Two Interesting Articles

Adam Lee looks at the current political climate and what may be coming next.

The Rising of the Sun

The cause of these convulsions is privileged distress on a massive scale, as white Christian conservatives realize they’re losing their power to unilaterally dictate the direction of the country. Taking their place is a coalition of younger, more multiracial, less religious voters – and the old guard is obsessed with the idea that these upstarts are immoral, undeserving, and will bring America to ruin. It’s shocking how willing they are to say this openly, as in the recent Wall Street Journal editorial that, no joke, laments the end of WASP rule.

Barack Obama, a black man with a mixed ethnic heritage and a funny name, is like a composite of everything they fear. (The exception to this is that he was Christian and not, say, Muslim – but they were happy to fix that detail.) And as disheartening as his election was for them, his re-election made it even worse, confirming that his first win was no aberration but the sign of a demographic change that may be permanent. Their wailing and rending of garments over Mitt Romney’s loss can be understood in this light.

The religious right believes it’s losing the culture war, and they’re acting accordingly, lashing out in fury with all the tools they still possess, trying to build walls to hold off the future as long as possible. And when your opponents think they’re losing, you should believe them. For true-blue American liberals, this may be the darkest hour of the night. But that just means the sun will be rising all the sooner.

Over at Science On Religion: Is religion anthropomorphism?

The verdict is in: we are our brains, roughly speaking. That is, according to modern neuroscience and cognitive science, our personalities, dreams, and experiences are all products of intensely complex interactions of the neurons in our craniums. You can disagree or agree with this claim, but nearly all experts who study the brain and mind are convinced of it. When it comes to things spiritual, the cognitive science of religion (CSR) is a field that tries to understand religious beliefs from within this naturalistic framework. And recently, one of the founding thinkers in CSR outlined a central claim in the field: religion is essentially about anthropomorphism, or the tendency for our brains to see persons in the world around us.

The sketch of Guthrie’s seven-step model of how our evolved minds generate religion is similar to, roughly, the thesis of Jesse Bering’s recent book The Belief Instinct, which in turn develops the consequences of the numerous psychological biases explored by David McRaney and others.

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