Religion And The Supernatural

Origins, Delusional Aspects, And True Function

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INTRODUCTION: What may be called the religious or spiritual instinct of man can certainly be considered among the noblest aspects of his nature. This is the profound human wonder and appreciation of the mystery of the world in which we find our existence and the desire to understand its deepest workings and man's place within it. Since ancient times this has been the central concern of those who can justifiably be considered the greatest of men, the great philosophers, scientists, thinkers, sages and prophets.

The insights and teachings of these men were often the best that might be expected from the pre scientific times in which they lived. They were often the best answers of their times. However rather than being free to develop and converge on truth as science does today many of these teachings were seized upon by groups of men who froze them in their original forms and built around them institutions of organized religions by which to exercise control over others. This phenomenon of organized religion has had many negative effects in the history of mankind. First by largely freezing belief systems in their original ancient pre scientific forms it greatly inhibited the progress of human understanding. Second by establishing religious identities it led to or at least served as an excuse for vast amounts of oppression and warfare and exploitation of those of other religious identities. Third, by claiming to mediate between God and man it effectively diminished the immediate experience of man for the wonder of the world and discouraged attempts to better understand the nature of the world.

Sadly organized religions still have the same harmful effects on society today. By promulgating clearly delusional ancient doctrines as absolute truth, and encouraging actions based on delusion organized religions today are a major impediment to a sane, just and peaceful world.

Thankfully there is a clear solution to this problem, though effecting it will not be easy. The answer is clearly the transition of all current religions to a unified new global religion that discards all delusional doctrines and recognizes science and reason as the proper method of understanding the world. The best way to do this is to come to the common understanding that God (if one requires a God) is recognized as the living universe itself. Defined thus there is no longer any doubt at all but that God exists, and it just remains for science and reason to describe God's nature. The function of organized religions then becomes the appreciation and celebration of God, of the awesome profundity of the reality of the universe in which we exist, and to develop insights into how best to live our lives within this universe in accord with its true nature.

The key then is for religion to discard all delusional mythological pre scientific dogmas and concentrate on inspiring wonder and appreciation and celebration of the divinity of the world in which we live as revealed by science and reason. Only then will religion truly become a positive force for sanity, peace and an optimally functional society in balance with the world in which we live.

ORIGINS: The functional origin of religion is rather simple. Living organisms need reasonably accurate cognitive models to function effectively in their environments. The human mind functions best when it can ascribe causes to effects. When the physical cause of an effect is obvious that relationship is incorporated into the cognitive model. Eg. spearing an animal in the heart kills it. However for the many events of which physical causes are not obvious it still makes thinking about them easier if some cause is ascribed. Therefore a 'marker' cause is made up normally by analogy to human volition and motivations, but ascribed to some unseen non physical being. Eg. what 'causes' an animal to just happen to show up close enough to be speared. There may be no obvious physical cause so it is ascribed to some animal spirit for functional convenience since there is no obvious physical cause.

As world views further developed to the point of wondering about what more general causes might be for say the sun to rise, then just for convenience in thinking about it and reduction in uncertainly it was ascribed to another 'made up' cause, a god, by analogy to a human-like entity with the capacity for human-like action, but with sufficient power. Once that concept is in place it then makes perfect sense to try to influence the behavior of such entities as they are modeled on humans or animals whose behavior is subject to influence, and this mechanism also allows the projection of moral norms as coming from the god, which must be lived in accordance with, so as to influence its behavior in a positive manner and avoid risking its anger.

It all makes perfect sense and can be reasonably adaptive so long as physical causes remain unknown. Thus religion and superstition should diminish as science explains more and more causes. It is certainly true that even today physical causes for much that happens to humans are not easily discernible, which contributes to the continued belief in such nonsense as organized religion, astrology etc. In the end though, we must accept that the causes for many occurrences are intrinsically or computationally unknowable. Certainly for those questions for which science can provide answers we must be willing to abandon conflicting religious explanations. Otherwise we condemn ourselves to a dangerous collective delusion.

