Sunday, May 6, 2012

Provincialism of beliefs

Beliefs are an accident of birth.  I have no doubt that if I were born in a certain part of India, I would be a Hindu.  If I were an intelligent Hindu, I would have many rational reasons to believe that Shiva is the Destroyer or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. 

Instead, I was born in Utah, where I was taught an equally ridiculous fairytale about golden plates and ancient Christian prophets in America.  Fortunately, this country does not kill atheists (at least not openly), and I was eventually able to escape the mindfrak of the Mormon Church to the freedom of rationality.

The picture below graphically illustrates my point about the provicialism of beliefs, as well as the universal nature of scientific belief.  There is no Muslim chemistry or Hindu physics.

By contrast, where you are born has everything to do with your religious beliefs.  The distributions are not random.  They follow geographic and cultural boundaries.  If you are born in Southern India, you are almost guaranteed to be a Hindu.  The reasons for this are based in social psychology, and I will discuss them in a separate post.  Suffice it to say that when a question is important, the answer is in doubt, and people around you appear to strongly believe in one particular answer, the likelihood that you will conform is incredibly high.

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