The Daily Eudemon
"The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life."
Samuel Johnson, The Idler, 4/5/1760






Home
  • Favorite Quotes
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • TDE Lens

  • archives
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014
  • June 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007
  • April 2007
  • March 2007
  • February 2007
  • January 2007
  • December 2006
  • November 2006
  • October 2006
  • September 2006
  • August 2006
  • July 2006
  • June 2006
  • May 2006
  • April 2006
  • March 2006
  • February 2006
  • January 2006
  • December 2005
  • November 2005
  • October 2005
  • September 2005
  • August 2005
  • July 2005
  • June 2005
  • May 2005
  • April 2005
  • March 2005
  • February 2005
  • January 2005
  • December 2004
  • November 2004
  • August 2004
  • July 2004
  • June 2004
  • May 2004
  • April 2004
  • March 2004
  • February 2004
  • January 2004


  • syndicate this site
    RSS Feed
    RSS 2 Feed
    Atom Feed
    My Yahoo!
    Comments RSS

    Send Eric Scheske an E-Mail


    Is God an Accident?

    One of the feature articles of December’s Atlantic Monthly is a (ball park) 5,000-word essay entitled, “Is God an Accident” by Paul Bloom. Although written respectfully, the article tries to undermine religious faith by pointing to recent studies about babies.

    According to Bloom, babies have two computers in their head: one that grapples with the physical world and one that grapples with the social world. The physical computer allows the baby to understand how things work; the social computer allows the baby to interact with others. The social computer develops a little later than the physical one. Although both computers are necessary, they cause a problem: religion.

    But these systems go awry in two important ways that are the foundations of religion. First, we perceive the world of objects as essentially separate from the world of minds, making it possible for us to envision soulless bodies and bodiless souls. This helps explain why we believe in gods and an afterlife. Second, as we will see, our system of social understanding overshoots, inferring goals and desires where none exist. This makes us animists and creationists.

    The physical computer lets us understand physical things, but the social computer perceives immaterial things, like goals and desires. As a result, we intuitively tend to believe in things like gods, angels, demons, and ghosts.

    That’s basically the argument.

    After reading it, I felt like G.K. Chesterton. He converted to Christianity under the influence of anti-Christians. He read their books and came to the conclusion that their arguments supported Christianity more than they undermined it.

    Bloom’s article does much the same for me. I started the article with a little trepidation, wondering how much grueling mental exercise I’d have to undergo in order to refute the article.

    But it wasn’t too bad.

    Bloom’s problem is, he starts with the idea that the entire spiritual world–soul, God, afterlife, etc.– doesn’t exist. Then, using recent studies by cognitive scientists, tries to figure out why we believe in such things. He does a nice job. He makes a leap when going from the existence of “two computers” to the way those computers interact to form religious belief, but it’s a believable leap.

    But here’s the thing: The existence of that second computer–the social one–is evidence for the soul. Bloom doesn’t try to explain where this second computer comes from. He can’t, because he’s a materialist and he’s trying to explain a spiritual property without reference to the immaterial. At one point, he classifies all religious belief as a type of Cartesian dualism, but that’s a straw man. No one since Locke shredded it has accepted Descartes’ dualism, and the Aristotelian/Thomistic understanding of the relationship of the “two computers” is considerably more developed.

    Anyway, the result of Bloom’s efforts is a great assortment of quotes that support the idea that we do, indeed, have a soul. That we are, as I like to say, “hard wired” (by mother nature, the great tree god, or something else) to have immaterial beliefs, that these beliefs might exist for a reason (to wit, because there is an immaterial side to existence).

    [I]t makes intuitive sense to us that people can be separated from their bodies, and similar transformations show up in religions around the world.

    We can imagine our bodies being destroyed, our brains ceasing to function, our bones turning to dust, but it is harder—some would say impossible—to imagine the end of our very existence. The notion of a soul without a body makes sense to us.

    [T]he notion that life after death is possible is not learned at all. It is a by-product of how we naturally think about the world.

    [W]hen asked about the origin of animals and people, children tend to prefer explanations that involve an intentional creator, even if the adults raising them do not. Creationism—and belief in God—is bred in the bone.

    Maybe Bloom should’ve just read St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews: “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts . . .”. It woulda saved him a lot of time. But I appreciate his efforts. It is, all sarcasm aside, a fine piece of writing.

    Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList

    Comments are closed.

     

     

    Enter Amazon here, buy something, and get me a kickback.


    "The Daily Eudemon is the sort of thing that Chesterton or Mencken would be doing, if they were alive today. It's what, in saner times, was called journalism. In the writing and in the reading, it's exactly the sort of leisure we should want at the basis of culture."
    Mike Aquilina, Author of The Fathers of the Church and TV Talk Show Host.

    "Literate Catholicism-urbane, witty, engaged-is alive and well! If you can read, you should be reading The Daily Eudemon!" David Scott, author of A Revolution of Love: The Meaning of Mother Teresa

    "If you like your blogs pithy, nimble, pointed, high-spirited, and waggish, then bookmmark Eric Scheske's The Daily Eudemon. Ooops! You want prolixity, density, meandering, dull, and sober? Then run (do not walk!) to the blogs of the major news outlets. They have just what you want. Honestly they do." John Peterson, Editor, G.K. Chesterton: Collected Works, Volumes 12 and 13.

