16th July 2010

“Religion beliefs are a by-product of cognitive mechanisms designed for other purposes.”

Andy Thomson

30 Responses to “16th July 2010”

  1. EdgarWing Says:

    Yes, check out the book “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer.

  2. solomon Says:

    Yeah…recheck the book “QORAN” by God.

  3. John Says:

    My pigs are eating it!

  4. YourSkepticalGuy Says:

    I like that – a “by-product” – how appropriate… So many vivid images, including the image of a “by-product” of cellulose digestion of the “qoran” by any number of cloven hoofed beasties. I suspect that they get more value from it than those that “read” it.


  5. Edmond Says:

    I’d like to hear more about this quote. What are these “other purposes”? The questioning of the origins of life and the universe comes to mind. Is the quote saying that god-claims are an abuse of the questioning nature of the mind? I can agree with that, but the use of the word “designed” almost seems self-defeating. Maybe “better suited” would be… well… better suited. But I can certainly see where our intellects could be put to better uses than trying to tell one another what we think the gods want.

  6. Atheist MC Says:

    Yes “designed” is an unfortunate word to use. In general though the quote stands up. One of the interesting things about religion is the underlying symbology across cultures is remarkably consistent. Theists would argue that is because there is a root cause i.e God behind it (while simultaneously killing each other over what colour underpants God wears). However it is more likely to be because humans everywhere have similarly evolved brains and share universal cognitive states that are co-opted by the religious impulse. Transendental states, dreaming, temporal lobe epilepsy (Mohammed), Schizophrenia, Pareidolia all contribute to the hypothesis that a supernatural world exists, until you realise that actually it is just brain states and part of the physical conciousness.

  7. Admin Says:

    What are these “other purposes”?

    Edmond, unfortunately I can’t find the original reference. As I recall, the author was talking about things like people’s tendency to look for patterns in events and how this can occasionally lead to false conclusions when those events are actually random – leading to things like rain dances.

  8. solomon Says:

    Who create the 1st design. A question the Atheists can’t answer.

  9. Hypatia Says:

    Who create the 1st design. A question the Atheists can’t answer.

    You’re off-topic as ever solomon, but what the heck – you keep asking this so I’ll bite.

    Evolutionary theory would say the first “design” would be a simple self-replicating molecule, with a capacity to evolve (i.e. the self-replicating mechanism is subject to occasional errors resulting in random minor changes)

    How does this molecule come into existence? Most likely, at random due to heat, light and electrical discharge acting on a mixture of basic elements. If you replicate these conditions you find that complex organic molecules appear quite quickly.

    Now stop asking the same dumb question.

  10. Atheist MC Says:

    Who create the 1st design. A question the Atheists can’t answer

    You’ve had many well reasoned answers to this question from the commenters here. The most honest answer is that at the moment we don’t know what the first cause was; nobody does.
    The reason you don’t get the answer YOU want is that the way you phrase the question is Question Begging. In fact doubly so because 1) you assume there is who and 2) you assume there is a design when there is no evidence of either.
    It is perfectly reasonable to ask why the universe exists, why is it the way it is, how did life begin etc etc. Scientists do this all the time; it is their raison d’etre in fact. What is not reasonable is to assume that just because a few neolithic goat herders came up with the God hypothesis and wrote it down on a scroll the question is answered.
    Who is being more honest, the person who admits the gaps in our knowledge or the one who claims without evidence that they hold the truth.

  11. robb Says:

    to Atheist MC

    that was lovely !!!


  12. Margaret Says:

    The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
    – Bertrand Russell

    Our ancestors lived in times that had unexplained disasters, such as plagues in the absence of medicine and sanitation, famine in the absence of dependable agricultural methods, feudal wars in the absence of stable gov’t. Religion fit into the primitive world view because the little god was petty, tempestuous, nasty-tempered. Imagine a being with super-powers who is a prick. It would make sense, could explain why life is so cruel, the little prick with the power is up there having fun poking us in the eye and laughing. He is cruel in this life and in the next, eager to punish. Initially religion was only meant to appease the cruel dictator–“Please, if I cut the throat of my best goat, please, please leave me alone. don’t send a plague or a famine upon me for your recreational pleasure.”

    It was only a matter of time before people started thinking up ways to try to please the god to get special favors. Parasite professional liar priests saw a golden opportunity to fleece the gullible and fearful–“Give me your best goats and a percentage of your income, and I will make sure the diety rewards you after you are dead. Bad crap will still happen to you here, no guarantees, but hey, the little prick works in monstrous, oops, I meant mysterious ways. Don’t worry about it. Trust me as I screw you, and you will be happy after you are dead.(wink, wink)”

    Religion is also a by-product of our social networks.

