Monday, July 18, 2011

Looking for God? Blame Your Brain!

Science Daily today abstracts some behavioral research indicating that the human brain naturally posits such religious thoughts as the existence of gods with superhuman abilities and the survival of the person after death or its existence before birth.

As one researcher put it:

This project suggests that religion is not just something for a peculiar few to do on Sundays instead of playing golf.

What does this "prove"?

One side would say that there's something dysfunctional about our neurology that makes us believe things that aren't empirically verifiable. For example, the fact that children give up thinking that their mothers can see everything but persist in believing that someone whom they can't see can see everything can be taken as evidence that we simply need to give up belief in what isn't empirical. It's childish, maybe rooted in an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

Meanwhile, the other side says that we seem to be designed to entertain such thoughts, perhaps by the one who wants us thereby to respond to his overtures.

How to choose? Well, this is but one of many factors to consider, isn't it? We think that it's rather hard to keep looking for the means to explain the persistence of human thought about god as dysfunction. Call that epistemological surrender. We've run out of excuses, so we concede to God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Bible suggests that we have been created with a longing for God and a desire to seek him out. For centuries, theologians have called this part of the human experience the God-shaped vacuum (or something to that effect). One wonders if brain researchers are discovering the actual "hard-wiring" for this desire instilled within us by our creator. If our default epistemological wiring as humans contains a built-in knowledge of God and a longing to seek him and know him, then it certainly provides interesting perspective on the Scriptural adage, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." It may suggest that atheism is an intellectual blindness that comes about as a result of willfully ignoring and even supressing the default human condition.