[ExI] Atheists and agnostics know more about religion

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed Sep 29 14:46:49 UTC 2010

On Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 4:31 AM, Ben Zaiboc <bbenzai at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> observed:
>> I don't know how one would refute religion.  It's a
>> near universal feature of human cultures.
>> Rather than refute something that is a widespread feature
>> of humans, I
>> would think it more important to understand how the
>> psychological
>> mechanisms that result in religions (i.e., religious memes)
>> evolved.
>> At some point in the past, having these mechanisms must
>> have improved the survival of genes for the mechanisms.
>> I hope the logic here is not beyond the average person on
>> this list.
> Isn't that confusing truth and utility?

I don't think so.  If religions are a side effect of some feature of
human evolution, then you don't need to consider a true/false question
with respect to any of them.  I.e., understanding the evolutionary
origin of the brain mechanisms behind religions makes such questions

> Refutation has to do with showing that something is not true, not that it's no use.

It near impossible to refute something that's based on internal mental
states.  It may be possible to understand the origin of the mechanisms
that created such mental states

> Something can be both false and useful. The placebo effect and some aspects of NLP show this in action.

Not sure how I could respond to this.  I suppose you could attempt to
understand both in terms of evolutionary psychology.  I don't know
why/how they function nor why hypnosis does either.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list