Bloom on religion

Bloom on religion - Atran notes (from Henig 2006) The...

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Atran notes (from Henig 2006) The spiritual ape. Friday, May 8, 2009 THE PROBLEM Are we by inclination that has evolutionary explanations, disposed to be religious, to believe in spiritual interpretations and beingsz/ NOT asking, is there, or is there not, a God or gods? This is not a philosophical question about the origins of the universe and life; about creators and creation. A theist, or an atheist, can find it interesting. Whether or not there is a God – and whether or not science has much if anything to say about that -- it can be asked: Why do so many people, over so much history, and across virtually all societies, believe there is? James Barrett, a by-product theorist (to be explained below) is a practicing, committed Christian, who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being. . .[entailing]. . .theprupose for people is to love God and love each other” (Henig, p. 83). How is the view that belief is an evolutionary accident compatible with belief in belief? Barrett responds: “Why wouldn’t God, the, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite nature?. . .Supppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me – should I then stop believing that she does?” In other words, having a scientific explanation for something does not compel us to stop believing in it. When we find human universals, commonalities we are tempted to look to human nature, and from there to human evolution to explain. Despite enormous, mind-boggling variation, and even after the most general observation that religion in some form is ubiquituous. Darwin from Descent of Man (1871): “A belief in all-pervading spiritual agencies seems to be universal.” , there are shared elements: Share elements across religions: - belief in noncorporeal beings, gods or God; - belief in some form of afterlife; - belief in supplication, the ability of prayer or ritual to affect world;. 70% of US population believes in Angels; 60% in devil and hell; [same article cites Baylor U study finding 92% of students believe in a personal God. Baylor?] OLD ANSWERS: Early anthropology, EB Tylor, thought that religion arose from misunderstandings among primitive people that dreams are real. For instance, dreams about deceased ancestors would lead to the belief that a spirit or soul escapes death. Simple-minded confusions that generated the earliest religious experiences.
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In Psychology, take W James The Varieties of Religious Experience (1901): “All of our raptures and our drynesses, our longings and pantings, our questions and beliefs . . . are equally organically founded” Of course he was following, very self-consciously, in the footsteps of Darwin, Westermark and like-minded evolutionists. In Anthropology, focused nearly exclusively on non-western cultures, religion was
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Bloom on religion - Atran notes (from Henig 2006) The...

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