Let accommodationism blossom: Mayim Bialik reconciles science and religion

If you’re my age, you might remember Mayim Bialik as the star of the 1990s television show “Blossom.” Now, I’m told, she plays the role of a neuroscientist on another t.v. show I haven’t watched, “The Big Bang Theory.” But she really is trained in neuroscience: she got her Ph.D. in that field from UCLA, though she doesn’t currently do research or have an academic career. She continues to act, write books, and run her website Grok Nation.

Bialik is clearly a smart, high-achieving woman, but she’s also an accommodationist (she’s a “neo-Orthodox” Jew). In this short video, she explains how she reconciles her penchant for science with her faith:

Putting aside the question about whether someone with a Ph.D. who doesn’t do science is really a “scientist” (I no longer call myself a scientist, but an ex-scientist who sings with the choir invisible), this is still problematic—as all accommodationism is. For one thing, her “god” isn’t really a god in the sense that nearly every American accepts. She says that God is the “Force in the universe that drives all the phenomena that we experience as human beings. God is gravity, and God is centrifugal force, and God is the answer to why everything is the way it is in the natural world.”

That sound pretty much like pantheism, and she admits it. But then one could call anything that moves you “god.” I could say that movies and literature—and wild animals—are “god”. Why can’t we just ditch the “god” term, which, after all, just enables and buttresses those who accept a personal, anthropomorphic god who imposes a code of morality on people, and fosters division and rancor?

Bialik goes further, conflating the divine with the spiritual, saying that her conception of God gives her “grtaitude and humility” for being part of nature—permitting her a spiritual connection that “brings her to her knees.” She considers her ability to think, reason, love, and create as “divine,” which again conflates awe before the power of culture and natural selection with “God.” Although Bialik’s form of religion—if you can call it that—is a brand I have little beef with, she’s still giving solace to all those, like Elaine Ecklund, who fold the “spiritual” folk in with the truly religious folk, all in the service of osculating the rump of faith.

Perhaps it’s time to ditch the s-word as well, and instead of saying “spiritual,” which floats around the borders of the numinous, just say that we’re filled with awe, or we’re emotional.

At the end, Bialik claims that her Judaism helps her—helps her understand her “inner world” in a way that can’t be quantified by science, to attain mental discipline, think hard about her decisions, and meditate. (She also claims it helps her by making her eat special foods, presumably kosher, but I for one appreciate a good pork chop, and wouldn’t like to have meals which can’t contain both meat and dairy.) If going to shul does that for her, good for her. But I don’t understand why secular humanism can’t foster the same thing. You can attain that same kind of mindset through reading philosophy and talking with others. You don’t need the trappings of a faith.

I simply find it too convenient to say that your religion helps you accomplish x, y, and z, but then when you ask, “But what about the God stuff, and the morality?”, answer, like Bialik, “Oh, I don’t believe any of that stuff.” If that’s the way you feel, you’re not really religious at all.  So when Bialik says at the end,  “It’s okay for smart people to believe in religion”, I respond, “No it isn’t.”  For her religion is five standard deviations below the religion of most Americans, yet she justifies and excuses the huge bulk of the curve: those whose religion involves a personal God with a moral code and the ability to send you to heaven or hell.

Ask yourself this: why did she make this video in the first place?

h/t: Richard


  1. Karl Withakay
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Mayim Bialik is also a bit of an anti-vaccine crank, and is heavy into woo. She’s a celebrity spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network, and an proponent of detachment parenting.


    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      “…a bit of an anti-vaccine crank”

      And my dog smells “a bit” after he jumps in the local pond. 😉

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      I love BBT and I’m disappointed to read this about the real life Amy.

      I completely agree with Jerry’s conclusions. (And doesn’t he write beautifully on this subject!)

    • ianbrettcooper
      Posted September 5, 2016 at 5:20 am | Permalink

      So she wouldn’t stick a needle in her sons to save them from potentially deadly diseases. But I’m guessing she had her sons sexually mutilated because God told her to do it.

  2. Joseph Stans
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    As expected, pure woo.

    her belief in god helps her experience herself in certain ways. I wonder if she has ever experience herself as a nematode?

