Emotional Response to Cage Rattling

This "conversation" resulted from a comment to the Reptilian Brains and Magical Thinking post that I also submitted on another blog. Because the commenter inadvertently illustrated my point I decided to post the comments and response:


If you had read the post carefully, you’d see that I was referring to that subsection of believers who believe in Biblical inerrancy – Creationist Absolutists. Science does refute The Book of Genesis, but does not present a threat to deists.

If you read carefully rather than emotionally, you will see that I did not use any categorical statements.

“This does not, of course, explain why adult atheists convert to Christianity.”

It did not attempt to. Presumably some atheists do convert back to Christianity and some convert to Judaism or Islam. Any atheists who do convert – I doubt that the numbers are high – have lived embedded within a religious culture. And this is precisely the point - these are not adults who have been raised unaware of religious traditions. Unless, that is, you know something that I don’t about conversions amongst remote hunter-gatherer tribes not previously exposed to the J-C-I monotheistic religions. If you have a URL to reputable research on actual numbers, I’d be interested to read it.

Atheists have typically reached a rational view of the utter lack of foundation for belief in the supernatural. Some atheists do abandon belief in God because they feel that God abandoned them during personal traumas. However, most atheists recognize that all philosophical attempts to “prove” God’s existence have failed and that the God of the Gaps is not the best interpretation of the evidence.

“It is amazing how “religionists” are incapable of understanding you, but you are certain you understand them perfectly.”

Ridicule will not win you any arguments. You are reading something into my post that I did not write. (I explain the term “religionist” elsewhere.) Most Christians are probably moderate believers, whereas religionists make a religion of being religious. They are obsessed with defending their beliefs and imposing their morality on society. (The commenter lives in England, yet he was well able to recognize that I was talking of American creationists, so my description clearly did hit the target.)

Religionists seem not to fully comprehend the empirical, rational, and logical reasons for atheism. Presumably, many theists do not understand these reasons because they do not consider them without emotional prejudice.

You also may not be aware of the latest theist theory that atheists are atheists by virtue of having Asperger’s syndrome. I’d be interested to see a study on this question. However, reading blog reporting of AS:religiosity correlations, I noted that the theists actually scored higher on AS inventories than the atheists.

“If religionists are scared of scientific knowledge, then why are there a large percentage of scientists who are religious?”

I was not referring to scientists, who only represent a small proportion of the population, but to religionists who neither comprehend the nature nor content of science. So, your comment is irrelevant. I assume that you understand Venn diagrams and that you do understand the distinction.

Those scientists who are religious have almost certainly been exposed to religious teachings since early childhood (we all are exposed in Western society) and are more likely to be physicists or mathematicians than biologists. Scientists as a group contain the highest proportions of atheists.

”You have made it so clear. The smart people are atheists and the stupid people are religionists. How did I not see that before? Oh, yeah,it’s because I’m a stupid religionist with too much of a reptile brain.”

I indicated that by “reptile brain” I meant emotional. Your reaction is very emotional in tone, which goes to demonstrate my point. I’m not calling you a lizard, nor did I call you stupid since the post was not directed at you. You merely took it personally.

You may or may not be familiar with the triune model of brain evolution : essentially the same autonomic (automatic) structures from reptiles upward; the same limbic (emotional) structures from mammals upwards; and, enlarged neocortex in the primates. Humans having the greatest brain:body-weight ratio. I conflated reptilian and limbic under “reptilian”, but my point was that we have both an emotional brain, with dedicated anatomic structures, and a cognitive brain. Religion appeals to the emotions. Before you bother to argue with that, I’d point out that Christians have been using emotional “religious experience” in an attempt to prove God’s existence since Jean Jacques Rousseau.

I’m surprised that the correlation was news to you since there are many studies that indicate a positive correlation between atheism and IQ, educational level, science background, and liberal attitudes. Theists demonstrate a negative correlation with those parameters. Since I assume that you understand Venn diagrams, I also assume that you realize that such correlations are not 100% categories.

“We could briefly explore the fact that your “religionists” are in fact straw men (or children).”

The straw man fallacy only refers to attacking a weakened version of the opponent’s argument. I might have impugned the cognitive capacities of theists, but I did not deal with theist arguments, weakened or not, so your accusation is off-target.

“You seem to have focused on a particular characteristics of a particular subset of Christians, and from what scant evidence you have offered it appears that this subset is further fractionally defined by the geographical boundaries of the United States.”

Absolutely. I made it quite clear that I was referring to absolutist creationists. I have encountered quite a large number of them, so I consider my assessment quite accurate. Many of them display fascinating cognitive disorders and regurgitate highly illogical arguments built on distortions of fact.

”You have exposed your own pseudo-scientific mind to lack the simply ability to construct a logical argument.”

Since you know nothing of my level of scientific education or of the quality of my mind, I’ll let that fallacious ad hominem slide.

“It appears that you are mimicking something you read somewhere, then piggy-backing it onto some sort of negative emotional response to a unique phenomenon within your culture.”

You might want to think so, but you’d be incorrect in so far as American creationist literalists go. The fact that American creationists are trying so hard to have creationism placed in the science curriculum illustrates both my point about need for childhood indoctrination and religionist fear of science. I don’t have to prove my point with logic, the known facts illustrate my point.

”Unfortunately you may have “escaped religious indoctrination” but it clear has not been “through the operation of critical thinking”.”

Another ad hominem and you are incorrect again. My atheism is founded in logical analysis of empirical data. My negative emotional reaction to religiosity has two causes that are completely independent of disbelief in supernatural entities: I dislike illogic; and, religion is directly responsible for a great deal of harm.

You can’t insult me, though you are definitely trying to insult me in place of making a logical argument against the facts. You are upset at feeling that you’ve been called a reptile, which is quite understandable. I was rattling the cage a bit. Your upset does not alter the fact that American religionists act as I have described.

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