TED Conversations

Bernard White


This conversation is closed.

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
    Jun 6 2013: For a few that understand the paradox and need to solve it it will have implications, for religion as a whole it won't matter much. They'll just accept it and people will forget that they were ever against its. Much like the discoveries of Galileo Galilei when he made his discoveries. Only when he did it it was one of the first proofs that the bible wasn't completely correct, now we have that proof everyday, a simple mind change made religion immune to these kinds of things.

    I did stumble across a Youtube channel with a former christian who was now an atheist and psychology and biology has helped him understand his emotions and thoughts towards God and the whole structure of religion.
    Really good stuff actually: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mSy1-Q_BEtQ&list=PLA0C3C1D163BE880A
    • thumb
      Jun 6 2013: Damn! I'm out of thumbs up for you! :D
      I know I have recommended these two books to a lot of people on TED, but here I go again.
      Two really good books (I'v read) about the psychology of Religion :
      - "The God Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny and the Meaning of Life" (By Jesse Bering):
      - "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" (By Michael Shermer):
      You can watch his TED Talk :
      "Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception"
      Personally science (specifically evolution) never really influenced me very much in views regarding religion and the concept of a God. I just explored some arguments for, and against and came to a conclusion (agnosticism). I wanted to see the evidence (and reason) both sides produced, and found they were both lacking. Both the sides being "Strong Atheism", and "Strong Theism".
      On another note, I recommend you the book "Religion for Atheists" (http://www.alaindebotton.com/religion.asp), or you can watch his TED talk :
      "Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0"
      Just to say if you have any books you could recommend me, it would be much appreciated!
      • thumb
        Jun 6 2013: Sadly I only read a couple of books every year so I have no books for you if afraid. But I have seen both Talks and I enjoy them very much. ^^

        Thanks for the positive feedback!
        • thumb
          Jun 6 2013: I hope you find the time to read them all!!! :D
          At the moment I am reading these two books :
          - "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" (By Christopher Hitchens)
          - "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" (By Sam Harris)
          Personally I am not enjoying "The End of Faith", due to it advocating an extremly polarized view of the world. It also goes to distort the Koran (or Quran), and describes it as a books where every page is hateful. However this well-informed TED talk :
          "Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran"
          Give me a very different view. Then he goes onto argue that all religions are evil, and religious moderates are just as bad as religious fundamentalists. He then (Ironically) goes onto argue that eastern religions like "Buddhism" and "Jainism" are really good.
          However it is worth mentioning that I am enjoying "God is not great".
          Sorry for my little rant.
          Hope you didn't mind!
      • thumb
        Jun 6 2013: You are free to rant as much as you wish, if I wanted to I could just top reading (I didn't!).
        I've watched very much from Hitchens and Harris on Youtube and they're (Hitchens was) really good at making the point i think.

        I don't know about the Koran, I only got 50 pages once...
      • Jun 6 2013: Hi there. This is partly another rant.

        I loved "The Book of J" (which is probably out of print and hard to find). It's a correction of a mis-translated biblical text. The correct translation: "Man shall be above woman with joy." meaning sex between men and women will be enjoyable.
        This line has been mis -translated (purposely?) to mean that men must be the boss in all things and women must obey men no matter what. That mistranslated line is still included in many christian wedding vows (women must vow to obey their husbands) and is still used to justify men beating their wives.
        I've been reading everything I could about religion since I was a kid, long ago. The problem: whoever is preaching has a pulpit to inflict misery on other people and to teach children that it is okay to hate, okay to hurt, okay to deny other people freedom, rights, jobs, even life itself based solely on what that preacher claims is religiously "right".
        Anyone can start a religion, call themselves a prophet, claim an inside track to an all powerful being who tells only them what is right, who is good, who should live or die.

        Another misery from twisting religious texts is the hatred preached against homosexuals. There is almost nothing about homosexuality in the torah or the bIble. Homosexuality is not in the ten commandments, so it's not as bad as working on the sabbath or coveting another man's ass. And homosexuality is not a deadly sin, like sloth, gluttony, greed, etc.. It's a minor matter, an abomination like eating shrimp, that is used by preachers, priests, rabbis, imams and so on, to justify anti-homosexuality laws, beatings, even killings.
        Religion really is like a powerful drug that is OFTEN used to justify injustice. It's dangerous.

        Richard Dawkins' and Christopher Hitchens' books are really good.
      • Jun 7 2013: I vomit in revulsion at alain de whatever and his atheism 2.0.
      • Jun 8 2013: 1. Alain presents the secular world and atheists wrongly. He exaggerated many things to make his points.
        2. Alain exaggerated on the merits of religions while cartooning the "alternatives."
        3. I would truly detest having atheism into something even remotely similar to a religion. If someone wants the kind of nonsense that happens in religious ceremonies in their lives while they don;t believe in gods, they can have it. Only I rather not have them do so in the name of atheism, because then I will be mistaken to be like those crackpots.
        4. I refuse to be definable by what I don;t believe. Should atheism 2.0 "catch" then atheism would be perceived to be much more than what it is. I would have to find another word. I tried to get rid of being called an atheist. But then it was useless. I don;t believe in gods, but that's not what defines me.
        5. Sure, we should take the best of anything, including religion. I have never been against that. Therefore Alain misrepresented my views by presenting atheists as if we were all some people who opposed everything coming from any religion, which is false even about such people as Dawkins. I know I don't, and hate been misrepresented.
        6. At least some of the things Alain wants to take from religion are simply ridiculous, like that repetition crap. Understanding gets you to knowledge. Mere repetition doesn't. I still know automatically many things I had to repeat from my religious days, but they were and are just memorized sounds to me. Not knowledge.
        7. religions are not the only one source we could take good things from. All human culture belongs to us. Let's examine everything and take from anything. Forget about doing so "with respect." That remark is both unnecessary and dumb.
    • Jun 6 2013: Hi Jimmy, Glad to Meet You!
      Good points! I feel no need to defend 'the bible' (or any other resource), but I do feel that 'in power' political paradigms are often interpretations of religious sources that are helpful to them in maintaining their power positions. For example; the belief that the pope is "infallible" when it comes to maintaining allegiance to that power/belief political structure system. The actual source may often be used out of context or misinterpreted (a deliberate deception), to maintain the status quo.
      Example two; Galileo (a Catholic), inviting Catholic priests to look through his telescope, but they refuse to do so for personal and political paradigm protection reasons.
      Religions make me nauseous :|
    • Comment deleted

      • Comment deleted

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.