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We’re All Sceptics

Posted Date: December 10, 2007 – Monday – 3:22 PM

“You’re an unbeliever, just like me. You doubt many sacred dogmas. Let me show you:

• Millions of Hindus pray over statues of Shiva’s penis. Do you think there’s an invisible Shiva who wants his penis prayed over — or are you a skeptic?

• Mormons say that Jesus came to America after his resurrection. Do you agree—or are you a doubter?

• Santería worshipers sacrifice dogs, goats, chickens, etc., and toss their bodies into waterways. Do you think Santería gods want animals killed — or are you skeptical?

• Muslim suicide bombers who blow themselves up are taught that “martyrs” instantly go to a paradise full of lovely female houri nymphs. Do you think the bombers now are in heaven with houri — or are you a doubter?

• Jehovah’s Witnesses say that, any day now, exactly 144,000 of them will be physically lifted to heaven, where they will reign with Jesus Christ. Do you believe this solemn teaching of their church?

• Millions of American Pentecostals spout “the unknown tongue,” a spontaneous outpouring of sounds. They say it’s the Holy Ghost, the third part of the Trinity, speaking through them. Do you believe this sacred tenet of many Americans?

• Scientologists say each human has something akin to a soul, which is a “Thetan” that came from another planet. Do you believe their doctrine — or doubt it?

• In China in the mid-1800s, a Christian convert said God appeared to him, told him he was Jesus’ younger brother, and commanded him to “destroy demons.” He raised an army of believers who waged the Taiping Rebellion that killed as many as 20 million people. Do you think he was Christ’s brother — or do you doubt it?”

Link to full disinformation article: Everyone’s a Sceptic

Link to Wikipedia article on the Taiping Rebellion.

Yup, we’re all sceptics when it comes to other people’s crazy ideas.  It’s our own sacred cows that brings out the superstitious side.  Some might be more objective than others, but this is pretty universal.  Our own models will never match up to the Reality they are meant to emulate.

But some ideas and behaviors do not match up to reality at all, even though we can’t agree on what all goes on that list.  I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the usefulness of seemingly arbitrary ideas and behaviors.  The plumage of a peacock and his mating dance enable procreation.  In the same way, a mystical belief in Christ or Muhammed enable the believer to live in a the support of a community.

Regardless of how arbitrary these things seem from an objective point of view, they must directly or indirectly increase the fitness of the agent, otherwise they would not persist.  This is both depressing and wonderful.

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