    "Eric Scheske's web site is full of information and insight.  Always worth a read."  James V. Schall, Author of Another Sort of Learning.

    "Eric Scheske has one of the few indispensable sites in an overcrowded blogosphere." Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Ph.D., New York Times Bestselling Author and Author of How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

    links
    Abbey-Roads
    Acts of the Apostasy
    After Abortion
    Aggie Catholics
    All Manner of Things
    Belinda’s Brain
    Bethune Catholic
    Betty Duffy
    Book Reviews and More
    Catholic Blogs
    Catholic Exchange
    Catholic Fire
    Charlotte Was Both
    Chesterton and Friends
    Crossroads
    Decent Films
    Digital Hairshirt
    Dyspeptic Mutterings
    EWTN
    Fathers of the Church
    First Principles
    Get Blogs
    Gilbert Magazine
    Godspy
    Happy Catholic
    Mark Shea
    Mere Comments
    Michelle Reitemeyer
    More Last Than Star
    National Catholic Register
    New Advent
    Phat Catholic
    Pillar and Fire
    Post Modern Papist
    PowerBlog
    Pro Ecclesia
    Quaffs and Quibbles
    Reasoned Audacity
    Reconnaissance of the Western Tradition
    Roman Catholic Info
    Ruri et Orbi
    Scholium
    Shadow of Diogenes
    Signs of the Times: Salvo Blog
    Some Have Hats
    St. Blog’s Parish Blog Digger
    St. Blog’s Parish Directory
    St. James Journal
    St. Peter Canisius Apostolate
    Standing on My Head
    Stella Maris
    Stony Creek Digest
    Streams of Mercy
    Stupid Scholar
    Suicide of the West
    Summa Minutiae
    Taki
    The American Conservative
    The Blue Boar
    The Cafeteria is Closed
    The Crescat
    The Curt Jester
    The Dawn Patrol
    The Drunken Dollar
    The Impractical Christian
    The Inn at the End of the World
    The Michiana Blawg
    The Muniment Room
    The Radical Academy
    The Reticulator
    The Saint Wannabe
    The Scratching Post
    The Snoring Scholar
    The Summa Mamas
    The Waffling Anglican
    The Western Confucian
    Things and Stuff
    Thursday Night Gumbo
    Uncovering Orthodoxy
    Victor Lams
    Video Meliora
    Vita Mea
    Vox Nova
    What's Wrong with the World
    With Both Hands
    Within the Garden
    Without Having Seen
    World Wide Words

    the bloghorn
    Abbey-Roads
    Acts of the Apostasy
    After Abortion
    Aggie Catholics
    All Manner of Things
    Belinda’s Brain
    Bethune Catholic
    Betty Duffy
    Book Reviews and More
    Catholic Blogs
    Catholic Exchange
    Catholic Fire
    Charlotte Was Both
    Chesterton and Friends
    Crossroads
    Decent Films
    Digital Hairshirt
    Dyspeptic Mutterings
    EWTN
    Fathers of the Church
    First Principles
    Get Blogs
    Gilbert Magazine
    Godspy
    Happy Catholic
    Mark Shea
    Mere Comments
    Michelle Reitemeyer
    More Last Than Star
    National Catholic Register
    New Advent
    Phat Catholic
    Pillar and Fire
    Post Modern Papist
    PowerBlog
    Pro Ecclesia
    Quaffs and Quibbles
    Reasoned Audacity
    Reconnaissance of the Western Tradition
    Roman Catholic Info
    Ruri et Orbi
    Scholium
    Shadow of Diogenes
    Signs of the Times: Salvo Blog
    Some Have Hats
    St. Blog’s Parish Blog Digger
    St. Blog’s Parish Directory
    St. James Journal
    St. Peter Canisius Apostolate
    Standing on My Head
    Stella Maris
    Stony Creek Digest
    Streams of Mercy
    Stupid Scholar
    Suicide of the West
    Summa Minutiae
    Taki
    The American Conservative
    The Blue Boar
    The Cafeteria is Closed
    The Crescat
    The Curt Jester
    The Dawn Patrol
    The Drunken Dollar
    The Impractical Christian
    The Inn at the End of the World
    The Michiana Blawg
    The Muniment Room
    The Radical Academy
    The Reticulator
    The Saint Wannabe
    The Scratching Post
    The Snoring Scholar
    The Summa Mamas
    The Waffling Anglican
    The Western Confucian
    Things and Stuff
    Thursday Night Gumbo
    Uncovering Orthodoxy
    Victor Lams
    Video Meliora
    Vita Mea
    Vox Nova
    What's Wrong with the World
    With Both Hands
    Within the Garden
    Without Having Seen
    World Wide Words

    << # St. Blog's Parish ? >> 


    The Daily Eudemon is Copyright 2005 Eric Scheske.

    Design by Aquilina Computer Services.