5th May 2010

“Our brains are pattern-recognition machines, connecting the dots and creating meaning out of the patterns that we think we see in nature. Sometimes A really is connected to B, and sometimes it is not. When it isn't, we err in thinking that it is, but for the most part this process isn't likely to remove us from the gene pool, and thus magical thinking will always be a part of the human condition.”

Michael Shermer

34 Responses to “5th May 2010”

  1. Mark Pogue Says:

    I would like to submit a quote from myself. I hope you consider publishing it.

    “The American brand of Christianity is unraveling while its hypocrisy is being weighed by the minds of our younger folks and discovering that questioning religious doctrine is a trait of human nature, not the voice of Satan.”
    – Mark Pogue

  2. Bornagain A. Theist Says:

    My take is that while “Magical Thinking” may never entirely disappear (i.e. will always be a part of the human condition) and while it also may not generally “remove us from the gene pool”, it is nonetheless extremely harmful.

    While I don’t believe that M. Shermer intended it to be so, the quote, standing alone, appears to ‘forgive’ people who believe in things which are unsupported by evidence. These items include not only gods, but astrology, mythology, talking to the dead, spoon bending and the like. These absurdities appear to be ‘forgiven’ simply because our brains tend to play connect-the-dots.

    We, as humans, should strive to second guess everything – in this case conclusions met with doubt can likely be altered toward the truth – thereby conquering ignorance through the application of educated thinking (behavior).


    Mark, did you submit your suggestion through the “suggest quotes” link under “Site Map” in the upper right area?

    In any event, I believe your thoughts concerning the young people is very sound. The internet has opened up an entire new arena of voices begging to be heard and the young folks have far more choices than the traditional-family/church-family of days gone by.


  3. Atheist MC Says:

    It’s not impossible that our mis-interpretation of reality once conferred a survival advantage. Assumptions of intentionality in dangerous situations might well have initiated quicker flight responses and therefore better survival rates than rational analysis would.
    This is not to argue that we shouldn’t pursuade people out of this mis-cognition today.

  4. PEB Says:

    Magical thinking and religious thinking are two very different things. Every now again I can be ever so slightly superstitious. I kick myself everytime but I can’t help it and it certainly doesn’t do me any harm.
    Religious ‘thinking’ (because there isn’t much thinking involved) however is dangerous. Moral decisions are made for you by an organisation whose primary aim is to get bigger, more powerful and wealthier.
    You wouldn’t let Coca Cola tell you you can’t eat pork 😉

  5. H t k a Says:

    No and I wouldn’t let Peb tell me what I should believe.

  6. solomon Says:

    Bravo…. Htka…..Bravo….!

  7. solomon Says:

    The Atheists are not bringing truth at all. They are only trying to destroy it. They are the slaves of SATAN. They are condemned & doomed. They are the inhabitants of HELL!

  8. PEB Says:

    I agree H t k a – reach your own conclusions in all aspects of your life. Bravo indeed.

  9. Margaret Says:

    I received an annoying e-mail this morning from an in-law. It discussed the events of September 11, stories about people who would have been in the towers but were late for work that day for various reasons. One person could not find car keys, another was stuck in traffic, another had to register a child for kindergarten, etc, etc. The e-mail predictably ends by saying the events that were irritants to each person ultimately saved their lives, and concludes that God was looking out for the people, and we should all trust God. I guess the people who were incinerated alive inside the jets crashing into the building, or the people who jumped out of 60 story windows to escape fire, or those crushed by the crumbling towers just did not matter to God. No comfort for the grieving families, and if you ask a religiously poisoned mind, all there is to find is just another excuse–god has his reasons, now shut up.
    People believe because they want to believe, no logic whatsover. And all religion consists of a series of rationalizations and excuses to explain the incompetence and inaction of an imaginary god. That is why atheists are so threatening to religious people. The simple truth (god is imaginary) that explains the randomness of existence is too scary for the weak-willed religious mind; they want to be fed nonsense, to imagine some sky-daddy luvs them, and will cry like a baby whose candy has been stolen if anyone tries to reason with them, because the religious mind is no more sophisticated than an infant’s. Yes, it recognizes patterns, but seeks the easiest answer–goddidit–because that makes one feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Religion is a lie, God is a liar–he exists only as a figment of the imagination in the head of a person who is lying to himself.

  10. Bornagain A. Theist Says:

    After ignoring an invitation to participate here by way of logic and reason, it seems that H t k a is going about establishing a position as an arrogant, ignorant fool. I just thought he should have been given the same chance as the gods. Begin by not believing (anything positive or negative about him) and then build a case based on evidence.

    So the evidence for stupidity is coming in and stacking up.

