What is it that separates everyday trust -- everyday leaps of faith, even -- from the kinds of ironclad beliefs that inspire jihads; crusades; leper-kissing; cathedral-building? How does one become so utterly sure of an idea that rests on so many unproven assumptions?
If Shermer is right (and he is), and that our default setting is to see patterns where they don't exist because the cost of being wrong (that there is no pattern) is usually much higher than the cost of being right (that there is a pattern) then I have some bad news for you.
Both research studies and clinical evidence from psychotherapy show that a strong belief or expectation about achieving a goal or overcoming a problem can have a powerful impact upon what actually happens in your life.
"Self-deception" might seem like a fairly heavy-handed term to use in describing the average 5-year-old's belief in Santa Claus. So let's extend the metaphor, as Michael Shermer does, back to our ancestors.
We need to trust that the facts, concepts, and explanations that we get from the people around us are generally truthful. There is so much to learn, that when we are exposed to an idea our default is to believe that it is true.
Santorum and Dolan are at least right on one point. No one should be saying that religious people can't participate in the public square. The reality is, however, the public square has a cacophony of voices.
Client 9 is unabashedly sympathetic to Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer makes no excuses for either his overweening ambition as the left's lawman against Corporate Corruption or for his biblical-like fall from grace.
Consciousness, or God, also permeates creation once it appeared. We know this because we partake of consciousness, creativity, and intelligence. Where could we get those qualities if God, the source of consciousness, were gone?
The Infinite self directs the development of the finite self, and the finite self offers joy and knowledge to the Infinite self. This is the Paradox of partnership resolved. One must overcome the illusion of separation.
Once intelligent design squeezes its way into the pages following evolution in our biology books, we might as well add astrology to our astrophysics lectures and toss some alchemy into the chemistry lab.