09/03/scan.nsv107.abstract (or here: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/0kj9w0km#page-1 ).

Finally the abstract:


People cleave to ideological convictions with greater intensity in the aftermath of threat.
The posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) plays a key role in both detecting discrepancies between desired and current conditions and adjusting subsequent behavior to resolve such conflicts.Building on prior literature examining the role of the pMFC in shifts in relatively low-level decision processes, we demonstrate that the pMFC mediates adjustments in adherence to political and religious ideologies.

We presented participants with a reminder of death and a critique of their in-group ostensibly written by a member of an out-group, then experimentally decreased both avowed belief in God and out-group derogation by down-regulating pMFC activity via transcranial magnetic stimulation.

The results provide the first evidence that group prejudice and religious belief are susceptible to targeted neuromodulation, and point to a shared cognitive mechanism underlying concrete and abstract decision processes.

We discuss the implications of these findings for further research characterizing the cognitive and affective mechanisms at play.

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How sexually perverted is God? A peek at the twisted, warped and kinky sex acts in the animal kingdom.

At least all Christians know that God Himself prefers virgins. We also know that God hates homosexual copulation. And He loathes all masturbators.  (So whom does God really love? Are there any left deserving to be loved by God? Does anyone out there in cyber space know the answer to that question? The comment field below this post is open for you. Please, let me hear your take on this.)

By reading tn today’s post, about sex among (other) animals (than humans), I hope all of my readers will soon understand that God must be a very pervy divine creator entity.

At least if we suppose He (in most ways, though of course He is perfect) is like us humans. After all, God created us humans “in imaginem Sui”, in His own image. In Genesis 1:27 we can read: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Click this link – http://www.livescience.com/42295-animal-sex-tales.html – and you can read about how black widow spiders do it. All human descendants of Adam should praise the Lard for not having created Eve like that.

Here’s a quote from that arcticle: “With his sperm deposited, the male [spider] hightails out of [the coitus], lest he becomes a post-sex snack — at least for [such spider] species [females] that prefer a post-coital meal.”

Or what had God in His mind when He created the kangaroos, you know the Australian animals who came hopping all the way from today’s Australia to the Middle East to embark Noah’s ark to evade the Flood (the story recorded in Genesis 6–8).

Here’s another quote from the article: [Kangaroo] females have three vaginas — two for sperm and one in the middle for birthing. Males have long, double-headed penises to inseminate the lateral vaginas.” (Maybe kangaroo males are closely related to snakes, who knows – but God Almighty?)

And here’s a quote about how chimps do it: If a female is interested in a male, she’ll put her swollen bottom right up in his face. When a male wants sex, he shakes a tree branch or displays his erect penis to a female.
For more information about sex habits in the animal world, also see: http://www.livescience.com/52476-would-aliens-have-sex.html

In that article you can read this thrilling piece of information: Not all life on Earth requires sex for reproduction. Amoebas, yeast and millimeter-long freshwater hydra all manage to create offspring solo, as do many invertebrates. So do some surprisingly complex animals: Virgin births have been reported in Komodo dragons, pit vipers and sharks.

And this: In amoeba sex, for example, the cell partitions off packets of genetic material and then recombines them, either with another amoeba or with packets from other amoebas. Sexually reproducing yeast cells find each other, grow projections, merge and mate. The hermaphroditic C. elegans worm wiggles its body against another worm until it finds the vulva and then inserts needlelike structures called spicules into the opening to deliver sperm.

Who can deny that God must be a very creative divine entity? And,  seemingly, particularly interested in sex. Yes, it almost looks like God must be addicted to pervy sex habits.

But in that case, does this also mean God is taking care of all species He created in a good, benevolent, and loving way? I’m not so sure of that.Are you? The comment section below is meant for you.

In that same article I can read the following two sentences:

One stress that might prompt the evolution of sex […] might be […] parasites. Researchers reporting in 2011 in the journal Science found that, when given the choice, organisms pick sex over asexuality when parasites threaten, likely because sexual reproduction gives them more genetic weapons to use in the evolutionary arms race against their parasite foes.

