Deeper than Beliefs
  Cognitive Science and   Jesse Bering
   Religious Intuitions
Question 1
Question 1




What is the purpose of
life?
Teleo-functional reasoning

• thinking that something exists “for” a preconceived reason
  rather than “came to be” as a f...
“If you happen to be
religious, you think
that's a meaningful
question. But the mere
fact that you can phrase
it as an Eng...
Teleo-functional Reasoning
Teleo-functional Reasoning
Teleo-functional Reasoning
Teleo-functional Reasoning
“You exist only because
God wills that you
exist. You were made by
God and for God—and
until you understand
that, life wil...
Promiscuous
Teleology
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
Promiscuous
Teleology

• Young children endow
  inanimate, natural entities
  with function.

• Attributes of natural
  en...
“When we think of God as
the creator, we are
thinking of him, most of the
time, as a superior artisan.
When God creates he...
“When we think of God as
the creator, we are
thinking of him, most of the
time, as a superior artisan.
When God creates he...
Bering, J. (in press). The
nonexistent purpose of
people. The Psychologist.
Bering, J. (in press). The
nonexistent purpose of
people. The Psychologist.

• Complicated relationship
  with religion.
Bering, J. (in press). The
nonexistent purpose of
people. The Psychologist.

• Complicated relationship
  with religion.

...
Bering, J. (in press). The
nonexistent purpose of
people. The Psychologist.

• Complicated relationship
  with religion.

...
Bering, J. (in press). The
nonexistent purpose of
people. The Psychologist.

• Complicated relationship
  with religion.

...
“We believe that no
one can take out
one breath of our
written life as
ordained by Allah.
We see that getting
killed in th...
“We believe that no
one can take out
one breath of our
written life as
ordained by Allah.
We see that getting
killed in th...
“I don’t see myself as so
much dust that has
appeared in the world,
…. but as a being that
was expected,
prefigured, called...
“I don’t see myself as so
much dust that has
appeared in the world,
…. but as a being that
was expected,
prefigured, called...
“...for want of
being able to think
otherwise.”
         J-P Sartre
Heywood, B. & Bering, J.
(under review). Evidence of
i...
“...for want of
being able to think
otherwise.”
         J-P Sartre
Heywood, B. & Bering, J.
(under review). Evidence of
i...
“I play fast and loose with religion. I don't really
believe. I'm Jewish, but I like to believe we're in
control of things...
“What I'm most proud of in my life was Sex and the City, and
  it never would have happened had I stayed married, and had
...
68 Participants
34 Atheists
34 Theists


•Structured Interview using
online Instant Messenger

•“Low Point” and “Learning
...
Interview Questions
Interview Questions

  Do you ever wonder why this event
  happened to you?
Interview Questions

  Do you ever wonder why this event
   happened to you?
  Did you learn any lessons from this
   ex...
Interview Questions

  Do you ever wonder why this event
   happened to you?
  Did you learn any lessons from this
   ex...
Interview Questions

  Do you ever wonder why this event
   happened to you?
  Did you learn any lessons from this
   ex...
Interview Questions

  Do you ever wonder why this event
   happened to you?
  Did you learn any lessons from this
   ex...
Interview Questions

  Do you ever wonder why this event
   happened to you?
  Did you learn any lessons from this
   ex...
Category   Definition   Example
Category   Definition   Example
Category                 Definition                          Example
                         Human or other natural       ...
Category                 Definition                          Example
                         Human or other natural       ...
Category                 Definition                          Example
                         Human or other natural       ...
Category                 Definition                          Example
                         Human or other natural       ...
Category                 Definition                          Example
                         Human or other natural       ...
Category                 Definition                          Example
                         Human or other natural       ...
Atheists            Theists


                                   30
Percentage of Responses overall




                  ...
Atheists               Theists


                                 90
% at least one Teleo response




                   ...
Tentative conclusion.

• In general, atheists appear to demonstrate a verbal masking of
  teleo-functional causal explanat...
For all my skepticism, some trace of irrational superstition did survive in me,
the strange conviction, for example, that ...
Examples of autistic responses.

•Do you ever think you    •I'm just wondering if
 see meaning in events     you ever thin...
• Do you ever think you see meaning in events that are seemingly
  coincidental? I don't understand.

• Do you ever think ...
Question 2
Question 2




What should I do?
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”

• “Disasters occur...
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”

• “Disasters occur...
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”

• “Disasters occur...
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”

• “Disasters occur...
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”

• “Disasters occur...
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”

• “Disasters occur...
• “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your
  ways.”

• “Disasters occur...
Bering, J. M. & Parker, B. D. (2006). Children’s attributions
of intentions to an invisible agent. Developmental
Psycholog...
Bering, J. M. & Parker, B. D. (2006). Children’s attributions
of intentions to an invisible agent. Developmental
Psycholog...
Bering, J. M. & Parker, B. D. (2006). Children’s attributions
of intentions to an invisible agent. Developmental
Psycholog...
Control            Experimental
receptive response (Percentage)




                                   50


              ...
Post-test verbal judgments
Post-test verbal judgments


 Non-agentive Intentional agentive Declarative Agentive

  No explanation;      princess alic...
Post-test verbal judgments


 Non-agentive Intentional agentive Declarative Agentive

  No explanation;      princess alic...
Post-test verbal judgments


 Non-agentive Intentional agentive Declarative Agentive

  No explanation;      princess alic...
nonagentive   intentional   declarative


                                 80
response category (percentage)




         ...
summary of
findings
summary of
findings
summary of
findings

•   the 3- to 4-year-olds were
    mostly constrained to the
    physical characteristics
    of the u...
summary of
findings

