Showing posts from November, 2013

Are Atheists Their Brother's Keepers?

A study supposedly shows that atheists are more motivated by compassion than are religious people. Atheists have used this in various ways to show that atheist can be moral, that religion doesn't produce compassion and so on. The study is "My Brother's Keeper: Compassion Predicts Generosity More Among Less Religious Individuals."[1] First published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, 00 (0) April (2012) 1-8. The authors were Laura R. Saslow and Bob Willer, et al. It was published on line before print and can found in a pdf:

Past research argues that religious commitments shape individuals’ prosocial sentiments, including their generosity and solidarity. But what drives the prosociality of less religious people? Three studies tested the hypothesis that, with fewer religious expec- tations of prosociality, less religious individu…

Is Belief in God Magical Thinking?

On Huff post there is an article by Matthew Hutson, author of The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking. The article is called "All Paths Lead to Magical Thinking." (Posted: 09/19/2013 8:32 pm).

In recent years, psychologists have come to understand religion and paranormal belief as resulting, in most people, from simple errors in reasoning. You believe in God or astrology or a purpose in life because you apply ideas about people -- that they have thoughts and intentions -- to the natural world. Some display this tendency more than others, but it's there in everyone, even atheistic heathens like me. What has not been clarified is exactly how the various cognitive biases interact to produce specific ideas about the supernatural -- until now.
He presents a tour de force in the form of a bunch of studies that supposedly prove that religious belief is magical thinking. "In the November 2013 issue of Cognition, Aiyana Willard and Ara Norenzayan of the University of Bri…

What's Wrong with the Humanist Ten Commandments?

The last time I blogged, I mentioned the Humanist Ten Commandments (HTC) which have been proposed on the American Humanist Association (AHA) website by Christian Hagen, the communications assistant for the AHA. As I noted, the AHA through Mr. Hagen has proposed the HTC allegedly as an opening for discussions which "might bridge the gap" between evangelicals and nonbelievers over “universal values.”

Of course, I don’t believe that many secularists would accept the idea that there is a commandment of any sort concerning morality or universal values. After all, the word "commandment" suggests the existence of someone giving the command which runs counter to their view that no universal lawgiver exists, i.e., God. Even Mr. Hagen’s article notes that when the idea of the HTC was initially floated by Lech Walesa, some secularists correctly questioned what would guide the decision as to what constitutes these universal values. Undeterred, Mr. Hagen suggests
Thus we propose …

Is Passing Genes to the Next Generation a Good Basis for Morals or Values?

A couple of days ago, I received the Humanist newsletter. It links to an article on the American Humanist Association website entitled “The Humanist Ten Commandments” by the inappropriately named Christian Hagen who is the communications assistant for the American Humanist Association.  Mr. Hagen (for I cannot call him “Christian”) has decided to propose a new set of commandments (complete with the use of the archaic “Thou Shalt” at the outset of most of the commandments to give them gravitas) to take the place of what he apparently views to be those poor, outdated Judeo-Christian commandments. Why? Well, according to the introduction to the article,
At a summit of Nobel Peace award winners in Warsaw, Polish Nobel Peace laureate Lech Walesa called for a “secular Ten Commandments,” a guide for universal values that transcend religious beliefs. The response has been a heated debate among secularists about what could constitute such a guide. And while some have criticized the idea for bei…