    1.) does anybody have proof that god doesn’t exist? (the wrong question)
    2.) Why would you give such a stupid answer? (an arrogant and impolite response)
    3.) My motives are right. (foolish presumption)
    4.) Well after Reading the above posts I’m so much more educated.Yes after a quick perusal I’m almost certain that some of you are, how you say it ahh Koo Ko.You make no sense. (a vain attempt to converse with an empty and pointless commentary)
    5.) No and I wouldn’t let Peb tell me what I should believe. (an uneducated, misguided presumption that someone is trying to “tell” what is to be believed)

    It constantly amazes me how afraid people are of atheism. I do not say that arrogantly; rather it is illustrated by the persons language and thought patterns. If any of the trolls here actually had something of value to contribute, it could be done so in a non-confrontational manner and various points made on each side of a well developed discussion could be investigated by each party which would in turn create more lively and educational discussion. Instead, it seems to me, when an atheist requests the simple, most elementary and essential elements of an intelligent conversation, he is met with immediate dismissal. An example of this was when this:

    Quran 86;7 “semen comes from the backbone and ribs”
    Quran, 71:16 “placed the moon as a light”
    Quran 7;54 “the sun is not a star”
    Quran 13;2 “earth has invisible pillars keeping up the heavens”

    was met with this:

    Your ‘citings’ are just to twist the true meaning of the verses in the Qoran. I’am reluctant to correct it coz everybody knows your views are plain bashing. And another thing you still have’nt cite any phenomena that still happens up to this day like the pouring of clean water from the sky & that sort.

    Amazing response. How can one expect to be considered a genuine participant in a conversation with thoughts like these.


  11. The Heretic Says:


  12. solomon Says:


  13. solomon Says:

    Theres too many things that shows signs to God .
    The Atheists just can’t refute any. Their only resort is to destroy it in whatever way they can.


  14. H t k a Says:

    Peb over the years I have come to the conclusion that the everything good and beautiful comes from God.I try to find good in every human being. In the past Christianty has been tarnished by people who had other motives for what they were doing. Their intentions were far from what God wanted them to do.These people I refer to acted on their own.My question is this: Is God to blame for their actions?Should I paint all Christians with the same brush?I am Trying to live a good life. I obey the ten commandents as best I can.I practice the beatitudes Matthew 5:3-10.Go ahead make fun or try to discredit this in some way.I think the world needs to see more of this. You say that as a race we need to advance, then lets advance in the well being of others. Show love toward your fellow man not hate, there is already enough of that in the world.

  15. solomon Says:

    Dear Margaret,

    Those who died in the Sept. 11 tragedy is destined to die in such a horrific way. May God blessed their souls & condolence to their families. But the ones who cheated death on that day may or may not being granted postponement of their death. Some people may call it lucky. But there may be truth to your in laws views that God was looking out for the people, and we should all trust God. Why is that when something bad happens to someone one should put the blame on God? But have you ever thanked God for the good things in life that you have encounter? The food that you eat daily. Where do you think they came from? From the tin can from the nearest store? Maybe its also true the ones who died have been granted ample chance before but does not heed religious advice.

  16. Margaret Says:

    Seeking patterns—thanking god for anything good and making excuses for anything bad.
    Atheists obey laws, seek good in other people, are pleased and thankful for the good events in life, and do not blame god for the bad things. I used to call on God when I was a believer, but I discovered that he does not help in the hour of need. He either does not exist, or does not care. Either way, he is irrelevant, and the promises in the bible are lies.
    Before the trolls answer with their excuses for the deaf, blind, paralyzed impotent god, let me tell you up front, I am not interested in your mind games. Religion is lies, mind games, wishful thinking, nonsense.
    Trust your god? no. Believe your excuses? Just as much as I would believe you if you told me you have a purple ocelet that lives in your butt who eats all your enemies and poops gold coins, and you have a bridge to sell me in San Francisco, and if I don’t buy it from you, the purple ocelet will freeze dry powder me and bake me into cookies. Good luck with that.

  17. H t k a Says:

    Margaret you have a filty mouth. Your post leaves a lot to be desired.

  18. Bornagain A. Theist Says:


    That very sort of thing bothers me a great deal, too. I recall a fellow in Texas who was the resident of a house that remained virtually untouched during a tornado which cut a patch of death and destruction through his neighborhood and others. Right there on TV he cheerfully stated that the good lord was watching over him. I thought to myself at the time, “Well he sure must have been pissed at the rest of those poor slobs.”

    But just today I have learned that it MAY be because “the ones who died have been granted ample chance before but does not heed religious advice”. Imagine that! I would never have guessed. And from a “loving” god, no less.


  19. CaptainZero1969 Says:

    Margaret – I liked your post on 9-11 as it shows the remarkable solipsism of the religiously minded. This same solipsism seems to be at the heart of what BAT describes when he observes that theists are ‘afraid’ of atheism. They believe that man is the product of a special and personal creation and that all this unimaginable universe was somehow brought about so that one particular species of hominid could be here to wonder about it and praise its creator. It amazes me that the ego can produce such illusions.