•   the 3- to 4-year-olds were
    mostly constrained to the
    physical characteristics
    of the u...
summary of
findings

•   the 3- to 4-year-olds were
    mostly constrained to the
    physical characteristics
    of the u...
summary of
findings

•   the 3- to 4-year-olds were
    mostly constrained to the
    physical characteristics
    of the u...
summary of
findings

•   the 3- to 4-year-olds were
    mostly constrained to the
    physical characteristics
    of the u...
Question 3
Question 3




What happens after I die?
• The mind is what the brain does, the brain stops working at
  death, therefore the subjective feeling that the mind surv...
“my finger was on the
trigger. i pressed it a little;
but not hard enough. i said to
myself: ‘in another moment i
shall pre...
“Try to fill your
consciousness with
the representation
of no-
consciousness and
you will see the
impossibility of it.
The ...
Clark, T. W. (1994). Death,
nothingness and subjectivity.
The Humanist, 54, 15-20.
Clark, T. W. (1994). Death,
nothingness and subjectivity.
The Humanist, 54, 15-20.


 “Here... is the view at
 issue: When...
Clark, T. W. (1994). Death,
nothingness and subjectivity.
The Humanist, 54, 15-20.


 “Here... is the view at
 issue: When...
Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive
conceptions of dead agents’
minds. journal of cognition
and culture, 2, 263-308.
Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive
conceptions of dead agents’
minds. journal of cognition
and culture, 2, 263-308.
[ ] What ...
Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive
conceptions of dead agents’
minds. journal of cognition
and culture, 2, 263-308.
[ ] What ...
Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive
conceptions of dead agents’
minds. journal of cognition
and culture, 2, 263-308.
[ ] What ...
Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive
conceptions of dead agents’
minds. journal of cognition
and culture, 2, 263-308.
[ ] What ...
Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive
conceptions of dead agents’
minds. journal of cognition
and culture, 2, 263-308.
[ ] What ...
Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive
conceptions of dead agents’
minds. journal of cognition
and culture, 2, 263-308.
[ ] What ...
“This morning, Richard Waverly, a 37-year-old
history teacher, scrambled to get to work on time.
He was running late, and ...
“now that richard is dead...
                      Examples
“now that richard is dead...
                      Examples
“now that richard is dead...
                                         Examples


     biological      does his brain still...
“now that richard is dead...
                                         Examples


     biological      does his brain still...
“now that richard is dead...
                                         Examples


     biological      does his brain still...
“now that richard is dead...
                                         Examples


     biological      does his brain still...
“now that richard is dead...
                                         Examples


     biological      does his brain still...
“now that richard is dead...
                                         Examples


     biological      does his brain still...
ext   agn   oth   ecl
                                                            imm   rei

                            1...
3.3
discontinuity latency (in sec)




                                 2.8



                                 2.3



   ...
bering, j. m. & bjorklund, d. f. (2004). the natural emergence of reasoning
about the afterlife as a developmental regular...
bering, j. m. & bjorklund, d. f. (2004). the natural emergence of reasoning
about the afterlife as a developmental regular...
kindergarten     late elementary         adults


                            100
% discontinuity responses




          ...
some provisional
answers
some provisional
answers

1.What is the purpose of
 life?
some provisional
answers

1.What is the purpose of
 life?

 illogical question - doomed to
 ask.
some provisional
answers

1.What is the purpose of
 life?

 illogical question - doomed to
 ask.


2.What should I do?
some provisional
answers

1.What is the purpose of
 life?

 illogical question - doomed to
 ask.


2.What should I do?

 Y...
some provisional
answers

1.What is the purpose of
 life?

 illogical question - doomed to
 ask.


2.What should I do?

 Y...
some provisional
answers

1.What is the purpose of
 life?

 illogical question - doomed to
 ask.


2.What should I do?

 Y...
some provisional
answers

1.What is the purpose of
 life?

 illogical question - doomed to
 ask.


2.What should I do?

 Y...
Bering, J. M., McLeod, K. A., & Shackelford, T. K.
(2005). Reasoning about dead agents reveals
possible adaptive trends. H...
Bering, J. M., McLeod, K. A., & Shackelford, T. K.
(2005). Reasoning about dead agents reveals
possible adaptive trends. H...
Bering, J. M., McLeod, K. A., & Shackelford, T. K.
(2005). Reasoning about dead agents reveals
possible adaptive trends. H...
8000
  response latency (ms)




                          6750



                          5500



                     ...
“Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL)
European Commission
“Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL)
European Commission
“Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL)
European Commission
“Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL)
European Commission
“Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL)
European Commission
“Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL)
European Commission
“Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL)
European Commission
Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements
                                   mitch hodge