The adapted trait that humans excel at is constructing complex causal cognitive models of the world. In the beginning most causal agents in such models were poorly understood and thus ascribed to unseen active agents modeled on visible active agents, i.e. gods and spirits. As science progresses those agents are, or should be, gradually replaced with natural causal agents as they become understood.

So from an evolutionary perspective both supernatural and natural agents are have been part and parcel of the same effective cognitive world model. The point is simply to replace as many supernatural agents with natural agents as one can. Only to the extent that one continually does that is one's cognitive model up to date and accurate and non-delusional.

Thus Gods and other supernatural active agents are an essential cognitive mechanism to simplify and make more efficient the processing of the mind's cognitive model of the world it lives in. That is the explanation and origin and function of the Gods and spirits.

To reiterate, the root of all religion is simply the need to ascribe causes to events to bring order to the mind. That is how the human mind works, it deals best with computation in terms of well defined symbols, even if the external reference validity of the symbol itself is unsubstantiated. In ancient times only a limited number of events had clear causality. Those which didn't were ascribed causality by unseen forces as the most efficient mental mechanism for incorporating those events into a cogent cognitive world view. That allows for a neater and more easily manipulated cognitive structure.

When natural causes were not apparent, the primitive mind tended to ascribe analogues of the natural causal agents with which it was most familiar, such as big unseen fathers and mothers hidden from view - the gods and spirits. From there it is an entirely logical step to try to influence the actions of such causative agents based on the projections of human-like personalities with gifts, sacrifices, prayers (basically infant begging behaviors). This is the origin of religion and superstition.

With the gradual progress of human understanding of causality more and more events were subject to more accurate identification and description of their causes and so the supernatural causes were gradually replaced by natural ones. The process still goes on today as many causes remain poorly understood. It is in those areas that the supernatural still appears and we have 'explanation's such as those provided by astrology. Such supernatural explanations are artifacts of minds that are unable to come to terms with the innate unpredictability and non-computability of many events. Such minds always demand a clear cause, no matter how improbable, in an attempt to make their cognitive world view retain a comfortable ordered structure they can make sense of.

It is correct that the speculations of modern science must always retain some of this quasi-religious aspect when they deal with the deepest questions. The difference is that science has mechanisms such as logical and mathematical consistency with which it can restrict such speculations to ones that are at least strongly consistent with the established body of human knowledge.

The human need to find answers and understand is precisely the basis of both science and religion, and the accuracy with which one understands the workings of all natural processes is the basis of intelligence and our success in inhabiting the world.

Perhaps originally there might not have been any distinction made between supernatural and natural causality, however certainly by historical times there was a very clear distinction. After all it is very easy to understand the difference between the kind of causality employed where a direct personal action makes something happen, and things just happening with no apparent cause which required a supernatural explanation. The very fact that gods were created and named by men shows that the distinction had been made by that time between supernatural religious cause and naturally understood causality such as the pain caused by dropping a rock on one's foot.

As an example, suppose a lion surprises a man and kills him. It was pretty obvious that the man died because the lion killed him. That was clearly understood self evident natural causality and thus required no supernatural causality. On the other hand, the fact that that man and that lion both happened to be in the same place at the same time had no clear causality and thus could be ascribed to supernatural explanations, such as a spirit sent the animal to kill the man. That is the essential distinction, and ancient man made that distinction very clearly.

Remember that for man to succeed and civilization to arise an accurate explanation of natural cause and effect was absolutely essential. It is true that they existed side by side with little apparent contradiction, but the two types of causality were clearly distinguished by historical man.

The point about blood sacrifices to ensure fertility does not contradict my thesis. Gods are only one aspect of supernatural causality. However in all the cases I'm familiar with with regards fertility sacrifices there were gods (Demeter, Persephone, and a host of others) or spirits of the crops involved in such sacrifices. So essentially that is one and the same in terms of my thesis.

