Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Faith Absurd

I have never had a problem with the concept of God or Jesus.  I like the idea of them and that people created that belief as a way of making something outside of themselves to feel better and enable them to have a sense of purpose.

And then the men in power decided it was a way to control the masses, to manipulate and in turn maintain said power and hence institutional religion was formed.  It was why in America the Salem Witch Trials occurred as once again Women and Women of Color confused the hierarchy and threatened their position of power.

Just recently a Doctor confused my professed interest in Wiccan philosophy with Satanism.  I laughed as his Yale Education had made him disdainful of the overall concept of Religion although he identifies as a Jew and is proud of his heritage, he is like many educated professionals disengaged from the larger edicts of faith but he is not the sharpest tool on the surgical tray.  He acts often like a teenager just out of boarding school when he sees or experiences things that are new or outside of his frame of reference.  I do not find it charming or even amusing but then again I don't like him less or more than most of the fucktards I have met here in Nashville and again it is about their limited frame of reference, their lack of education and of course religion.  Even the "educated" ones here are as dumb as fuck it is like a contagion.   Ignorance rules here in ways that cannot be explained. 

  I have no problem with those who choose to practice and believe as I am good with the idea of a higher power in which to sublimate ego and enable a sense of peace and calm. For me it is the Goddess La Luna, the Moon.  To confuse my philosophy with Satanism is to confuse me with those who believe in another made up "person" aka  God.

And that is the truth, God is fiction, the Bible Literature and all that bullshit that accompanies the dogma that defines organized Religion is bullshit.  I cannot believe that a spirit created Earth and in turn spoke only to men to tell them his beliefs, his philosophies and rules that have become the stories used to manipulate and control the masses.  I spent my entire life in secular education and for the brief moment I did not I was allowed to realize how little the truth is a part of faith and belief. In fact is is a suspension of disbelief that enables religion. And again you can have it and I don't mind Church but it is a celebration of community and of living not the dead dude who died so I can believe. His torture and murder has nothing to do with me or who I am in the now.  But good on you for dying for your beliefs.

There are reasons why the uneducated believe and it is because they are stupid. Quit kidding yourself as stupid is as stupid does and I have no interest in couching that.  Read Educated by Tara Westover and be amazed how she survived that shit.

I share these articles for those to understand why I have and take issue with the followers of Christ. The Warriors who believe that without Jesus we have no identity, no clue or no security about living. It is these crazy fucks who have indoctrinated the white males who adore Trump and are determined to destroy anything or anyone who may threaten that world view.  They are not warriors they are cowards.. and to that I say to my former friend Ethan you are just that a coward, a liar and a fraud. You would no more die for your beliefs than tell those whom you meet and work the truth about your bizarre dedication and beliefs surrounding hateful fucks who preach hate. If that is religion I for one want no part of it.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic Ph.D.

Why Are Religious People (Generally) Less Intelligent?
Understanding the negative relationship between IQ and religiosity

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Catching up on my Xmas readings, I dived into the recent meta-analysis on the negative correlation between IQ and religious beliefs, which, at least in my case, makes sense: I am highly religious but not very intelligent… or is it the other way around? [Sorry, I’m not smart enough to figure it out].

The paper has very few methodological weaknesses, but as we know correlation does not mean causation – though correlations do have causes.

The key question, then, is why religious people are generally less intelligent. And the authors did not shy away from the answer, offering three compelling explanations:

(1) Intelligent people are generally more analytical and data-driven; formal religions are the antithesis: they are empirically fluffy and their claims are often in direct contradiction with scientific evidence, unless they are interpreted metaphorically – but maybe intelligent people are not that keen on metaphor. Another way of putting it is that people with a high IQ are more likely to have faith in science, which isn’t religion’s best friends (yes, yes, I do know about Einstein’s quotes).

(2) Intelligent people are less likely to conform, and, in most societies, religiosity is closer to the norm than atheism is. Although this interpretation is based on extrapolation, it still makes sense: first, smarter people tend to be less gullible; second, in most societies religious people outnumber atheists and agnostics - though global levels of religiosity have been declining, and there is substantial cultural variability in religiosity levels.

(3) Intelligence and religiosity are “functionally equivalent”, which means that they fulfil the same psychological role. Although this intriguing argument contradicts points 1 and 2, it deserves serious consideration. Humans will always crave meaning. Religion – like science and logical reasoning – provides them with a comprehensive framework or system to make meaningful interpretations of the world. At times, religion and science are in conflict; but they can also act in concert, complementing each other to answer non-falsifiable and falsifiable questions, respectively. The authors conclude that some people satisfy their desire to find meaning via religion, whereas others do so via logical, analytical, or scientific reasoning – and IQ predicts whether you are in the former or latter group.

