The god gene – or is it a meme?

Is humanity doomed to a future of religious fundamentalism? Some recent internet articles appear to suggest it is.

The prediction is based on the established fact that the birth rate for members of fundamental religions is much higher than for the non-religious, or the members of the more main line churches. Similarly some Europeans worry about Islamic immigration because Muslims also have a relatively high birth rate. They fear a future involving a majority Islamic religion in their countries.

A recent scientific paper written by economist Robert Rowthorn promoted some of this speculation (Religion, fertility and genes: a dual inheritance model. [See full text]). This presented a model based on the assumption of a “religious gene,” or at least a gene which “predisposed humans towards religion.” While they acknowledge that such predisposition is unlikely to  be determined by a single gene this simplification was required to make the analysis possible. And they argue that the general conclusions can be applied to the normally expected multi-gene situation.

Together with the fact that birth rates for many conservative, religious groups are much higher than for the non–religious population this model predicts that the human species will evolve to a situation where conservative, fundamentalist religions predominate.

What a horrible prospect. But is it at all realistic?

No religion gene

Many commenter have pointed out that there is no gene for religion. That religion is a cultural phenomenon – not biological. However, there may be an intermediate aspect. Perhaps certain personalities predispose an individual to be religious and maybe these are genetically determined and could be selected for by the reproduction policies of religious groups.

But there are several problems with this concept. Genetic determination is neither direct or simple. Even biological traits can be influenced by environmental  effects on gene expression. And evolution  by natural selection may very well dispose a population to having a distribution of complex characteristics like personality. The realities of interaction between individuals in human societies probably favours such an outcome where single personality types would not dominate.

“Religion” meaningless

There is another reason why I don’t like the whole idea of “religious genes” and genetic or personality determination of religion. That is because the word “religion” tends to be meaningless. Not only because the word covers a “multitude of sins” as it were. But because it really doesn’t describe the relevant aspects of people who belong to a religion.

Pascal Boyer explains this idea very well in his recent book The Fracture Of An Illusion: Science And The Dissolution Of Religion. (It’s well worth reading and I will be posting a review soon).

While “religion” may describe particular institutions and dogma it doesn’t describe the underlying reasons why people belong to such groups. Therefore scientific study of these phenomena requires breaking below the surface and investigating religious behaviors, rituals and relationships. The study of “religion” itself would ignore the real underlying and important features. It would be the study of dogma and church history. The story religious officials use to explain their origins.

So Boyer advocates the anthropological, evolutionary and cognitive investigation of behaviors, relationships and rituals. Not Churches and dogma. This helps explain the natural origins of “supernatural beliefs,” ideas of spirits, ghosts and gods. It explains them in terms of our cognitive and intuitional structures as well as their evolution. Similarly we can see the natural origins of “religious” behaviors quite divorced from modern church dogmas. Even in conflict with those dogmas. (For instance even in modern churches the lay parishioner probably has a more natural concept of the god being worshiped than the theologians or ministers teaching an advanced theological dogma. This often leads to conflicts between parishioners and church leaders over interpretation of dogma).

Natural religious beliefs and behaviours

So the natural religious beliefs and behaviors may have little to do with religion in the established form. They may not even require the sort of beliefs and rituals required by churches. Again there is a tension between the natural beliefs and the theological teachings and dogma.

In fact the evolved intuitions and cognitive structures, and personalities,  may be manifested in other than religious ways. We can, for instance, find purpose, community and uplifting ideas in political parties, sport groups and other social activities as well as in religion.

The evolved characteristics which may make some people more prone to “magical thinking” could be manifested in religious beliefs. Equally they could be manifested in activities like dramatic acting, stage personalities, etc. Perhaps even in the creativity of practicing atheist scientists. (Didn’t Einstein imagine riding a sunbeam?) Certainly conservative, masochistic and faithful followers may be just as happy in a political party as a church.

So I reject the idea that fundamentalist and conservative religion is transmitted to children genetically and that higher fertility of these groups will inevitable lead to our species evolving into a basically fundamentalist and conservative one. Nevertheless, there are other ways in which religious belief is transmitted inter-generationally. And that is be memes.

People have often observed that religion is inherited. But that is via the culture. And especially the family culture. It’s no wonder that a child which is protected form other ideas, perhaps home educated or educated in a faith school, is likely to inherit its parents religion. (Probably also their politics and football teams). So perhaps the cultural mechanism, specifically the hierarchical family culture, provides a mechanism for encouraging the spread of religion by simple spread of adherents through birth.

A human rights issue

It’s interesting that some theological commentators appear to welcome the religion gene idea (see Believers’ Gene’ May Help Spread Religion, Pastors Agree). However, most religious leaders are also very conscious of the role of memes, of family and church culture in “passing” on religion. And they also think it is very important to utilise this mechanism. Some passionately stress the importance of getting access to the child at its most vulnerable age. Conservative and fundamentalist religions promote religious instruction and religious control of education – even of subjects like science.

So perhaps there are aspects of our culture which are encouraging an increase in the numbers of conservative and fundamentalist religious people. But rather than seeing that as a future danger, as a problem for future generations, I think we should recognise it as a present danger.

Such conservative and fundamentalist religious instruction and control of children amounts to violation of their human rights.  Their education can be retarded and often their development as mature autonomous moral agents is inhibited. Religious dogma also tends to be divisory, especially when fundamentalist. Church members actively think in terms of “them vs us.” Children learn to see themselves as superiour to the schoolmates. Even that some of their fellow class members may be “evil” because of their different religion or beliefs (really the religion or beliefs of their families).

However these conservative and fundamentalist family cultures may not be as effective as they appear in the long run. Promotion of division and social tension  causes a reaction. Secular societies will not always be so amenable to financing faith schools and organisations which promote division.

I think also that education inevitably has an effect. People growing up today have many reasons to accept a good objective education and to interact with people of different beliefs, cultures and ethnicity. Education and growing living standards also help break down the hierarchical family. Women are more able to take advantage of what modern society can offer them and inevitably control their own fertility to make this possible.

So I really don’t think our biological evolution is threatened by a “religion gene.” And while religion is nowhere near dying a natural death I think that social and economic development will also reduce the influence of conservative and fundamentalist hierarchical family cultures.

I hope so anyway.

Similar articles

See also:
Why we are all different (and not all religious)
There’s no such thing as a gene for religion

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107 responses to “The god gene – or is it a meme?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The god gene – or is it a meme? | Open Parachute -- Topsy.com

  2. I suppose the idea of a religion-gene would fit with Calvinist theology. Those with the gene are referred to as the “elect” and those who lack the gene are referred to as the “reprobate”

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  3. The major thesis of those of us working in the cognitive science of religion (incl. Boyer) is, I submit, that the ubiquity of some features of we might call “religions” (e.g., belief in supernatural agents and concomitant behaviours) can be explained with reference to a convergence of a slew of evolved psychological mechanisms (e.g., a hypersensitive tendency to detect agents in the environment, a basic taxonomy of objects in the world). So, religion (or, better, these cross-culturally recurring beliefs and behaviours) are (at least) by-products of adaptations and (perhaps) also (to use Gould and Lewontin’s famous phrase) exaptations (insofar as they are currently adaptive; cf. work by Sosis, Bulbulia, and Bering for various accounts of how religion is or has been adaptive).