                                 shane gavaghan

        ...
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
Otago berin gfeb2010
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  • Nobody in their right mind would believe that God created them for the purpose of hideously maiming an arthritic grandmother or that God designed them, and them alone, especially for flaying the flesh off a cooing baby’s tender skeleton with homemade shrapnel. Yet the teleo-functional brain sees things in a curious way. Say you’re a young Muslim whose neurons have been bathing in the rich, sensorial atmosphere of warfare, radical Islam, and instability from the time you were gastrulating in the womb, from which you shimmied out into a world of baroque violence where the staccato sounds of Apache helicopter blades has become as familiar to you as your mother’s voice. Handpicked by a charismatic political leader, whose particular god, orthodoxy and history you happen to share, you’re told you’ve been specially chosen, as God’s will, to carry out a secret and holy act of martyrdom for all of Islam. Yes, the shrapnel you’re brandishing will destroy a poor arthritic old woman and obliterate an infant that happens to be in the crowded marketplace where your destiny is to be played out, but all is as it should be. “God works in mysterious ways.”
    What’s important to notice here is how teleo-functional reasoning, when applied to this strange quest to uncover the purpose of our lives, can lead to acts of epic devastation when the socioecological conditions are just right—or, rather, just wrong. The trouble is that the terrorist doesn’t think he’s a terrorist, for God doesn’t create terrorists.
  • Nobody in their right mind would believe that God created them for the purpose of hideously maiming an arthritic grandmother or that God designed them, and them alone, especially for flaying the flesh off a cooing baby’s tender skeleton with homemade shrapnel. Yet the teleo-functional brain sees things in a curious way. Say you’re a young Muslim whose neurons have been bathing in the rich, sensorial atmosphere of warfare, radical Islam, and instability from the time you were gastrulating in the womb, from which you shimmied out into a world of baroque violence where the staccato sounds of Apache helicopter blades has become as familiar to you as your mother’s voice. Handpicked by a charismatic political leader, whose particular god, orthodoxy and history you happen to share, you’re told you’ve been specially chosen, as God’s will, to carry out a secret and holy act of martyrdom for all of Islam. Yes, the shrapnel you’re brandishing will destroy a poor arthritic old woman and obliterate an infant that happens to be in the crowded marketplace where your destiny is to be played out, but all is as it should be. “God works in mysterious ways.”
    What’s important to notice here is how teleo-functional reasoning, when applied to this strange quest to uncover the purpose of our lives, can lead to acts of epic devastation when the socioecological conditions are just right—or, rather, just wrong. The trouble is that the terrorist doesn’t think he’s a terrorist, for God doesn’t create terrorists.

















































  • Consider the rather startling fact that you will never know you have died. You may feel yourself slipping away, but it isn’t as though there will be a “you” around who is capable of ascertaining that, once all is said and done, it has actually happened. Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died—and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce.













