It is noteworthy that these three explanations assume that IQ influences religiosity rather than vice-versa, which seems plausible: IQ levels remain very stable after childhood, whereas religiosity levels keep fluctuating – childhood IQ predicts adult IQ, but childhood religiosity is a very poor predictor of adult religiosity.

However, the authors forget to consider an important possibility, which is that the relationship between IQ and religiosity could be caused by a third variable, namely personality. Indeed, Openness to Experience, a personality dimension that predicts an individual’s propensity to display higher levels of intellectual curiosity, aesthetic sensitivity, and be driven by counter-conformist and rebellious attitudes, is positively correlated with IQ, and, like IQ, stable from an early age. Furthermore, there is also ample evidence suggesting that higher Openness may cause IQ gains in adulthood because open individuals are more likely to invest time and resources acquiring expertise and knowledge.

By the same token, it is feasible to expect open individuals to be less interested in religion. Their hungry mind makes them gravitate towards scientific or factual explanations, and artistic sensations, rather then religious dogma. This would be in line with the positive association between Openness and tolerance for ambiguity – open people can handle complexity and ambivalence – and the negative link between Openness and need for closure – open people are less likely to see the world in black-or-white terms and are generally more comfortable with uncertainty. Since religion tends to eliminate ambiguity and uncertainty, its “utility” or psychological benefits should be greater for less than more open people, which would explain why religion appeals more to less intelligent individuals – who are generally less open. But what do the data say?

Although there are no meta-analytic studies on the joint or interactive effects of Openness and IQ on religiosity, there are plenty of studies examining the relationship between personality and religiosity. The first large-scale review reported that Openness is negatively correlated with religious fundamentalism and formal religious adherence, albeit weakly. However, Openness was positively correlated with spirituality and “mature religiosity”, e.g., emotionality, quest for meaning, and community, without strict adherence to formal religion. In the same study, religiosity was negatively related to Psychoticism – a trait that captures an individual’s typical levels of self-control, law-abidingness, and empathy. To make matters more complex, Psychoticism and Openness are positively correlated, so the relationship between personality and religiosity may not be straightforward.
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It also seems plausible that different elements or facets of Openness to Experience are differentially related to religiosity and spirituality. For example, a study found that people’s emotional appreciation of religion was negatively related to the more rational or intellectual aspects of Openness, but positively related to artistic imagination and aesthetic sensitivity, two other facets of Openness. Furthermore, non-linear relationships between Openness and attitudes towards religion can also be expected. In particular, individuals with higher Openness may be generally more reticent to embrace formal religious beliefs – but, on the other hand, people who are extremely open would be more able to understand and tolerate individuals who hold such beliefs, even if they don’t share them. In that sense, hardcore atheism and agnosticism are as symptomatic of rigidity and narrow-mindedness as extreme religiosity, and highlight an inability to understand alternative Weltanschauungen or opposite systems of values. In any event, associations between IQ and religiosity are at least in part determined by personality traits and values. And let's not forget that there are plenty of people who are both smart and religious - as well as many individuals who are agnostic and dim.

Why religious belief isn't a delusion – in psychological terms, at least

Religious beliefs are typically incompatible with scientific evidence and observable reality, but aren’t considered to be delusions. Why not?

Dean Burnett
Guardian UK
Thu 21 Sep 2017

There’s nothing to be concerned about, in the psychiatric sense, when it comes to someone using religious beliefs to explain awful behaviour and views. Photograph: Mary Turner/Reuters

If someone told you, in all seriousness, that they talk to invisible beings who control the universe, you’d probably back away slowly, nodding and smiling, while desperately looking for the nearest exit or escape route. If this person then said they wanted to be in charge of your life, you’d probably do the same, but more urgently, and with a view to finding the nearest police officer.

And yet, this happens all the time. Arch Brexiter, unlikely Tory leadership candidate and human Pez-dispenser Jacob Rees-Mogg recently blamed his extreme and unpleasant views on his Catholicisim, which was seen as a valid excuse by many. Current placeholder prime minister Theresa May has made a big deal about how her Christian upbringing makes her suitable for the role. And despite the lawful separation of church and state, every official and wannabe US president has had to emphasise their religious inclinations. Even Trump, whose enthusiasm for maintaining the noble traditions of the presidency can be described as limited at best.

That’s interesting in itself if you step back; many people have attempted to pin mental health diagnoses on Donald Trump (unwisely, in my opinion), but his more-recent claims to be a representative of an all-powerful invisible deity who created the Earth in six days have been dismissed as just cynical pandering. Does that not seem … inconsistent?