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  4. In order to “explain” religion via a “hypersensitive tendency to detect agents in the environment” one would have to have the narrow and rather naive idea that religion was all about trying to explain physical phenomena via supernatural agents – or that religion at its heart is a (pseudo?)-scientific endeavor. As ever the “scientists” trying to investigate religion have to adopt a certain literalist/fundamentalist version of religion themselves!

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  5. No Max.

    Boyer explains that “religion” is a meaningless term (hence fracture of an illusion) . It’s more fruitful to investigate underlying religious thinking and behaviours – which may have nothing to do with the story and dogma of established religions.

    It’s possible to understand the natural development of “supernatural” agents, spirits, etc . in human thinking and culture. And how these are incorporated into religious behaviours and rituals.

    As Boyer describes it the “scientific investigation of religion” rather than the underlying behaviours and cognitive aspects, would just be the history of church stories and dogma about their own origins. Hardly insightful.

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  6. My comment was on a specific point in Jon’s post Ken – so I am not sure what you are saying “No” to exactly.

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  7. I thought you misunderstood the point because you wrote “one would have to have the narrow and rather naive idea that religion was all about trying to explain physical phenomena via supernatural agents”.

    That’s not the case at all. The research has been aimed at understanding the natural origins of religious behaviour and rituals, rather than about using religion as a form of science.

    Your comment “As ever the “scientists” trying to investigate religion have to adopt a certain literalist/fundamentalist version of religion themselves!” came across as defensive and is way off the mark.

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  8. It was mainly a comment relying yo Jon;s post Ken… which may be why you did not understand all of it (bit of an in-joke thing going on there you see)

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  9. Perhaps you should explain it then max.

    I was answering what I saw was the problem with your comment. You should elaborate re the bit I misunderstood.

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  10. My reply to Jon was based on many discussions we have had over a beer and was a reference to the field he works in and the field I work in and both a jibe at him and a subtle jibe at myself. But as I said it was an in joke and unless I go into great detail not only about the nature of our discussions, but also the tone and the sense of humor we share then it will be very hard to communicate why I wrote exactly what I wrote. Tell you what – next time you are in Dunedin join us for a beer and I will get you up to speed ;)

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  11. But actually since you ask: For myself I am a biblical studies student, and Jon, as he says works in the cognitive science of religion. As such we often get into discussions about the nature of God and whether a potential God could intervene, and if so how and so forth.

    I met Jon (more or less) at a conference about finding a scientific explanation for religion which was at Otago University about a year ago now I guess. One of the big topics discussed there which came up over and over was the hypersensitive agency detection – and how this might explain our beliefs in spirits, gods, God, etc… this is a topic which has come up again and again so I could not resist the opportunity to mention it when I saw that Jon had posted on your page (which I pointed out to him… so thank me for the extra visit on your stats ;) )

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  12. OK – I understand.

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  13. But the offer of a beer is still there!

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  14. Pingback: Religious Fundamentalism at its Core « Debramoolenaar's Blog

  15. Ken, congratulations on getting the Herald to publish this. For other readers, the link and related comments are here: NZ Herald. The best comment IMHO:

    aa (New Zealand)
    10:51AM Thursday, 27 Jan 2011
    Interesting article Ken. However, I think you go too far in saying that “conservative and fundamentalist religious instruction and control of children amounts to violation of their human rights”. I also think your claim that a childs education would be retarded is a bit far fetched. Some of the best minds come from schools that, afterall, are religious. So long as children are taught to think for themselves then they can make up their own minds on belief. Also, if you are right then it would also be true that a completely secular instruction and control of our children would also amount to violation of human rights.

    In this regard, the philosophy you apply seems bizarre as you berate fundamentalists because they tell others, including their children, how they should live (“them vs us”), but you yourself are advocating that our children should be educated according to one particular ideal (whether that is secular, atheist, moderate). Maybe this should be called ‘fundamentalist atheism’. Ultimately, I think it is more important we teach our children how to think for themselves rather then controlling them either way.

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  16. Your link doesn’t go to any article of mine ropata. Actually I didn’t “get” the Herald to do anything. The Herald selects blog articles from SciBlogs NZ which I syndicate to.

    There is a clear difference between education and instruction. Also there is a clear violation when education is withheld. I also think that fundamentalist moral instruction can actuall retard a child’s autonomous moral development and create problems later on life.

    A secular education is open and democratic . It raises kids to think for themselves and is not dogmatic. You have done absolutely nothing to justify your opposition to secular education, which after is more or less what we aim for in NZ.

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  17. So you would forcibly prevent people from passing their religion on to their children? Some parents want their children’s education to include God and respect for their faith tradition. No need to invoke the scary “fundamentalist” boogeyman, it’s a normal community function. To other cultures it may seem weird for modern children to be packed off to a state run facility to prepare for a life of corporate servitude.

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  18. This “So you would forcibly prevent people from passing their religion on to their children?”is a common reaction to someone pointing out the advantages of a secular education. It is either very ignorant or completely dishonest.

    A secular education does not interfere with parents raising their children – one little bit.

    How the hell do you guys justify such dishonesty?

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  19. “To other cultures it may seem weird for modern children to be packed off to a state run facility to prepare for a life of corporate servitude.”
    :)

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  20. Well would you impose and guidelines on what parents can teach their children Ken? Can you think of any religious doctrine which would be child abuse much worse than being sexually abused (as Dawkins puts it)
    (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 317 )

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  21. Well would you impose any guidelines on what parents can teach their children Ken? Can you think of any religious doctrine which would be child abuse much worse than being sexually abused (as Dawkins puts it)
    (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 317 )

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  22. Max, I don’t think I would impose any guidelines on what parents tell their children. Why should I? And who has ever done that sort of thing.

    Regarding the example Dawkins described. I think there are clearly forms of religious indoctrination far worse than mild sexual interference. This was brought home to me recently watching the film Liam where the horrible fears and lectures about hell and imposed guilt were forced on little kids. I can remember myself as a child bring absolutely terrorized by a religious women on my paper round. It would have been hell to have had her as a parent.

    We often ignore psychological child abuse and I personally think this can be horrific. The effects can last for a lifetime, maybe even getting worse in older age. I have seen really tragic results of this. So I can appreciate how people growing up in cults and fundamentalist religions can be really damaged. (Let’s be clear – I think psychological child abuse is wider than that practiced by some religions)

    A terrible waste of human life and potential. I really grieve for kids who suffer psychological abuse.

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  23. OK – well if you see these sorts of psychological ‘abuse’ as worse than ‘mild’ sexual abuse – why would you not want them to be illegal? Just trying to understand the consistency of your position.

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  24. Some of them will be. And of course I support making specific crminal activity illegal. But it is an extremely difficult area for the law and state bodies to operate. One could not provide or describe some of the situations which result on psychological abuse.

    Unfortunately the law can be made specific in cases of physical and sexual abuse even though these may be less harmful to the child. It’s one of the reasons why society has difficulty recognizing psychological abuse. Which is rather sad considering the magnitude of the results.

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  25. Ok – just to push you a bit further though:

    What sort of psychological abuse which is specifically related to particular religious faiths would you personally want to see outlawed?

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  26. That’s a difficult one to think of examples. What psychological abuse in general does the law provide for?

    Unfortunately this sort of thing only seems to be recognized when it is manifested in physical forms. I guess religious forms have been manifested as forms of kidnapping (when the child is confined to a room), sexual abuse (very often hidden by the church as well as the family), violence as in bible sanctioned beatings, etc.

