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Misuse of evolution by creationists: hardwired to believe in God?

Many, many things about creationism baffle me, but nothing confuses me more than when evolution-deniers use evolution to prove their point. One of the biggest perpetrators of this is probably the Creation Museum itself, which constantly talks about variation and natural selection and change of genetic frequencies over time…and then claim that it’s not evolution, even though that is the definition of evolution. Yes, I know, I probably shouldn’t try to figure out the logic of people who have already demonstrated their completely inability to think logically, but I can’t help myself.

Well, I’ve found another one – Pastor Tom. In his most recent post, he rejoiced that scientists have found evidence to suggest that we are hard wired to belief in God through thousands of years of evolution. This is after he has repeatedly announced his distrust for science and his complete nonacceptance of evolution. But of course, he still really doesn’t understand what science is about because he completely misunderstands the article and twists it for our own agenda. I know hardcore creationists don’t care about how evolution works (but apparently you do, when it supports you?), but let me explain some of the common misconceptions Pastor Tom made.

Science has finally done it. It has finally been able to figure out what Christians have known for thousands of years. I came across an article in the Daily Mail called Humans are Hard-Wired to Believe in God, Say Scientists, and boy did it make me smile.

Oh dear, the Daily Mail? Really? That’s the best news source you can find? I tried to search for the actual scientific paper, but I can’t find it… I have a lot of questions about their methodology (were these children already culturally exposed to religion? How about kids raised in irreligious families?), but I guess I’m going to have to use what I have.

You know how teenagers think they know everything, but when they hit their mid-twenties, they suddenly realize that what their parents taught them was right all along, this is just like that.

Um…actually, we’ve known for a while now that religious and supernatural beliefs probably have a biological basis. No scientist is denying that.

So a belief in God actually increases chances of survival? You mean religion actually helps people work together more efficiently? Say it ain’t so.

Well, it’s not necessarily so. Supernatural belief may have helped humans a hundred thousand years ago when we were evolving in a hunter-gatherer environment. It may have helped when we needed to form cohesive non-familial groups in other to get enough food, protect ourselves, etc. It may have helped when a lightning bolt came down from the sky and we needed some sort of explanation so we didn’t freak out, but we didn’t have science yet. But that doesn’t necessarily apply now.

You see, a trait that is adaptive in one environment may be maladaptive in another. Let’s use another human example. Thousands of years ago, sugary and fatty foods were a rare and necessary delicacy for humans. Humans that craved those foods more were more motivated to go and find them, and were then healthier and more likely to leave descendants. Most modern humans still have that sweet tooth because we are offspring of the survivors. But now that we live in a modern society where sugar and fat is overflowing in all of our food, our cravings aren’t a good thing. We eat too much unhealthy food and suffer from it – obesity, diabetes, heart disease. A trait that was once very adaptive (sweet tooth) is now maladaptive.

Many scientists believe this is the same situation we see with religion. Supernatural beliefs and group-think were once great traits to have. But now that we have scientific explanations for things, irrational thoughts are no longer a good thing. People die because of faith healing when they could have used modern medicine, people fight wars over their imaginary Gods, people fly planes into buildings for rewards in the afterlife instead of enjoying this life. Will it be maladaptive on evolutionary time scales? I’m not sure. When you have religious people like the Quiverfull movement doing their best to pump out as many Christian warriors as possible (btw, congrats to the Duggars for number 19…ugh), they’re doing a pretty good job at keeping their fitness high. But we also live in a time where evolution has less of an affect on us because of modern technology and knowledge, so who knows.

But really, how can all of this be explained? I’m really glad that scientists were able to figure out that belief in the supernatural, or God, is inherent within every individual, but what does this really mean? Why does this happen? If you’re a Christian, or even if you’re not a Christian, but just a rational non-believer, you know the answer; because God exists. Why would every person be born with a belief in God if God didn’t exist?

