Links and Comments: The Smart Ones Figure It Out; Coyne on Yet Another Religious Apologetic

I’ve mentioned before how I think “the smart ones figure it out,” even as traditionally it’s been impolite to discuss it. The smart ones are generally smart enough not to make an issue of it; to not challenge their friends or loved ones for the sake of getting along in the world; it’s a private revelation, broached in scandalous books by intellectuals like Voltaire and Thomas Paine for centuries, but in the broader culture only in the past 10 or 15 years, as we see in the rise of the “nones.”

He Went from Fundamentalist Christian to Vocal Atheist. Here’s How.

One could see how this guy’s rather Sheldon Cooper-like smarminess might put people off; but it’s his nerdy self-confidence that has enabled his YouTube channel.


It’s always fun to see yet another religious apologetic, like this NYT op-ed, What Science Can Learn From Religion, by David DeSteno, and then see how clearer-minded folks like Jerry Coyne respond: New York Times op-ed: Science can learn from religion. With data. And a long response that discusses how the points in DeSteno’s essay are not necessarily religious.

As for the other two, I am not so sure they come from religion. Ritual probably long preceded present-day religions, and may have had little to do with belief in divine beings. The origins of ritual are lost in the irrecoverable past of our species. Indeed, religion may have adopted rituals like singing and dancing from the teenage phase of our evolutionary history.

And, of course, there are other ways of bonding. Do soccer fans derive their chants and solidarity from observing religion? I don’t think so. There are many things that help us bond, and many rituals that facilitate that, and surely some of those don’t come from religion. I won’t go into this in detail as readers can think of these on their own. But why not write an article like “What science can learn from soccer”?

(I’m always impressed by how Coyne, a professor at the University of Chicago, finds time to write such lengthy posts like this, sometimes more than once a day.)

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