    More importantly the situation may be extremely difficult to recognize in the absence of a physical manifestation. Kids can really suffer horribly and authorities just don’t recognize it.

    Really my sympathy is with the kids – I would rather save them than bother with prosecutions.

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  27. Sounds like a question dodge there Ken.

    I will take it that you are unwilling to say any specific teaching should be seen as child abuse then?

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  28. It’s not a dodge, Max. It’s a recognition of real situations. I have seen the result of psychological abuse and it is tragic. It’s made even worse for the victims when people deny the reality. When they refuse to recognize it for what it is.

    I can assure you such people feel doubly abused. They have been psychologically abandoned by their family originally and then they get abandoned by a society that is in denial. Refuses to recognize what they have suffered and still suffer.

    I don’t know where you got the idea I equate teaching with abuse. I am all for education – denial of education -that is child abuse. But again very hard to write laws on that.

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  29. “It’s not a dodge, Max.”

    We’ll see…

    “It’s a recognition of real situations.”

    Such as?

    “I have seen the result of psychological abuse and it is tragic.”

    What instances were to do with specific teachings of specific religious traditions? Which traditions?

    “It’s made even worse for the victims when people deny the reality. When they refuse to recognize it for what it is.”

    For example?

    “I can assure you such people feel doubly abused. They have been psychologically abandoned by their family originally and then they get abandoned by a society that is in denial. ”

    Are there examples do to with a specific doctrine taught by a specific tradition? What doctrine? What tradition?

    “Refuses to recognize what they have suffered and still suffer.”

    Are there examples of this to do with a specific doctrine taught by a specific tradition? What doctrine? What tradition?

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  30. Max, my personal experience was not connected directly with religious abuse. However it was an experience of psychological abuse which illustrated not only that it couldn’t be covered by a law, yet had significant effects on the children concerned for the rest of their lives. More so than a mild sexual abuse or physical abuse covered by law.

    One child was physically abused and removed from the family. His life was happier than those remaining. And no prosecutions resulted even though the physical abuse could possible have excused legal intervention. Font expect me to provide the painful details. It happened.

    My point is that psychological abuse does occur on situations which are just too complex to be covered by laws relating to physical abuse. Nevertheless the victims of such psychological abuse often suffer worse and for far longer than victims of physical abuse.

    I get very angry with people who refuse to recognise the reality of such psychological abuse. The denial is another form of abuse itself.

    Dawkins point was that some religious treatment of children amounts to religious terrorism. I certainly experienced this as a kid from some adults. And my experience certainly leads me to strongly agree with him.

    Just because these situations are difficult to cover by law, until actual physical or sexual abuse occurs (as it sometimes does in these cases) should not be used as an excuse for denial.

    Psychological abuse of children is not rare, it has dramatic effects and for a long time. It is a tragedy. And yes it is far wider than religious terrorism of children.

    But just because we don’t have laws to cover it, or it is done by religious hypocrites, does not allow us to be inhumane and ignore or excuse it.

    I actually find this subject very painful and I wish people wouldn’t make light of it.

    I really can’t see what you are driving at Max. Do you deny psychological abuse of children occurs? Do you deny that some forms of extreme treatment of children in religious cults and authoritarian groups amounts to psychological abuse.? (and ibviously i include some forms if Catholic behaviour here). Are you wanting to excuse such abuse just because our laws don’t or can’t cover it?

    And what is your attitude to adults who have escaped from such treatment yet still suffer and require counselling or psychological therapy? Do you wish to deny their experience or their suffering just because the abuse was committed by believers?

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  31. OK – no disrespect but this is the only bit of your reply which was relevant:

    “Dawkins point was that some religious treatment of children amounts to religious terrorism. I certainly experienced this as a kid from some adults. And my experience certainly leads me to strongly agree with him. ”

    OK – so what SPECIFIC religious doctrines/teachings do you think amount to abuse. I am sorry to keep asking the same question like a broken record but you seem reluctant to answer apart from in vague wafflely generalities.

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  32. As for your list of questions:

    “Do you deny psychological abuse of children occurs?”
    No. This is a stupid question – what would make you even ask it?

    “Do you deny that some forms of extreme treatment of children in religious cults and authoritarian groups amounts to psychological abuse.? ”

    No. This is a stupid question – what would make you even ask it?

    (and ibviously i include some forms if Catholic behaviour here).

    SPECIFICALLY WHAT!!!!!!????!!!!????

    “Are you wanting to excuse such abuse just because our laws don’t or can’t cover it?”

    No. This is a stupid question – what would make you even ask it?

    “Do you wish to deny their experience or their suffering just because the abuse was committed by believers?”

    No. This is a stupid question – what would make you even ask it?

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  33. I think you are in denial Max. The experience of psychological child abuse is of course more generally relevant than an individual case. My experience is very relevant for that reason. We don’t excuse one form of abuse because the abusers claim religious sanction.

    Psychological abuse can take a huge variety of forms and I imagine this is true for religous forms too. Perhaps you should look at the video interview of Jill Mynton I posted a while back. She counsels people who escape from religious cults. She is an escapee herself. (I will post a link tomorrow).

    The specific religious terrorism I experienced as a child was along the lines of me being a sinner. It involved strong condemnation and imposed guilt on a kid who was completely innocent. Treating me as a criminal. Fortunately it was not done by a family member so wasn’t continuous but if it were I imagine the effects could have been dramatic.

    Dawkins relates the example of a kid being told her friends were going to hell. The film I mentioned exhibited some of this. This use of religious terror seems to have been common in the Catholic Church and would have resulted in a lot of psychological harm.

    There are plenty of cases of children denied contact with family, including one of their parents, because of control by religious organizations.

    Jill mentions the case of imposed morality. She herself found that she had no personal sense of morality because moral decisions were always made by the religious leaders. She had to develop her own personal sense of morality as an adult.

    I could go on. But I imagine you could not have any idea if what I experienced. You just have to appreciate that it happens and has drastic consequences. I suspect that in reality you do have some concept of religious psychological child abuse.

    Come to think of it – isn’t this the same tactic Matt uses? To deny the abuse by claiming that the accuser has the responsibility of demanding religious education should be made illegal.

    As I said to ropata -that is dishonest.

    But worse, by denying the reality of this child abuse it is condoning something which destroys people. It imposes the abuse twice over.

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  34. As I thought from your answer, Max, you do recognise the problem of religious psychological child abuse.

    So why try to put it back on me to describe how I would impose laws? You already appreciate that it occurs and that it is not something one can encompass in a law.

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  35. “I think you are in denial Max”.

    About what? What have I denied exactly?

    “The specific religious terrorism I experienced as a child was along the lines of me being a sinner. It involved strong condemnation and imposed guilt on a kid who was completely innocent. Treating me as a criminal. Fortunately it was not done by a family member so wasn’t continuous but if it were I imagine the effects could have been dramatic.”

    OK – Thank you! This is a real example! So do you think that this sort of behavior should be illegal?

    “Dawkins relates the example of a kid being told her friends were going to hell.”

    Do you think this should be illegal?

    “There are plenty of cases of children denied contact with family, including one of their parents, because of control by religious organizations.”

    I assume that this already is illegal…

    ” I suspect that in reality you do have some concept of religious psychological child abuse.”

    I have never denied this which is why I find some of your questions odd – and your manner overly confrontational. I am not saying it does not happen, I was just genuinely interested in knowing what specific things you had in mind.

    “Come to think of it – isn’t this the same tactic Matt uses? To deny the abuse by claiming that the accuser has the responsibility of demanding religious education should be made illegal.”

    I never denied any abuse. I asked a question about abuse… you seem to have me confused with someone else.

    “But worse, by denying the reality of this child abuse it is condoning something which destroys people. It imposes the abuse twice over.”

    Again… what am I denying! Why are you putting these words in my mouth constantly Ken!

    “As I thought from your answer, Max, you do recognise the problem of religious psychological child abuse.”

    And then oddly you contradict yourself! Anf finally you realize that I too might be worried about abuse!

    “So why try to put it back on me to describe how I would impose laws?”

    Intellectual curiosity? It is not always about battling you know.

    “You already appreciate that it occurs and that it is not something one can encompass in a law.”

    I appreciate that it happens – but may differ from you as to the instances when it happens (hence my question to clarify what you had in mind which you took such offense to!) – and I am not entirely sure that it is not something that the law can deal with.

    For instance if there was a custody battle where a father wanted full custody of his children, and a lot of evidence was provided that the mother was psychologically abusive – constantly telling the children they were worthless, fat, would amount to nothing, shouting and swearing at them etc etc. I am sure the court would pay attention to this detail and act upon it. My question is – and it is not me “denying” anything – do you think that courts should be directed to pay attention to certain religious teachings in the same way –

    to cite your example – say a child was constantly being told they were a sinner, and that they were going to hell – should the court take this into account and should this weigh against the mother in favor of the father? If so – what other instances should also fit in to this – or should such things be protected because they are part of a religious belief unlike a generic and secular “you are worthless” tirade?

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  36. OK Max, we basically seem to agree that some forms of religious domination of children amount to psychological abuse. It’s pointless to speculate on what specific laws or court “directions” should be available – neither of us has the legal expertise. I personally don’t see the necessity of laws defining each possible circumstance – that would be impossible.

    My concern is that psychological abuse of children in general should be recognized for the sake of the kids. Recognition would enable things like religious terrorism of children to be dealt with within current laws.

    This discussion arose because of ropata’a dishonest charge “So you would forcibly prevent people from passing their religion on to their children?” It is this sort of dishonesty which avoids a very important problem. It abandons the abused children – in fact condones the abuse.

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  37. The interview with Jill Mytton is in the post Psychological abuse of children and discussed in Psychological and religious abuse of children.

    It’s well worth watching.

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  38. If you keep ranting about psychological abuse and religious terrorism I think my question was a reasonable concern. No doubt that some parents are abusive to their children but trying to make it specifically a religion problem, when the problem occurs at all levels of society (but socioeconomic factors are probably the most pertinent), strikes me as a disingenuous argument. I agree that some doctrines can seem quite unpleasant but that goes for any philosophy not just the fundamentalisms of this world. More important than theology is for a child to know that s/he is loved, and lack of love is a common human failing not limited to the religious.

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  39. Ropata, if you could just get your head out of your bible (or whatever dark region it us currently situated) and read what I have said you will notice:

    I am very concerned about the psychological abuse of children

    I think it is under reported and under appreciated. Popular concepts of child abuse seem to be limited to physical or sexual abuse.

    Physcological abuse can often cause more harm and the effects be longer lasting than physical abuse.

    The denial of psychological abuse by society leads to further feelings of rejection in the survivor – often when they are much older.

    You may well consider my concern to be raving. That is a symptom of your own denial. My concerns relate to personal experiece and to strong empathy for children who just have no defense or protection against psychological abuse.

    I have stressed that religious abuse and terrorism of children is just one form of psychogicsl abuse. Jill Myntons work concerns this form but I think her findings can be extrapolated also to some other forms of non-religious psychological abuse.

    You acknowledge that this abuse occurs with some “doctrines”

    It is a lie to claim, as you do, that I am “trying to make it specifically a religion problem.” Clearly I am not.

    The honest thing for you to do would be to withdraw and apologise for that slander. While you are at it you could also apologise for your previous claim that I wanted to make religious education of children by their parents illegal.

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  40. ropata is arguing with the voices in his head again.
    He’s very cross with you for saying stuff that you never said.
    Shame on you Ken.

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  41. Mantra time I see…

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  42. Just an accurate observation.
    ropata does this all the time.
    It’s ropata’s “creative interpretation”.

    Yet, if you feel he’s correct, feel free to supply the actual quote where Ken actually says what he’s been accused of.

    The “Straw Man” Fallacy

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  43. Straw man Mantra!

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  44. Ken, when you accused me of condoning child abuse you hit a new low. I don’t think raging and casting aspersions is going to help. Perhaps I had the opposite experience from you, state schools have plenty of bullies and teachers who turn a blind eye to the law of the jungle on the school playground.

    Clearly you’re against conservatives and fundamentalists but you don’t define who or what. There seems to be a clash of human rights here, freedom of religion is one of the most basic, but in your world it would be curtailed.

    There’s so much random inaccurate waffle in the OP it’s hard to even begin a critique. Which parts are from the book and which are Ken’s daydreams?
    – the dream that religious predisposition could be replaced by sports, politics, or other community groups is based on what?
    – the attempt to revive a ‘blank slate’ theory of cognitive development is quaint
    – the comment about secular society ‘financing state schools’ is patently wrong
    etc etc.

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  45. Straw man Mantra!

    Distinct lack of quote.
    (shrug)

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  46. Well, ropata, I guess you haven’t got the integrity required to apologise for your wild accusations. They are of course the typical straw man ranting we have come to expect. In themselves not worthy of discussion.

    However, this phenomenon does intrigue me scientifically as an example of the “religious mind.” I am, of course talking about the more extreme ways of thinking, not all religious people. But it also appears to be common in the more extreme political thinking – left and right.

    The characteristic seems to be exaggeration of the intuitionoif judgementalism. This intuition is perfectly natural and a required part of our nature as social animals. But like any intuition it can be unreasonably exaggerated in individuals.

    When judgementalism is exaggerated I think individuals are suspect to idealist ideologies which enable them to feel virtuous in widely judging others. Religions teaching we are all “sinners” and that the “others” are not going to heaven, are tainted and must be condemned are clearly attractive to such people. Maoism was such an ideology. And a lot of Christian sects also advance this ideology.

    But, of course extreme judgementalism is out of touch with reality. We are not all “sinners” and lies have to be told to pretend we are. (Really “they”, not “we” are.)

    In your case ropata you are inventing things so that you can turn your judgementalism on me. It may encourage you to feel virtuous but it is false – built on a lie. Everyone else has no trouble recognizing your straw mannery.

    S,o ropata, water off a duck’s back and something to chuckle about. But an interesting example of the judgementalist “religious mind” nevertheless.

    Worth studying.

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  47. “Lack of quote” Mantra! Classic!

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  48. Richard Christie

    “Lack of quote” Mantra! Classic!

    At least you quoted it this time. Cedric must be getting something through to you. ;-)

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  49. Well all religions manage to get their point across by the mindless repetition of ill thought out ideas that the adherents seldom understand themselves but bleat out over and over like sheep… Cedric is no exception.

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  50. Not judging you personally at all Ken, I am sure you are a civilised and moral person. I have only critiqued the OP and comment thread. When I note poor behaviour or logical fallacy it’s not a condemnation of a person it is a criticism of their actions. I see your latest comment is a sad attempt at psychoanalysis (yet another ad hominem attack) it is devoid of any substantive argument. How boring.