Evolution doesn’t strive for perfection or truth. It strives for whatever makes you pump out healthy babies more. If believing in something that doesn’t actually exist still made you more fit, humans would evolve to believe in it. It’s that simple. It does not have anything to do with God actually existing or not.

I have said this before, and I’ll say it again, everyone believes in God. Is it possible, later in life to have our mind poisoned, and for one to dismiss the existence of God, I suppose. But notice this study didn’t confirm that everyone believes in Santa Claus, or a tooth fairy, or pink unicorns, just God. Why is that? Simply, because God exists, and Santa, the tooth fairy, and pink unicorns don’t, and that’s the HardTruth.

Um, read the freaking article, Pastor Tom, rather than cherry picking it for your needs:

The findings of Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggest that magical and supernatural beliefs are hardwired into our brains from birth. …The professor, who will present his findings at the British Science Association’s annual meeting this week, sees organised religion as just part of a spectrum of supernatural beliefs.

Yep, that includes Santa, the tooth fairy, pink unicorns, ghosts, angels, Zeus, Ra, Thor, Ganesha, and your God. Sorry Tom, looks like science still shows God is all in your head.

Comments

  1. says

    So all the times that science implies that the supernatural is unlikely, it’s wrong and possibly evil. But now that science can be distorted to “prove God exists”, it’s trustworthy and good?My head hurts.

  2. says

    So all the times that science implies that the supernatural is unlikely, it's wrong and possibly evil. But now that science can be distorted to "prove God exists", it's trustworthy and good?

    My head hurts.

  3. says

    I don’t understand why they think that believing in the supernatural is somehow justified because humans have always believed in supernatural stuff. Isn’t that the most stupid circular argument ever? Precisely this article should show them how gulible humans are, ready to believe in some magical explanation whenever there’s no answer.

  4. says

    I don't understand why they think that believing in the supernatural is somehow justified because humans have always believed in supernatural stuff. Isn't that the most stupid circular argument ever? Precisely this article should show them how gulible humans are, ready to believe in some magical explanation whenever there's no answer.

  5. says

    I stopped reading Estes' blog a while ago already. At first I was just interested in gathering entertaining bits of stupidity to dissect, but after a while he kept proving himself to be lacking in entertainment, leaving only stupidity and crankery.

    Though perhaps what's even worse than his ignorance and foolishness is how arrogant the dolt is. Arrogance of Ignorance, times a hundred.

  6. says

    I stopped reading Estes’ blog a while ago already. At first I was just interested in gathering entertaining bits of stupidity to dissect, but after a while he kept proving himself to be lacking in entertainment, leaving only stupidity and crankery.Though perhaps what’s even worse than his ignorance and foolishness is how arrogant the dolt is. Arrogance of Ignorance, times a hundred.

  7. says

    Joe, I know I shouldn't read his blog, but I just can't help it. At first I kept reading it just to see if he was talking about me still, but he stopped (I didn't even make his list of evil sites! So disappointed). It's a bad guilty pleasure, like watching a train wreck, you know?

  8. says

    Joe, I know I shouldn’t read his blog, but I just can’t help it. At first I kept reading it just to see if he was talking about me still, but he stopped (I didn’t even make his list of evil sites! So disappointed). It’s a bad guilty pleasure, like watching a train wreck, you know?

  9. says

    Obviously science is only correct when it agrees with MY preconceived notions. Any other time it can sod off.

    BTW, I've been reading Bruce Hood's "Supersense" which covers this topic very nicely. One of the best books I've read all year. He makes the argument that supernatural beliefs come about from the hijacking of childhood thought processes about agency and intentionality which help us survive. He also does a good job of pointing out that almost every human also has secular supernatural beliefs so us non-religious people don't have much room to talk.

    (I mentioned the book in my blog today. Go read it now!!!)

