TED Conversations

Cory Warshaw

Curator @ TEDxUCDavis, TEDxUCDavis

TEDCRED 500+

This conversation is closed.

Science vs God?

I am the Curator of TEDxUCDavis, and I wanted to create a page where people could discuss the talk at my event by Bryan Enderle: Science vs God. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn7YQOzNuSc&list=PLsRNoUx8w3rNNNJZyHiIb3MMhM3QQyiAD&index=10

First and foremost, I wanted to make a disclaimer. The views expressed in this talk do not reflect the views of the broader TED-organization. The selection was made entirely by me and the content was produced entirely by Mr Enderle.

I invited Bryan to speak despite the fact that I am an atheist, and knowing how often I would cringe at these types of talks. In my view what Bryan does differently is merely make a plausibility argument for traits that seem too fantastic to many. He is not arguing for the existence of God. I was once a vindictive atheist who cheered for Richard Dawkins in his debates and despised religious thought. Eventually however, I realized that this debate has been raging for centuries and to simply discount all the brilliant people who had faith would be too simple. There is a debate to be held yes, but it does not need to be so vitriolic and people of both sides can learn from each other.

In this debate section please keep your comments specifically to the points discussed in his talk, and try not to stray to other issues. I think Bryan titled his talk to be deliberately provocative, since it is this false dichotomy between faith and science that he tries to break down in his talk. If we can think how the two philosophies can inform the other, then we can have a productive discussion.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 26 2013: Can Religion Be Explained Without God?
    by Robert Lawrence Kuhn

    I want to believe in God, but “religion” stops me. I hope God has less to do with religion, and religion with God, than we usually think.
    Some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural, that religion, without God, can form and flourish. To others, the claim is blasphemous: God exists and religion is God’s revelation. All agree that religion affects humanity profoundly.
    Why is religion a force so powerful? Even those who believe in God should understand how personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.
    Philosopher Daniel Dennett’s book Breaking The Spell describes religion as a “natural phenomenon.” No one naturalizes religion better than Dennett, who defines it succinctly as “belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.” He suggests that, “the question of whether God exists is actually of less importance to the modern world than maybe it once was.”
    Dennett encourages us “to think not just historically, but biologically or evolutionarily.” He says, “We have to realize that Homo sapiens—us—descended from earlier hominids; we share a common ancestry with chimpanzees going back about 6 million years. Can we see what religion adds to the mix that makes us so different from all other animals?”
    He thinks that we can. “I think we can discern religion's origins in superstition, which grew out of an overactive adoption of the intentional stance,” he says. “This is a mammalian feature that we share with, say, dogs. If your dog hears the thud of snow falling off the roof and jumps up and barks, the dog is in effect asking, ‘Who’s there?’ not, ‘What’s that?’ The dog is assuming there’s an agent causing the thud. It might be a dangerous agent. The assumption is that when something surprising, unexpected, puzzling happens, treat it as an agent until you learn otherwise. That’s the intentional stance. It’s instinctive.”

    http://www.closertotruth.com/blog-entry/Can-Religion-Be-Explained-Without-God-/18
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Jun 28 2013: What question does this statement answer?
        This is all very well and good wish you subscribe to what you have described as a personal set of beliefs.
        My question is; why do you feel the need to share them with others?
        • Jun 28 2013: hey little bunny, did you see something funny

          You look like the guy from NYPD-blue! Or was it Law & Order the original series!
      • thumb
        Jun 28 2013: Again your questions are all personal ones.

        RE: " I know enough neuroscience to compete w/Sam Harris "

        You have yet to establish that to anyone here.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.