What do you Believe?

Question: What do you believe? 

Jonathan Haidt: I believe that while there is no God or external intelligence, I believe that we humans do better when we can orient ourselves around common goals, common purposes, common ideals.

I believe our brains evolved with our cultures, so that we have religious brains that are designed to be immersed in religious cultures. In other words, religion is not a trick or a disease, as Richard Dawkins and [Daniel] Dennett tell us.

Religion is an adaptation. It’s one that we have freed ourselves in some ways; and then we’re puzzled as to why most of our fellow citizens, at least in the United States, cling to it.

So I believe that in our community of liberal, secular scientists, we will not progress. We will not understand the true nature of society until we open our minds, especially to religious ideas, not that there is a God, but that religion is adaptive. Our brains are built for it, and if we’re going to find ways to live with both religious diversity and to make a space for atheists, like me, we need to understand what religion does and what are some workable alternatives to it.

 

Recorded on: May 9, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humanity needs common goals and ideals.

Participatory democracy is presumed to be the gold standard. Here’s why it isn’t.

Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.

Photo by Nicholas Roberts /Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Polarization and extreme partisanships have been on the rise in the United States.
  • Political psychologist Diana Mutz argues that we need more deliberation, not political activism, to keep our democracy robust.
  • Despite increased polarization, Americans still have more in common than we appear to.
Keep reading Show less

Swedish scientist advocates eating humans to combat climate change

A scientist in Sweden makes a controversial presentation at a future of food conference.

Surprising Science
  • A behavioral scientist from Sweden thinks cannibalism of corpses will become necessary due to effects of climate change.
  • He made the controversial presentation to Swedish TV during a "Future of Food" conference in Stockholm.
  • The scientist acknowledges the many taboos this idea would have to overcome.
Keep reading Show less

Astronomers spot only the 2nd interstellar object ever seen

An amateur astronomer discovers an interstellar comet on its way to our Sun.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surprising Science
  • The comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) was spotted by an amateur astronomer.
  • The object is moving so fast, it likely originated outside our solar system.
  • The comet should be observable for another year.
Keep reading Show less