Skeptics born or bred?
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22-04-2010, 11:58 AM
Skeptics born or bred?
Skeptics born or bred?

I have been wondering if skeptics are born or bred....

I myself from a very young age started to question the teachings of religion. I tried very hard to believe because at the time I was not aware you could even NOT believe.. and being in catholic school didn’t help any. When I got to the fifth grade I had to start asking real questions because what I was being told in religion class, church and the bible did not seem to match reality at all. This was back when the starving children in Africa were all over the news and it forced me to start asking questions.

Anyway, I have already heard the argument that there is a “god gene”, that allowed people to thrive hundreds of thousands of years ago and perhaps I was simply born without this gene and there for I could never completely believe religion when confronted with the real world.

So what is your take on this? “God Gene” or just rational thinking?
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22-04-2010, 12:21 PM
RE: Skeptics born or bred?
Dunno. Probably a bit of both.

"Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness."
- Terry Pratchett
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22-04-2010, 01:05 PM
RE: Skeptics born or bred?
That's a tough one...

My initial response is that skeptics are born but, if this was the case, then child indoctrination shouldn't work.

I would be more inclined to say that skepticism is bred, specifically when we are taught critical thinking, whether through courses about critical thinking, or indirectly through mathematics, science, computer logic, etc.

I don't know if you can attest your religious belief, or lack thereof, on a 'god' gene. Based on what I read, the god gene is called VMAT2. It is more about the "physiological arrangement that produces the sensations associated, by some, with the presence of God or other mystic experiences, or more specifically spirituality as a state of mind." Calling it the 'god' gene is incorrect, as any Atheist who has had some type of transendent feeling of euphoria can attest to. I think the name implied is incorrect, as it only addresses one of many 'feelings' a person may feel.

If anything, I would associate religion to memes, as Richard Dawkins had attributed. The benefit of memes is, I think, the ability to 'shut it down' if it doesn't appeal to you.

For example, you can say that the latest Lady Gaga song is a meme, in that the tune is catchy, the lyrics are easy to follow, and the underlying message is controversial. However, if you don't like Lady Gaga or anything she produces, you have a less likely chance of 'humming along' with the tune. You have, in effect, blocked the meme from influencing/affecting you.

Religion is just another meme, albeit one that has been around for thousands of years. What I believe happens in an Atheist's mind is that we are 'blocking' the religion meme from wreaking its havoc. We use rationality, reason, logic, critical thinking to 'unweave' it from our psyche.

Case in point: let's take the Beatles as an example of a cultural meme. If you have ever seen old video footage of their fans, you would see a crowd of raging, crying, screaming women who simply adored them, whether it was because of their music, or maybe due to the sexual aspect of 4 bachelors. If we take just the musical aspect, any song that they produced...let's say 'Yesterday'...the emotional response to that song, even today (after 45 years) can still be felt. Why? Well, it could be postulated that the meme is at work. The song is a catchy melody, and since it has been around for almost half a century, it has become somewhat interwoven into our culture. Likewise, if you did not like the Beatles or any of their work, the meme would have no effect on you, simply because your dislike is blocking it from taking hold.

When you were young and you were being taught religion in the Catholic school, the meme was being introduced and enforced through teachings. When you started thinking rationally about the world around you and, specifically, started applying that rationality to the religious teachings you were exposed to, you in effect started blocking out aspects of the religion meme.

In the case of theists, the religion meme is in full force, whether it is due to cultural upbringing, or the circle of friends they keep (which re-enforces the meme). If a theist started criticizing even small parts of their religious belief (or thinking about the logic of it all), it would make headway into unweaving and potentially blocking out the religion meme.
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22-04-2010, 01:17 PM
RE: Skeptics born or bred?
I would agree with you Superman.... what makes me take the gene into account as a possibility is the fact that everyone else I went to school with was exposed to the same things I was... yet I seemed to be the only one to "snap out of it"... when you are the only one in a group of 120+ kids your own age that proclaims "I don't believe there is such a thing as god", I tend to think there might be something more to it than just critical thinking, since I should have had the same critical thinking skills as all the other kids. And I tried really really hard to believe... I started going to service more, reading the bible... I don't remember now but I might have actually prayed to 'believe'...

I had no idea what an Atheist was or that it was even possible to NOT believe..
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22-04-2010, 01:20 PM
RE: Skeptics born or bred?
Simply put, we're all different...

What difference is there in a child that excels greatly in school and skips grades, while the rest 'go with the flow'?

Some have rationality click, while others ease into it later in life. It's just the way it is.
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22-04-2010, 01:32 PM
RE: Skeptics born or bred?
Hmmmm could be... to quote the Rollin Stones "♫ I could get no... satisfaction ♪".. from religion... Kinda makes you feel like a freak while attending catholic school in a thirdworld nation. Tongue
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22-04-2010, 09:04 PM
RE: Skeptics born or bred?
Well, I don't think is can be completely chalked up to either. A lot is determined by nature, but as humans I think we gain most of our mental traits by nurture.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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