The Psychology of Religion – Steven Pinker

The Psychology of Religion – Steven Pinker

The Psychology of Religion – Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Professor Derose


January 15, 2014 / 37 Comments / by / in
  • Way to pull back the curtain!

  • Brain can be damaged physically but mind, which is nonphysical, is most likely damaged by mind misfunctioning (as neurosis, etc.). And by its root in the brain.

  • It's not about religion it's about the truth that mindless things can't make you. It's not about religion, it's about the truth that only your Maker can cover for you Himself and remake you again from the inside out by His true. No one else can

  • There are rational explanations to religions – we know that people made it all up – so obviously they were influenced by the times they lived in. Christianity and Islam were born when Kings ruled with an iron fist – the King was Master of his land, his word was the LAW(Islamic countries imposing religious law), a Subject's quality and quantity of life depended on the King/Master. Get down on one's knees and beg the Master for mercy – if pleased the King/Master will let you stay in his kingdom(Heaven) or else!(Hell). The King won't allow disloyal people in his kingdom – which is why their heavens are segregated.
    Master is always right, master must be obeyed, a servant may serve only One Master(hence the One God) – hence the hate against Gays, the denial of evolution, the hate against Atheists and those of other religions
    Notice the Terminology – Commandments, Submit, beg, mercy, wrath, Fear – all Slave/Servant words – totally absent in Hinduism/Buddhism
    Very, very primitive views of God – sad that these are the dominant views today

  • Everyone who has been subject to undue influence by a religion could be helped by this excellent piece.


  • to :"Old Man from Scene Twenty Four" – sorry for the confusion. My dialogue, such as it is, given his lack of consistency and logic, is with Xavier, not you. I apologize for the confusion.

    But since we are talking, what's the significance of your user name? Are you an actor?

  • I think Pinker's view about the evolutionary place of religion is somehow better explained by the Terror Management Theory (TMT) and their evolutionnary perspective on this issue (Sheldon Solomon etc. in "The Worm at the Core"). Pinker says that religion is an evolutionnary by-product. This would be supported by TMT, in my opinion at least: In the first place, evolution has "given" us human mammals high(er) cognitive brain capacity. This higher capacity has led humans to be conscious of the fact that we are doomed and will inevitably die. We have an instinct of survival as every animal has, but unlike all other animals we all have this conscience of our own mortality from a rather young age on. Rituals and religion (as evolved product of them) have arisen out of this existential conflict in order to reduce the paralysing tension that stems from it. In other words, this psychological conflict has led humanity to construct "meaningfull" convictions about the universe and our "cosmological place" in it. Culture and religion give us humans at least the illusion of a meaningfull universe and a life that lasts longer than our phisical being ("legacy"-concept of Becker). Because our real life is as temporary and insignificant as any other animal life… This "unbearable" fact, I would say, is the main reason of culture evolution and very well described in its whole by Anthropologists like Becker.

  • "Look who thinks he's nothing" lol

  • when you look at religion through the eyes of psychology of sociology you naturally come to these types of conclusions. The underlying
    worldview materialism , reductionism are also based on belief systems also full of holes. Talk to a few scientists about the basic nature of reality if you want to see some fun, beware of the experts whether they wear robes or p.hs . The so-called new atheists use the the most superficial socilaized aspects of the western religous traditions .Take a long serious look at Taoist ,Buddhist, and Hinduism if you are interested in expanding your knowledge into wisdom, an aspect of reality that your brilliant ego-bound experts have no idea about.

  • I don't mean to naysay the concepts presented here, but one could have picked up — and retained — 90% of this from a good, social-psychology-oriented, comparative religion text. One could start with Karen Armstrong's =A History of God=. My problem with Pinker (for years) has been that he writes and lectures like he thinks, I expect. He brings up very significant concepts, spends a sentence or two with them, and then heads off in another direction. Unlike, say, Jack Miles (=God, a Biography=; =Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God=) he does not build his writing or his lectures scaffolded layer by layer. Which makes Pinker's presentations (for me anyway) like discourses in disconnected dots the auditor may have grave difficulty hooking together.

  • Sorry, I clicked "dislike" on the video because at the end of it the discussion is literally cut in half right in the middle of a sentence (and an interesting one!). 🙂 And also because the description doesn't bother telling anything about the source(s) of this material.

  • Jesus

  • Dawkins's theory is basically that religion exists because God is an extremely dank meme. I like it.

  • Everybody has suppositions. When debating a critic there is always a point to start the discussion because the critic will always have conditions that he believes to be true regardless of proof. They just need to be defined. That is when internal critiques using the critics presuppositions can be used.

    The issue with debating a religious individual is that they criticize your position internally but ask that you critique their position externally. Which is the best chance they have for leveling the field. This is because they can not form any material proof for their beliefs outside their ideology. The last part of the video shows this dynamic.

    I will admit that this is a technique of winning an argument not debating for truth (whatever that may be defined). It hinges on the believers own knowledge of their belief and your ability to capitalize on that knowledge and logic.