    • Sastra
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      No, not pure woo. Slippery, ambiguous statements which might be woo — but might not be. And this confusion isn’t so much a problem with communication: it’s inherent in the belief and the belief system which supports it.

      But yes — as expected.

  3. Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Reasonable Rants and commented:
    I always appreciate the opinion of Jerry Coyne, as his books and views are among the most “rational” out there. Being a fan of “The Big Bang Theory” show and having intellectual respect for Mayim Bialik, I found this blog interesting and insightful enough to re-blog for you. I vehemently agree with Coyne on this one… smart people should NOT believe in religion or God.

    What do you think?
    -The Reasonable Ranter

  4. Richard
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Mayim Bialik also has some history with the anti-vaxx movement. From what I can tell she has tried to distance herself from that history, but in this interview with People she describes hers as a “non-vaccinating family” (http://celebritybabies.people.com/2009/06/04/mayim-bialik-talks-attachment-parenting-with-cbb/).

    In a blog post she references two (from what I can tell, dubious) books that she and her family used when “deciding what was right for our family” about whether or not to vaccinate: http://www.kveller.com/vaccinations-and-other-things-i-dont-want-to-discuss/

    Bialik apparently is also involved in another curious parental movement, known as “Elimination Communication.” It’s an alternative to traditional potty training in which the parent, according to Wikipedia, “uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant’s need to eliminate waste.” I guess the parent tries to read the baby’s body language to determine when the baby needs to urinate or defecate, which in turn is meant to teach the baby to read the parent’s body language. The whole thing sounds nutty to me, in no small part because some in the so-called EC community eschew diapers altogether, but who knows.

    • Posted July 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Don’t all parents use body language as a clue to whether their child needs to go?

      “Autumn…you’re doing the pee-pee dance. Do you need to sit on the big girl potty?”

      This hardly seems like something k e could inflate into a “movement”. No pun intended.

  5. nwalsh
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The lady absolutely ruined the big Bang for me.

  6. Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Bialik’s Wooful Brew is object relations gone wild with a dose of dramatic upspeak.

  7. Frank Bath
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I’m really with Jerry and getting rid of ‘spiritual’. It’s nothing but a convenient shelter for when theists are cornered.
    ‘God is spirit’ I was forcefully told when I was young and knocking down arguments for god’s existence. Scotch mist.

  8. Karl Withakay
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I hate the term spiritual. If you squint hard enough, you can make it mean anything you want including a sense of awe of the universe so it can apply to a pure materialist, philosophical naturalist atheist, but then ignore that the most common usage is the more traditional supernatural meaning.

    • bric
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      s*******l is my trigger word, please don’t use it it makes me awful nervous

      • Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        Saberbill? Schnitzel? Scoundrel? Semivowel? Skeptical? Squamosal? Stonewall? Subboreal? Subnormal? Succorful? Sulphonyl? Swordtail? Synodical? Syringeal?

        …if none of those, there’re 211 more on the list….




        • Posted July 9, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

          I guess with Diana we’ll have to mind our Ws and Ys!


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 9, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

            Ant – I think you mean bric. You confused our yellow gravatar I think (I do the same — “Oh look, I’ve made an insightful comment, that doesn’t sound like me….oh wait….it’s bric” :D)

            • Posted July 9, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink


              If y’all would get proper gravatars like Ben and I have…


  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Einstein leaned toward very similar pantheistic views though he did not practice Judaism.

    Where he overlaps with Ms. Bialik is the belief that mature “religious feeling” (he never says “spirituality”) is prefigured in some of the major religions lying there like a diamond in a dunghill (my own metaphorical paraphrase of AE, not his). What Einstein does is combine a Gouldian NOMA with an overt call for religions to discard belief in a punishing and anthropomorphic deity (a step Gould gingerly avoided), while expressing strong admiration for the Old Testament prophets and the figure of Jesus.

    These days there’s so much public division between liberal and fundamentalist believers that I’ve never fully bought the Sam Harris thesis that modern religion buttresses traditional religion, although one sometimes is a gateway drug to the other, although Harris is mostly my favorite horseman.