  10. says

    Obviously science is only correct when it agrees with MY preconceived notions. Any other time it can sod off.BTW, I’ve been reading Bruce Hood’s “Supersense” which covers this topic very nicely. One of the best books I’ve read all year. He makes the argument that supernatural beliefs come about from the hijacking of childhood thought processes about agency and intentionality which help us survive. He also does a good job of pointing out that almost every human also has secular supernatural beliefs so us non-religious people don’t have much room to talk. (I mentioned the book in my blog today. Go read it now!!!)

  11. says

    Lol, I know exactly what you mean, Jen. Only the difference this time, is that this particular train wreck doesn't even have any gore, broken windows, fires or anything remotely interesting … It's just … boring. Always the same hypocrisy and idiocy, it just gets tiring after a while. But good on you for showcasing the occasional nugget of interest once in a while, like this. ;-)

  12. says

    Lol, I know exactly what you mean, Jen. Only the difference this time, is that this particular train wreck doesn’t even have any gore, broken windows, fires or anything remotely interesting … It’s just … boring. Always the same hypocrisy and idiocy, it just gets tiring after a while. But good on you for showcasing the occasional nugget of interest once in a while, like this. ;-)

  13. says

    I don't like trolling, but I support explaining why he's wrong (like this post). And anyway, he already has tons of atheists over there commenting on all of his posts.

  14. says

    I don’t like trolling, but I support explaining why he’s wrong (like this post). And anyway, he already has tons of atheists over there commenting on all of his posts.

  15. Anonymous says

    Yeah I think I get it.

    – Belief in God is a product of evolution.- Therefore, God exists.- Therefore, evolution does not exist.

    Right?

  16. Anonymous says

    Yeah I think I get it.- Belief in God is a product of evolution.- Therefore, God exists.- Therefore, evolution does not exist.Right?

  17. says

    @Jen: You mean, had tons of atheists proving him wrong. You'll remember he banned them all, declaring his blog an "Atheist-free zone" a little while back?

    Gosh, he is amusing at times.

  18. says

    @Jen: You mean, had tons of atheists proving him wrong. You’ll remember he banned them all, declaring his blog an “Atheist-free zone” a little while back?Gosh, he is amusing at times.

  19. says

    It's good that she continues to examine the site from time to time, lest we forget that nutjobs like this exist. This kind of thinking is very real and very dangerous. Most of us consciously know this, of course, but it's helpful to get a shock of direct stupid every now and then to remind us how pertinent the problem is.

  20. says

    It’s good that she continues to examine the site from time to time, lest we forget that nutjobs like this exist. This kind of thinking is very real and very dangerous. Most of us consciously know this, of course, but it’s helpful to get a shock of direct stupid every now and then to remind us how pertinent the problem is.

  21. says

    Thankfully I consider trolling to be a time honored religious sacrament. ;) I see that Tommy still has quite a few non-believers over there knocking him about. What he really needs is someone who agrees with him a little too much. Time to boot up the Reductio ad Absurdum troll.

  22. says

    Thankfully I consider trolling to be a time honored religious sacrament. ;) I see that Tommy still has quite a few non-believers over there knocking him about. What he really needs is someone who agrees with him a little too much. Time to boot up the Reductio ad Absurdum troll.

  23. mcbender says

    Ugh. Does he really not notice the level of hypocrisy involved here?

    Are we absolutely sure Mr. Estes is not a Poe? I really find it hard to believe anybody actually thinks like this (although, perhaps it might be better to say "doesn't think").

    When is he going to realise that continuing to shoot himself in the foot so spectacularly isn't helping his case? Oh, right, he still doesn't know he's doing it.

  24. mcbender says

    Ugh. Does he really not notice the level of hypocrisy involved here?Are we absolutely sure Mr. Estes is not a Poe? I really find it hard to believe anybody actually thinks like this (although, perhaps it might be better to say “doesn’t think”).When is he going to realise that continuing to shoot himself in the foot so spectacularly isn’t helping his case? Oh, right, he still doesn’t know he’s doing it.

  25. says

    Hey man, the only supernatural belief I have is the 'Dice Spirit'.