Huh!? Sounds like God apparently created parasites to give Him a reason to also create sexual propagation.

But dear, God, Could you not find out a better way than creating deadly parasites to do that? I’m sorry, God, but now I feel an intensive urge for asking you the following question in my prayer to you tonight at the bedside: Is it, after all, true, Almighty God, what can be read about you in the Old Testament? That you are the greatest Killer who ever walked on the surface here on planet Earth?

Please, God, answer my prayer!

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Science vs. religion: How to evaluate evidence. Original title: What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?

This blog post is entitled “What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?”

Nevertheless this scholarly essay-like post should be tagged as belonging to the religion vs. science debate.

So the elephant (or elephant metaphor) isn’t the important thing here. Instead, it’s much more about evidence and how to interpret evidence of divine beings a.k.a. gods or Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs).

I’ve written a long comment to Charles Rogers’ blog post. And that comment I’m going to insert as an introduction and complement on my own blog.

Here is my comment almost in extenso:

In the introduction you wonder what an atheist would say after he had examined your elephant. You suggest that maybe the atheist would say: “There is no elephant.”

No, I don’t think so. If I were the atheist, I would instead say the following (fasten your safety belt because it will be a very long, and partly bumpy, ride):

Now I enter the podium to give my “TED Talk”:

Listen. folks! No one knows enough to prove – in an objective way – what this object (called, by some, an elephant) is we have in front of us.

Yet your claims of what some of you have found and concluded, by examination of the object, are of the absolute kind. You show no relativism at all in your theory buildings. That I would call a preposterous and presumptuous take on this special matter.

If your hypothesis (your theory building) can be shown to be wrong in some detail (or some details), then your hypothesis can’t be totally correct. And then it’s no longer an absolute hypothesis; It has become a relativistic one.

That is, for sure, not good for the credibility of a hypothesis claiming to represent the absolute TRUTH.

Therefore, if I can show you, maybe even convince you, by demonstrating in a theoretical way that some details your hypotheses rely on can’t be correct, then that in turn must mean – and the conclusion be – that I have invalidated your hypotheses and that you are obliged to elaborate more in order to face the challenges they don’t meet at the moment.

Wait, don’t leave me now. I’ve got more to tell you. Please, be seated again, don’t leave.

Let’s look at your hypotheses from yet another angle. If you agree that you are all damn sure just your interpretation of the object is the only correct one, then you also insist that only you are the one who has got the absolute TRUTH about this object we all have examined here today.

So, what does that implicate? If more than one of you insist just they have found the absolute TRUTH, of course all of you (claiming that you’ve found the absolute truth) can’t be right. N’est-ce pas (Isn’t it)?

Now I want to paraphraze Christopher Hitchens. He used to say this: Let’s suppose there are 3,000 religions in the world. If 2,999 of them are deemed false by you, would it not then be more honest if you admitted that this indicates that also the 3,000th religious faith probably is a false one?

Or why should just your religious faith be the one winning the top lottery prize?

Some of you (who claim you’ve found the absolute TRUTH) MUST, are bound to, be wrong, Only one can, by definition, win the top lottery prize. Either you win it – or you don’t. Tertium non datur (meaning there is no middle alternative in which more than one can win. But at the same time it’s possible that no one wins the top lottery prize because it’s possible the winning ticket remains in the tombola).

The conclusion must therefore be like this: Two existing religious claims of having found the absolute TRUTH can’t both be correct at the same time, i.e. either the claim X is right and claim Y is wrong – or claim X is wrong and claim Y is right. And, as said in the paragraph above, of course nothing prohibits that both claim X and claim Y are wrong at the same time.

Oh, I see that some of you seem to be ready to leave the room now. Please, don’t! Instead continue listening, folks, because I’ve got some more interesting things to say.

Have you heard of something called science – and scientific research?

Good!

Then you should know that science is not about claiming to have found any absolute TRUTH. All real science is relativistic. It conveys no absolute TRUTHS. That’s how science works.

Rather, it accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses. By doing this, science can show – even demonstrate – that some phenomena must be incompatible with the laws of physics (at least in the way we currently understand them).