    But the chief problem created by Einstein was that he “enabled and buttressed” more traditional folk, in the sense that traditional folk continuously lied about what Einstein’s real beliefs were by quoting him over and over out of context. He rebutted many of these during his own lifetime, but long after his death people like Dinesh D’Souza were repeating these same lies.
    (All of the quotes from Einstein in this piece by DD are real, but DD- a pathological liar IMO- has conveniently omitted a number of savage critiques of traditional religion from Einstein. https://inarchei.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/was-einstein-an-atheist/).

    I’m not sure you can call movies “god”, since I think that label has to be applied to something fairly cosmic and universal (although many Italians claim that in Italy opera is a religion, and I have heard actors call Laurence Olivier ‘god’).

    • Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Harris’ thesis is not that liberal theists and conservative theists are friendly and understanding toward one another. It is that, even though liberal theism has shed many individual and specific harmful religious tenets, it preserves the basic defense mechanism that conservative theism also uses to assert legitimacy: faith.

  10. Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Woo is just another three-letter word with an “o” in the middle.

    • Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      egrep ‘^.o.$’ /usr/share/dict/words

      …gives 238 matches on OS X, starting with:


      …and ending with:


      “woo” is nineteenth from the bottom. “God” is…lost in the scrolling.



      • bric
        Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        On this site I thought it was d*g

        • Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’re exactly five such entries — one for each common vowel.



          • Posted July 9, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

            I thing if is a bit surprising (I had to check the meanings of two of the five). I think it’s interesting that not every possible simple word actually exists.


            • Posted July 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

              There’s a (loose) relationship between the non-existence of every short word, entropy, and error correction….




  11. Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Seems to me that her god is mostly the initial low entropy condition of the Big Bang a baker’s dozen billion years ago, and her evidence that that should be so is the subjective experience of oxytocin and other hormones she as somebody with a doctorate in neuroscience should know more about than the average bear.

    That’s not to diminish the significance of either. But a good perspective can be supremely helpful, and unapologetically reifying the mundane invariably causes more problems than it could even hypothetically solve.

    Now, if you want to wax poetical about it all — yes, go for it! I’m not aware of anybody who did that better than Sagan…and, when he did, he also taught millions about the actual history and workings of reality.

    But is reality itself not enough? Why must we pretend that reality is something it isn’t in order to appreciate it?

    And, again, I’m a great fan of fiction, of the willing (eager!) suspension of disbelief. Indeed, one of the greatest attributes of humanity is that we can create entire universes that couldn’t possibly exist otherwise, and we can do so merely by daydreaming. Sure, the universes we create are flimsy, fleeting, insubstantial, and quite limited — but there we are creating them, and how freakin’ awesome is that!?

    …but we can only ever get to those universes in our imaginations, and we’d be fools to forget that fact.



    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      “Why must we pretend reality is something it isn’t in order to appreciate it?”

      That should be a meme.

      It really annoys me when highly intelligent people like Bialik spout stuff like this, especially because she’s so well known. As a result of people following her because of their admiration for her, their children could suffer or even die.

      The article linked to by Karl Withakay in #1 above shows her own children may be suffering because of her beliefs. Would she get away with this if she was poor and unknown?

    • Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

      I agree with Heather. That sentence about pretending reality is something it’s not is viral meme material.

  12. Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I’ve enjoyed (when I’ve had the chance) MB’s work on TBBT – I think she’s a fantastic actor. But that doesn’t entail she’s right about anything else!

    As for scientist/practicing etc. I dunno … couldn’t a scientist be anyone who has made a scientific discovery, whatever that is? (I assume that MB would have made one for her dissertation.) I do wonder about this sometimes about myself, given that I don’t work in philosophy except as a hobby anymore. Am I still a philosopher? I work as a programmer, but was never trained as one. Am I one of those?

