Humanist Perspectives: issue 158, the Psychology of Belief

the Psychology of Belief
issue 158, Autumn 2006

cover of issue 158
Belief & the Need to Rethink Humanism by Gary Bauslaugh
The apparent psychological need many humans have to believe in gods and an afterlife, unfounded as that now seems to be, means that such unsubstantiated, contradictory and mutually exclusive belief systems are probably a permanent aspect of human life. What are humanists to do? Forget about trying to talk people out of their private beliefs, Bauslaugh says, just focus on the easier task of promoting secular public life.
Robert Latimer & the Sanctity of Compassion
Latimer, for his courage in ending his daughter’s hopeless and terrible suffering, is a hero, not a criminal.
reports & letters
SSHRC – We Still Have a Problem
The absurd behaviour of Canada’s second largest granting agency continues, as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council refuses, still, to repudiate a statement made by one of its committees, equating the creationists’ ploy of intelligent design with evolution, one of the cornerstones of modern science.
the world around us
The Importance of Non-Belief by Theo Meijer
Non-belief, rather than belief, is necessary for a rational approach to human behaviour.


the Nature of Belief:
an Imperfect Road Map to Reality
by James Alcock
Alcock shows why people believe in unlikely things.
Hallucination & Belief:
Seeing is Believing is Seeing
by Barry Beyerstein
Beyerstein explains how our senses can fool us.
Science & Belief:
Even Scientists Make big Mistakes
by Ray Hyman
Hyman illustrates how even scientists can come to erroneous beliefs.

columns & departments

practical philosophy
Respect, Belief & Disbelief by Trudy Govier
Respect is important in our interactions with those who hold beliefs different from our own. But what do we do if we think those beliefs are delusional?
Terror & the Madness of Crowds by Shirley Goldberg
Fears generated by the War on Terror, “the conjured threat of apocalyptic evil”, make rational political analysis hard to find.
the Losing Battle With Islam reviewed by Ian Johnston
Johnston examines the arguments presented in the recent David Selbourne book on Islam.

last word

Belief & the Benevolence of Gods translation by Ian Johnston
Why is a supposedly benevolent and omnipotent God so cruel? He works in strange ways indeed. The ancient Greeks, however, were more realistic about the failings of their gods.


Religious Belief by Anne Spencer

Exclusive Web Supplements

Robert & Tracy Latimer
by Alister Browne PhD
Clinical Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, UBC
> read article online