Thursday, May 19, 2011

Religouis Belief is Innate

Stone age Venus Figure--evidence of early religoius feeling
A Major New Study claims to demonstrate that religious belief is innate.

CNN Belief Blog

Religious belief is human nature, huge new study claims

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

London (CNN) – Religion comes naturally, even instinctively, to human beings, a massive new study of cultures all around the world suggests.

"We tend to see purpose in the world," Oxford University professor Roger Trigg said Thursday. "We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can't see it. ... All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking."

Trigg is co-director of the three-year Oxford-based project, which incorporated more than 40 different studies by dozens of researchers looking at countries from China to Poland and the United States to Micronesia.

Studies around the world came up with similar findings, including widespread belief in some kind of afterlife and an instinctive tendency to suggest that natural phenomena happen for a purpose.

"Children in particular found it very easy to think in religious ways," such as believing in God's omniscience, said Trigg. But adults also jumped first for explanations that implied an unseen agent at work in the world, the study found.

The study doesn't say anything about whether God

, gods or an afterlife exist, said Justin Barrett, the project's other co-director.

"This project does not set out to prove God or gods exist. Just because we find it easier to think in a particular way does not mean that it is true in fact," he said.

Both atheists and religious people could use the study to argue their sides, Trigg told CNN.

New American:

Written by Raven Clabough
Friday, 13 May 2011 12:00
According to a poll conducted by Oxford University, faith and religion are an innate trait for human beings. Entitled the “Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project,” the initiative took three years to complete and includes over 40 different studies in 20 countries around the world.

The study began in 2008, when the Associated Press reported:

University of Oxford researches will spend nearly $4 million to study why mankind embraces God. The grant to the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion will bring anthropologists, theologians, philosophers, and other academics together for three years to study whether belief in a divine being is a basic part of mankind’s makeup.

New American responds:

Evidently, it is. Human beings have a natural tendency to believe in God and an afterlife. CNN writes of the results, “Studies around the world came up with similar findings, including widespread belief in some kind of afterlife and an instinctive tendency to suggest that natural phenomena happen for a purpose.”

The overall study is being done by the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion, associated with Oxford University. the center studies religious conceptions in relation to the sciences. They study the application of scinece to the study of religion.

Ramsey Center for
Science and Religion

One of the key current research projects is the ‘Cognition, Religion, and Theology’ project, held conjointly with the Centre for Anthropology and Mind (CAM). This is a 3-year, £1.9m grant, and involves six researchers shared between the IRC and CAM. In broad terms this research examines how the structures of the human mind inform, shape and constrain religious expression. Examples of work in this field include the study of what is attributed to God by young children and the uncovering of commonly held cognitive structures across different cultural groups.
According to the CNN source sited above atheist advocates like Dawkins (who the article mere calls "secularist") the universality of religoius belief is proof that religion is the result of accidents of evolutionary development. While the research assume religious people will argue that God would give us the desire to seek him.

It seems that the innate nature of religion throws a wrench in the works of atheist propaganda in a much more fundamental way. Atheists make a lot of mileage off of the idea of default assumption. On message boards one often sees them argue "we are all born atheists." They try to claim various privileges for their position based upon this assertion. If religious belief is innate than that idea goes out the window.

Yahoo answers

Delusions have to be instilled. The default assumption with no cultural indoctrination or peer pressure would be reality: atheism. Or, to phrase it more as you did, neither a "belief that X" nor a "lack of belief that X," but simply the absence of fantastical notions of deities.
Professional Know it all Austin Cline:

Atheism is the Default Position; Theism Must Be Indoctrinated.Do infants and very young children qualify as atheists? Most atheists will say so, working from the definition of atheism as “lacking belief in gods.”

This position assumes religion is taught. It assumes religion is purely cultural but the studies show otherwise. I have argued for years that it's innate based upon the God part of the brain. One of my major God arguments is based upon the notion of innate religious beliefs.

The argument actually says that the fact of a religious speicies is far too coincidental to be merely the product of random chance. Why why would it be that we are fit to be reigious, that it is our isitinct and our way of life? That would indicate that an object of religious devotion desinged religocity into humans. In summation the following factors indicate that religiocity is part of human nature:

a) Historical Tendency:

The vast Majority of Humans have been religious as far back as we have evidence of humanity (50,000 years) [see above A. 3]

b) Believers have always been vast numerical majority

That is not appeal to popularity, it's an argument about behavior which indicates an innate condition. Almost 90% currently of world population are rleigious believers in some sense.

c) Trans cultural

When anthropologists see a behavior that transcends culture they assume it is innate. There has never been a culture tha was atheistic. Every culture we have ever seen or found traces of on earth going back as far as we can has been religious in some way.