Well, it shouldn’t be, because as they say, “You talk to God, you’re religious. God talks to you, you’re psychotic.” That’s a line from the TV show House MD, delivered by the eponymous acerbic medic played by Hugh Laurie. But variations of this comment have been made many times over the years. However, while it is seemingly intended to highlight the double-standards inherent in accepting someone’s religious views as fine while dismissing similarly unscientific claims as signs of mental disturbance, there is a valid reason for this apparent inconsistency.

Psychosis is defined as a loss of contact with reality, and can manifest in numerous ways. It’s alarmingly common: our big, bulky, complex brains are unnervingly vulnerable to internal disruption from a very wide range of illnesses or physical ailments, so much so that it’s regularly labelled a “diagnosis of exclusion”; you have to rule out numerous other problems before you can diagnosis psychosis in its own right.

Psychosis typically manifests by people experiencing hallucinations (perceiving something that isn’t actually there) and delusions (unquestionably believing something that is demonstrably not true). Hallucinations can be straightforward; if someone is repeatedly saying there’s a talking bear in the room demanding french fries, it’s relatively easy to determine whether this is the case or not, usually by looking around to check if there is indeed a talking bear in the room with you. It’s the sort of thing you’d notice. If there isn’t one there, the person is very likely to be hallucinating.

Delusions are trickier: it’s not about what someone perceives, but what they believe. Delusions have many forms, like grandiose delusions, where an individual believes they’re far more impressive than is the case (e.g. believing they’re a world-leading business genius despite being a part-time shoe shop employee), or the more common persecutory delusions, where an individual believes they are being relentlessly persecuted (eg everyone they meet is part of some shadowy government plot to kidnap them). These delusions tend to be very resistant to argument, no matter how blatant the evidence to the contrary: “If you’re a world-leading business guru, why do you flip burgers for a living?” “It’s all part of my brilliant plan, you wouldn’t understand”, or “That’s not a secret government spy, it’s an old man walking his dog” “Well you WOULD say that, you’re in on it!” And so on.

That’s actually one of the signs of delusional beliefs: they’re very resistant to being challenged, no matter how inconsistent they are with reality. Because the brain isn’t “working” like it should, logic and reason aren’t as potent they might otherwise be.

But then, that begs the question, why do religious beliefs get a free pass? People are very resistant to those being challenged too. And believing that there’s a kindly-but-all-powerful father figure in the sky who watches and judges everything you do and his son who died but came back to life two millennia ago is going to return any minute, surely that’s no less likely than someone being targeted by a shadowy government conspiracy? It’s substantially less likely, in actual fact. What gives?
Visitors pass outside the front of a replica Noah’s Ark at the Ark Encounter theme park during a media preview day, Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Williamstown, Ky. The long-awaited theme park based on the story of a man who got a warning from God about a worldwide flood will debut in central Kentucky this Thursday. The Christian group behind the 510 foot-long wooden ark says it will demonstrate that the stories of the Bible are true. Its construction has rankled opponents who say the attraction will be detrimental to science education.

Well, delusions are believed to stem from anomalous activity in the brain’s system for interpreting what does happen and what should happen. The brain essentially maintains a mental model of how the world is meant to work, and what things are meant to happen and when. Beliefs, experiences, expectations, assumptions, calculations; all are combined into a constantly-updated general understanding of how things happen, so we know what to expect and how to react without having to figure everything out from scratch each time. Luckily, the brain is usually quite good at filtering out irrelevant information and occurrences that would otherwise challenge this model of how the world works.

Delusions are what happens when, due to illness or other disruption, this delicate system fails, and things we perceive that would usually be dismissed as innocuous or irrelevant end up being processed as far more significant, and our belief system alters to accommodate it, however wrongly.

But the thing is, our brains don’t come with an understanding of the complex science of how the world works already preinstalled, like Windows 10 on a new laptop. This mental model of the world is built up over time, from life experiences and other learning. So, if you’ve been raised in an environment where you’re told by everyone and everything that there’s a kindly deity in the sky, or that the world is 6,000 years old, or that there are thousands of multi-armed gods controlling the world, or whatever, then why wouldn’t you believe it? There’s nothing that you experience on a day-to-day level that contradicts this, so your mental model of the world is fine with it.

That’s why delusions are only diagnosed if they’re not consistent with the person’s existing belief system and views. A devout creationist talks to God while in church, that’s fine. An avowedly atheist lawyer starts doing it in the middle of a meeting, they’re probably delusional. If both of them suddenly started saying the world is going to end in 30 minutes because of angry frogs living in the sun, they’d both be considered delusional.

Unless that’s mentioned in the Bible somewhere? I admit I haven’t read it in a while.

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