  • Otago berin gfeb2010

    1. 1. Deeper than Beliefs Cognitive Science and Jesse Bering Religious Intuitions
    2. 2. Question 1
    3. 3. Question 1 What is the purpose of life?
    4. 4. Teleo-functional reasoning • thinking that something exists “for” a preconceived reason rather than “came to be” as a functionless outgrowth of physical or otherwise natural processes.
    5. 5. “If you happen to be religious, you think that's a meaningful question. But the mere fact that you can phrase it as an English sentence doesn't mean it deserves an answer. Those of us who don't believe in a god will say that is as illegitimate as the question, why are unicorns hollow? It just shouldn't be put. It's not a proper question to put. It doesn't deserve an answer.”
    6. 6. Teleo-functional Reasoning
    7. 7. Teleo-functional Reasoning
    8. 8. Teleo-functional Reasoning
    9. 9. Teleo-functional Reasoning
    10. 10. “You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God—and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.”
    11. 11. Promiscuous Teleology
    12. 12. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function.
    13. 13. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function.
    14. 14. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations.
    15. 15. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations.
    16. 16. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations. • Applied to whole species.
    17. 17. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations. • Applied to whole species.
    18. 18. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations. • Applied to whole species. • Cognitive bias reemerges in educated Alzheimer’s patients.
    19. 19. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations. • Applied to whole species. • Cognitive bias reemerges in educated Alzheimer’s patients.
    20. 20. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations. • Applied to whole species. • Cognitive bias reemerges in educated Alzheimer’s patients. • Prevalent in science-naive, Romanian Romani adults.
    21. 21. Promiscuous Teleology • Young children endow inanimate, natural entities with function. • Attributes of natural entities represented as artifacts or evolved adaptations. • Applied to whole species. • Cognitive bias reemerges in educated Alzheimer’s patients. • Prevalent in science-naive, Romanian Romani adults.
    22. 22. “When we think of God as the creator, we are thinking of him, most of the time, as a superior artisan. When God creates he knows precisely what he is creating. Thus, the conception of man in the mind of God is comparable to that of the paper-knife in the mind of the artisan: God makes man according to a procedure and a conception, exactly as the artisan manufactures a paper-knife, following a definition and a formula. Thus each individual man is the realization of a certain conception which dwells in the divine understanding.”
    23. 23. “When we think of God as the creator, we are thinking of him, most of the time, as a superior artisan. When God creates he knows precisely what he is creating. Thus, the conception of man in the mind of God is comparable to that of the paper-knife in the mind of the artisan: God makes man according to a procedure and a conception, exactly as the artisan manufactures a paper-knife, following a definition and a formula. Thus each individual man is the realization of a certain conception which dwells in the divine understanding.”
    24. 24. Bering, J. (in press). The nonexistent purpose of people. The Psychologist.
    25. 25. Bering, J. (in press). The nonexistent purpose of people. The Psychologist. • Complicated relationship with religion.
    26. 26. Bering, J. (in press). The nonexistent purpose of people. The Psychologist. • Complicated relationship with religion. • Destiny beliefs as an “extreme” form of teleo- functional reasoning.
    27. 27. Bering, J. (in press). The nonexistent purpose of people. The Psychologist. • Complicated relationship with religion. • Destiny beliefs as an “extreme” form of teleo- functional reasoning. • Psychological essentialism and vocations.
    28. 28. Bering, J. (in press). The nonexistent purpose of people. The Psychologist. • Complicated relationship with religion. • Destiny beliefs as an “extreme” form of teleo- functional reasoning. • Psychological essentialism and vocations. • Imbuing the self/others with intrinsic purpose has “real world” implications.
    29. 29. “We believe that no one can take out one breath of our written life as ordained by Allah. We see that getting killed in the cause of Allah is a great cause as wished for by our Prophet.”
    30. 30. “We believe that no one can take out one breath of our written life as ordained by Allah. We see that getting killed in the cause of Allah is a great cause as wished for by our Prophet.”
    31. 31. “I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world, …. but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator…. It contradicts many of my other ideas. But it is there, floating vaguely. And when I think of myself I often think rather in this way, for want of being able to think otherwise.”
    32. 32. “I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world, …. but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator…. It contradicts many of my other ideas. But it is there, floating vaguely. And when I think of myself I often think rather in this way, for want of being able to think otherwise.”
    33. 33. “...for want of being able to think otherwise.” J-P Sartre Heywood, B. & Bering, J. (under review). Evidence of implicit theism in those who identify explicitly as atheists.
    34. 34. “...for want of being able to think otherwise.” J-P Sartre Heywood, B. & Bering, J. (under review). Evidence of implicit theism in those who identify explicitly as atheists.
    35. 35. “I play fast and loose with religion. I don't really believe. I'm Jewish, but I like to believe we're in control of things. But I do believe—I don't attribute it to God, but I do believe there's something—how would I say this? I believe for many people there's something you're meant to do, whether or not you believe that's something God meant for you to do, or something because of your talents you're meant to do, or because of your experience with love or what's missing that you're meant to experience. And sometimes I think those are even hardships that you're sort of meant to go through to be tested.” —Cindy Chupak
    36. 36. “What I'm most proud of in my life was Sex and the City, and it never would have happened had I stayed married, and had he not been gay, and had that not been my backstory.”
    37. 37. 68 Participants 34 Atheists 34 Theists •Structured Interview using online Instant Messenger •“Low Point” and “Learning Experience” (after mcadams)
    38. 38. Interview Questions
    39. 39. Interview Questions  Do you ever wonder why this event happened to you?
    40. 40. Interview Questions  Do you ever wonder why this event happened to you?  Did you learn any lessons from this experience?
    41. 41. Interview Questions  Do you ever wonder why this event happened to you?  Did you learn any lessons from this experience?  Did this deserve to happen to you?
    42. 42. Interview Questions  Do you ever wonder why this event happened to you?  Did you learn any lessons from this experience?  Did this deserve to happen to you?  How has this event changed your life (if at all)?
    43. 43. Interview Questions  Do you ever wonder why this event happened to you?  Did you learn any lessons from this experience?  Did this deserve to happen to you?  How has this event changed your life (if at all)?  Do you feel as though this was supposed to happen to you?