    • Posted July 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      My view, which is my own, of course, is that you call yourself something if you’re doing it now. If you’re a scientist, you should be doing science. If you’re a car mechanic, you should be fixing cars. The only violation of this is when ex=presidents are called “Mr. President” for life, which I don’t agree with, either! (Hillary Clinton is still called “Secretary Clinton”, too).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 9, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        “Once a priest, always a priest” — ‘nother difference between the clergy and the scientific community.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      In the Boy Scouts, if you make up to the 5th of 6 ranks entitled “Life” then you are allowed for the rest of your life to say I AM a Boy Scout, but if you only made it up to First Class or Star you must say I WAS a Boy Scout.

    • Posted July 9, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Is Einstein a scientist?


      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Part of what I was getting at is that sometimes it makes sense to consider things (as Spinoza said) “under the aspect of eternity”.

        Philosophers, especially, often use the timeless present when discussing views and opinions.

  13. rickflick
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Listening to her I had the feeling she would start a sentence with some clear idea and run with it for a few phrases, before diverting into some sort of illogical ruminations without much justification. Then, it’s back on the tracks again, for a while, before slip-sliding away down an embankment…only to recover once again. In the end you know she’s convinced herself of something that gives her pleasant thoughts consistent with her religious upbringing. I wanted to interrupt her at several points and…say that again? Listen to yourself fer Christ’s sake.

  14. Sastra
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    O Gawd — if I had a nickel for every time some theist says they “don’t believe in some Big Man in the Sky With a Beard” well, I bet I’d be able to order something elaborate at Starbucks, by now. Even the people who damn well pretty much DO think of God as a “Big Man in the Sky With a Beard” always seem to start out their apologetic with a scornful denial that they believe in anything of the sort.

    Bialik is speaking in deepities, as I noted above. With just a tweak of a word or two the same defense of believing in God could be a grand defense of NOT believing in God, but being a proud and fulfilled atheist instead. There’s something wrong with that — and I don’t think the problem is with atheists not being broad and open-minded enough to think about “God” in a more mature, better way. I think it’s a problem with clarity, honesty — and a few remnants of magical thinking.

    If you listen to her definition and description of the-God-she-believes-in, she seems to be separating emotions and values from the naturalistic stream. There’s also more than a hint of vitalism and teleology. I suspect this fuzziness allows her to slip between different ideas while convincing herself she has “reconciled” them. I rather doubt it. What she — and the many, many theists like her — have done is found a way to play both ends while pretending to be in the middle. It also, of course, silences the critics on both sides.

    The mental analogy I sometimes like to make is that of someone trying to convince a room of Democrats that being a “Republican” simply means “being a citizen of a constitutional republic.” Communist, Libertarian, Republican and Democrat: they are ALL Republicans.

    Well, okay — if you put it THAT way. But don’t go on and claim you’ve come up with some sort of mindset which reconciles disagreements. You’re playing with words.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      There is a huge difference between a lower-case republican and an upper-case capitalized Republican.

      Essentially, she combines science with goal-directed thinking, but are they really blended or just two different flavored layers in a cake?

      It’s also a kind of immanent teleology (inbuilt purposes) as opposed to the teleology from above of classical Western religion.

      Her motivations seem to be wanting to have both a sense of connectedness to the cosmos and a connectedness to the religiosity of her ancestors.

      I have not resolved my mind as to just how magical this thinking is.

      • Sastra
        Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        In Sean Carroll’s book The Big Picture he uses the phrase “poetic naturalism” to emphasize the reality of emergent phenomenon like mind and values (your “different flavored layers in a cake.”) What would be interesting is seeing if Bialik and theists like her would be happy agreeing that poetic naturalism captures just what they mean by “God” — and they’d have no problem saying they’re ‘atheists’ as long as they get to keep practicing family rituals and what not.

        If the answer is no, they are NOT atheists then what pray tell is left out of poetic naturalism — or humanism, for that matter, as Jerry wonders? Where is the magical, supernatural element? And if there isn’t one, then what gives?

        One of the big problems I have with these vague, nebulous versions of God-which-an-atheist-can-seemingly-approve-of is that the point often seems to be to distance oneself from atheism. “I’m not an atheist, I experience wonder when contemplating the universe.” “I’m not an atheist, I admire the good aspects of religion.” “I’m not an atheist, I have feelings.” “I’m not an atheist, I’m a whole person.”

        Frankly, that makes it a little hard to think of them as being on our side.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          Yes, you’re right, I think. It’s as though she wants to be thought of as the wonderful person she undoubtedly is and knows that thinking and speaking clearly on this issue of poetic naturalism would jeopardize her standing with her public and maybe her self image as well. I think to justify all this requires some subtle thinking and a lot of honesty. I would want her to read Carroll’s book and think again on the issue.

        • JonLynnHarvey
          Posted July 8, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          I can’t speak for MB but Einstein (whom MB reminds me of- it is interesting to compare them) distanced himself from atheists, and considered his pantheistic/agnostic views different. However, this seems to be motivated by his sense that atheism is simply more anti-religious and/or shrill than it needs to be and by an appeal to mystery. So he never claimed to be doing something atheists approve of, only something (some) scientists could approve of.

          My own issue with vitalism is: are some items in the universe endowed with more elan vital than not? Or is the whole cosmos imbued with a potential vitality as “panpsychism” holds? Classical vitalism holds that some non-physical force is mainly in living organisms. If so, how did it get there? By contrast, panpsychism seems to hold that a latent potential for life is in literally everything! Now, the first version seems to be non-scientific, and the second is to a scientist operationally meaningless.

          For me, classical Western religion is both disprovable and too often morally toxic. Thus I continue to consider myself an “Abrahamic atheist” and a pantheist/deist agnostic.
          Thomas Jefferson says another man’s religious opinions “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”, but SOME religious views motivate bad use of my taxes, honor killings etc., so Jefferson’s aphorism is more applicable to the Bialiks and Einsteins of the world.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    “God is centrifugal force.”

    Fair enough, I suppose, since centrifugal force isn’t a real force, but a “fictitious” one.

    • Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Sheldon would’ve known that.


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Sometimes it takes a fictitious physicist to recognize a fictitious force. But the question really is, How many fictitious forces could a fictitious physicist recognize if a fictitious physicist could recognize fictitious forces?

        • Posted July 9, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          “recognise” → “fathom” and I think you’ve got something!


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 9, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            Ah yes, much better. Formulate might also work as well.

  16. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t agree with Bialik’s religious views and some of her other weird ideas (vaccination) but I still think she is smart and I like her. She kind of reminds me of a friend of mine who is smart, holds a biology degree but believes in God and all sorts of leftist woo. The good thing with this friend of mine is she has an atheist son and she’s okay with that.

  17. Ken Elliott
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I enjoy The Big Bang Theory, but, boy, do I have problems with some of it. Mostly this involves the character of Leonard’s mother, played by the fabulous Christine Baranski, who is an avowed atheist whom they have written to be incredibly cold and unfeeling, I suppose in an endeavor to model the behavior of Spock from Star Trek. The character of Sheldon is similar as he tries to inhibit the emotional side of his humanism in an effort to enhance his intellectualism. It pains me to see this, especially when the character of Sheldon’s mother, played by the equally fabulous Laurie Metcalf, whose character is a devout christian, tangles with Baransky’s character. The exchanges aren’t true to form. NOTHING about the way Baransky’s character is written is true to form for ANY atheist I know or follow. I know there are stereotypes out there, but if you’re going to write the script for a major television series I would think you’d do better research. Ricky Gervais alone should have made the writers of TBBT take a step back and re-think how the atheists on their show should think and behave. I’ve seen this on a few other shows, including Baransky’s other vehicle, “The Good Wife”, as well as on “Fringe” where the subject of god and religion have come up on more than one occasion in, what I think, is a skewed and not true to form reflection of reality.

    I know, it’s just television, but this stuff bugs me, just as it does when a character in some show is a Marine and his hair is all wrong, or when someone supposedly trains to become some superhuman athlete/hero by doing bench presses. These things bug me because they’re not reflective of much of an effort to portray the reality of the situation.

    And now, to borrow one of Jerry’s favorite phrases, “Get off my lawn!”

    • darrelle
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Nice rant!

      The thing that bugs me about the inaccuracies you mention regarding shows like TBBT is how rationalists / skeptics praise these types of shows and their creators as being fine and rare examples of smartly portrayed science or skepticism and yet these shows so often portray these things with exactly the same cliche stereotypes that the rationalists / skeptics complain about.

      As a sit-com I’ve laughed at TBBT, but as a rare and shining example of how to portray sciences or skepticism I cringe. I get that the characters on sit-coms are supposed to be exaggerated, like the caricatures you can have drawn of yourself by artists at theme parks for a few bucks. But taking some characteristics of scientists and atheists and exaggerating them is not what I see on TBBT. What I see is exactly what you described. Scientists and atheists portrayed as virtually no scientist or atheist I’ve ever known of in reality. But I am familiar with such caricatures. Cliche stereotypes that have been around for decades and even centuries and that were mostly never, ever accurate. I don’t think TBBT does science or atheism any favors.

    • Sastra
      Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      One of the important distinctions between exaggerated/unrealistic portrayals of atheists and the same done to other groups is that in the US at least atheists are despised. We’re a marginalized group. Playing into prejudices then isn’t just stereotyping, it’s a form of demonizing.

      • Ken Elliott
        Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Sastra. This is exactly what they’ve done on TBBT. They’ve made the worst behaviors, or at least the coldest, to be those of the atheists. We all know this to be the opposite of what is typical. I know several atheists in my life and they tend to be the most warm, affectioniate, compassionate, not to mention, intelligent people I know. And then you get to know people like Jerry, Richard Dawkins, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris, Seth Andrews, Steven Pinker, etc. via the internet and realize that atheists generally tend to be pretty awesome people. Not all, of course, but most, I would say.

  18. Posted July 8, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    “If you’re my age, you might remember Mayim Bialik as the star of the 1990s television show ‘Blossom.'”

    I must be in my mid 60’s. . .

  19. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    “Let accommodationism blossom”? Nay, let Blossom wilt.

  20. leonkrier
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Throw into this mix the article by David Barash “Is God a Silverback?”. Once this analysis is fully digested, one may either grasp at straws and play the accommodating word-game regarding “god” or just bite the bullet and say “I’m a 100% naturalist, materialist, secularist, rationalist, monist, atheist.”


  21. Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Jerry in an older post:”After all, how else can we understand the natural world except by reason and observation–what I call ‘science broadly construed’.”

    Jerry is (now) a scientist broadly construed😉

    • Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Further to the point, experimental work, either in humans with randomized control trials (RTCs) or in animal models is not and cannot be the only means of contributing scientifically. Giving an example relevant to my work is the field of epidemiology. Whilst RCTs are done by epidemiologists when possible, some phenomena cannot be studied ethically through random assignment, and doing nothing is equally unethical. Therefore, statistical association with adjustment for factors that interfere with causality is the only reasonable option. The value of these designs is largely under appreciated by many in the basic sciences and experimental psychology.

      Moreover, what Jerry is doing here on WEIT influences the scientific research agenda. And *that* is a MAJOR scientific contribution. In other words, you do not need to be the one holding the pipette and wearing a white coat to be doing science.

    • Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      An SBC!


  22. Kevin
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Insecurity. She would hope that others see the world as she does.

  23. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted July 9, 2016 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    There’s an article (summarized here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131231094353.htm but you can follow the links through to the full article on PNAS) which maps people’s self reported bodily feelings against emotional items, such as words.

    Apparently they map bodily feelings against ‘basic’ emotions (anger, fear, disgust,happiness, sadness, surprise, neutral) and ‘non-basic’ emotions (anxiety, love,depression,contempt,pride, shame, envy).

    Assuming that the scientific methods used were valid, wouldn’t it be useful to extend the bodily feelings associated with words to emotions such as ‘awe’, ‘wonder’ and even ‘spiritual’, and perhaps ‘purity’?

    My conjecture is that these emotions would result in similar bodily feeling self reports whether your outlook was ‘naturalistic’ or ‘theistic’.

    Which is my way of suggesting that ‘Godish things makes me feel spiritual’ is exactly wrong. It would be more accurate to say ‘I have these emotions I call spiritual/awe/wonder that I attribute to…’. A cultural explanation for biological feelings.

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