And believe me, we understand those physical laws better and better.

This also shows the great advantage of science: It accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses.

So, If I can show you that religious (faith) ideas are incompatible with the laws of physics as we currently understand them today, by having accumulated empirical evidence for them during hundreds of years, then the probability is very high that they actually are correct, since they are supported by all this evidence.

Please notice I’m now talking of probabilities, not absoluteness. That’s how science works.

In fact we all rely on and have trust in probabilities.

For example. let’s say I invite you to play the lethal game of Russian roulette (just as an example, don’t try this at home) and offer you two different revolvers, one with one of its six chambers loaded with a round and the other six-shooter loaded with five rounds. Then I’m pretty sure you’ll choose to use the revolver with only one round in its six chambers. N’est-ce pas?

So probability is something we all have to deal with in our daily lives. And we rely on what probability tells us.

As a matter of fact, because scientific data are based on not only observations but also on experimental data, we should be allowed to regard science to be more reliable than religious faith, since such faith is based solely on subjective emotions and feelings, and we know today that emotion-based knowledge is very unreliable (just as memories and testimonies are).

In short, there is a constantly increasing amount of evidence supporting the view that those people who believe in gods (i.e. have a religious faith) probably have fallen prey to unreliable inner experiences/feelings, false memories, unreliable testimonies from others, different kinds of biases (like confirmation bias, wishful thinking and so on).

So religious faith and science are like two boxers in the boxing ring. In one corner you find a boxer who trusts the laws of physics (finding them very reliable because they have been tested so many times by so many different scientists and by such an enormous number of rigorous and high-precision experiments that they leave no room for religious beings driven by as yet undiscovered kinds of energy).

In in another corner of the boxing ring you find the religiously true believer, who says, “I trust my gut feelings and they tell me to believe there is a divine entity governing and/or guiding our lives.

Their boxing gloves contains arguments. These arguments are used to knock out the opponent.

The scientific boxer is supported by a coach who tells him: IF there still are undetected forms of energy “out there”, that must mean those new kinds of energy have to interact with the already known energy forms. But this – as you have seen – does not happen. Take the GPS as an example. Thanks to the GPS we can find out pretty exactly where we happen to be on the surface of Earth. If there were still undetected energy forms, they should interact with the GPS. But we can’t find any traces of such interactions.

And the coach continues: Spoon-bending is another good example. Spoons are made of atoms (exactly as all other objects are). Today’s physicists know exactly how much energy is available in a spoon. They also know the masses of the atoms (forming a spoon). They also know the kinetic energy of thermal motions within the metal the spoon is made of.

In short, and taken together, we can say without hesitating the least, that any new particles, or hidden energies, that might exist within a spoon would have been detected long ago in experiments made by physicists all over the world. BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE.

The scientific boxer becomes dull of confidence that he’s going to win the boxing match.

The coach of the religiously true believer tells his client. Just believe in God. And if you also pray to God between the rounds, you can’t lose. God never desert His believers. And if He does, and you lose the boxing fight, then there is a meaning behind that godly decision, maybe to make you a humbler man or something like that.

Now I reach the end of my lecture.

Therefore I decide turn to KK, the medicine man of this RWT community/group, directly.

Dear, KK, My answer to your question how an atheist would describe the elephant-like object can be summarized in the follopwing way:

I believe the four well-known natural physical laws are correct. They have been validated in millions of experiments over the years.

These four natural physical laws leave no room for beliefs in divine entities.

So either the physical laws are correct (using that adjective in the scientific way). and the belief that we are surrounded or at least influenced by divine entities is wrong.

Or else all the accumulated knowledge that physics has gained and validated so far (during many centuries) must be thrown in the dust-bin and be considered more or less worthless.

It this were the case, then today’s physicists would advise us not to rely on the GPS. And the physicists should admit that, of course, spoons can be bended spontaneously, by themselves, and that, also of course, a broken window can be whole again (by reversing the time arrow) etc.

I myself find it much easier to believe in Santa Claus than to believe that all accumulated and validated data in the field of physics should be thrown in the dust-bin.

