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Adam Savage at the Harvard Humanist Society

I want to start by saying that, to me, any discourse from me about how one can live a moral existence without religion or the church would sound improperly defensive. That there's an opposite to be defended is absurd and based on a provably false premise. So let's dispense with that.

(To be clear: I'm referring to the humanist axiom "Good without God," whereby "good" means morality. It's provably false that there exists no morality outside of religion, therefore the statement sounds defensive to me.)

By what route does anyone come to believe what they believe? We all like to imagine that it's based on a set of logical facts, but it's often a much more circuitous route.

Read the rest.



I was for a time the treasurer of the equivalent Cambridge society (though we had to rename ourselve the 'Atheist and Agnostic Society', as apparently no one knows what 'humanism' means). Sadly we never recorded meetings in any way.

This passage "If Daniel Dennett is right— that there's a human genetic need for religion— then I'd like to imagine that my atheism is proof of evolutionary biology in action" is inaccurate. Dennett lays out the various options but himself leans towards the idea that religion is a natural by-product of faculties (especially the proposed 'agent detection device') which have been selected for. This is a far cry from saying there's a 'genetic need' for it; you require a particular sort of background environment for your agent detection device to push you in the direction of theism, there's no need to evolve out of it. Indeed, if Savage had evolved out of it, and Dennett's right about its origins, then he would e.g. not infer the existence of an agent when he heard a knocking at the door, or a ring of his doorbell.

Good to have you Duncan.

I do agree with your comments. I would jus clarify that I think that one could learn to infer an agent behind a door knock or a ringing phone from life experience, but not be driven to assume there is a similar agent behind a clap of thunder or a car that won't start.

So although it seems highly unlikely that Atheists have evolved out or such a genetically imposed mental guidline, but simply our beliefs are evidence are evidence that reason can overcome yet another part of our evolutionary preprogramed thinking.

Here's Michael Schermer's essay in relation to hard wiring.


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