I agree we must be careful about backward projecting modernly defined areas of discourse. That is exactly my point in showing that it was the human need to make sense of the world in terms of causal explanation that underlies both science and religion. However by historical times those distinctions were pretty clear even though supernatural cause still permeated many aspects of life.

The problem we have now however is that the organized religions have become self-perpetuating institutions with vested interests in perpetuating ancient and disproved views of natural process. They may originally have been the best available explanations, but because they conveyed social status, wealth and power on the priests they became institutionalized far past their explanatory utility. Thus today they are largely delusional and are a huge weight dragging down human social and scientific progress.

RELIGION AS MASS DELUSION: All mistaken views and cognitive biases, in the presence of falsifying evidence, are in fact delusional. That is the definition of delusion. As I explain above, supernatural causal agents are simply placeholders that make thinking about things easier when scientific cause has not been determined. The mind computes better in terms of such uniquely named placeholders rather than under uncertainty (which is still considerable even today).

While it is true that science cannot currently disprove much religious and spiritual speculation, neither can it be proven by any rational means, therefore it must always be understood by the religious to be hypothesis not fact. Otherwise such beliefs become delusional if accepted as true facts without verification. They can be very useful as personal myths, but that is how they must be thought of by the sane.

Contrary to common suggestion the proper approach is not keeping one's religious and scientific views separate. The proper criterion for belief is not holding religious views that contradict well established science. This allows valid religious views that are interpretations of reality and one's personal relationship to it, always recognized as such and always subject to falsification by new science.

Any religious view that contradicts good science is a delusion and should be treated as such and subject to psychological treatment with the intent to cure it. In this respect the idea of keeping religion and science separate is very dangerous because it does not expose contradictions and thus inevitably leads to delusion.

One other followup is that the compartmentalization of the mind into separate systems which aren't subject to mutual checks and balances is the root of many problems. It is what for example enables men who would act morally in their own society to commit atrocities against members of others in wartime. To the extent that culture permits individuals to hold delusional religious and other beliefs, those individual's minds then become primed to accept propagandistic programming of any other delusional belief.

Organized religion has historically had both positive and negative effects on human society. Though it does offer and impose value systems of varying benefits to believers and thus has some benefits of compassion and stability, at root it is based on delusion, and from this arises its negative aspect, for if one can believe in one lie, one can certainly believe in others.

RELIGION AS MAN'S QUEST TO UNDERSTAND THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS: Let me make clear here that I am not condeming man's religious or spiritual nature as such. Truely, man's desire to understand the great questions of meaning and existence are among the most admirable of his nature.

There have been many attempts to understand man's place in the world and one must respect the spirit that led to all. However, rather than taking these as working hypothesis or theories which is what they are, organized religions have demanded unquestioning belief. It is the blind belief in organized religion that constitutes the delusion, not the attempt to solve the mysteries of man's existence. For once any unproven theory is accepted as belief, and programmed into the young, it can easily be used to oppress and control the believers, and also to incite hatred and war against non-believers. History clearly shows the truth of this and organized religion today still stands as one of the most critical obstacles to the survival of man and the planet.

RELIGION AS A TREATABLE PSYCHOSIS: Once organized religions are properly recognized as psychoses they must be treated as such. We can envision specialists in deprogramming who seek to cure religious believers on the basis of making clear to the patient the nature and source of their delusions, and by replacing these irrational beliefs with sound logical tools of thought. In the interest of a sane planet, this should be supported and subsidized as part of government provided health care.

THINKING ABOUT A NEW RELIGION: Ideally what must happen is that the human needs organized religions address must be addressed in a more rational and spiritual manner grounded in clear thinking, that would also provide a universal ethic that would also form the basis of governmental policy as well as daily human life. Perhaps Buddhism is closest to this ideal of the major religions. More about this elsewhere.