  • Neil degrass tyson found an analysis that the higher education have less religious people. The number of religious people decrease when there is a higher degree associates, bachelor, masters, phd ect.

  • Excellent……enough said.

  • AAAH, it cuts off at the end, Dawkins was asking one of those super-pwnage "Your answer to this is gonna destroy your own argument" questions, and it just cuts off!! dammit man, The ol professor was gonna go all hulk smash on that wishy washy weirdo!

  • A religion is a set of stories, symbols and rituals that help people orient themselves to the mystery of life–the truth beyond perception. Religious institutions are groups of people who (generally) take these stories and symbols and turn them into polarizing dogmas that kill the mystery and block the light of truth. Most religion hating is really an aversion to the corrupting influence of institutions rather than to religion itself. This same corruption also happens within Science, when dogmatic assumptions (like the mind being in the brain for example) block free inquiry and experimentation to discover truth. Truth is one. Science and religion are meant to help us discover this. But Institutions (of every form) do everything they can to destroy awareness of truth, pitting us against one another based on polarizing beliefs that remain unquestioned. Based on many of the comments, I'd say they've been quite successful.

  • Atheists, if you're going to worship, at least worship someone decent. The atheist saints on YouTube are all empty suits like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, uneducated like laymen like Bill Nye or Stephen Fry, or con men like Richard Carrier. Try Stephen Hawking. He's done something to earn respect beyond just being an atheist. Sort yourselves out.

  • "Mind" is similarly ambiguous just as "Soul" and "Spirit" – just by using it does not remove the caveat of "belief" unless it is accurately and consistently defined. Dennett seems to think it does not exist. Does that mean (because he also thinks "God" does not exist) that Mind is part of Religious Belief…? No. That would be silly – and so is the whole line of thought presented.

  • I would love to see a panel discussion on the psychology of scientists are obsessed with disparaging religion. For starters, they always conflate religion in general with the particular religion that was presented to them as children, no matter how much they pretend otherwise. (Maybe, for instance, their parents forced them to go to church every Sunday, and this OCD attack on religion is their attempt at payback?) They always share with religious fundamentalists the inability to tell the difference between prose and poetry in the sense that they conflate religious mythology with religion itself. It may be that a high degree of mathematical intelligence precludes certain other sorts of intelligence from developing? We need a panel of psychologists to flush this out!

  • What bothers (or amuses me) is that if you take a globe and put you finger anywhere on it, you find that wherever there is prosperity, architecture, joy en general good living standards, it is where religion also is. Where there is no religion, there is nothing else as well. Even religious nations are more successful and happier than the rest, e.g Albania who was the world first atheist country, and became the poorest white culture on earth. Compare that to the British, who is very religious, and one of the most blessed nations in the history of man. So I am thinking that religion appeals to the more intelligent brain, which is able to function on a more spiritual level, understanding cause and effect better, being able to grasp the relationship between mind and universe better etc. I personally think that is why King James asked Isaac Newton to revise and write the King James version of the Bible, because he was the cleverest man king James could find. Alternatively, it is just God keeping his side of the deal—worship Me and keep My commandmends, and you will be blessed for a thousand generations…

  • I think the psychology is simple when it comes to religion. It is a control system that is designed to play upon human emotions. There is reward and punishment. It provides a false sense of security. A child might feel safer with it's security blanket, but that sense of security is an illusion. That's what religion is, a security blanket.

  • As the skeptics might say " What would Blade Runner do? " ( It is soooooo dark here/ in our age and time)

  • Wow, Pinker sure does have a piss poor understanding of the human psychology underlying religion.

  • religion connects human ontology into it origin from emergence ,a metacognitive processing about all powers that can be conceptualized by brain ,and those from unknown origins .

  • The video stopped at a crucial point. Dawkins was asking Derose why theism should be granted status of 'innocent until proven guilty"? I really wanted to hear Derose's answer- the discussion was getting to the heart of the issue at that point.

  • cool = cool I am nothing

  • Stops mid sentence,,, frustrating

  • no point commenting, believe what you want. everybody does

  • It's somewhat ironic that Steven Pinker is well known for debunking religion when he is himself basically Jesus

  • I don't think Pinker and Dawkins' argument enables the conclusion that religion is false. Both use the framework of evolutionary psychology as a theory to explain and account for the phenomenon of religion among people, but we can turn this same framework to explain the phenomenon of atheism as well. However, this doesn't mean that we thereby prove atheism is false.

  • Humans are frail…they like to be led…frequently they follow the loud, the obnoxious and feckless-See Donald Trump!!

  • nice curls

  • Imaginary gods do not have a future as science continues discovering other mysteries. I wrote a book titled Creation Stories. Most of those myths are not belived by humans any more..

  • You cut it off at the most important question of all… Why privilege religious beliefs, over the billions of other beliefs…
    Thumbs down to the video. Even though the discussion was fascinating.

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