Windsor Humanist Society

April 29, 2012

To Keep the Faith, Don’t Get Analytical

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 10:32 am

Many people with religious convictions feel that their faith is rock solid. But a new study finds that prompting people to engage in analytical thinking can cause their religious beliefs to waver, if only a little. Researchers say the findings have potentially significant implications for understanding the cognitive underpinnings of religion.

Psychologists often carve thinking into two broad categories: intuitive thinking, which is fast and effortless (instantly knowing whether someone is angry or sad from the look on her face, for example); and analytic thinking, which is slower and more deliberate (and used for solving math problems and other tricky tasks). Both kinds of thinking have their strengths and weaknesses, and they often seem to interfere with one another. “Recently there’s been an emerging consensus among [researchers] … that a lot of religious beliefs are grounded in intuitive processes,” says Will Gervais, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in Canada and a co-author of the new study, published today in Science.

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/04/to-keep-the-faith-dont-get-analytical.html

March 31, 2012

Researchers solve Darwin’s copycat evolution puzzle

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 4:05 pm

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It is a clever trick if you can pull it off – mimic another, more dangerous animal and so avoid being eaten.

Many insects try it, but it has been a long standing puzzle why some of the worst mimics in Nature can still seem to escape becoming a meal.

Now, Canadian scientists tell Nature journal they can answer that one.

Larger animals, they say, make for more substantial meals, and so their mimicry needs to be spot on. For small prey, a great performance is not so essential.

“Mimicry of harmless species pretending to be dangerous ones in order to avoid being eaten is one of the best celebrated examples of the outcome of evolution by natural selection,” says Professor Tom Sherratt, of Carleton University in Ottawa, who led the research.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17446349

March 25, 2012

Why Humans Began Walking Upright

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 1:29 pm

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An international team of researchers have discovered that human bipedalism, or walking upright, may have originated millions of years ago as an adaptation to carrying scarce, high-quality resources.

The team of researchers from the U.S., England, Japan and Portugal investigated the behaviour of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand what ecological settings would lead a large ape – one that resembles the 6 million-year old ancestor we shared in common with living chimpanzees – to walk on two legs.

http://tinyurl.com/7dzqsht

 

The Birth of Religion

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 12:50 pm

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Before them are dozens of massive stone pillars arranged into a set of rings, one mashed up against the next. Known as Göbekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh), the site is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge, except that Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier and is made not from roughly hewn blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs of animals—a cavalcade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars. The assemblage was built some 11,600 years ago, seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/mann-text/1

April 18, 2011

Teenagers Speak Up for Lack of Faith

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 6:09 pm

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Every other Wednesday, right after school at 2:45, the newest club at Rutherford High, the atheist club, meets in Room 13-211.

Last Wednesday, Jim Dickey, the president, started out by asking his fellow student atheists (there are a few agnostics, too) whether they wanted to put together an all-atheist Ultimate Frisbee team for a charity event.

“We can pay the entry fee from the club treasury,” said Michael Creamer, the atheists’ faculty adviser, who urged them to take part.

Club members discussed what to do about Faith Week. Rutherford High’s two Christian clubs will be sponsoring a series of before-school prayer circles around the flagpole this week, and several of the atheists felt a need to respond in some way. “We can set up informational tables near the flagpole and do our own speeches,” said Mr. Creamer, who suggested waiting a few weeks. “Remember, we’re not trying to be confrontational; this will be a counterpoint.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/education/04winerip.html?_r=2

March 23, 2011

Organized religion ‘will be driven toward extinction’ in 9 countries, experts predict

Filed under: Humanism,Religion and The Supernatural — moderator @ 11:15 pm

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Organized religion will all but vanish eventually from nine Western-style democracies, a team of mathematicians predict in a new paper based on census data stretching back 100 years.

It won’t die out completely, but “religion will be driven toward extinction” in countries including Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, they say.

It will also wither away in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland, they anticipate.

They can’t make a prediction about the United States because the U.S. census doesn’t ask about religion, lead author Daniel Abrams told CNN.

But nine other countries provide enough data for detailed mathematical modeling, he said.

“If you look at the data, ‘unaffiliated’ is the fastest-growing group” in those countries, he said.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/23/religion-to-go-extinct-in-9-countries-experts-predict/#comments

November 27, 2010

Hitchens apparent winner in religion debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 10:56 pm

Atheist Christopher Hitchens seemed to get the best of it in a debate over religion with former British prime minister and Roman Catholic convert Tony Blair.

The two men disputed religion in Toronto Friday night at the Munk Debates before a sold-out crowd of 2,600 — scalpers outside were asking as much as $500 a ticket — as thousands more watched online.

Blair argued for the proposition that religion is a force for good, while Hitchens was against it.

Preliminary results on the Munk website said 68 per cent of the votes backed Hitchens and 32 per cent Blair. Both men gained about 10 percentage points from the pre-debate standings, when 21 per cent were undecided.

Hitchens argued that religion is divisive and causes conflicts or makes them worse.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/11/26/blair-htichens-religion.html#ixzz16Xeli74f

September 17, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI goes to war with ‘atheist extremism’

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 9:30 pm

Benedict XVI used the first papal state visit to Britain today to launch a blistering attack on “atheist extremism” and “aggressive secularism”, and to rue the damage that “the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life” had done in the last century.

The leader of the Roman Catholic church concluded a speech, made before the Queen and assembled dignitaries at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, with the argument that the Nazi desire to eradicate God had led to the Holocaust and a plea for 21st century Britain to respect its Christian foundations.

http://tinyurl.com/39h9ks8

(Black and white photo – Priests giving the Hitler salute at a Catholic youth rally in the Berlin-Neukolln stadium in August 1933.)

Link below: Photos provide a pictorial glimpse of Hitler, how his Nazis mixed religion with government, and the support for Hitler by the Protestant and Catholic Churches in Germany.

http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm

Stephen Hawking: God NOT Needed For Creation

Filed under: The Sciences — moderator @ 9:17 pm

Famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking now says definitely that God did not create the universe or spark the Big Bang. 

In his new book, “The Grand Design,” scheduled for a September release, Hawking argues that the universe didn’t need divine inspiration to come into being.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” writes Hawking. “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists why we exist.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going,” he writes, according to excerpts published in the Times of London today.

Hawking, who co-wrote “The Grand Design” with Leonard Mlodinow, a U.S. physicist, has come to this position fairly recently.

In June, when ABC News’ Diane Sawyer asked him about the biggest mystery he’d like solved, Hawking said, “I want to know why the universe exists, why there is something greater than nothing.”

“What could define God … as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God,” Hawking told Sawyer. “They made a humanlike being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible.”

When Sawyer asked if there was a way to reconcile religion and science, Hawking told her, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”

Our question to you today: Do you agree or disagree with Stephen Hawking about the role of God in creation?

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/stephen-hawking-god-create-universe-question-day/story?id=11542128

April 12, 2010

Richard Dawkins promises to arrest Pope Benedict XVI

Filed under: 1 — moderator @ 1:45 pm

ATHEIST campaigner Richard Dawkins has vowed to arrest the Pope for crimes against humanity.

Professor Dawkins has hired a team of lawyers to see if Pope Benedict XVI can be charged over his handling of the sexual abuse scandal engulfing the Roman Catholic Church, according to The Sunday Times.

Professor Dawkins, who wrote The God Delusion, claims that the Pope has shielded paedophile priests from the authorities.

However, he and fellow writer Christopher Hitchens believe they can make a case for arresting the Pope during the Pope’s planned visit to Britain in September.

Among the human rights lawyers they have hired is Australian-born barrister Geoffrey Robertson.

They do not believe the Pope will be able to claim diplomatic immunity because he is not recognised as a head of state by the United Nations.

“This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence,” Professor Dawkins said.

http://tinyurl.com/ybdfc7s

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