GOVERNMENTAL POLICIES TOWARD RELIGION: Governments should disincentivize support of organized religion and incentivize its replacement with rational ethics. For example, there should be no tax exemptions for contributions to churches.

JESUS, DRACULA, ELVIS AND MICHAEL: I predict, that just like Jesus and Elvis before him, Michael Jackson will also rise from the dead and there will be sporadic 'sightings' continuing over the years. I think the Jesus phenomenon needs to be understood from the Elvis perspective whereby delusional 'fans' continually resurrect their idols in their own minds. No doubt the delusion of Jesus' resurrection was/is a manifestation of the same psychological dynamic in the minds of his 'fans'. See below for the contrary evidence....

Comic book and movie 'super heros' are another manifestation of the ancient god delusion. Super heroes are certainly are worshipped if they are considered real. After all that's what gods are, they are basically super heroes that are or were believed to be real. Superman is not worshipped only because no one thinks he is real. But he is just as real as the Gods of the various religions are so there is still hope for superman! All the movie adulation is actually a big step towards that. At some point as times deteriorate I have no doubt that new leaders and 'prophets' will appear whom the masses accept as superhuman saviors. Those will be dangerous times!

Of course this is all based on earlier myths, the Myth of the Eternal Return as documented by Eliade, wherein the young male hero is slain in the fall and is plowed under and resurrected with the spring crops that his blood has nourished (or sometimes a maiden as in the Eleusinian mysteries). It's a very interesting myth that still plays out in modern memes. Pop Culture idols need to be understood as the modern incarnations of the gods, goddesses, prophets and heros of old. They apparently fill a very basic need in incomplete minds that require a belief in something superhuman like figure greater than themselves. The idolization of celebrity is essentially a religious phenomenon and needs to be understood in that context.

Anyway I suspect that somewhere right now in some small town American diner, Jesus, Elvis and Michael (all well disguised of course) are quietly having their morning coffee together ....

And finally, isn't it interesting that the only other guy that rises from the dead is Dracula - sort of the negative or reverse aspect of the very same myth? Someone should really explore the very interesting parallels between Jesus and Dracula.... (drink of my blood, eat of my body! The stake as a splinter of the true cross, the cross as the primary weapon against Dracula the anti-Jeus. Eternal life through acceptance. The supernatural powers. etc. etc.) I've always wondered how a series of pictures of Jesus as Dracula would go over! 'Eternal life through me!' A good way for someone to get their 15 minutes of fame!

Of course what the Catholic church doesn't want you to know is that Jesus and Dracula are one and the same. The second coming just didn't go quite as planned. :-)

A RATIONAL DEFINITION OF GOD: Whatever God is, he is certainly not just a bigger better more powerful human. Whether God exists or not depends entirely on how the word 'God' is defined. The best definition is simply to define God as either the universe itself or the life (motive) force and logical/mathematical structure of the universe. This is how I define God when I use the word and I believe is also close to Einstein's concept of God. The advantage of such a definition is there then can then be no question as to whether God exists or not since he does by definition. The questions are then just what his/its characteristics are, and that then becomes a rational endeavor. In any case one absolutely must define what one means by the word God before one can have an intelligent discussion about the concept. That's because most people have different definitions and their arguments are nearly always about whose definition is to 'correct'.

Certainly the notion of a God that stands outside the universe and created the universe is nonsense. For one thing one then has to ask who created him. It just pushes the really important questions under the rug and leads nowhere other than an endless stack of turtles.

OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCES: OBE is a common experience. I have had it myself. However there is no evidence that it actually occurs in a physical way, e.g. that one can actually see new data from a vantage point different than that of the physical eyes. What it is is a defense mechanism in which the brain's construct of a self localized internally can't deal will an impending harmful event and thus cognitively relocalizes that imaginary self to avoid it.