Concerning your elephant metaphor, KK, i tell you this: I didn’t get the opportunity to examine the whole elephant-liek object, neither did the other examinators get that opportunity. So I avoid expressing my thoughts of what constitutes the elephant-like object. And I find it impossible to make a complete and all-encompassing statement about your elephant-like object. No absolute TRUTHS can be said of that object.

Therefore I choose to criticize all the other examinators for trying to launch absolute explanations of what the object really is. By doing that, they are not honest people. Cf. the saying “Lying for Jesus”, Even the church fathers had a long tradition of lying for Jesus. See for example:https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A7x9UnwBIBVWwgIAURU_Ogx.;_ylu=X3oDMTByaGwzcXNvBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDOARjb2xvA2lyMgR2dGlkAw–?qid=20090125072821AA3Fv7m

I hope you are satisfied with my answer, KK.

BTW, I recommend you to read this article: http://www.livescience.com/52364-origins-supernatural-relgious-beliefs.html. It’s about the plausible origins of supernatural/magical and religious beliefs. A very interesting article, also summarizing today’s knowledge of the matter.

Please, tell me your thoughts of what can be read in that article.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. At the risk of offending someone, I suggest That Moses, Jesus, and other iconic giants describe a part of the elephant.[1]  What did the Atheist say after his examination? “There is no elephant”?

I wrote, “The Individual, the Family, the Tribe.”(2)

http://therogerspost.com/2015/10/03/individual-tribe/

My friend and sparring…

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The Individual, Family, and Tribe: An Essay about the Evolutionary Origin of Homo Sapiens.

This is a quite impressive – yes, I would call it an excellent – blog post about the evolutionary origin of our own species, Homo Sapiens.

The blogger, Charles Rogers, ponders, above all, the question: Who are we? But he is also interested in this question: Why are we like we are?

Related to that second question is this one: Why are we constantly striving to trying to find the “Holy Grail”, i.e. the meaning of our lives? (The answers can probably be found inside ourselves, in our brains, how they are wired. And that wiring is, in turn, best explained by looking back at our evolutionary origin/history.)

Charles Rogers is constantly looking for the answers of such questions by reading a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction ones. He is obviously eager to come across what others have found in their quest of explanations.

Among his references can be found – just to mention only a few of them – a philosopher (Friedrich Nietzsche), a neurologist and psychiatrist/psychologist (Viktor Frankl), a professor of chemistry (Addy Pross), and, above all, the world famous neuroendocrinologist, professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery, Robert Sapolsky.

So it should go without saying that this blog post is very interesting to read and mull. It’s not only concerned with the question: From where do we, Homo Sapiens, originate?

Another important question is this one: What is the meaning of our lives?

Charles Rogers’ own take on this seems to be: “It is clear to me that the basic ‘Why’ is our family and our tribe.”

That is, we are strongly connected/related to each other. (That’s why Mr. Rogers himself, a professor emeritus, uses his own blog in order to build (symbolic) bridges thereby trying to make it easier for people all over the world to connect with each other.

So I’m not at all surprised to find this quote among his “mantras”: “We think we are separate, but we are one.”

Unfortunately I miss at least ONE important aspect of the human evolutionary history in this blog post. I want more facts and opinions of the evolution of religion, man’s perpetual companion.

But maybe Mr. Rogers will discuss that matter in another blog post later on? Let’s hope that will be the case.

Suffice it to say, in this comment of mine, that evolution seemingly has wired the human brain to look for, and easily find, a more or less strong correlation between teleological thinking and preference for religious motives.

In short, our human brains intuitively perceive purpose-driven design in the world around us.

The stronger this quest for (finding a) purpose is, the stronger our pro-theist preferences become.

If we can’t see whose purpose/intention it is that/when something happens, we are extremely prone to invent Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs) to find the reason behind all that happens to us and in our environments.

If you are interested, you can read more about these ideas here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking . And/Or here: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ .

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Introduction:

“We think we are separate, but we are one.”  

 “He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How” (1)

It is clear to me that the basic “Why” is our family and our tribe.

I. Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2) : You can live without someone who says: you are mine; You can not live without someone who says: ‘I am yours”  May you be blessed with at least one such person in life!”  The family and tribe is at its best when several individuals feel this ownership to one another. Ishiguro on platonic love is reviewed in the two links:

http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/14/never-let-me-go/

http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/16/never-let-me-go-2/

II. Addy Pross, What is Life, (3)  How Chemistry Becomes Biology.   

  th-7

In the beginning, non-living carbon-based chemicals joined to become “living” nucleic acids (DNA) manifesting a new force.This effect is characterized by an irrepressible self-replication…

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Lawrence Krauss on the xenophobia inherent in religion

Earlier this week I drawed my own blog followers’ attention to the relationship between religion and conflicts/wars, by referring, in general, to data available at the Correlates of War project, and, in more specific details, to an interesting paper, entitled “Statistical look at reasons of involvement in wars”, written by Igor Mackarov; see: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06228v2.pdf .

After having read this new blog post here at Why Evolution Is True, and listened to the attached video clip, I find that our topics and takes on religion are much the same.

There is definitely a more or less strong relation between true believers, especially religious ones, and atrocities of different kinds, ranging from (sexual) abuse within the family to proper wars between clans or countries.

Maybe worst of all, sometimes those atrocities, in the name of one god or another, seem to be caused without malicious intentions. That’s why religion is a dangerous thing, “largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia”.

For even more details, see: http://archiv.ub.uni-marburg.de/mjr/pdf/2002/rev_schoen_2002.pdf

Why Evolution Is True

Here’s a new seven-minute Big Think video in which physicist and anti-theist Lawrence Krauss discusses religion. While he notes that faith has some good aspects, his overall take is negative, largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia.

I find it heartening that this strong criticism of faith appears on places like The Big Think, but a little bird told me that Dr. Krauss has another fusillade that will appear soon. In my view, now is no time to retreat from the atheist critique of religion. As Lawrence notes, each time a decent person comes out as a rationalist or atheist, it shows others that we are not monsters, and gives a little nudge towards unbelief to those on the fence. And, as Jeff Tayler noted in a Salon piece about the Republican penchant for outdoing each other in crazy protestations of faith:

Discussing religion freely and critically will desacralize it, with…

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About the relationship between religion and conflicts/wars. Data from the Correlates of War project.

I just found this interesting paper in my mailbox, entitled “Statistical look at reasons of involvement in wars”: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06228v2.pdf

The author, Igor Mackarov, has delved into data on international warfare. These data have been accumulated by the “Correlates of War” project and are saved in a large database. (Read more about the CoW project here: http://www.correlatesofwar.org/ .) 
 
This database provides information – mostly of the statistical kind – that sheds light on the question how not only political and economical but also psychological and religious factors are connected with the decision to start a conflict or war.
 
Of special interest are questions like: 1) How important is the role of religion and religious beliefs when it comes to starting a war? And 2) Is religion the main factor behind the decision to start a conflict and/or war? 
 
The CoW project provides a variety of data relevant to that kind of questions. But the answers are not totally conclusive. The jury is still out.
The defenders of the suspected culprit “Religion” say that there are also other perpetrators to be considered, for instance culprits like “Poverty”, “Famine”, “Megalomania” (not to mention the latter’s cousin “Chosenness”), “Authoritarian priming”, “Dictatorship” and so on. 
 
On the other hand, why can’t all those suspected culprits be in (partly secret, partly open) collusion with each other? Is it pure coincidence that countries like Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan.display such a substantial history of disputes as they do? 
 
Anyhow, Igor Mackarov draws the following conclusions after his statistical analysis of the data he found in the CoW project database:
 
1) [T]he general degree of diplomatic activity has proved to essentially depend on the level of interstate tension throughout two centuries of the world history.
 
2) . As to the economic factor, a strong correlation has been found between the difference of the opponents’ Composite Indexes of National Capability and the character of relations between the pair of countries. Visualization of this correlations points to onset of a dispute at the moments when the difference in the countries’ economic health rapidly changes.
 
