TED Conversations

Bernard White


This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

What theological implications does the "Psychology" and "Neuroscience" (and possibly biology) of religion (or "God(s)") have?

I'm very interested in people's opinions on this matter.
I would just like to say, as I have said in the past, this debate is not to make mockery of "God". It is just honesty enquiry.
Yet as I have explored with my other debates in the past, it seems we must first define (or describe to the best of our limits) what we mean by "God(s)" and "Existence". Otherwise the debate "Does God exist?" becomes slightly meaningless.
Now that's done.
I was reading much about the psychology of religion, and found that due to articles like :
“Thinking Style and Belief In God” - Art Markman
Link : http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201208/thinking-style-and-belief-in-god
"We are programmed to believe in a god" by Jesse Bering.
"Is God an Accident" by Paul Bloom :
that had many theological implications!
And made me think :
- There is a strong correlation with a "Theory of mind" and belief in God. Animals don't really have a "theory of mind", does this mean other animals can't experience "God(s)"?
- Psychologists can now artificially create a "God experience", Doesn't this make the "Religious experience" argument rather dubious?. Link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y02UlkYjSi0
And there are probably many more Tedsters could think of!
However I do think it is worth mentioning that :
As Justin L. Barret said, that the psychology and neuroscience of religion (God) doesn't (dis)prove that God isn't real. For it wouldn't make much sense if a God who wanted to be in a relationship with us, didn't give us the ability to conceive such a God.
Another great quote by him :
"Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that sh

Topics: Church of God

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 15 2013: Don,

    Thank you , for pointing out J Wesley, and still having to many "Christianities" is not a meaningless problem to me, but is the supernatural what do I know?,
    Agreed self knowledge is the key to progress in many ways.
    I'll pass on T Murphy and the "God Helmet" contraption, Thanks.
    Will we live longer by praying to a God?, OK we need data, define God(s), then what God(s) to pray to, in its particular style etc in order for the benefit to show . That is still beyond me.

    Thanks Don,

    • thumb
      May 15 2013: "Will we live longer by praying to a God?, OK we need data, define God(s), then what God(s) to pray to, in its particular style etc in order for the benefit to show ."
      That's basically the "Bernard Test"! :-)
      • thumb
        May 15 2013: Bernard,

        Indeed a fine use of the "Bernard Test(BT), thanks for pointing that out so succinctly.

        Best regards friend,

        "those pesky details"
        --Who knows?.

        • thumb
          May 15 2013: Can't give you any more thumbs up! :(
        • thumb
          May 16 2013: Carlos Marques,
          I was wondering if I could have your advice on this "theological" issue I have been having.
          Is whether to describe myself as an "Agnostic" or an "Atheist".
          I am a great fan of Bertrand Russell, and read his "Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?" Link : http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/russell8.htm. (Great short read by the way!).
          I can't decide whether God(s) are actually logically possible. For it would make more sense to assume they are just a by-product of evolution, and the "psychology of religion" makes this hypothesis seem more creditable. Yet on the other hand, I feel this doesn't "disprove" any form of deity, for you could equally argue they put these psychological mechanisms into us.
          However from the 4 arguments I have explored, which are :

          - The (Kalam) cosmological argument.

          - The moral (objective moral values and duties) argument.

          - The teleological (or fine-tuning) argument

          - The ontological argument.

          Yet have never found any of them to be "logically valid" or convincing for this matter.
          And do find that a "omni-benevolent omniscient omnipotent" God, is quite hard to fathom logically for me. As I explained in an earlier reply with the :
          A Omnipotent God should be able to do anything.
          It could not make a boulder it couldn't lift, nor make a square circle. (Unless it can defy logic).
          Therefore there is a slight logical inconsistency.
          Or the problem of evil, for a omni-benevolent God.
          So in this sense (unless I have missed something) the Christian God is logically impossible. Therefore It would be perfectly valid to call yourself an "atheist".
          However I am struggling with this.
          For I have always labelled myself an "agnostic" on principle I could never (dis)prove "God(s)".

          However it is important to note that the "Bernard Test" (of definitions (or descriptions) of what are "Existence" and "God(s)" (?)) raise many issues on their own...
          Remembering the tautology I told you could do with definitions.

          So which am I?
          Atheist or Agnostic?
      • thumb
        May 17 2013: Bernard,
        Thanks for trusting me with such a request I shall do my best.
        Atheism is the absence of the belief in any God(s)/Agnosticism is not about belief in god but, about Knowledge, that a person could not claim to Know for sure if any God(s) exist or not. Observe that you can believe in God(s)without claiming to Know for sure that no God(s) can or do exist; the result is agnostic theism. Or you can disbelieve in God(s) without claiming to Know for sure that no God(s)can or do exist the result is agnostic atheism.
        Using the Bernard's Test against the claim God(s) exists,stops the conversation dead on its tracks. For if you are not convinced by the claim you are not believing it, then you are without belief in God(s). Until the Bernard's test is passed and you are convinced, you are A(without)-theist(belief in God(s),Atheist.
        You my friend, have created a litmus test(BT).

        On your last post I see there is no fault to your reasoning, it's solid. I know there is a social cost attached to the Atheist label (at least in the USA),talk it over with the significant persons in your life and this view should not hinder your capacity to care for others, to have compassion, love & to lead a fulfilled life. Way to go Bernard!

        "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite."
        -- Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays (1928)

        Have a pint for me!

        • thumb
          May 17 2013: Thanks for your reply! :-)
          Personally I have always been taught (in philosophy classses) that "Atheism" was the assertion that "God(s) did not exist".
          I have spoken to quite a few people about this, and I find it odd myself. For it is an odd debate.
          Here is a good question which sums it up :
          If something is logically impossible, should you still believe (in some form) it is possible?
          For instance you can't (dis)prove it with empirical evidence, yet with logic you can?
          And is it even possible to know whether such a thing as "God" (or gods) are logically impossible?

          I must admit the "Bernard Test" does raise far too many issues... :P
          Kind regards,
          EDIT : Watch this :
          I mean I can accept what Sir David Attenborough is saying, that we may not have the "cognitive abilities" to actually realize there is a God. I could accept that. Maybe God is beyond all rationality.
          Yet the irony in this, is as Bertrand Russell said (to paraphrase) : "God gave me with a rational mind, and I concluded "it" did (most probably) did not exist"
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          May 18 2013: True! :-)
          I'm not really sure why...
          I guess even if it make the conversation more confusing, it can still be a great contribution!
        • thumb
          May 19 2013: Don,
          My condolences on the Mason that passed on.



Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.