An OBE is not sufficient to prove itself is physically real because, as I've said, the everyday view of the world each of us has is a construct of our mind, and thus mind can potentially construct any world it wants. If we accept your argument then you must also accept that the world view of every paranoid schizophrenic who hallucinates is also objective reality since that's how it seemed to the person who experienced it. One needs objective proof for any such claims to prove they are objectively real and not just mental experiences.

My own OBE occurred as I was in a car headed skidding towards the edge of a cliff. I too was above the car observing everything from that perspective. The car finally stopped with the front end hanging over the cliff. However I don't think this an actual physical vantage point since there is of course no eye located up there so there can be no physical image. Instead one needs to understand that the physical world we believe we live in is at all times a cognitive model the mind constructs. The mind usually places the vantage point at the location of the body, but in times of extreme stress it can change the model to lessen the shock of impending danger.

The only real test would be something like write a message on a piece of paper and place that paper face up on top of a cabinet in an operating room. Then induce an out of body experience while the patient is lying on the operating table and see if the out of body can correctly read the message.. I think that is impossible.

REINCARNATION AND LIFE AFTER DEATH: As for life after death, the burden is on those who claim it exists to prove that, just as it is for those who claim OBEs are objective to prove that.

During death the brain gradually shuts down and the consciousness turns inward as if in dream and gradually travels towards its center. The proper understanding of the Bardo realm is this passage which occurs during the death of the brain. But when death is final there is nothing, and no next life either. In spite of what Tibetan Buddhism teaches, Bardo describes during the last stages of death, not after.

So if you want to pass through these last stages optimally you can study the Book of the Dead for some guidance, but you don't have to worry about your condition after death. There simply won't be any condition.

Worrying about not being here after you are dead is as stupid as worrying about not having been here before you were born. Same same.

MORALITY AND SUFFERING: My father and my family on my father's side believed one had to suffer to be a 'good' person. If you are happy and have fun and enjoy yourself you are somehow immoral. Though they would not admit it in so many words they most often made moral judgments on that basis. It's the unfortunate outgrowth of a long original sin harsh protestant tradition.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST AND MOST SUCCESSFUL CULT: The Catholic church can console itself with the thought that it is by far the world's largest cult, a cult being defined as a religious group controlled and headed by a single all powerful leader who claims to mediate between the cult followers and the cult's god. That is not the case to anywhere near the same extent in any of the other major religious sects though many others share this characteristic to some extent. Demonizing as cults those splinter groups which pop up from time to time while ignoring the cult-like nature of some of the major religious sects is simply ignoring the facts.

RATIONAL PERSONAL MYTHS: Since religious myths are delusions that means we are free to make up any we wish and should make up and believe in the absolute best one we can imagine. Just so long as it doesn't conflict with reality to the point of producing dysfunctional real world decisions I see no problem with that at all as long as one is aware of what one is doing.

Why in the hell should anyone accept myths handed down from an ancient group of hate filled dysfunctional male chauvinists when they can just make up their own?

WITCHES: There is considerable evidence linking witchcraft outbreaks with ergot fungal outbreaks. There are correlations with damp areas, damp years etc. including those of Salem and European outbreaks. Ergot is a strong psychedelic agent. There are also strong similarities of witch experiences with belladonna type psychedelics which were anecdotally used along with other psychedelics by witches. I can personally confirm belladonna does produce pronounced magical experiences as I've taken it and observed others on it.

I took belladonna (actually Asthmador which contains stramonium and belladonna which you can google), not ergot, and I did take a very large oral dose sufficient to induce very intense hallucinations which were very witch like in nature. I knew I was in trouble when all of the cracks in the sidewalk turned into snakes and slithered off. Black cats and animal familiars appeared at the sides of various friends of mine, and white horses were running down the street alongside our car.

I've also taken LSD and peyote cactus. There is a vast difference. In these last two you always know you are on the drug and that is producing the altered reality. With belladonna you are completely immersed in the hallucinations. They become the only reality. And you do enter a world of witches.....