3) [T]he religious factor has been shown to significantly correlate with the war/peace conditions. Countries with higher percentage of religious adherents have been more involved in wars during the last 65 years.
 
4)  As to the Islamic factor, it hardly affects military activity greatly per se. High involvement in wars of 6 large Islamic countries [i.e. the six countries I mentioned above:  Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan] is evidently caused by the combination of their unique politics, economics, and culture. 

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Life Is Even More Inexplicable – New findings about orphan genes and promiscuous proteins.

My highly valued cyber friend Charles Rogers is a very interesting blogger. He combines both knowledge and wisdom.

In this specific blog he and I discuss/debate questions about (the genetic and evolutionary aspects of) life, especially its still unknown, at least partly, origin.

I hope our debate will be of great interest for my blog followers, too.

The topics discussed and penetrated also show that religion and science will never meet and probably can’t be reconciled with each other.

For safety’s sake I feel a need to clarify that Charles Rogers -a.k.a. the blogger clanton1934 – is NOT a creationist. We both belong to the scientific “team”. So, please, don’t jump to any premature conclusions.

Instead, start your own quest for the “truth” by reading and pondering – BOTH the blog post AND the comments.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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On August 5, 2015, I published a blog post, “Life Is Inexplicable”, reviewing contrasting views on the origin of life (Addy Proos and Richard Dawson).   I received a lot of interest in that post. The link to that post is:

http://therogerspost.com/2015/08/05/life-inexplicable/

My discussions in “Life Is A Journey” further discussed these questions; see this link

http://therogerspost.com/2015/08/16/life-process/

My opinion remains contrary to the random-mechanism scientists, (Dawkins and Hoffman), (9, 12) who believe life rose by only random, physical encounters of, first, organic chemicals, then “living molecules”. These scientist believe that living DNA replicates itself,  and all life by random mistakes without a purpose. I concluded that in spite of remarkable findings in nano technology, I believe a mystery remains. This mystery is: from where does Dr. Proos’ “engine” came?  What continues to drive “the engine in the car” (the living cell) uphill against Newton’s  Second Law of Motion. Furthermore what has sustained this…

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Explanatory Theories of Religion And Religious Thoughts (by Cris Campbell)

Have a look at  Explanatory Theories of Religion ( http://genealogyreligion.net/explanatory-theories-of-religion ). I found that article on Cris Campbell’s blog. 

There are many explanatory and evolutionary theories of how magical and religious thoughts (and different religions) emerged among our ancestors.
In this reblogged article we can read about Cris Campbell’s take on that topic. 

Cris holds advanced degrees in anthropology, philosophy, and law. He’s apparently very interested in the origin of magical and religious thoughts. And he obviously knows a lot – and I really mean a great deal; he’s a scholar! –  about the many hypotheses and theories that try to explain how it became possible for our ancestors to invent divine spiritual beings of different kinds.

His blog readers get a very good resume of how this “religification process” may have looked like. Here are some quotes taken from Cris Campbell’s blog article:

This is not, of course, a simple question and no single theory provides a definitive answer. Since 1990 (i.e., the beginning of the modern era of evolutionary theorizing about religion), scholars have proposed so many different varieties of “cognitive byproduct” and “social adaptive” theories that simply surveying, sorting, and analyzing them is a considerable challenge. Synthesizing them is an even greater challenge and, given their differing premises, may be impossible.
[…]

Seeking clarity, last year I decided to conduct an intensive review of all previous theories (i.e., those predating 1990) that could variously be characterized as: (1) explanatory, (2) developmental, and/or (3) evolutionary. The latter category can be confusing because many scholars working within a post-Darwinian evolutionary paradigm tend to conflate biological withcultural evolution. Such scholars may also prefer non-Darwinian explanations, but they are still working within an evolutionary or developmental paradigm. When this occurs, I refer to them as “evolutionist.”

My richly rewarding review resulted in a great deal of writing, most of which has appeared here in scattered posts over the past year. Now that the review is nearly finished, I want to gather all those posts and links on a single page. The theorists are listed mostly in chronological order of their appearance. I chose this arrangement not just for convenience. One thing I discovered is that the scholars working within the developmental-evolutionist tradition were fully aware of previous work and were responding to their predecessors or contemporaries. If you read these scholars’ original works in serial order, you will find yourself eavesdropping on a brilliant conversation that lasted for well over 100 years.


BTW, here’s an interesting TED Talk video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7vH4rgdmxw .

The speaker is Yuval Noah Harari, author of the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. For a short review of that book, have a look at   http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/21/sapiens-brief-history-mankind-review-yuval-noah-harari  

Harari suggests that our ancestors became “human” when they acquired the ability to think in symbolic “terms”, i.e. to create imaginary realities and not only accept the physically real reality. 

As an atheist I especially like Harari’s take on money and gods. Suggest to a chimp that if he gives me one of his bananas, I’ll give him some paper money in return, and the chimp would, maybe, wonder if you’ve gone insane.

The same thing goes for gods and heavens. If you pay tithes to your church, your priest/minister promises you that he’ll do all he can to help you entering Heaven through its Pearly Gates.

A chimp would NEVER buy that concept, that imaginary and creative symbolic idea.

Neither would I.

But many fellow religious True Believer humans seem to accept that kind of deal without any hesitation at all.

How about you? 

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Life is Still Inexplicable – Subjective Versus Objective Characterizations

I just reblogged ONE of clanton1934’s many interesting and intriguing blog post about life and its meaning (if there is any at all).

Now it’s time for me to reblog another of clanton1934’s blog articles. I choose this one because the two fit so well together.

Here’s a quote from this second (by me) reblogged article:

In my view, these objective observations and descriptions do not, however, explain: what is the source and nature of the force which drives the biochemistry and biological systems forward in spite of the natural characteristics of disorder and chaos. Lacking objective answers to this question, we are in the subjective arena. Some scientists believe these replicative forces toward complex structure and function, are the products of an enormous number of random encounters of non-living chemicals over extremely long periods of time.

[…]

Several prominent scientist insist that “evolution” does not mean “improvement”. Dawkins proposes that Darwin’s “descent with modification” is explained by random errors in DNA replication with some products having greater survivability than others. In this explanation, we humans are not an improving, higher form of life, just different from our deep ancestors, with, perhaps greater, on average, better survivability . These scientists deny a teleonomic character.

Pross disagrees and believes that both the structure and the behavior of all living things lead to an unambiguous and unavoidable conclusion— living things have an ‘agenda’ (Pross’ word). Living things act on their own behalf. The Pross “agenda”, I believe is an idea which should be in the subjective arena and not in Pross’ objective analysis..

Pross uses an analogy of an automobile without an engine (pre-life) and a car with an engine (life) to describe the replicating entity. “The entity with an energy-gathering capability is now like a car with an engine— it can go uphill too. That means that a replicating system with an energy-gathering capability would appear to have an agenda. It would seem to be acting purposefully, as it would no longer need to be confined to the downhill thermodynamic path, which we interpret as objective behaviour, but rather the path toward systems of greater organization and function, which could involve the equivalent of rolling some way uphill.”

This analogy does not answer the question: where did the “engine” come from and what makes the engine run?

Charles Clanton Rogers

PRinc_rm_photo_of_7-8_week_embryo

Review: Addy Pross, What is Life (1)

“TV’s  Talking-heads” frequently start their position statement: “I’m not a scientist but….” Then they proceed to inform you, in the manner of a peddler, that he is “right” and you are “wrong”. This is the ageless Zero-Sum Game:(2)  “I win – you lose!” 

Unlike those  sellers, this author is  a scientist and a physician.  What is  unfortunate in this “pseudo-debate”,  looking at both sides of the biological controversy –those from the faith-based discussants  and those employing observations  and reasoning, – each is playing the tired and ancient game: Zero-Sum.  

In my view, neither side needs to defeat the other in order to win, with what they are defending. My view is that just as oxygen and nitrogen can occupy the same space, the subjective (faith-based) and theobjective (science-based) are not mutually exclusive. In my view, an intelligent…

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