Randomly firing neurons inspired by the Dan Dennett conference

December 5, 2011 at 10:55 am Leave a comment

Just a few scattered thoughts on getting back from “Daniel Dennett and the Scientific Study of Religion.”   I intended to go deeper into some aspects of the conference later. 

Great conference.  I enjoyed a bagel with Pascal Boyer (Religion Explained).  Sat with Paul Kurtz at lunch (He started the Center for Inquiry 20 years ago and the publishing company, Prometheus Books, He wrote the  Humanist Manifesto II, and many important books of the humanist movement to the effect that he has been called the father of modern secular humanism).

Now, even more random:    Most of the presenters at the conference were scientists.    I hugged a Christian in the first session on Saturday (you had to be there).    That presenter of the same session acknowledge a reference to Nicholas Wade.  I found myself recommending Wade’s The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why it Endures.   Apologies if I didn’t remember the subtitle correctly.  I’ve listened to The Faith Instinct  as an audio book probably 10 to 20 times and told Mr. Wade it is the most important book of my life.   (I should disclaim for Mr. Wade that he remains neutral as far as I can tell with respect to his position on theism/atheism.  It is the evolution of religion along with the recent evolution of mankind which is of most interest to me.  Many of the rock stars at the Dan Dennett conference  and other icons of the New Atheism seem to reject the thesis that religion is an evolutionary adaptation.  This is in opposition to Nicholas Wade’s thesis which I support almost totally (with a minor insignificant point of difference).  More on this later. 

Thanks to the fellows who took me to Santano’s Pizza for supper.    More depth on the conference to follow.


Entry filed under: freethought.

Affirming motto In God We Trust is the religious equivalent of marking territory Deeper in: Dan Dennett’s Scientific Study of Religion at CFI

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I write for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and humanists. In my nonfiction, the purpose is the celebration of our noble human spirit. The general pursuit may be Evolutionary Theology, though believers seem to populate that field (so maybe it's evolutionary Humanism). By looking at who we are and where we came from, we can derive much meaning, and perhaps more importantly, understanding, as well as some sense of where we could go.

Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought

This title is an upcoming book at the publisher's now. I'd like feedback on this title. It's meant to make people think and feel something. And to hint at things for both believers and non- on multiple levels. The book is of a wider scope, though, one which is ultimately a way to grasp more meaning for ourselves. Believers are always telling us our lives don't have meaning without a god. We often counter that it's more meaningful to be looking for our own meaning than to be arbitrarily ascribed it by an imaginary supernatural being. Ultimately, and this is what I think is unique about this book, you'll see how we can be just as spiritual in our own way. Since we've inhertited a capacity for religion (some more than others) as an evolutionary adaptation, believers and non- are both potentially spritual in the same way--but it is an earthly, secular spirituality in which we all can share.

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