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  51. Well all religions manage to get their point across by the mindless repetition of ill thought out ideas that the adherents seldom understand themselves but bleat out over and over like sheep…

    That’s very well put.

    Still no quote that supports ropata though.
    If he’s telling the truth about Ken, then it should be easy to do.
    Hmmm.

    Just scroll up the page, cut-and-paste and connect the dots.
    Yet neither you nor ropata can do that.

    I see your latest comment is a sad attempt at psychoanalysis (yet another ad hominem attack) it is devoid of any substantive argument. How boring.

    ropata, you need to stop lying.
    Read up on what the phrase “ad hominem” actually means.
    Then apply it.
    You’ve done this before.
    It’s not only boring; it’s decietful. Show some integrity for a change.
    Let me help you with that…

    Ad Hominem

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  52. “That’s very well put.”

    Thanks! I used to be a fundamentalist atheist too… I guess I am still familiar with the jargon ;)

    “Still no quote that supports ropata though.
    If he’s telling the truth about Ken, then it should be easy to do.
    Hmmm.”

    I am confused… am I supposed to be supporting Ropata? Hahaha – I did not know that was my assigned role!

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  53. Please supply evidence of my wild accusations or straw man arguments. That’s right, you are mistaken, I have been talking on topic the whole time. Oops silly Cedric!

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  54. Ropata, perhaps we should add a few other things to the characteristics of the obsessed religious mind besides extreme judgementalism.

    Painting themselves as the victims when they offend. As in accusing others falsely and when this is pointed out they are personally affronted.

    Use of the words ad hominem inappropriately – as when attempting to personalize any general description of behavior to apply to them as a personal attack.

    The latter is funny as the ad hominem charge parallels reference to Persian authority as a “way of knowing”. Any old fool is used as an authority but when their qualifications for authority are questioned it becomes an ad hominem attack!

    Actually the religious mind is beginning to look more and more like the childish mind.

    I will await the ad hominem charge.

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  55. Please supply evidence of my wild accusations or straw man arguments.

    Ok.

    It is a lie to claim, as you do, that I am “trying to make it specifically a religion problem.”

    …your previous claim that I wanted to make religious education of children by their parents illegal.

    Easy really.
    Just scroll up and there it is. Welcome to the Internet.

    Please supply evidence of my wild accusations or straw man arguments…. I have been talking on topic the whole time.

    Non sequitur.
    Being “on topic” or not is neither here nor there.
    You can make “wild accusations” that are a complete strawmen yet still justify them as being “on topic”. Nice dodge.

    Please supply evidence…

    Shifting the burden of proof.
    If you accuse someone of saying something…then it’s a good idea to quote them actually saying it.
    Duh!
    When you can’t actually quote them (and nobody else can either) then that’s a big red flashing neon sign that you just created a strawman.

    If you accuse someone of an ad hominem, then…demonstrate that it is so.
    You throw that phrase around a lot yet you never use it in the appropriate manner.

    Ad hominems do happen.
    I disapprove of ad hominems.
    Yet an insult is just an insult. That does not equate to it being an ad hominem.

    Demonstrate that Ken really has used an ad hominem and I’ll back you up on it.
    I mean that.
    Yet, you’ve got to be able to demonstrate it fair and square.
    Look at the definition provided and connect the dots for us in a straight-forward, honest manner.
    I don’t think you can do it.
    You either don’t know what an ad hominem is or you just don’t care.
    You may not be a dishonest liar but you certainly act like one.

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  56. Thanks for that Cedric, it’s good to have specific examples.

    It is a lie to claim, as you do, that I am “trying to make it specifically a religion problem.”

    My observation was based on this paragraph (and many other little remarks):
    Such conservative and fundamentalist religious instruction and control of children amounts to violation of their human rights. Their education can be retarded and often their development as mature autonomous moral agents is inhibited. Religious dogma also tends to be divisory [sic], especially when fundamentalist. Church members actively think in terms of “them vs us.” Children learn to see themselves as superiour [sic] to the schoolmates. Even that some of their fellow class members may be “evil” because of their different religion or beliefs (really the religion or beliefs of their families).

    previous claim that I wanted to make religious education of children by their parents illegal.

    I am glad that the question has been answered, however I still do not know which specific “conservative/fundamentalist” teachings are abusive. I read hostility, suspicion and paranoia about religion but nothing constructive. I bet that 99% of Sunday School directors and religious schools would be very happy to discuss guidelines for a safe learning environment (but they probably have them already – – I know that a lot of churches require their teachers to be vetted by police). Authoritarian “Mr. Cairneys” are mostly now a figment of history and the febrile imaginations of grumpy atheists.

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  57. This conversation is full of emotional rhetoric but few concrete facts. Ken’s habit of waffling on in generalities, switching between summary and speculation, poor grammar and general lack of rigour, also makes it easy for him to deny he said anything specific. It would not be acceptable quality writing for any undergraduate level essay. Logical fallacies abound, ad hominem examples FYI:
    obsessed religious mind
    extreme judgementalism [sic]
    childish mind
    you haven’t got the integrity required to apologise
    you are inventing things so that you can turn your judgementalism [sic] on me
    That is a symptom of your own denial
    It abandons the abused children – in fact condones the abuse

    I also feel somewhat abused by all this silliness.

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  58. My observation was based on this paragraph…

    That paragraph does not support your contention.
    You can’t get from “here to there” based on that paragraph alone.
    Invoking mystery comments does not help either.

    It’s just you and your “creative interpreting” (as always).
    If you want to attack something that somebody said, then attack away.
    Go for it. I’ll bring the pop corn.

    Yet you have to bring the actual quote to the party.
    That’s the important part.

    …also makes it easy for him to deny he said anything specific.

    Then your best bet is to ask for something specific rather than go off and create a strawman all by your lonesome.

    …obsessed religious mind…

    How is this an ad hominem?
    Connect the dots for us.
    You may not like the idea of someone accusing you of having an “obsessed religious mind” but that, in and of itself, is not an ad hominem.
    Same goes for all the other phrases in your list.

    If somebody insults you…then that’s just an insult.
    It’s not an ad hominem.

    For example: ropata is fat.

    Well…
    That’s not an ad hominem.
    That’s just me insulting you.
    They are two different things.

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  59. Ropata, when you say “I am glad that the question has been answered” is this an acknowledgment that your original statement putting incorrect words into my mouth was wrong?

    If it was wrong then why refuse to apologise fir it?

    Or is there no integrity?

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  60. It was a simple question, but apparently it caused much turmoil and dismay, for that I apologise.

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  61. Cedric said:
    You can’t get from “here to there” based on that paragraph alone.
    It’s just you and your “creative interpreting” (as always).

    Apparently you haven’t read the OP or comments, and didn’t comprehend the paragraph I quoted. The OP goes from genes to memes to religion to cognitive processes to child abuse. Amidst the wide ranging and clumsy generalities there is definitely a theme of “religion is bad/abusive”. I agree that you can’t get from here to there, although Ken has made a solid attempt to do so.

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  62. PS: 6’3″ 105kg, yes I am quite large :)

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  63. Apparently you haven’t read the OP or comments, and didn’t comprehend the paragraph I quoted.

    I read the paragraph.
    I comprehend it just fine.
    It does not support you at all.

    “It is a lie to claim, as you do, that I am “trying to make it specifically a religion problem.”

    Such conservative and fundamentalist religious instruction and control of children amounts to violation of their human rights.

