Show 399: The Belief Instinct w/ Jesse Bering

The Belief Instinct

Equal Time for Freethought will host evolutionary psychologist Jesse Bering, director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University Belfast, and a writer for the weekly column “Bering in Mind” on the Scientific American website. We will talk about his book, “The Belief Instinct,” which explores the psychological underpinnings of humanity’s ability to believe in a variety of unseen things, such as life after death, a Supreme Being, Karma and more.

Have we evolved in such a way which has allowed such psychologically propensities? If so, does that mean there’s anything substantial to things unseen which may confirm our almost universal, often independently developed religious beliefs; or have our brains evolved this way as a survival mechanism?

And what are the psychological consequences of maintaining these beliefs in a time where dogmatic thinking can dangerously be combined with weapons of mass destruction? Also, why hasn’t the development of science – including the science of religion itself – been enough to eradicate magical thinking?

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