  13. Ryedo Says:

    IMO, god belief originated as a form of animistic paranoia – brought on through fear, stress – and our ability to pattern seek. Religion – with its irrational rituals, etc – developed as a form of medication; easing the fears and stress of those suffering from animistic paranoia. Religion is basically an OCD – a result of our ancestors poor mental-health. Unfortunately, the “medication” didn’t cure the condition; it maintained and encouraged the condition.

    As the condition got worse, more severe forms of OCD developed; people began to develop OCPD. This resulted in them forcing their irrational behaviours on others, i.e., I hop on one leg, it prevents the nasty [insert imaginary entity here] from attacking me. Everyone else in the village must also hop on one leg – otherwise the nasty [insert imaginary entity] may attack our entire village. Those who don’t comply will be terminated for the sake and survival of those in the village.

    So, those who didn’t pander to the fearful wishes and irrational biases of those suffering from these severe mental-health issues, would soon find their heads on a stick – or, if they were lucky, would be cast out or maimed in some way.

    Now, as society progressed, many have recognised that the [insert imaginary entity] doesn’t attack and destroy people for not hopping on one leg; resulting in a milder degenerate form of the original condition. In fact, some have recognised that [insert imaginary entity] doesn’t do much at all. Others have even concluded the [insert imaginary entity] doesn’t even exist; curing them of the condition.

    Religion is the by-product of animistic paranoia[God belief]. Contemporary forms of god belief are, mostly, degenerate forms of the original condition. Those still prone to the original condition often make the most noise- making them a danger to the stability of any “civilised”, “sane” society.


  14. solomon Says:

    “Evolutionary theory would say the first “design” would be a simple self-replicating molecule, with a capacity to evolve ” Thats what the silly Atheists say. Nobody’s gonna buy that lousy “just words”.

  15. solomon Says:

    Atheist MC,
    Don’t rant of “QUESTION BEGGING” Just make it simple. You cannot answer it.

  16. solomon Says:


    You are confused and you don’t rant other than “RUBBISH”!!

  17. solomon Says:

    Ask your evolution or nature to create life on the moon.

  18. Margaret Says:

    Ask your god to put life on the moon, see how that works out for ya.

  19. Ryedo Says:

    solomon, with your persistent threats of hell on other threads, you’re a fine example of someone suffering from animistic paranoia: confirming my “rubbish” [I quote here to cast doubt on it being rubbish] views on animistic paranoia and OCPD. But don’t worry! there is a cure. It’s called: atheism.

  20. John Says:

    To answer your: “Who create the 1st design. A question the Atheists can’t answer” question sollie: Man did; when he created the loaded question.

  21. John Says:

    A loaded question example I just remembered from childhood for our challenged guest. When I was a kid, the biggest loaded question running around my elementary school that all on the site will not answer with exception of maybe the challenged one is: “Have you ever tasted a dick sweeter than mine?”

  22. John Says:

    Opps, I hit submit to fast.

    When you speak of wording; doesn’t wording today mean almost the opposite of what it may have meant say just 20 years ago? Words and their associated meanings do evolve.

  23. Fivestring Says:


  24. Fivestring Says:

    Ignore my one-word comment above. I was hasty. And Solomon… you don’t really believe that nonsense do you? Flying horses? Please!

  25. solomon Says:


    If creating a flying bird or flying ant have been possible, what is there a problem with flying horses. Just fix it with a pair of wings.

  26. solomon Says:


    Inded youre hasty in making comments.

  27. solomon Says:

    “Who create the 1st design. A question the Atheists can’t answer”

    Na…na.. na.na na…….

  28. solomon Says:


    My God has the ability to create life on the moon if he wishes as he have prooved it on earth.

  29. Ryedo Says:

    Solomon, so have you asked your god to create life on the moon – or do you fear you may offend him by putting him on the spot?

    If the above is the case(you fear offending him), don’t worry. I’m sure you can adopt or develop some irrational OCD; like sitting on a mat while nodding your head – like a donkey – five times a day.

  30. ernie Says:

    “Thats what the silly Atheists say. Nobody’s gonna buy that lousy “just words”.

    Many theists buy it also. Has nothing to do with atheism.

    “Ask your god to put life on the moon, see how that works out for ya.”

    What kind of life? The moon is not suitable for the life we have on Earth. If we do not specify he may create life suitable for the moons environment and we may not recognize it as life.