    44. 44. Interview Questions  Do you ever wonder why this event happened to you?  Did you learn any lessons from this experience?  Did this deserve to happen to you?  How has this event changed your life (if at all)?  Do you feel as though this was supposed to happen to you?  Looking back, are you better able to understand why this event happened than you were at the time?
    45. 45. Category Definition Example
    46. 46. Category Definition Example
    47. 47. Category Definition Example Human or other natural “There is a logical medical Natural Causal causes explanation.” [epileptic seizure] Inherent reason, meaning “So that i could see that even if i or purpose to the events Teleo-functional failed a course, my life wouldn’t independent of human actually end.” [academic failure] intentions “‘why’ it happened implies there is Stated Overtly no Special a reasoning behind it, like it was Anti-teleo-functional cause of purpose predetermined, and i don’t believe that.” [new job] “and I found myself thinking - maybe this is meant to happen so I conflict, tension or can find a better job - or move to a acknowledgement between different country to work - Confluent teleo-functional and anti- something like that . but in reality teleo-functional i don’t believe in fate, so it’s strange to find oneself thinking like that.” [unemployment] recounting event without Descriptive --- causal explanation Uncodable --- ---
    48. 48. Category Definition Example Human or other natural “There is a logical medical Natural Causal causes explanation.” [epileptic seizure] Inherent reason, meaning “So that i could see that even if i or purpose to the events Teleo-functional failed a course, my life wouldn’t independent of human actually end.” [academic failure] intentions “‘why’ it happened implies there is Stated Overtly no Special a reasoning behind it, like it was Anti-teleo-functional cause of purpose predetermined, and i don’t believe that.” [new job] “and I found myself thinking - maybe this is meant to happen so I conflict, tension or can find a better job - or move to a acknowledgement between different country to work - Confluent teleo-functional and anti- something like that . but in reality teleo-functional i don’t believe in fate, so it’s strange to find oneself thinking like that.” [unemployment] recounting event without Descriptive --- causal explanation Uncodable --- ---
    49. 49. Category Definition Example Human or other natural “There is a logical medical Natural Causal causes explanation.” [epileptic seizure] Inherent reason, meaning “So that i could see that even if i or purpose to the events Teleo-functional failed a course, my life wouldn’t independent of human actually end.” [academic failure] intentions “‘why’ it happened implies there is Stated Overtly no Special a reasoning behind it, like it was Anti-teleo-functional cause of purpose predetermined, and i don’t believe that.” [new job] “and I found myself thinking - maybe this is meant to happen so I conflict, tension or can find a better job - or move to a acknowledgement between different country to work - Confluent teleo-functional and anti- something like that . but in reality teleo-functional i don’t believe in fate, so it’s strange to find oneself thinking like that.” [unemployment] recounting event without Descriptive --- causal explanation Uncodable --- ---
    50. 50. Category Definition Example Human or other natural “There is a logical medical Natural Causal causes explanation.” [epileptic seizure] Inherent reason, meaning “So that i could see that even if i or purpose to the events Teleo-functional failed a course, my life wouldn’t independent of human actually end.” [academic failure] intentions “‘why’ it happened implies there is Stated Overtly no Special a reasoning behind it, like it was Anti-teleo-functional cause of purpose predetermined, and i don’t believe that.” [new job] “and I found myself thinking - maybe this is meant to happen so I conflict, tension or can find a better job - or move to a acknowledgement between different country to work - Confluent teleo-functional and anti- something like that . but in reality teleo-functional i don’t believe in fate, so it’s strange to find oneself thinking like that.” [unemployment] recounting event without Descriptive --- causal explanation Uncodable --- ---
    51. 51. Category Definition Example Human or other natural “There is a logical medical Natural Causal causes explanation.” [epileptic seizure] Inherent reason, meaning “So that i could see that even if i or purpose to the events Teleo-functional failed a course, my life wouldn’t independent of human actually end.” [academic failure] intentions “‘why’ it happened implies there is Stated Overtly no Special a reasoning behind it, like it was Anti-teleo-functional cause of purpose predetermined, and i don’t believe that.” [new job] “and I found myself thinking - maybe this is meant to happen so I conflict, tension or can find a better job - or move to a acknowledgement between different country to work - Confluent teleo-functional and anti- something like that . but in reality teleo-functional i don’t believe in fate, so it’s strange to find oneself thinking like that.” [unemployment] recounting event without Descriptive --- causal explanation Uncodable --- ---
    52. 52. Category Definition Example Human or other natural “There is a logical medical Natural Causal causes explanation.” [epileptic seizure] Inherent reason, meaning “So that i could see that even if i or purpose to the events Teleo-functional failed a course, my life wouldn’t independent of human actually end.” [academic failure] intentions “‘why’ it happened implies there is Stated Overtly no Special a reasoning behind it, like it was Anti-teleo-functional cause of purpose predetermined, and i don’t believe that.” [new job] “and I found myself thinking - maybe this is meant to happen so I conflict, tension or can find a better job - or move to a acknowledgement between different country to work - Confluent teleo-functional and anti- something like that . but in reality teleo-functional i don’t believe in fate, so it’s strange to find oneself thinking like that.” [unemployment] recounting event without Descriptive --- causal explanation Uncodable --- ---
    53. 53. Atheists Theists 30 Percentage of Responses overall 22.5 15 7.5 * * 0 Natural Teleo Anti-Teleo Confluent * p = < .001
    54. 54. Atheists Theists 90 % at least one Teleo response 67.5 * 45 22.5 0 Teleo confluent teleo/confluent * p = < .001
    55. 55. Tentative conclusion. • In general, atheists appear to demonstrate a verbal masking of teleo-functional causal explanations for significant life events (and occasionally lapse into “full-blown” teleological prose). • Since intentionality underlies teleo-functional reasoning (e.g., “purpose” implies a purposeful mind), atheists, too, suffer the illusion of a meaningful life.
    56. 56. For all my skepticism, some trace of irrational superstition did survive in me, the strange conviction, for example, that everything in life that happens to me also has a sense, that it means something, that life speaks to us about itself through its story, and that it gradually reveals a secret, which takes the form of a rebus whose message must be deciphered, that the stories we live comprise the mythology of our lives and in that mythology lies the key to truth and mystery. Is it an illusion? Possibly, even probably, but I can’t rid myself of the need continually to decipher my own life. —Milan Kundera, The Joke (1967)
    57. 57. Examples of autistic responses. •Do you ever think you •I'm just wondering if see meaning in events you ever think there's that are seemingly more to coincidences coincidental? Yes than it seems like? Yes sometimes, I'm sorry to a certain degree, I'm not sure I like someone says understand the something to me and question fully. then later on someone else says something that is virtually the same, kinda like deja-vu.
