Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
October 31, 2014, 07:33:17 pm
HomePredMockPollEVCalcAFEWIKIHelpLogin Register
News: Don't forget to get your 2013 Gubernatorial Endorsements and Predictions in!

+  Atlas Forum
|-+  General Discussion
| |-+  Religion & Philosophy (Moderator: Gustaf)
| | |-+  Blog post: Is Religion Cognitive-Emotional Cheesecake?
« previous next »
Pages: [1] Print
Author Topic: Blog post: Is Religion Cognitive-Emotional Cheesecake?  (Read 558 times)
They call me PR
Progressive Realist
YaBB God
*****
Posts: 5484
United States


View Profile
« on: May 04, 2012, 01:25:57 pm »
Ignore

Quote
Yesterday, I ran a post that included a video by Sam Harris on the dangers of religion. Is religion really dangerous or is it mostly harmless? Paul Thagard calls it Cognitive-Emotional Cheesecake. For most American Christians, that is probably an apt description. But too much cheesecake could also be dangerous to one's health.

On his blog, Thagard writes:

    "Religion is not innate, but rather a cultural development that we might call "cognitive-emotional cheesecake". I adapt this metaphor from Steven Pinker's claim that music is not innate, but rather amounts to "auditory cheesecake". A preference for cheesecake is not innate, since cheesecake did not exist during the early stages of human development. But preferences for sugar and fat are innate, and cheesecake cleverly combines them in an appealing way. Similarly, I conjecture, religion is appealing because it combines the psychological needs for explanations and emotional reassurance."


He believes man's belief in god(s) is not innate (as in the God Gene or a God-spot in the brain), but rather is due to it's pyschological and emotional appeal.

Another blog, Epiphenom: The Science of Religon and Non-Belief, has a recent post entitled, What's the evidence that anxiety and insecurity turns people to religion?. In the post, the author refers to several scientific studies that show the following increase a person's interest in religion:

1. Being reminded of death.

Ara Norenzayan has shown that subtly reminding people of death makes them say they are more religious. That's probably related to something called 'World View Defence' - when you remind people about death, they tend to grab onto their traditional, cultural values.
Research shows that having a positive view of the afterlife (i.e., heaven or paradise) seems to be good for one's mental health, whereas having a negative view (i.e., hell or annihilation) brings no psychological benefit.

2. Feeling loss of control.

Aaron Kay has shown that making people feel like they are not in control strengthens their belief in a controlling god - in other words, they compensate for lack of control in their own lives by believing in a god that has it all in hand.

3. Dealing with negative life-events.

Kurt Gray has shown that people invoke god as a moral agent to explain negative (but acausal) events. In other words, instead of saying that a major life event happened by chance, one prefers to think that it was caused by an intentional agent, usually god(s).

4. Feeling lonely.

Nicholas Epley has shown that making people feel lonely increases their belief in the supernatural. Many people turn to religion when they feel all alone in the world. You've got a friend in Jesus is very appealing.

5. Feeling anxious.

Researchers from the University of Toronto have shown that religious believers get less 'error-related negativity' (ERN) - a neurological response that's associated with conflict anxiety - when they make mistakes (Religion: Xanax of the People?). Perhaps, Marx was right when he called religion the "Opiate of the Masses." It definitely seems to relieve stress (especially prayer and meditation ).

6. Having financial hardship.

Matt Bradshaw and Chris Ellison have shown that religion can reduce the stress caused by financial hardship.

Andrew Clark found that European Protestants and Catholics are less fearful of unemployment than the non religious.

If these studies are correct, they reveal why religion is so appealing to people. It provides comfort and certainty in a cold, hard world. However, if the benefit provided is really a delusion, is it not dangerous ultimately? Does it not cause one to stop looking for real solutions to life's problems? I think so but it's hard to resist cheesecake.

http://formerfundy.blogspot.com/2010/05/is-religion-cognitive-emotional.html

Bolding mine.

I think it's an interesting analysis-that different religions are  appealing to human beings because of the psychological as well as philosophical reassurances they provide. What do you all think?
Logged
only back for the worldcup
Lewis Trondheim
YaBB God
*****
Posts: 58778
India


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2012, 01:48:25 pm »
Ignore

No, but this cheesecake is cognitive and emotional



(Seriously, the only meanings for "cheesecake" that I'm aware of are "hottie" and "English for Topfenkuchen")
Logged

"The secret to having a rewarding work-life balance is to have no life. Then it's easy to keep things balanced by doing no work." Wally



"Our party do not have any ideology... Our main aim is to grab power ... Every one is doing so but I say it openly." Keshav Dev Maurya
shua
YaBB God
*****
Posts: 11737
Russian Federation


View Profile WWW
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2012, 11:05:18 pm »
Ignore

If religion (like music) addresses fundamental human needs in a meaningful way, how does that not involve "real solutions to life's problems"?
Logged

IDS Judicial Overlord John Dibble
John Dibble
YaBB God
*****
Posts: 18787
Japan


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 01:01:05 pm »
Ignore

If religion (like music) addresses fundamental human needs in a meaningful way, how does that not involve "real solutions to life's problems"?

Addressing the human need for explanations with falsehoods can provide a flawed foundation for addressing other issues. Beliefs inform actions, after all.

For instance if someone believes in the doctrines of Scientology they are (falsely) lead to believe that certain mental conditions are caused by certain mechanics and that medication can't help, or is actually harmful. This might address their need to know and have explanations for things, but if in reality medication might help them they could end up not using it even if they happen to need it.
Logged

Governor Varavour
Simfan34
YaBB God
*****
Posts: 10846


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 03:23:39 pm »
Ignore

Now I just want some cheesecake. And Kate Moss. But I'm far more likely to get the former.
Logged

They call me PR
Progressive Realist
YaBB God
*****
Posts: 5484
United States


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2012, 04:05:25 pm »
Ignore

If religion (like music) addresses fundamental human needs in a meaningful way, how does that not involve "real solutions to life's problems"?

Addressing the human need for explanations with falsehoods can provide a flawed foundation for addressing other issues. Beliefs inform actions, after all.

For instance if someone believes in the doctrines of Scientology they are (falsely) lead to believe that certain mental conditions are caused by certain mechanics and that medication can't help, or is actually harmful. This might address their need to know and have explanations for things, but if in reality medication might help them they could end up not using it even if they happen to need it.

Well said. Although conversely, actions inform beliefs as well.
Logged
shua
YaBB God
*****
Posts: 11737
Russian Federation


View Profile WWW
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2012, 08:39:12 pm »
Ignore

If religion (like music) addresses fundamental human needs in a meaningful way, how does that not involve "real solutions to life's problems"?

Addressing the human need for explanations with falsehoods can provide a flawed foundation for addressing other issues. Beliefs inform actions, after all.

For instance if someone believes in the doctrines of Scientology they are (falsely) lead to believe that certain mental conditions are caused by certain mechanics and that medication can't help, or is actually harmful. This might address their need to know and have explanations for things, but if in reality medication might help them they could end up not using it even if they happen to need it.
But if religion acts as an opiate, why the need for an actual opiate?  Religion, if it has a psychological function, isn't just to feed people's curiosity.
The point being made in this blog post is that religion has a psychological function, and that this somehow means it is a delusion.  Scientology is such an explicitly self-help cult that the example you give isn't relevant to the broader point about what religion does.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 08:40:48 pm by shua, gm »Logged

Pages: [1] Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  


Login with username, password and session length

Logout

Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines