What Is This Life?

Rationalists pride themselves on believing in evolution, unlike dopey creationists.

Per the theory of evolution, if we find that all, say, woodchucks engage in some behavior, and expand a great deal of energy in doing so, we should suspect that that activity is important to the woodchucks’ survival, even if we are not sure how. It would be very non-Darwinian of us to dismiss this behavior as “Just stupid woodchucks, doing something ridiculous and pointless.”

And yet when it is noticed that all human societies ever have engaged in some form of behavior that can be characterized as religious, and have spent a great deal of energy doing so, these rationalists dismiss this behavior as “Just stupid humans, doing something ridiculous and pointless.”

Comments

  1. I myself have not heard any rationalist claim that religion is something ridiculous and pointless. They usually do believe that there is a biological or sociological reason for widespread belief in religion but one that is no longer necessary for the modern world.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RBCYLhHBlc ( social reasons)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql2yz7XDs2A (evolutionary)


    Some have gone on to argue that 20th century ideologies like communism, facism, libertarianism etc. are just updated forms of religion for our modern world and have simply just replaced older versions like islam and christianity because they better fit the modern world. They may not have houses of worship, ideas of an afterlife, religious texts, and religious rituals but that's because they are either no longer neccessary for these modern religions or have been replaced by modern social constructs.

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    Replies
    1. "I myself have not heard any rationalist claim that religion is something ridiculous and pointless."

      Then your reading is very, very limited! This has been a constant refrain since Voltaire!

      "Some have gone on to argue that 20th century ideologies like communism, facism, libertarianism etc. are just updated forms of religion ..."

      Yeah, I write about this all the time. Do you also fill Nassim Taleb in about probability?
      What they are is debased, degraded forms of religion.

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    3. I also don’t think it’s fair to compare the actions of animals vs the actions of humans. Nearly all animals do not have sentience and cannot consciously control their actions. Healthy lions can’t just decide to skip out on mating season and sea turtles will happily gobble up plastic bags simply because they look like jellyfish. Since animals do not have sentience, they only behave the way they do due to natural selection . Humans on the other hand do have sentience and can choose which religions or ideologies to convert/subscribe to. Woodchucks can’t change their behavior without outside interference but humans can. Rationalists only think that religious people are “Just stupid humans, doing something ridiculous and pointless” because they can become “enlightened/smarter” by becoming secular and no longer worshipping god(s) while they don’t think the same for animals because animals can’t do the same and their behavior is due to instinct and not conscious choice.

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    4. Nice, it seems that my original comment did indeed make it through and wasn't deleted. If you see a 2nd comment, it was one that I wrote later. You should probably respond to that one if you're in the mood of responding.

      P.S: I know this sounds unrelated but what are your thoughts on liberaltarians?

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    5. "Humans on the other hand do have sentience and can choose which religions or ideologies to convert/subscribe to."

      Dumb, dumb objection. The question is why has EVERY SINGLE CULTURE EVER had some sort of religious/sacred expression, if it is ridiculous and pointless?

      Noting that they could choose otherwise only makes the problem for the rationalists WORSE, not better.

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    6. In the hopes of not talking past each other, let me try to steelman you and try to spell out what you're trying to say.

      1) Rationalists believe that there is a logical reason for every phenomenon. However, when they claim that religion is redundant and pointless, they're contradicting themselves as nearly every culture on earth has had some kind of religion so there must be some logical reason for it to exist. (As I noted in my first post, modern rationalists have come up with explanations for why religion exists in nearlly all cultures but I seemed to have used a narrower, modern/scientific defiinition of rationalism while you seemed to have used a more broader definition of rationalism.)

      or

      2) Rationalists seem to believe that religion and superstition is pointless but have failed to explain why it is that every culture on earth has had some form of religion and their lack of an explanation has made them look contradictory and hypocritical.

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