    This sentence does not show Ken trying to make it specifically a religious problem.

    Their education can be retarded and often their development as mature autonomous moral agents is inhibited.

    Nor does this one.

    Religious dogma also tends to be divisory [sic], especially when fundamentalist.

    Still nothing.

    Church members actively think in terms of “them vs us.”

    (…looks at watch…)

    Children learn to see themselves as superiour [sic] to the schoolmates.

    Still nothing.

    Even that some of their fellow class members may be “evil” because of their different religion or beliefs (really the religion or beliefs of their families).

    Zippo.
    We just never get the part where Ken says what you say he says.

    It’s all just you and your “creative interpretation”.
    Strawman.

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  64. PS: 6’3″ 105kg, yes I am quite large

    A real example of of an ad hominem would if you and I talked about apples.
    Suppose you claim that apples are good for you.
    If I say “You’re just saying that because you are fat” then that’s an ad hominem.
    If I say “Don’t be so bloody stupid, fatso. Everybody knows that apples give you lung cancer.” that not an ad hominem.

    (There’s a blatant insult there and I’m totally wrong about the apples but it’s still not an ad hominem.)

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  65. Except for the fact that the entire paragraph is about the evils of religion, and “religious instruction … amounts to a violation of human rights”. Comprendez vous? Non.

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  66. Yeah, right it’s not ad hominem it’s a bunch of insults. That’s so much better :S

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  67. Except for the fact that the entire paragraph is about the evils of religion

    So what?
    An entire paragraph about the evils of religion, indeed, an entire book about the evils of religion would not support you.

    “It is a lie to claim, as you do, that I am “trying to make it specifically a religion problem.”

    It’s just you and your creative interpretation.

    Yeah, right it’s not ad hominem it’s a bunch of insults.

    They are not the same thing.
    Ken made no ad hominem.
    You are in the wrong.

    You want to call Ken out for offending you?
    Fine.
    Yet that’s NOT an ad hominem. Get it right.

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  68. The weird thing is, I am mostly in agreement with Ken’s sentiments having experienced some of the crappy forms of fundamentalist thinking myself. You guys keep making me out to be some kind of fundy but most Christians would call me a liberal. As such I defend their right to believe and teach things I disagree with.

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  69. Funny you should say that Ropata… I often feel as though I am expected to defend some version of Christianity I have little time for as well… now there is a name for this tactic that alludes me…

    Something to do with hay?

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  70. Perhaps you are a hyper-sensitive liberal Christian, ropata. You imagine criticisms of you in things you read which have nothing to do with you.

    Hence your “mistakes” in accusations you you cast around wildly.

    If you could just accept that religion is no more immune from criticism and rational analysis than is science, politics or sport you would have no problem.

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  71. The trick, Max, is to stop feeling that need. Don’t defend things that are wrong – in fact join in the critique if you feel them wrong.

    I certainly don’t expect you to defend things you don’t support. If your mates do get stick into them. It’s not honest.

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  72. Nor should a secular analysis of religion (declaring its falsehood via circular reasoning) be immune from criticism either.

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  73. Now, ropata, you know I welcome sensible critiques. It’s part of the scientific ethos.

    Mind you I can recognize silly ad hominem diversions and treat them appropriately.

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  74. It seems to me that there is a lot of confusion in this argument. Just like so many. Although this discussion really did move on from the original topic and spent a lot of time correcting each other on how to present your arguments. I quite enjoyed that anyhow because I am very new to all the ‘rules’.
    Here are my 2 cents.
    Firstly, the terms conservative and fundamentalist are so loaded. Perhaps the term liberal too.
    The truth is people are capable of both good and evil. Everyone! You disagree? have you ever intentionally hurt anyone? Even with a look or word? That is all that sin means. “lawlessness” The law as decreed by Jesus (love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love your neighbor as you would love yourself”
    Though people maybe dressed up as religious or atheist or agnostic. Either way if one chooses to do good then it will be reflected through the context of their world view. If they choose bad then bad.

    If Jesus is true then we are all ‘lawless’ but he talks a great deal more about accepting him, being forgiven because he LOVES YOU than he does about how bad you are and how your going to hell.
    Still if he is right then it does not matter if you like it or not! or in fact if you believe it or not. The result will be the same.
    Incidental he did say that many who claim to follow him won’t make the cut but he also said neither will any who won’t follow him.

    The odd thing to me is that when atheist gets very ‘moral’. Its an oxymoron.
    Richard Dawkins will tell you (and he is your very outspoken atheist apostle, like it or not) There is no absolute morality without God. Only a construct of society to keep things running smoothly. By that thinking, a true atheist should do what ever allows them to succeed in what ever endeavor they desire. (survival of the fittest)
    In my mind a drug running gangster or money grabbing CEO should be the atheist hero.
    However, we all do have an inbuilt morality (as broken and distorted as some may be) The true hypocrite in my mind are atheist with a conscience. At least a believer (by what ever label you have for them) admits they are screwed up and are looking to learn to love.

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  75. salisba, we aren’t arguing about who is more moral, I’m simply concerned that some of Ken’s arguments about fundamental/conservative religious movements are overly broad and his rhetoric about religious terrorism and child abuse is OTT in a NZ context. However there is definitely reason for his concern : http://www.alternet.org/belief/149733/5_of_the_worst_%27religious%27_organizations/

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  76. Well.. That really is a miss use of the terms conservative and fundamentalist then. That particular article is referring to cults. haaha that’s like saying I am vegan because I love my dog though I eat chickens. (hope that is a simile rather than a straw-man : )
    Most folk don’t really know how to break down the word religious. I could just about refer to Richard Dawkins as ‘religious’ according to wiki.

    “Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to truths and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.”

    My point is the same. There are people doing evil things everywhere.
    Mother Teresa could have been referred to as a conservative fundamentalist catholic but few would challenge her commitment to love.
    Sure there are plenty of ‘religious’ folk with really bad traditions and reasons for their evil behavior but there are more folk in the world being helped by not so evil ‘religious’ folk than non religious by 100 country miles I bet. Don’t here atheist writing about them!

    Also I know plenty of atheists who have very unhealthy perspectives . Do you think they will refrain from imposing their perspective on their children? But because it is (with poor understanding) non religious then its less damaging or there is less of it? Hmmm… Perhaps someone should write an article about how atheists are psychologically abusing their children… (tongue in cheek)

    I believe it is the intent behind any action that is to be addressed.

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  77. Salsa, you seemed to be trapped within your own perspective and this distorts your understanding of the world around you.

    I have stressed here that psychological abuse of children is wider than just the religious. My own example has shown that. Now this doesn’t provide a get home free card to the religious. When they abuse children this needs to be recognized and we must recognize psychological abuse as well as physical abuse.

    For the sakeoif the children.

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  78. Absolutely – as when secular humanists abuse children… but so what? Why draw attention to one group?

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  79. ‘Salsa, you seemed to be trapped within your own perspective and this distorts your understanding of the world around you’

    What a redundant comment! Perhaps no one else should think and we should all just believe you?
    Everyone is trapped in their own perspective! A humble person keeps on changing and learning. I have spent 20 years refining my perspective and I know it is just the beginning! I am learning from you and the other guys on this blog but that does not mean you are right about everything.

    No one disagrees with your last statement but when you tar all the religious with the same brush you may as well have said nothing at all. And you certainly have emphasized the abuse of the religious right.