    58. 58. • Do you ever think you see meaning in events that are seemingly coincidental? I don't understand. • Do you ever think that there's more to coincidences than it seems like? Or do you just think coincidences are coincidences? If they're coincidences, by definition they are unrelated. But sometimes people mistake things for coincidence that actually are a pattern. Like people taking an unexpected dislike to me. • Do you ever see a pattern in coincidences? No. By definition, coincidences have no pattern.
    59. 59. Question 2
    60. 60. Question 2 What should I do?
    61. 61. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.”
    62. 62. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.” • “Disasters occur primarily to offer us important lessons about the reality of our existence.”
    63. 63. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.” • “Disasters occur primarily to offer us important lessons about the reality of our existence.” • “Understand that it was never God’s original intention for there to be hurricanes, mudslides or tsunamis. These are all consequences of man’s rebellion.”
    64. 64. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.” • “Disasters occur primarily to offer us important lessons about the reality of our existence.” • “Understand that it was never God’s original intention for there to be hurricanes, mudslides or tsunamis. These are all consequences of man’s rebellion.” • “It’s a sign that none of us is going to live for an indefinite period, therefore it’s a sign for us to do something very positive.”
    65. 65. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.” • “Disasters occur primarily to offer us important lessons about the reality of our existence.” • “Understand that it was never God’s original intention for there to be hurricanes, mudslides or tsunamis. These are all consequences of man’s rebellion.” • “It’s a sign that none of us is going to live for an indefinite period, therefore it’s a sign for us to do something very positive.” • “A lot of times, God allows things like this to happen to bring people to their knees before God. It takes something of this magnitude to help them understand there is something bigger that controls this world than themselves.”
    66. 66. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.” • “Disasters occur primarily to offer us important lessons about the reality of our existence.” • “Understand that it was never God’s original intention for there to be hurricanes, mudslides or tsunamis. These are all consequences of man’s rebellion.” • “It’s a sign that none of us is going to live for an indefinite period, therefore it’s a sign for us to do something very positive.” • “A lot of times, God allows things like this to happen to bring people to their knees before God. It takes something of this magnitude to help them understand there is something bigger that controls this world than themselves.” • “It might just be God’s way to remind us that he is in charge, that he is God and we need to repent.”
    67. 67. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.” • “Disasters occur primarily to offer us important lessons about the reality of our existence.” • “Understand that it was never God’s original intention for there to be hurricanes, mudslides or tsunamis. These are all consequences of man’s rebellion.” • “It’s a sign that none of us is going to live for an indefinite period, therefore it’s a sign for us to do something very positive.” • “A lot of times, God allows things like this to happen to bring people to their knees before God. It takes something of this magnitude to help them understand there is something bigger that controls this world than themselves.” • “It might just be God’s way to remind us that he is in charge, that he is God and we need to repent.” • “Life is our school and God puts us into situations with challenges because we mature through testing. Tragedies are major tests we have to take and pass.”
    68. 68. • “As God says, I send things down on you as a warning so that you may ponder and change your ways.” • “Disasters occur primarily to offer us important lessons about the reality of our existence.” • “Understand that it was never God’s original intention for there to be hurricanes, mudslides or tsunamis. These are all consequences of man’s rebellion.” • “It’s a sign that none of us is going to live for an indefinite period, therefore it’s a sign for us to do something very positive.” • “A lot of times, God allows things like this to happen to bring people to their knees before God. It takes something of this magnitude to help them understand there is something bigger that controls this world than themselves.” • “It might just be God’s way to remind us that he is in charge, that he is God and we need to repent.” • “Life is our school and God puts us into situations with challenges because we mature through testing. Tragedies are major tests we have to take and pass.” • “The calamity - so distressing for those individually involved - was for humanity as a whole a profoundly moral occurrence, an act of God performed for our benefit.”
    69. 69. Bering, J. M. & Parker, B. D. (2006). Children’s attributions of intentions to an invisible agent. Developmental Psychology, 42, 253-262.
    70. 70. Bering, J. M. & Parker, B. D. (2006). Children’s attributions of intentions to an invisible agent. Developmental Psychology, 42, 253-262.
    71. 71. Bering, J. M. & Parker, B. D. (2006). Children’s attributions of intentions to an invisible agent. Developmental Psychology, 42, 253-262.
    72. 72. Control Experimental receptive response (Percentage) 50 37.5 25 12.5 * 0 3-4 5-6 7-9 age group * p = < .001
    73. 73. Post-test verbal judgments
    74. 74. Post-test verbal judgments Non-agentive Intentional agentive Declarative Agentive No explanation; princess alice caused the princess alice caused the physical cause; event, but for reason event to ‘comment’ about other person; unrelated to task child’s behavior on the task animistic “i don’t know.” “it’s broken.” “she helped me find the “someone banged on “she liked it like that.” ball.” the door.” “she just wanted to.” “because i chose the wrong “it wanted to fall.” box.”
    75. 75. Post-test verbal judgments Non-agentive Intentional agentive Declarative Agentive No explanation; princess alice caused the princess alice caused the physical cause; event, but for reason event to ‘comment’ about other person; unrelated to task child’s behavior on the task animistic “i don’t know.” “it’s broken.” “she helped me find the “someone banged on “she liked it like that.” ball.” the door.” “she just wanted to.” “because i chose the wrong “it wanted to fall.” box.”
    76. 76. Post-test verbal judgments Non-agentive Intentional agentive Declarative Agentive No explanation; princess alice caused the princess alice caused the physical cause; event, but for reason event to ‘comment’ about other person; unrelated to task child’s behavior on the task animistic “i don’t know.” “it’s broken.” “she helped me find the “someone banged on “she liked it like that.” ball.” the door.” “she just wanted to.” “because i chose the wrong “it wanted to fall.” box.”
    77. 77. nonagentive intentional declarative 80 response category (percentage) 60 40 20 0 3-4 years 5-6 years 7-9 years age group
    78. 78. summary of findings
    79. 79. summary of findings
    80. 80. summary of findings • the 3- to 4-year-olds were mostly constrained to the physical characteristics of the unexpected events.
    81. 81. summary of findings • the 3- to 4-year-olds were mostly constrained to the physical characteristics of the unexpected events.
    82. 82. summary of findings • the 3- to 4-year-olds were mostly constrained to the physical characteristics of the unexpected events. • the 5- to 6-year-olds were able to detect intentional agency behind these unexpected events, but failed to see communicative intent.
    83. 83. summary of findings • the 3- to 4-year-olds were mostly constrained to the physical characteristics of the unexpected events. • the 5- to 6-year-olds were able to detect intentional agency behind these unexpected events, but failed to see communicative intent.
    84. 84. summary of findings • the 3- to 4-year-olds were mostly constrained to the physical characteristics of the unexpected events. • the 5- to 6-year-olds were able to detect intentional agency behind these unexpected events, but failed to see communicative intent. • the 7- to 9-year-olds viewed the unexpected events as being about their behavior and caused by PA’s intentions in sharing her knowledge with them.
    85. 85. Question 3
    86. 86. Question 3 What happens after I die?
    87. 87. • The mind is what the brain does, the brain stops working at death, therefore the subjective feeling that the mind survives death is a psychological illusion operating in the brains of the living.
    88. 88. “my finger was on the trigger. i pressed it a little; but not hard enough. i said to myself: ‘in another moment i shall press harder and it will go off.’ i felt the cold of the metal and i said to myself: ‘in another moment i shall not feel anything. But before that i shall hear a terrible noise’... just think! so near to one’s ear! that’s the chief thing that prevented me - the fear of the noise... it’s absurd, for as soon as one’s dead... yes, but i hope for death as a sleep; and a detonation doesn’t send one to sleep - it wakes one up.”
    89. 89. “Try to fill your consciousness with the representation of no- consciousness and you will see the impossibility of it. The effort to comprehend it causes the most tormenting dizziness.”
    90. 90. Clark, T. W. (1994). Death, nothingness and subjectivity. The Humanist, 54, 15-20.
    91. 91. Clark, T. W. (1994). Death, nothingness and subjectivity. The Humanist, 54, 15-20. “Here... is the view at issue: When we die, what’s next is nothing; death is an abyss, a black hole, the end of experience; it is eternal nothingness, the permanent extinction of being. And here, in a nutshell, is the error contained in that view: It is to reify nothingness - make it a positive condition or quality (for example, of “blackness”) - and then to place the individual in it after death, so that we somehow fall into nothingness, to remain there eternally.”
    92. 92. Clark, T. W. (1994). Death, nothingness and subjectivity. The Humanist, 54, 15-20. “Here... is the view at issue: When we die, what’s next is nothing; death is an abyss, a black hole, the end of experience; it is eternal nothingness, the permanent extinction of being. And here, in a nutshell, is the error contained in that view: It is to reify nothingness - make it a positive condition or quality (for example, of “blackness”) - and then to place the individual in it after death, so that we somehow fall into nothingness, to remain there eternally.”
    93. 93. Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive conceptions of dead agents’ minds. journal of cognition and culture, 2, 263-308.
    94. 94. Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive conceptions of dead agents’ minds. journal of cognition and culture, 2, 263-308. [ ] What we think of as the soul, or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies. [extinctivist]
    95. 95. Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive conceptions of dead agents’ minds. journal of cognition and culture, 2, 263-308. [ ] What we think of as the soul, or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies. [extinctivist] [ ] After death, the conscious personality continues for a while on a different plane and then is reincarnated into a new body on Earth or elsewhere; this reincarnation process occurs over and over again, and may culminate in the individual being absorbed into a Universal Consciousness . [reincarnationist ]
    96. 96. Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive conceptions of dead agents’ minds. journal of cognition and culture, 2, 263-308. [ ] What we think of as the soul, or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies. [extinctivist] [ ] After death, the conscious personality continues for a while on a different plane and then is reincarnated into a new body on Earth or elsewhere; this reincarnation process occurs over and over again, and may culminate in the individual being absorbed into a Universal Consciousness . [reincarnationist ] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body; it does not reincarnate into another body, but continues to exist forever; there may (or may not) be a day when the dead rise again from the grave. [immortalist]
    97. 97. Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive conceptions of dead agents’ minds. journal of cognition and culture, 2, 263-308. [ ] What we think of as the soul, or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies. [extinctivist] [ ] After death, the conscious personality continues for a while on a different plane and then is reincarnated into a new body on Earth or elsewhere; this reincarnation process occurs over and over again, and may culminate in the individual being absorbed into a Universal Consciousness . [reincarnationist ] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body; it does not reincarnate into another body, but continues to exist forever; there may (or may not) be a day when the dead rise again from the grave. [immortalist] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body, and indeed is immortal; it may be reincarnated into a new body, this process occurring over and over again; there may (or may not) be a Resurrection of the Dead. [eclectic]
    98. 98. Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive conceptions of dead agents’ minds. journal of cognition and culture, 2, 263-308. [ ] What we think of as the soul, or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies. [extinctivist] [ ] After death, the conscious personality continues for a while on a different plane and then is reincarnated into a new body on Earth or elsewhere; this reincarnation process occurs over and over again, and may culminate in the individual being absorbed into a Universal Consciousness . [reincarnationist ] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body; it does not reincarnate into another body, but continues to exist forever; there may (or may not) be a day when the dead rise again from the grave. [immortalist] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body, and indeed is immortal; it may be reincarnated into a new body, this process occurring over and over again; there may (or may not) be a Resurrection of the Dead. [eclectic] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body, but I am completely unsure as to what happens to it after that. [other believer]
    99. 99. Bering, J. M. (2002). Intuitive conceptions of dead agents’ minds. journal of cognition and culture, 2, 263-308. [ ] What we think of as the soul, or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies. [extinctivist] [ ] After death, the conscious personality continues for a while on a different plane and then is reincarnated into a new body on Earth or elsewhere; this reincarnation process occurs over and over again, and may culminate in the individual being absorbed into a Universal Consciousness . [reincarnationist ] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body; it does not reincarnate into another body, but continues to exist forever; there may (or may not) be a day when the dead rise again from the grave. [immortalist] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body, and indeed is immortal; it may be reincarnated into a new body, this process occurring over and over again; there may (or may not) be a Resurrection of the Dead. [eclectic] [ ] The conscious personality survives the death of the body, but I am completely unsure as to what happens to it after that. [other believer] [ ] I am completely uncertain as to what happens to the conscious personality at the death of the physical body. [agnostic]
