All posts tagged: religions

atheist Theory of Mind

Theory of Mind

Introduction Planet earth appears to be filled with unseen forces that control the behavior of its inhabitants. No, this isn’t the beginning to a cheesy B-movie science fiction film script. This is reality and even the staunchest of skeptics act as if they believe in these invisible forces. That is, we live in a material world ruled by minds with no physical locality and it is here that we think beliefs, desires, intentions, and other mentalstates are both responsible for, and explain our behavior. There is nothing particularly magical or surprising about this fact, at least not until we consider particular theories in the cognitive science of religion (CSR) that, for example, suggest atheists may be “socially disabled”, have a “malfunction” in their ability to reason about these mental states, or perhaps that there is no such thing as atheism at the level of cognition. Thus, and I ask jokingly, does the atheist have a theory of mind? But, more on this in a moment. Attributing mental states is something we do to others and …

skeptic society Divisions of Islamophobia

Divisions of Islamophobia

A false dichotomy is a basic type of informal logical fallacy, consisting in framing an issue as if there were only two choices available, while in fact a range of nuanced positions may be on offer upon more careful reflection. There are nonetheless plenty of instances were they do identify truly bad reasoning.Another one is arguably represented by the never ending “debate” about Islamophobia. It is easy to find stark examples of people defending what appear to be two irreconcilable positions about how to view Islam in a post-9/11 world. For the sake of discussion, I will bypass pundits and other pseudo-intellectuals, and use instead two comedians as representative of the contrasting positions: Broadly speaking, I don’t think religions in general are particularly good ideas. In my mind they originate from a combination of false presuppositions (that there are higher beings of a supernatural kind) and a power grab by individuals (i.e., religious leaders) who sometimes unconsciously (and sometimes not) end up exploiting the fears and hopes of the people that they are supposed to …