    Dawkins himself says that the religious in general are happier and live longer then he calls all religion evil!? There is no such thing as evil if there is no God! Can’t you see this?

    Tell me Ken, Why do you care at all? Should you not just be seeking happiness and to sow your pointless royal oats so you can have many children with equally meaningless lives? Because if you are right then that is all there is for you and it does not matter if you or anyone else is abused! But you cannot because there is a God and the evidence is inside of you bursting out in your passion for human rights.

    I have a lot of friends in all sorts of groups.
    With very few exceptions it is the Christians who spend lots of their money and time caring for the Children and poor and hurting because this is the instruction of Jesus. My point is that real Christians will get harmed if people like you only choose to highlight the antics of those with the same title but whom are not.

    PS. a group of friends are going to Vanuatu next month to build a water tank and kitchen facilities for the locals as they suffer from poor water hygiene and lack of resources. We will be paying for our flights and for the building process. If you have a spare grand or so you may like to lend a hand?

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  80. Salsa – you make this clearly unwarranted accusation: “you tar all the religious with the same brush . . . And you certainly have emphasized the abuse of the religious right.!”

    I have done neither. I have not claed all religious terrorize their children or impose a divine camnabds morality. And o don’t think I have even mentioned the religious right (I find terms like left and right misleading these days).

    The fact that you make such unwarranted accusations illustrates what I meant by “you seemed to be trapped within your own perspective and this distorts your understanding of the world around you”.

    Similarly this: “if you are right then that is all there is for you and it does not matter if you or anyone else is abused.” is just poisonous. It shows a degree if ignorance wich requires hard work to maintain. And it is extremely arrogant.

    Child abuse may not matter to you but I assure you it matters to me. It actually matters toosy normal people. It part if being a sentient, intelligent, conscious, social and empathetic being.

    Your silly, rude and arrogant comments imply a certain amount of inhumanness on your part. I put it down to your god belief. It oies seem to brung out the worst in some people. I guess that is a property of dogmatic ideologies.

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  81. Richard Christie

    There is no such thing as evil if there is no God! Can’t you see this?

    nope

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  82. Richard, perhaps he us claiming that his god is the source of all evil!

    Bit harsh and hardly realistic.

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  83. Richard Christie

    I liked the bit where he/she said

    With very few exceptions it is the Christians who spend lots of their money and time caring for the Children and poor and hurting because this is the instruction of Jesus.

    Not because of compassion or anything. Because it’s an instruction.

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  84. That is an odd way to phrase it. I would prefer to say it is because Jesus enabled them to be more fully human, and thus more compassionate… but that’s just me.

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  85. Yes, and I have come across some examples of this artificial Chrittian compassion in my time. It stinks.

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  86. artificial human compassion… you are aware of selection bias right?

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  87. Max – you should really be clearer. Of course there is a selection bias as a human, with human morality and human nature.

    This enables me to recognise hypocritical or false “compassion” when I see it.

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  88. It was clear enough. But its not a debate I want to get into. For some reason it is the lack of compassion in a group other than your own which you have become concerned with. I personally am concerned with a lock of compassion within my own group – so we are concerned about the same things… but for I suspect very different reasons. Interesting….

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  89. Max – you are jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Again labeling me inappropriately.

    Of course I am concerned about lack of compassion wherever I see it. My discussion of child abuse shows that. But I don’t give religion a pass just because it is religion and makes claims for itself. That seems to upset you.

    I guess the unwarranted claims religion makes for itself makes hypocrisy easy to see.

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  90. KEN– you are jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Again labeling me inappropriately.

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  91. I personally am concerned with the sexual harassment which is perpetuated by people with science blogs.

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  92. let the fir fly!
    I used religious right because to me it is the same as saying conservative and fundamentalist and I got bored of re typing the longer version.

    I used Jesus instruction because we don’t always want to LOVE naturally those who are not our own. But I did talk about LOVE earlier. Sorry for not repeating myself.
    Remember I said “The law as decreed by Jesus (love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love your neighbor as you would love yourself” It is easy to love our friends and family but equally important to love those who can offer us nothing in return. And that love will cost us but we do it because we care. And we care because everyone matters!

    As for your comments Ken about me not caring about abuse. Don’t be ridiculous. I am simply regurgitating the Richard Dawkins mantra about survival of the fittest. Read the paragraph again. I finish with…
    “But you cannot because there is a God and the evidence is inside of you bursting out in your passion for human rights.”

    Also I have already said that not everyone who calls Jesus lord actually follow him. Further more, just like I said from the beginning, believers know they are damaged goods and freely acknowledge it and will hurt people just like non believers but push on to grow in love. So yes I am sure you have been hurt by someone either calling themselves Christians or who genuinely follow Jesus.

    And finally, if there is no God then there is no evil. Because without God there is no GOOD. Without Good there is no evil.
    evil is the lack of good like cold is the lack of heat and dark is the lack of light. The evil that men do to each other is primarily selfish motivation.
    The opposite of Love is not not hate but selfishness. Therefore, if you peruse love then selfishness will reduce thus evil we do will reduce.

    But once again I ask you.. how do you justify your compassion in the context of Neo Darwinian evolutionary atheism? Because it demands that there is no such think as absolute morality.
    Unless you are some other sort of atheist?

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  93. Max – good luck with your pre-occupation. Let us know when you find such a deviant.

    salisba – I think you are the one being ridiculous:
    “because there is a God” - Yeah, right. The onus on you is to produce evidence.
    “if there is no God then there is no evil. Because without God there is no GOOD. “ – again – this is just a stupid and wild claim. Where is your support?

    “But once again I ask you.. how do you justify your compassion in the context of Neo Darwinian evolutionary atheism? Because it demands that there is no such think as absolute morality.” I have written a lot here about morality and how theism, especially divine command theory, leads to some of the worst moral relativism. Have a look back through some of my posts.

    There is no such think as “absolute morality” or “objective morality”. How could there be.

    However we do have an objective basis for our morality and that is why humans come to quite a lot of agreement.

    I don’t have any problems coming to a scientific understanding of morality – based on psychology, anthropology, cognitive science and evolutionary science.

    Can you justify your morality? Without making extreme and unsupported statements ? The silly “god did it!” claim?

    It sounds to me that you are one of these people whose answer for everything is “god did it!” Which is of course no answer at all.

    Do you believe in special creation? A young earth? A 6000 year old earth? Are you opposed to evolutionary science and cosmology?

    Sounds like you could be.

    And, no, Craig never impresses me, one little bit.

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  94. Well Ken, I guess we cannot agree as you hold science as your ultimate authority (even though scientists do not by in large agree about a great many things) I have spent years looking into evolution/creation/id so I could continue on that topic but I can’t be bothered today. We would just end up quoting opposing scientific views at each other.

    You might like to read ‘signature in the cell by Steven Meyer or check out the doco ‘expelled’ with Ben Stein. You just might figure out your precious world of scientists are just people too with biases and character flaws and agendas.
    I however drawer from not only science but other forms of discovery which you it appears cannot relate to.

    If you have no respect for philosophers and theologians (of which Craig is both and highly regarded) Then you must be so much smarter than your fellow athiests like Christopher hitchens who took the time to debate him. And clearly to smart for me. So I will bow out now and take my dog for a swim.

    In the end though if I am wrong then, well to bad, I missed out on some opportunities. I am probably happier and will live longer. If you are wrong then your up the proverbial creek my friend and it did not matter who’s onus it was to prove what. Either way your greatest gift is a fee will.