    Of course they are threatened by our disbelief. If we’re right, they aren’t to be given the special attention by scores of virgins when they die. Of course, one wonders why they’d want such attention when they are so glaringly distressed by sexuality in this life.

    Religion of peace quiz: What was the religion of the man that attempted to detonate a car bomb in New York this week.

  20. Bornagain A. Theist Says:

    Alright class, today’s assignment is to make intelligent comments that agree or disagree with the following quote. If you make comments about the author or about me, you automatically get an “F” Each comment must be supported with reasoning; opinions are of no value and will also earn an “F”


    Begin — NOW!

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    — Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)


  21. Bornagain A. Theist Says:

    Didn’t mean to walk on your post CZ.

    Is there any chance that the New York wannabe car bomber was from the peaceful religion of Muslim?


  22. Michael Says:

    @ Bornagain A. Theist

    “While I don’t believe that M. Shermer intended it to be so, the quote, standing alone, appears to ‘forgive’ people who believe in things which are unsupported by evidence.”

    I don’t agree with that. Shermer said:

    “…this process isn’t likely to remove us from the gene pool, and thus magical thinking will always be a part of the human condition.”

    It looks to me like he is simply stating that since magical thinking does not jeaporidize the likelihood of someone having offspring, the trait is not likely to go away. But you’re right in that it certainly is a negative trait, and like violence, jealousy and greed, it needs to be curbed. That’s what really separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom: the ability to modify our behavior, despite our natural tendencies.

  23. H t k a Says:

    Micheal If I need forgiveness for anything, I know where to go and it surely won’t be to an Atheist.The only one who can forgive me is My lord and savior Jesus Christ.

  24. Michael Says:

    I would never presume to grant you any sort of universal forgiveness. I never even brought up the subject of forgiveness. And I certainly won’t forgive you for spelling my name wrong when IT’S RIGHT THERE!

  25. PEB Says:

    Both tech and now H t k a have now both said “Show love toward your fellow man not hate”. Do Christians think they have cornered the market in ‘love’?
    My belief system (or lack of it) allows me to have friends and lovers of ANY religion, gender and sexual orientation.
    Christians and Muslims on the other hand are programmed to hate. Hated of women, gays, atheists and people of other religions are just a few examples.

    So H t k a – “Everything good comes from god” and everything bad doesn’t. How convenient for an omnipotent god to take credit for all the good bits.

  26. CaptainZero1969 Says:

    You reminded me of Euthyphro, PEB. Below is Russell’s construction of it:

    “The point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, then you are then in this situation: is that difference due to God’s fiat or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good.”

    I’d enjoy seeing a theists way out of this box. Usually what they say is “nuh uh”.

  27. Holysmokes Says:

    Soooo, tech has changed his name to H t k a? For what possible reason?

  28. solomon Says:

    Dear Margaret,

    If that is your standings regarding God & religion so theres no much more to say rather than wishing you the best of life in HELL.

  29. Michael Says:

    You’re a wretched, hateful person, Solomon. You aren’t actually concerned with what your juvenile impression of a god finds to be good or evil. You are only concerned with placing yourself on a pedestal, with being in your special little club of petulant fools who get stick their tongues out at people they don’t like. There isn’t a god who hates infidels, or apostates, or homosexuals, or atheists – you do, and you have MADE your god. You have picked a religion, and only certain aspects of it at that, that fits your hateful worldview. An exclusionist world order that means those who are like you get golden raisins and servants in paradise while the vast majority of humanity, the mass of humanity that wishes only to live good fulfilling lives, burns in your childish idea of hell.

    You know, the link on this page says, “Discuss this quote.” But you don’t come here to “discuss” anything; only to be a nasty troll that spews petty and capricious judgment and hatred. Your ridiculous god and your contrite Prophet can stuff it.

    I will continue to live my godless life as a man who is kind, generous, supportive, peaceful and introspective, as a man who seeks education, understanding, and peace with my neighbors and life in general. You can wish that life to hell all you want.

  30. John Says:

    Well said Michael and i will raise a pint to ya!!!

  31. Greg Says:

    Htka, you might want to also consider that everything bad comes from God, too. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Amputated babies.

    Drink some more cool-aid.

  32. Bornagain A. Theist Says:

    Here, here, Michael… another pint!

  33. solomon Says:

    Drink……& drink up pints of SATANS PISS(beer) until your stomach burst! And more pints of molten iron are waiting for you to drink on in Hell.

  34. solomon Says:


    Its useless whether you exercise diplomacy or without to the Atheists, they will twist & turn just to make you feel guilty. The best thing is to bash them off whatever it takes when you still had the chance. They are the people who try to ask others to be polite while at the same time condemned God & others. They are the most hypocrates lots.