These experiences have taught me much about human consciousness and the way the mind works. The most basic problem in understanding human consciousness is that it has to be understood from the inside out since we are trapped inside it. By taking psychedelics you directly experience another mode of consciousness which suddenly lets you see ordinary consciousness much more objectively, to gain insights into how it works to produce the experiences and world view of day to day perception, common sense, memory, abstract thought and planning and all the other aspects. When one comes out of a world of black magic one understands that ordinary consciousness is also what constructs the world of common sense we usually live in and we begin to see how everything fits together.

GHOSTS: As far as we know, and the only theory that seems consistent with a rational view of the world, the dead person lives on only in memories in the living, and in the effects he has had on the world. When I walk in my woods I often pause reflectively when I pass a couple of holes my now deceased dogs dug some years ago. I remember my dogs often and occasionally dream of them, but that doesn't mean they are alive, it means I remember them as if they were still alive. I don't reject all parapsychological phenomena out of hand but see no reason to believe this would involve life after death in the sense in which it is commonly spoken of. No doubt there exist many as yet unexplained phenomena but sound scientific explanations need to be found for them even if this requires new theory.

After a loved one dies many people have the experience of seeing their ghosts according to Scientific American. This is however in no way evidence that ghosts have an objective reality. What this demonstrates is that when we think we are relating to living people it is not really true in the sense we think. What we are relating to is a combination of the actual real living person and a cognitively constructed model of that same person in our own mind. We constantly overlay the two when the person is alive as we sample the reality and update our cognitive model of that person. When the real person dies we are still left with the cognitive model of that person and only then can see how real it is, something we didn't realize when the person was alive, and we then can see our own projections of expected behavior onto that model.

That is in fact how we relate to most common things in our world. We relate more to our cognitive model of how we expect it to be, but frequently re-correlate the model with the reality to keep it current. This is in fact the underlying mechanism of most 'supernatural' experiences. It is also often at work when our minds misinterpret perceptions and wrongly update our cognitive models, such as hearing a sound downstairs and imagining it is a burglar when in fact it wasn't. Some people are more susceptible to this than others, since some people relate more directly to reality and less to their own cognitive model than others.

One of my favorite tricks is summoning ghosts for gullible persons (mostly females) which I can do quite well, but they exist only in their mind's cognitive world model.

ASTROLOGY: There are a wide range of well documented biological effects of the positions of the moon and the sun's daily and yearly cycles. Therefore it is reasonable to assume there must be similar effects in humans even if they are partially submerged by the developments in civilization and technology that tend to isolate us from the natural world. These correlations include both the position of sun and moon at the birth of many species as well as their daily effects on behavior.

Obvious examples include such phenomena as the timing of birth cycles to spring, or to phases of the moon, seasonal migrations, and the diurnal or nocturnal activity cycles of most species. Another obvious example is the controlling factor of day length on plant growth and flowering. Quite obviously humans also largely time their activities to the daily sun cycle, and the woman's menstrual cycle mirrors that of the moon.

The length of a woman's menstrual cycle mirrors that of the moon nearly exactly, though what most likely was originally an exact synchronization to lunar phases has now been lost. The evidence for this is why would it be nearly exactly the same length if it wasn't originally synchronized to the lunar cycle? It seems reasonable to assume that originally as women's cycles switched from the longer estrus cycles of primates to monthly cycles they were all exactly synchronized with the moon and thus each other, just as many biological cycles of other species are tightly synchronized with the lunar phases. It is likely that only fairly recently perhaps as recently as the advent of civilization when indoor living became the norm was this exact synchronization lost.

This is another original idea of mine so far as I know and I hereby take credit for it unless someone can show me otherwise! :-)

I do think it possible if not likely that at least the position of the sun and moon a person is born under might influence that person's personality. I was born April 1 at 7 AM, and have always attributed my great sense of personal optimism in spite of many hardships to the fact that I was born just when Spring was beginning and a new day beginning. Beyond that however, you will have to show me some evidence.