d) Even in cultures such as China where the government attempted irradication of religious belief there are still 51% religious and many more undecided but not "anti-"religious

e) Physical fitness for religion

Our bodies work better when we are religious, it is the major factor in health and far more of a motivater than any other trigger of the Placibo effect [see above C.3]

f) Archetypes Universal

Archetypes are natural part of the human psyche (see the next argument). Also see Jesus Christ and Mythology page II. Archetypes are psychological symbols which point to transcendent ideal beyond the material realm. Studies show that they are natural to all people and emerge under a broad variety of psychological techniques. Maslow says that they are found among all people using ever technique of psychoanalysis. [above B.3]

g) Psychologically fit for religion

Psychological factors, relgious believers have far less depression and incidence of mental illness so the human mind works best when religious. [above C]

h) Transformative power

IF the appeal of the argument were merely popularity, it would not turn on things other than popularity. Obviously these reasons I'm giving here are not popularity. But, the transformative power of religious experience is another aspect of the argument which proves that it' not merely an appeal to popularity. Religious experience transforms lives, it gives people life affirming experiences which makes them better as people and makes life worth living. Not all psychological factors are capable of doing that. We are so constituted as a species that we respond to these experiences in such a way that they do transform our lives. That proves that we are fit to be religious, and that is not an appeal to popularity.[see also point C above on psychological normality and self actualization]

i) brain wave patterns

Brain wave patterns are changed by religious experience. We go from Alpha waves to Beta and to other levels of Brain wave patterns when we have these experinces.

j) "God pod" (God moduel in the brain)

Scientists have identified a cluster of neurons in the brain which, when stimulated, produce feelings of extacy and thoughts about God and the transcendent. This is too great a coincidence that nature would just produce this by random chance, especially when taken together with all the other ways in which we are fit to be religious. It's an evidence of design, we are made to be a religious species.

k) Sense of the Numenous universal

The Argument

[see above point B]

V. Religious Belief is Normative for Human Nature

Note: Normative does not mean "normal" it means to set the standard. The distinction being that it is not a mere insult that the unbeliever is abnormal, but it is a statement that religious belief is the standard given human nature and it does not have to be justified. We are fit to be religious. Our basic nature as humans is "designed" to cause us to seek God. We are made to be religious belief requires no further justification.

This argument is going to be misinterpreted.The atheists always try to say that this argument is an appeal to popularity. They always mistake it for saying that religion is popular, therefore, it is true. This is not what is being said at all.It is an argument about historical tendencies illustrating human nature, please pay careful attention to how it is argued. More on this objection at the bottom.

A. Religious Belief is a Trans cultural Experience

There has never been a culture that was not religious. To say this another way, never at any time in human history has any culture ever been atheistic. All cultures have always been religious. As far back as Neanderthal, we find artifacts which imply religious concepts and thoughts of after life.

1) Atheists Theories of Religious Origin outmoded

Since Religious belief Transcends culture it is not a mere product of culture.If religion was merely cultural, it would probably be the case that some culture at some point would have been atheistic, but none ever has been. The favorite Atheistic expatiation for the origin of religion is the outmoded structural functionalist appraoch form the 19th century. This Notion argues that if something exists in social structure it is because it serves a function toward the promotion of the stricture. But this is a theory designed to rule out religion to begin with. It is based upon the assumption of reductionism, that everything can be reduced to mere social function. Many atheists on the internet often through in the idea that religion was "invented" for the purpose of keeping social order. But this is empirically not ture.

2) Religious Belief Does not Serve as Explanation

Are Religious Beliefs Explanations?
Norman Lillegard


"...Scientific explanations get started generally with hypotheses (at least on a Popperian account) which are then put to various tests in attempts to get independent evidence for the explicans. Now there surely is something quite odd in the suggestion that such a religious belief as that God created the universe, or guides its development, is in any way a hypothesis. This belief is normally aquired in "dogmatic" contexts, it is not held in a tentative fashion, and its function in a believer's life is, arguably, quite distinct from the function of hypotheses, and thus of explanations, in the lives of scientists. Does this show that religion and science simply bypass one another? Perhaps. It will no doubt be argued that even if religious beliefs are not hypotheses they still have a definite cognitive content, are true or false, and thus are capable of contradicting scientific claims. To deny this would seem to be tantamount to endorsing some kind of emotivism with respect to religious belief, and in fact suspicions of emotivism have undoubtedly contributed to what I think are premature dismissal of Wittgensteinian approaches in the philosophy of religion. ... I will argue that the dynamics of belief change in the sciences and in religion are distinct in ways that support the idea that religious beliefs do not generally function as hypotheses or indeed function as explanations at all."

The innate nature of belief doesn't prove God is real. Its' a rational warrant for belief. It certainly disrupts the various uses to which atheists put their disproved "deafult" assumption. Another problem is that some atheists think it's disproof that Christianity only goes back so far and there are many other faiths and they go back much further. That's not an argument against the innate nature of religious instinct.


Kristen said...

So before religious belief was shown to be innate, the argument was that it was cultural indoctrination. Now that it has been shown to be innate, the argument is that "the universality of religious belief is proof that religion is the result of accidents of evolutionary development."

It cannot be proven either that evolution is purely accidental, or that religion has no actual object. All other instincts that I'm aware of seem to correspond to some sort of reality. Why should religion be different?

All that this says is that atheists have found a way to absorb the annomaly of innate religious belief into their paradigm.

Metacrock said...

That's good analysis Kristen. Their answer is that it's not a gene but spandrels, meaning combination of different genes that come together at some overlapping point. In other words religion is the accidental side effect of other functions. In other words not an actual instinct so it doesn't corrosion to a real object, the aspects that are overlapping correspond.

My answer to their answer: still not proof of anything because it could be God working through spandrels to produce God consciousness; more importantly they haven't ruled out a religious gene they've only demonstrated there is not enough evidence to prove it yet.

Absorb it into their paradigm! Thomas Kuhn, excellent argument Kristen!