    100. 100. “This morning, Richard Waverly, a 37-year-old history teacher, scrambled to get to work on time. He was running late, and so he didn’t have time to eat breakfast, even though he was extremely hungry. It wasn’t starting off to be a very good day… As he neared the intersection before the school, he leaned over to close the passenger window; he thought this might save him some time since he wouldn’t have to do it after he parked. Unfortunately, while leaning over, his foot accidentally slipped off the break and onto the accelerator, and his car struck a utility pole. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt and he was ejected from the car, landing on the pavement. A frantic witness called the paramedics immediately, but when they arrived on the scene Richard Waverly was already dead. They were certain that he died instantaneously…”
    101. 101. “now that richard is dead... Examples
    102. 102. “now that richard is dead... Examples
    103. 103. “now that richard is dead... Examples biological does his brain still work? will he ever need to eat food again? psychobiological is he still hungry? can he ever be sexually aroused again? can still taste the flavor of the breath mint? can smell the perceptual cigarette smoke? emotional still loves his wife? is now happy? wants to be alive? wishes he told his wife he loved her desire before he died? knows that he’s dead? remembers what he studied for his epistemic lesson?
    104. 104. “now that richard is dead... Examples biological does his brain still work? will he ever need to eat food again? psychobiological is he still hungry? can he ever be sexually aroused again? can still taste the flavor of the breath mint? can smell the perceptual cigarette smoke? emotional still loves his wife? is now happy? wants to be alive? wishes he told his wife he loved her desire before he died? knows that he’s dead? remembers what he studied for his epistemic lesson?
    105. 105. “now that richard is dead... Examples biological does his brain still work? will he ever need to eat food again? psychobiological is he still hungry? can he ever be sexually aroused again? can still taste the flavor of the breath mint? can smell the perceptual cigarette smoke? emotional still loves his wife? is now happy? wants to be alive? wishes he told his wife he loved her desire before he died? knows that he’s dead? remembers what he studied for his epistemic lesson?
    106. 106. “now that richard is dead... Examples biological does his brain still work? will he ever need to eat food again? psychobiological is he still hungry? can he ever be sexually aroused again? can still taste the flavor of the breath mint? can smell the perceptual cigarette smoke? emotional still loves his wife? is now happy? wants to be alive? wishes he told his wife he loved her desire before he died? knows that he’s dead? remembers what he studied for his epistemic lesson?
    107. 107. “now that richard is dead... Examples biological does his brain still work? will he ever need to eat food again? psychobiological is he still hungry? can he ever be sexually aroused again? can still taste the flavor of the breath mint? can smell the perceptual cigarette smoke? emotional still loves his wife? is now happy? wants to be alive? wishes he told his wife he loved her desire before he died? knows that he’s dead? remembers what he studied for his epistemic lesson?
    108. 108. “now that richard is dead... Examples biological does his brain still work? will he ever need to eat food again? psychobiological is he still hungry? can he ever be sexually aroused again? can still taste the flavor of the breath mint? can smell the perceptual cigarette smoke? emotional still loves his wife? is now happy? wants to be alive? wishes he told his wife he loved her desire before he died? knows that he’s dead? remembers what he studied for his epistemic lesson?
    109. 109. ext agn oth ecl imm rei 100 % discontinuity responses 75 50 25 0 bio psybio per emo des epi question type
    110. 110. 3.3 discontinuity latency (in sec) 2.8 2.3 1.8 1.3 bio psybio per emo des epi question type
    111. 111. bering, j. m. & bjorklund, d. f. (2004). the natural emergence of reasoning about the afterlife as a developmental regularity. developmental psychology, 40, 217-243.
    112. 112. bering, j. m. & bjorklund, d. f. (2004). the natural emergence of reasoning about the afterlife as a developmental regularity. developmental psychology, 40, 217-243.
    113. 113. kindergarten late elementary adults 100 % discontinuity responses 75 50 25 0 bio psybio per emo des epi state category
    114. 114. some provisional answers
    115. 115. some provisional answers 1.What is the purpose of life?
    116. 116. some provisional answers 1.What is the purpose of life? illogical question - doomed to ask.
    117. 117. some provisional answers 1.What is the purpose of life? illogical question - doomed to ask. 2.What should I do?
    118. 118. some provisional answers 1.What is the purpose of life? illogical question - doomed to ask. 2.What should I do? You’re entirely on your own.
    119. 119. some provisional answers 1.What is the purpose of life? illogical question - doomed to ask. 2.What should I do? You’re entirely on your own. 3.What happens after I die?
    120. 120. some provisional answers 1.What is the purpose of life? illogical question - doomed to ask. 2.What should I do? You’re entirely on your own. 3.What happens after I die? Nothing.
    121. 121. some provisional answers 1.What is the purpose of life? illogical question - doomed to ask. 2.What should I do? You’re entirely on your own. 3.What happens after I die? Nothing. Actually, not even nothing.
    122. 122. Bering, J. M., McLeod, K. A., & Shackelford, T. K. (2005). Reasoning about dead agents reveals possible adaptive trends. Human Nature, 16, 360-381.
    123. 123. Bering, J. M., McLeod, K. A., & Shackelford, T. K. (2005). Reasoning about dead agents reveals possible adaptive trends. Human Nature, 16, 360-381.
    124. 124. Bering, J. M., McLeod, K. A., & Shackelford, T. K. (2005). Reasoning about dead agents reveals possible adaptive trends. Human Nature, 16, 360-381.
    125. 125. 8000 response latency (ms) 6750 5500 4250 3000 control in memoriam ghost Bering, J. M., McLeod, K. A., & Shackelford, T. K. (2005). Reasoning about dead agents reveals possible adaptive trends. Human Nature, 16, 360-381.
    126. 126. “Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL) European Commission
    127. 127. “Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL) European Commission
    128. 128. “Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL) European Commission
    129. 129. “Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL) European Commission
    130. 130. “Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL) European Commission
    131. 131. “Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL) European Commission
    132. 132. “Explaining Religion” Project (EXREL) European Commission
    133. 133. Acknowledgements
    134. 134. Acknowledgements mitch hodge shane gavaghan Natalie Emmons Renatas Bernius Hillary Lenfesty Neil Young Jared Piazza lauren swiney andre grimes bethany heywood Funding by the john f. templeton foundation, the european commission, eoard, qub

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