    I will leave you with this as it is the best thing I know to pass on.

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Thanks for the chat buddy.

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  95. “If you have no respect for philosophers and theologians (of which Craig is both and highly regarded) ”

    …. he is an apologist not really a scholar… but hey!

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  96. “evolution/creation/id ”
    “‘expelled’ with Ben Stein”
    “Craig is …. highly regarded”

    Salisba… please stop talking! You are not helping!!!!

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  97. salisba – I have watched Ben Steins malicious little film. What a load of crap.

    I attempted to get Meyer’s book to review – they wouldn’t send me a copy. They seem afraid to have scientists reviewing the book.

    I have no respect for theology. I have a lot of respect for some philosophy. One must remember that philosophy can be strongly influenced by ideology. This makes some philosophers extremely dishonest.

    Finally you seem afraid to commit yourself on the subjects I raised – although clearly you commit to ID (something I have written extensively on here).

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  98. Wow that caused a reaction!
    I didn’t realize that those guys were so heretical. I should call the police or something.
    Ok max I will stop after this.
    I believe Criag is more than just an apologist.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_william_lane_craig

    Ken, I would imagine they had thousands of people like yourself ask for a free copy. Perhaps you should buy one like one of us mere mortals.

    And finally, I am not afraid Ken. I am a design engineer so my brain is not completely mush. I have done my best to understand the best arguments for evolution verses ID and special creation theory. There are scientists who just plain disagree with you and yours.
    I have also done my best to consider the world and morality and I can’t come to the conclusions you do. actually yes, some of the same conclusions but not the same path getting there.

    I have talked enough with guys like you to know that you genuinely believe that your brain is big enough to comprehend the mysteries of the universe. But I have worked with a lot of very smart engineers, and scientists and guess what.. they are wrong a lot and I am just talking about simple things like designing products. So once again, please excuse me if my faith is not in the size of your brain but in something much bigger. Their biggest problem is that they never think they are wrong.

    So I am stopping because it looks like you have already considered the information that I could offer you and rejected it. I have nothing else to offer the discussion it seems so I will say thank you and all the best : )

    Perhaps I will take some time in the future to look over your previous writings and join in again then?

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  99. Salsa, your rapid retreat is common for people who are arrogant. You claim to know it all and lecture others but it turns out you beliefs have no basis and can’t be defended.

    As for Meyers book I would have welcomed a chance to review it. (Have you read it?) I have reviewed other ID books It is a good way of ensuring one reads properly. However, I was not the only reviewer denied a copy. And that is extremely unusual for books. But look at the publisher – what can you expect. They were so dishonest that they complained that scientists were refusing to review the book. And noticeably it was only reviewed by the sympathetic religious – all part if the apologetics ghetto mentality. They were the only one’s given review copies. Cowards.

    As for paying for review copies – get real. It doesn’t happen. And I bet the religious reviewers didn’t have to pay.

    The Stein film was actually full of slander and lies. Well documented.

    Now you claim support from scientists. Well bring it on. Why so coy? Afraid of exposing your bias. After all Meyers, Stein and Craig are a pathetic crew, aren’t they?

    The great thing about science is that ideas a retested against reality. This is why there is such basic agreement and why people you adore can be shown wrong very easily.

    You claim your brain is not mush – prove it. I currently have no reason to think otherwise from your performance to date. You claim the answer to everything – sure sign of a fool and you are scaredoif supporting any of your claims. Running scared.

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  100. Why if you want to prove Craig is nor primarily an apologist do you send me a link to his apologetics webpage… I don’t get it…

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  101. Hey Matt – what is the fallacy called where you basically go:

    “Boohoo hoo! I have had a life experience which vaguely relates to what this argument is about so reading your point of view makes me feel sad THEREFORE your argument is invalid”

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  102. oops… I posted that in the wrong forum.. haha

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  103. Ken, I told myself I wouldn’t continue any more but you are so insulting I feel compelled to say something. Perhaps it is in error.

    Max, I sent the link to his site because it says that he is a research professor.
    “Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology”..
    “He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument; Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus; Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom; Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of Philosophy, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.”

    Perhaps he is a not what he appears to be but I found the arguments he uses very good. I think that even if he has not come up with these principles himself it does not make the arguments null and void. After all that is what we are doing by in large. I have watched quite a few of his debates with atheists who it appears to me to be accepted representatives for their groups. His arguments sound better to me than theirs do.
    Now, I am sure you will say that I am just bias because of my belief and you would be right but I would bet that you are too! However I believe many of them to be logically better too.

    Ken, I don’t think I am very arrogant but I think perhaps I was a little to eager to have an opinion. I do care deeply about these topics.
    Max asked me not to talk anymore about evolution, creation or id so that is why I stopped that part of the discussion. It seems you guys had such a strong reaction to some of the sources of information I had used and the topic that you knew something more about it that I did. You may be right or you just may be so bias yourself that you cannot accept anything from that side of the fence so to speak? Either way what I would say would just be insulted again as it seems your habit to do.
    I understand that the ben stien movie was very american and dramatized but some of the content rang true to me. I have certainly been scorned because of my thoughts about evolution. I will look into your claims about its slander.

    I could go back to talk further about morality but if you do not accept any natural theology, philosophy as Craig suggests or theology, including evidence for the historical Jesus or even my own personal experience, then I think there is only one place to source my arguments from and that is to go back and make you justify your reason for morality based on neo darwanism.
    You see If you choose to just bag my background sources then there is no point me bothering is there?

    Maybe you and max are just so much smarter than I or just so much more read I am out of my depth? maybe there is more information about these topics that has not been covered by the things I have read or heard and they are so defining that they would make a difference? Maybe but if that were the case why would they not be used common place? Then again, perhaps you are just a very smart bully and you think winning an argument via insults and so far little justified attacks of my sources makes you right?

    I will consider continuing but only if you stop the insults.
    Insults really are for cowards and bullies. Are you one or both of them ken?
    If we were talking face to face would you speak to me like this?

    I would have lent you my copy of signature in the cell but it seems from your last comment you have already decided to bag steve meyer. It seems you are exactly the guy you accuse me of being.

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  104. Stop your whining salsa. It’s quite simple.

    You launched into an attack here on my morality – without any justification or reason. I consider that arrogant and told you so.

    It is pointless going on anout your pet film and author. You should present your arguments. That’s the normal procedure.

    You are silly to think you can discredit evolutionary science, which is extremely well established, just because you have watched a silly film and own a book. You need better arguments than that to take on scientists involved in this sort of research.

    You say you have been scorned for your thoughts on evolution. I am not surprised because you haven’t any arguments to present, have you. (you certainly refuse to present them here). That opens you up to scorn.

    If you wish to talk about morality do so. But don’t make insulting comments about others. I am willing to hear your arguments – but I am not interested in silly “god did it” declarations. You ask me to justify my position. I have written extensively here on this – you could do a brief search. Otherwise I can respond to specific questions.

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  105. PS. hey “salisba” I figured out who you are! Just a word of warning this blog is not the place for balanced discussion of science and religion. It’s rather in favour of atheism … I rcommend biologos.org, asa3.org, or my blog :) See ya round

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  106. Hey ropata. You made a glaring error there. Salisba clearly is not interesting in a “balanced discussion of science and religion.” He was only interested in making arrogant declarations and accusations.

    Any sensible discussion is of course welcome but I try to discourage such abusive material.

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