Re: Extropianism & Theology

Scott Badger (
Sat, 27 Feb 1999 21:12:18 -0600

Tim Bates wrote:

>Scott Badger asked me
>> That's the first I've heard of the God gene. Interesting. But if we
>> actually apply Occam's Razor, how do you come to the conclusion that your
>> theory is the parsimonious alternative. Say as compared to more
>> psychologically-based theories? (e.g. cultural conditioning, need for
>> parent figure, need to explain the unknown, coping woith fear of death,
>> coping with death of of mate, etc)
>well Occam's razor might even be on my side. It is not really at the point
>of being able to razorised yet; i have not argued for how many genes,
>pleiotropy etc. Still, to run the razor across my nascent theory, how does
>this sound?
>I have one variable that can explain completely the liability to ever
>believe in god. The alternative is many dozens of variables which lack

I suspect you're confusing parsimony with over-simplification here. Nice try though.

>More over, my variable can explain the constant presence of god believing
>the face of punishments against it (say the USSR) and in the face of
>insurmountable evidence (say living in the 20th century and knowing that
>life is Just DNA, that natural selection explains everything etc).

OK. But what if my theory is that the fear of death is at the core of our mental architecture, and that we cope with this fear by relying on a belief in an after-life? (not that I'm proposing this, you understanding) Doesn't this just as easily explain the pervasive and persistent presence of religious belief systems?

>I think that the current high retained levels of religion in the western
>world cannot be explained by anything other than a genetic predisposition,
>especially when they are found in otherwise intelligent and worldly people.

I've observed that "intelligent" people are often "not-so-intelligent" with respect to domains outside of their expertise. Many never challenge their belief systems because they were so acculturated early on and because it is more socially adaptive since they must interact daily with others who have been similarly acculturated.

I think there are a number of powerful psychological motivations to belief in God but most of them boil down to the basic human need for HOPE.

Scott B.