    And that's been proven true by the fact that some dice are inherently unlucky, simply because they aren't made to perfect precision, and are weighted toward the low end of the scale.

    Granted, this carries to IRC RNGs. Where I have absolutely no excuse.

    Though, I seriously doubt that deserves to even be on the level of even Santa Claus.

  26. says

    Hey man, the only supernatural belief I have is the ‘Dice Spirit’.And that’s been proven true by the fact that some dice are inherently unlucky, simply because they aren’t made to perfect precision, and are weighted toward the low end of the scale.Granted, this carries to IRC RNGs. Where I have absolutely no excuse.Though, I seriously doubt that deserves to even be on the level of even Santa Claus.

  27. says

    I'll second Rev. Ouabache's endorsement of Bruce Hood's "Supersense." it's a good read, and he makes a convincing case that supernatural beliefs are not just the product of indoctrination. If he's correct, then the world will always have it's share of Pastor Toms.

    While I don't particularly like that prospect, we've got to deal with the world as it is – we don't have the luxury of closing our eyes to the evidence the way Pastor Tom does.

  28. says

    I’ll second Rev. Ouabache’s endorsement of Bruce Hood’s “Supersense.” it’s a good read, and he makes a convincing case that supernatural beliefs are not just the product of indoctrination. If he’s correct, then the world will always have it’s share of Pastor Toms. While I don’t particularly like that prospect, we’ve got to deal with the world as it is – we don’t have the luxury of closing our eyes to the evidence the way Pastor Tom does.

  29. says

    I like how they assume that (a) if belief in god is hard-wired then (b) it's because the Christian God did it. Not once did they consider that this is due to the wisdom of ODIIIINN!!!

  30. says

    I like how they assume that (a) if belief in god is hard-wired then (b) it’s because the Christian God did it. Not once did they consider that this is due to the wisdom of ODIIIINN!!!

  31. says

    Two points. It's not necessarily true that as we become adults we realise that what our parents told us was true, of course. Some was and some wasn't, but in most cases of it not being true I now understand why they said it – it takes too long to explain dangers to a child, so they just hand out rules. Second, is it true that we are born with a belief in God? Surely we are told there is one, and haven't a basis to dispute the information. Doug

  32. says

    Two points. It’s not necessarily true that as we become adults we realise that what our parents told us was true, of course. Some was and some wasn’t, but in most cases of it not being true I now understand why they said it – it takes too long to explain dangers to a child, so they just hand out rules. Second, is it true that we are born with a belief in God? Surely we are told there is one, and haven’t a basis to dispute the information. Doug

  33. says

    I love it when people cite shady looking cites and say that it can't be refuted. I had an argument with @cokeman777 on Twitter about how many people actually watch Glenn Beck. He kept citing shady cites, and because I couldn't find anything official I "looked bad". It makes me wonder if people buy everything that is put in front of them.

  34. says

    I love it when people cite shady looking cites and say that it can’t be refuted. I had an argument with @cokeman777 on Twitter about how many people actually watch Glenn Beck. He kept citing shady cites, and because I couldn’t find anything official I “looked bad”. It makes me wonder if people buy everything that is put in front of them.

  35. says

    I agree with Joe: I clicked on all the links to his blog and felt a bit nauseous. I don't recommend reading more than 1 post a fortnight, even for trainwreck purposes!

  36. says

    I agree with Joe: I clicked on all the links to his blog and felt a bit nauseous. I don’t recommend reading more than 1 post a fortnight, even for trainwreck purposes!

  37. says

    I wrote about this a couple of days ago, and I'm not surprised that Pastor Tom has blogged about it in this way. The article in the Mail is poorly written, and I can see how it led to this way of thinking.

  38. says

    I wrote about this a couple of days ago, and I’m not surprised that Pastor Tom has blogged about it in this way. The article in the Mail is poorly written, and I can see how it led to this way of thinking.

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