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Evil and suffering

Most of them are very religious, while most of your population is very secular. You want to integrate the newcomers seamlessly, minimizing the risk of economic malaise or violence, but you have limited resources. What do you do?

Bible Games - Angry Video Game Nerd - Episode 17

Well, you make your best guess and hope the policy you chose works out. But it might not. Even a policy that yielded great results in another place or time may fail miserably in your particular country under its present circumstances. If that happens, you might find yourself wishing you could hit a giant reset button and run the whole experiment over again, this time choosing a different policy. You can, however, experiment like that with virtual people.

And then they experiment: Add in 50, newcomers, say, and invest heavily in education. How does the artificial society change? The model tells you. Just hit that reset button and try a different policy. The goal of the project is to give politicians an empirical tool that will help them assess competing policy options so they can choose the most effective one.

It wrapped up last month. By using them to calibrate his model, Shults can get more accurate and fine-grained predictions, simulating what will happen in a specific city and even a specific neighborhood. Why is America secularizing at a slower rate than Western Europe? Which conditions would speed up the process of secularization—or, conversely, make a population more religious?

They initialized the model in and then allowed it to run all the way through Even something as personal as deciding whether to have a child, when viewed across a society, can add up to a shift in population growth. One example is the terror management system , which psychologists use to explain how people manage their reactions to terrifying events such as natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks or social threats from outsiders.

Religious beliefs and behaviors can play key roles. The researchers in New Zealand suggest that religion directly comforts people who are suffering or reminds them of the resilience of others who suffered greatly too, like the Bible's Jesus on the cross or martyrs who were tortured. The human approach to processing terrifying events involves an exquisitely complex system of deeply intuitive human responses to emotional, social and environmental threats and uncertainties.

As we build these agents and the artificial societies they inhabit, we test them against well-known real-world examples, such as the data gathered on church attendance before and after the Christchurch earthquake. The better our agents mimic the behavior of real humans in those sorts of circumstances, the more closely aligned the model is with reality, and the more comfortable we are saying humans are likely to behave the way the agents did in new and unexplored situations.

This artificial society is a simplified model of human society, but a reasonable facsimile in the respects that matter for making sense of reactions to terrifying events. One useful difference is that we can experiment with the artificial society. Is violence unleashed if a society is flooded with refugees from a foreign religious culture?


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Could we hold violent tendencies in check by training people to be less sensitive to perceived threats from unfamiliar people? Over the course of weeks, we ran the simulation millions of times with a wide range of variations in model settings and evaluated the resulting data. For instance, some agents got bored with religious rituals more quickly than others. Other factors included the severity and frequency of hazards such as dangerous earthquakes or disease outbreaks. Culturally diverse groups whose members dealt with hazards fairly well preferred coping through rituals with small groups of friends, which were unlikely to explode in violence.

But culturally homogeneous populations whose members had low tolerance for hazards preferred rituals on a very large scale, and those kinds of rituals had the potential to be quite dangerous.

Religion and science - Revision 3 - GCSE Religious Studies - BBC Bitesize

But it does generate important insights and predictions that future research can test — such as how group diversity and different coping strategies might yield different results. Human simulation in action is messier than modeling bridges, but it can be a useful way for researchers to understand just why people behave the way they do. Continue or Give a Gift. Privacy Policy , Terms of Use Sign up. SmartNews History. History Archaeology. World History. Eventually, though, things reverted to the way they had been, with religion in decline even in Christchurch.

The genesis of computer science

The results from , before the quake, and in , after it happened, let researchers observe the same individuals before and after the natural disaster. The findings showed that people living near the earthquake, whether religious or not before the event, became more religious in the wake of the tragedy, at least for a while. One of my research teams uses computers to study how religion interacts with complex human minds, including in processes such as managing reactions to terrifying events.

Some people turn to religion for comfort, and some use religion to justify their scary behavior. It would be nice to know more about how this psychosocial system works.

Evil and suffering

We have received financial support from the John Templeton Foundation. Our team starts with the understanding that many aspects of human life, including religion, are extremely complex systems. Collectively, they influence global trends such as shifts in political power, declarations of war or the very organization of civilization itself.

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Even something as personal as deciding whether to have a child, when viewed across a society, can add up to a shift in population growth. One example is the terror management system , which psychologists use to explain how people manage their reactions to terrifying events such as natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks or social threats from outsiders.

Religious beliefs and behaviors can play key roles.

Episode 168: Genesis 2 (Continued). Excursus: Story, Allegory & Historicization

The researchers in New Zealand suggest that religion directly comforts people who are suffering or reminds them of the resilience of others who suffered greatly too, like the Bible's Jesus on the cross or martyrs who were tortured. The human approach to processing terrifying events involves an exquisitely complex system of deeply intuitive human responses to emotional, social and environmental threats and uncertainties.

As we build these agents and the artificial societies they inhabit, we test them against well-known real-world examples, such as the data gathered on church attendance before and after the Christchurch earthquake. The better our agents mimic the behavior of real humans in those sorts of circumstances, the more closely aligned the model is with reality, and the more comfortable we are saying humans are likely to behave the way the agents did in new and unexplored situations.

This artificial society is a simplified model of human society, but a reasonable facsimile in the respects that matter for making sense of reactions to terrifying events. One useful difference is that we can experiment with the artificial society. Is violence unleashed if a society is flooded with refugees from a foreign religious culture? Could we hold violent tendencies in check by training people to be less sensitive to perceived threats from unfamiliar people?

Over the course of weeks, we ran the simulation millions of times with a wide range of variations in model settings and evaluated the resulting data. For instance, some agents got bored with religious rituals more quickly than others. Other factors included the severity and frequency of hazards such as dangerous earthquakes or disease outbreaks.