26 December 2012

A poster from Amazon discussion group posted the following paragraph from an article.

... It (religion) re-configures our neural pathways, turning altruism into instinct, through the rituals we perform, the texts we read and the prayers we pray. It remains the most powerful community builder the world has known. Religion binds individuals into groups through habits of altruism, creating relationships of trust strong enough to defeat destructive emotions. Far from refuting religion, the Neo-Darwinists have helped us understand why it matters... Religion is the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age. The idea that society can do without it flies in the face of history and, now, evolutionary biology. This may go to show that God has a sense of humor. It certainly shows that the free societies of the West must never lose their sense of God."

The more I read this paragraph, the more mistakes I can find. I shall try to pick it apart.

It (religion) re-configures our neural pathways

This is true for *any* repetitive actions. This is just the way our brains work. Religious activities are no exception.

turning altruism into instinct

There is no evidence for this. Good people do good things and bad people do bad things. It is just the nature of human being. There is no "more" altruistic behaviour from religious people than non-believers. e.g. Kiva's atheists group remains the all time largest lender almost doubling that of the next one - Christian group. h

the prayers we pray

Prayers do not work and they have become the alternative to offering real help. It may make the believers feel better to satisfy their natural urge to help - but there is no real help offered.

It remains the most powerful community builder the world has known.

Because religion has institutionalized promoters. Religion is like those who sell cigarette. Smoking is a bad choice, from the personal health point of view. But there are big organizations interested to get people continue to smoke.

Religion binds individuals into groups

Religion divide people into you and us. Wars have started and atrocities done in the name of religion.

creating relationships of trust strong enough to defeat destructive emotions

Other supportive friendship can do the same minus the superstition.

Far from refuting religion, the Neo-Darwinists have helped us understand why it matters.

No! Social science has helped us understand why religion happens. Religion matters to the ruling class - a mechanism for controlling the common people.

Religion is the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age.

Really? The whole Christmas shopping is NOT a promotion of consumerism, right!

The idea that society can do without it flies in the face of history

I think it is time to demonstrate that the society is actually better off without religion. The society health index correlates inversely with religiosity. That should be an indicator that this sentence is a BS.

This may go to show that God has a sense of humor.

My god may have a sense of humour. ;-) Definitely not the bible god from the OT.

It certainly shows that the free societies of the West must never lose their sense of God.

God helps the West! ;-)

25 December 2012

Is human culture unique?

Culture is defined as behaviour acquired from learning from the peers. In this case, chimpanzee societies cultures.

Also published simultaneously at Random Walk in Learning

24 December 2012

Guns and Violence

In the wake of the Newtown school shooting, the powerful American Gun group is coming out and blame the violence to the movies, video games and so on.

But does such blame stand up to fact check?

When you are accustom to hang on to your belief without evidence, you cannot think straight. In this gun control debate, what do you think?

The most important thing is to look at the evidence. Facts are inconvenient when they are not on your side. But you choice is NOT to ignore them. The correct way is to accept the facts and make decision based on the facts.

Christians, are you disappointed that Jesus did not come?

Well, they were so sure...

Now, everywhere on Earth has passed 21st December 2012, what next?

Life goes on and the world did not end, stupid!

22 December 2012

Three Strikes of Injustice

Horrible Injustice: HSBC Above Laws, Woman Gets Life Sentence

The world did not end yesterday

Oh, it was just a joke. Now seriously,...

21 December 2012

Season Greeting

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[2013 edition]

04 December 2012

Pope Benedict XVI Tightens Church Control Over Catholic Charities

As I have noted before, Catholic charities are their marketing department.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Bishops must exercise closer supervision over Catholic charities and ensure that their activities do not contradict church doctrine, according to new rules issued by Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday (Dec. 1).

The new guidelines state that charities with links to the church must "follow Catholic principles in their activity" and may not "accept commitments" that could undermine those principles in any way.

They also bar charities from accepting funding "from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to the church's teaching" or for initiatives that are "not in conformity with the Church's teaching."


Some bishops say Catholic charities shouldn't accept money from groups like the Gates Foundation. According to Snyder, the effect of the new rules in such cases "will depend greatly on the individual bishop's interpretation." [source]

In this case, they should not accept tax exempt status from secular governments such as USA and Australia.