The Psychology Behind Religion (Michael Shermer)

The Psychology Behind Religion (Michael Shermer)

This is part of an “Amazing Arguments” playlist featuring people like Daniel Dennet, Stephen Pinker, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.
Check out the rest of the playlist here:

Many of the clips are taken from this “Science Refutes God” Debate featuring Michael Shermer and Lawrence Krauss:

If you are interested in the psychology of religion, I highly recommend the lecture “Why We Believe in Gods” by Andy Tompson:

Evolutionary Psychology of Religion:
Hyperactive Agency Detection:

You can also check out Shermer’s book “The Believing Brain”:

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All copyrighted materials contained herein belong to their respective copyright holders, I do not claim ownership over any of these materials. In no way do I benefit either financially or otherwise from this video.



June 13, 2015 / 22 Comments / by / in
  • That high five at the end was a great finale.

  • I think what Shermer says at about 11:35 gets to the hub of the matter, .. when you are in that religious bubble, the faith you follow makes perfect sense, but once you are able to see things from outside that comfort bubble, you begin to see a whole new perspective and things make a lot more sense.

  • Mr. Hitchens, have a Hitchslap, courtesy of the Hitch.

  • 666 views.  Woot!

  • "Within 1000 years of history there have been 1000 religions and 1000 gods"

  • All lovely observations, and lovely to argue with others, and great to hear he's rational and those religious folk aren't but he entirely misses the point.

    Putting it on a different plain altogether:  
    The capacity for religious faith is both part of the human genome and is learned.behavior.

    We are social primates, we live in groups
    Groups have leaders and followers.
    Followers have faith in the leaders, or the leaders couldn't lead (public servants literally)
    So, it's part of being human, having faith in others 

    That's also known as the golden rule, or the law of reciprocity, and that's why all religions have it as part of their liturgy, claiming they deliver what is already native to us!

    Secondly, we learn faith.

    For 18-24 months we are almost entirely dependent on others.
    We awake, and a teat is provided, someone cleans us, and, as this pattern repeats, we go to bed with faith it will happen again.  And it does, reinforcing our faith in higher powers, our parents, siblings, extended family.

    Some grow up in a continuous search for that idyllic memory, of being taken care of by higher powers.

    That's why religions are successful, first because they claim to deliver what we already have, so that's a positive reinforcement, and because we learn to have faith in higher powers, and search and find solace in a given religion's expression of a higher power or powers.

  • Religious Belief = Mental Disorder

  • Excellent!

  • 03:40
    Not sure about that point. Two year old children believe everything they are told and are not old enough to analyse the truth of the teacher's statement and call shenanigans.

  • Good Without God

    Christians assert that you cannot be good without god. I assert the opposite. You cannot be good while holding Christian delusions. How do I know? Consider the murder, rape, teen pregnancy etc. rates in the Christian USA vs the atheist Sweden. Sweden is dramatically better on every measure. In the USA only a minute fraction of atheists are in jail compared with Christians. It is almost negligible. Why would that be?

    Christians believe they are doomed to eternal torment. They might as well hang for a sheep as a lamb.

    Christians believe in confessions undoing the effect of sin. This delusion encourages wrongdoing.

    Christian morality is absurd. It is 3000 years out of date. Killing someone for eating a lobster or having a same-sex relationship is just plain nuts.

    The bible not only condones rape Deuteronomy 22:28-29, it makes it mandatory Numbers 31:17-18 and Isaiah 3:16 etc. How can a Christian behave well with a defective objective (aka externally imposed) moral code like that?

  • princess Alice, not princess Ann

  • Is he a fucking zionist jew???

  • Accept Juses and move on. Why to question? Use the knowledge and wisdom

  • To believe like do atheists that something can comes from absolutely nothing (nothingness) it supposes to not be very rational and to just be able to believe in apparences.
    I'll add that the "psychosis" of the believer and religious can be explained just because the atheist (often a psychiatrist) don't believe himself in god but personally think with the lack of psychology which he is capable that all was created from nothing.
    All was created from nothing, here is the real madness, comparable to believe that the earth is flat.
    Atheism is a shame for rationality and intelligence.

  • has anyone actually read the religious text they hold so dear?

    I know noone who actually read the original bible and whatever text that is considered to be an english or other local langugage translation is a work of men.

    From what I understand Arabic langugage has also evolved from the time of original Quran and peope have a hard time understanding it and non Arabic muslims have the same translation issue.

    From the above there is a very clear issue that men who translate/interpret the text are in positions of supreme auhority over mostly ignorant belivers.

  • If evolution cant even build a car and put it together in a more than a billion years, do you think evolution can be the architect of a world? or a human? i believe God and his Word to be the truth.

  • Shermer knows his shit! Nice arguments and way to expose it.

  • O am trying to do a study here! Not bash religion!

  • "There goes half of congress" XD

  • God's Psychiatry and Psychology can truly heal depression. If nothing else has worked, please turn towards and ask God for help before you give up. "He restores my soul" and will "never leave you nor forsake you", those aren't just bible verses, I lived and experienced God's grace from depression myself and YOU CAN TOO Please check out our channel for a Free 15 minute audiobook sample and other free resources. God Bless you always and forever!

  • While I agree with most of his views, I think he articulates his points in a really insulting way.. Like, I'm an athiest myself but I wont claim to know that God doesnt exist with absolute certainty and dismiss all counteropinions like theyre something silly

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