Sun and moon sure. But the other planets have minute and probably negligible influence on things here on earth. Jupiter's gravity and that of mars and venus do have measurable effects and importantly Jupiter is probably responsible for major occurrences like the late heavy bombardment and some resonances of orbits, but these are long term effects that stabilized before H. sapiens even evolved and thus could not be astrological factors for individual human lives.

However instead of investigating the effects that are likely, astrology is mired in ancient superstition which largely ignores what the real effects, if any, are most likely to be. The only way astrology can save itself from the dust heap of history is to exhaustively and scientifically investigate the psychological and social effects of sun and moon effects only. There is clearly a lot there and out of that could come a new and scientifically sound astrology. If that happens it will come not from astrologers but from scientists. There is too much vested interest in the astrological orthodoxy for astrologers to admit they are unscientific frauds.

I know of no scientific evidence that any of the other planets have any biological effects whatsoever. If astrology had any truth one would expect clear scientific documentation of biological effects of the other planetary bodies. It can't be ruled out a priori, but it seems pretty unlikely since the known physical and biological effects on earth are essentially non existent. Can anyone cite a single piece of evidence that say the position or proximity to earth of say Mars, Venus or Jupiter has any known biological effects? I am of course talking about scientific studies, not astrological anecdote here. I would be very interested to see any such evidence.

As for Gauquelin's supposed Mars effect, Gauquelin later found that was due to an error in his statistics and all his later work indicates there is no such effect. And since that was the only scientific study that supposedly indicated any basis for astrology whatsoever, the case now seems to be closed. There is apparently no scientific or statistical support for astrology whatsoever. It is merely charlatanism.

May I suggest an actual test of astrology. I challenge any astrologer to give us a set of precise and verifiable predictions about what will happen in the next few days based on astrology. We will soon see if there is any scientific validity to those predictions. If there isn't then astrologers should shut up and look for honest work as something other than charlatans.

Many claims by astrologers demonstrate incredible ignorance! Some claim they can see in an astrological chart who was abused as a child. I'm dumbfounded. Do they believe for a second that only children born at certain times of the year are abused as children? Even if true that would mean it was the child's 'fault' for being abused since it depended only on the child's chart and not that of the hitter. Even if one accepted astrology wouldn't one need to read the charts of the hitters which after all should be the determining factor since they are the active agents? Such absolute idiocy makes astrologers a laughingstock and makes it difficult to take anything they say seriously.

Here's another claim made by an astrologer: "Perhaps the patterns can be read from both the genes and the planetary configurations - maybe it's all synchronized." Oh, so the configuration of the planets now determines what genes a person is born with? Or is it the other way around, that the genes determine the position of the planets? Oh, that would certainly explain the validity of astrology! Astrology has made what is truly another of its giant leaps for science! :-)

I recently had an female astrologer tell me that astrology can 'predict the stock market'! What a hoot! If this lady's astrology could predict the stock market then why isn't she rich, but instead is always complaining about her lack of money? Right here we have a convincing proof that astrology is delusion.

And astrology is still based on the pre-Copernican geo-centric universe to construct its horoscopes as they are all cast from the perspective of the earth. That's just one of many reasons it's unscientific. Astrologers may claim it's not true but are not able to explain why or how astrology incorporates Copernicus. Perhaps they might explain the ways in which a horoscope incorporates the fact (which may be news to them) that the earth revolves around the sun along with the other planets? Every horoscope I've ever seen is done with the earth (the view from earth) at the center and the planets, sun and moon revolving around that central earth vantage point. That is precisely the pre-Copernican world view which astrology has never seen fit to update to include anything new in astronomy since Ptolemy and the Babylonians.

GULLIBILITY: The relevant issue is why people are gullible enough to believe in obvious and proven nonsense such as astrology, religion and other supernatural belief systems rather than thinking and behaving rationally. From an evolutionary and personal perspective how does psychology malfunction like that and result in delusional belief systems? That is very interesting and germane question, though obviously astrology itself, being merely charlatanism rather than a science isn't.

