Archived blog post


Posted by Ben on Monday, September 04, 2006 | Permalink

A Graun article that's both interesting and strange in equal measure. The gist is that humans are hardwired for religious belief, and I've got no problem with that idea - it seems pretty plausible to me. But the examples of irrationality given - such as pretending that a cardie belonged to Fred West, to put people off wearing it, and people preferring their original wedding ring to an identical replacement - don't really seem to back up the idea (more here at B&W) with regards to religious belief.

More oddity occurs in the description of Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennett as 'standard bearers for evolution' who had 'adopted a counterproductive and "simplistic" position'. What, with regards to evolution? What position are you supposed to adopt aside from presenting the science as best you can, as I believe they both do? That seems to be the implication to me, following from the description of them, but then the article moves on to Hood's actual words, which seem to be more addressing their stance on rationality itself:

"They have basically said there are two types of people in the world," he said - "those who believe in the supernatural and those who do not. But almost everyone entertains some form of irrational beliefs even if they are not religious."

I think the 'standard-bearers' thing is just bad writing in the article, but Hood's statement is also worth addressing, because as someone who's read a shedload of Dawkins, I don't think he thinks there's those two types of people at all. I think his position is that all humans are susceptible to irrational beliefs and we should be taught to recognise and fight them - in Unweaving the Rainbow I seem to recall his account of his own urge to believe there was something uncanny about his randomly assigned locker code (or something). Is there not quite a gap between believing in the supernatural and merely having some form of irrational belief? And how is any stance they take counter-productive if the battle against irrational beliefs is ultimately futile?

Like I say, a bit of an odd one.

Update: more here.

Comments [ 4 ]