There is an important difference between 'believing' something (implying you think it is 100% certain and thus not subject to evidential confirmation, and keeping an open mind about things which not been established by evidence. To give an example. I don't 'believe' in UFOs because this implies I am certain they exist. On the other hand it would be equally unintelligent to 'believe' they don't exist with complete certainty. The view an intelligent person will take is to review the evidence and entertain the possibility and to give that possibility some probability >0% and <100% ( but never = 0 or = 100%)based on the available evidence.

Same with astrology. Only a fool or an idiot (someone of low functional intelligence) would 'believe' in astrology considering the extremely weak evidence for it. An intelligent person, reviewing the evidence, would assign an extremely low but not zero probability (though perhaps effectively 0 in terms of further consideration) to its being true.

As for 'believing' in any god. This depends entirely on how it is defined. Certainly typical believers in the standard Christian biblical god are deluded idiots. On the other hand it is quite possible to define god as something like the collective intelligence of the universe as a whole which reduces the existence of god to a definitional tautology. Einstein's concept of god was more like this.

In summary, the answers to these kinds of questions do have validity as very strong indicators of functional intelligence. Intelligence is not just about solving IQ test problems. It is about solving real world daily problems, especially those that continually arise in an organism's interaction with the EEA. It is this kind of intelligence that is selected for. Thus the accuracy of an organism's (read human's) world view (cognitive model of the EEA) is an excellent indicator of functional intelligence. Beliefs in 'paranormal' and miracle type religions like traditional Christianity are clearly indicative of poorly constructed cognitive world views indicative of lower intelligence.

Thus those humans with grossly inaccurate belief systems are clearly less intelligent. In fact they are delusional. An intelligent person says 'there may possibly be witches depending on what definition we use, but based on traditional definitions the probability is very low.' Only a person of low intelligence would say 'I believe in witches in the traditional sense of persons who cause magic to happen in contradiction to established physical law'.

In summary I hope readers have the functional intelligence to understand my point here. Answers to questions as to absolute beliefs in ideas and systems with no evidentiary support are clearly strongly indicative of intelligence and would be excellent questions to include on IQ tests. Say that's a good idea. How about making the answers to such questions the basis of IQ tests! Or at least adding them to IQ tests. That way we could really find out who is actually intelligent and who isn't. Isn't being based firmly in reality rather than delusion the real basis of intelligence?

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God and signicant numbers also think that UFOs, the devil and ghosts exist, a poll showed Tuesday (12/6/07). The survey by Harris Online showed that 82 percent of adult Americans believe in God and a slightly smaller percentage -- 79 percent -- believe in miracles.

These are truly interesting, and certainly extremely frightening statistics. If the vast majority of people (both men and women though women more so) admit to believing in obvious delusions and falsehoods it throws into question every social belief and accepted moral standard there is. If the majority of people are delusional why should any social norm in such a society be accepted or trusted as correct no matter how well established? This in itself is a very strong reason to question literally every social belief, especially those of the PC ilk. If roughly 80% of all people in a society believe in obvious delusions why should we not assume that all that society's other beliefs on sexuality, morality, appropriate behavior, marriage, legal and gender issues and on and on would be equally flawed and questionable and dysfunctional. It seems like very strong prima facie evidence that delusional people will come up with illogical and flawed belief systems of all sorts in all areas of life and society.

On Sunday 3/30/08 Yahoo launched its new Woman's site Shine. As part of the launch Yahoo closed discontinued its separate astrology site and folded it into Shine. Here we have all the scientific confirmation we need that women are more gullible and irrational and prone to believe in superstitions like astrology. Yahoo has apparently done the research and come to the conclusion that their astrology section belongs in a woman specific area along with other particularly female interests!

A 2003 Harris Poll of 2,201 U.S. adults on religious and other beliefs found that women were consistently more gullible than men.