Wednesday, 16 May 2007

God lives in your brain circuitry, says scientist

Are our brains soft-wired to be spiritual? Is religion just part of the neural circuitry of our brains? As an atheist, I fervently believe so, and that's why I was so interested to read a fascinating interview in Salon with developmental biologist and atheist Lewis Wolpert. Wolpert, who grew up in South Africa, has written a book called Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast in which he argues that human brains evolved to become "belief engines."

'In Wolpert's view,' writes Salon's Steve Paulson, 'religion has given believers an evolutionary advantage, even though it's based on a grand illusion.'

In the interview (and in his book), Wolpert also has a go at telepathy, healing, astrology, energy fields, ghosts and all the other ridiculous superstitions of our age. I can't wait to read this book

Link, via Digg.

Posted by Juno

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Ewan said...

Thanks for posting that - have you seen the nytimes piece NYTimes : Darwin’s God? Also fascinating, some possible biological reasons for belief systems (and as a Christian myself, I like the fact that this article also isn't violently anti-religious - and in fact includes a Christian's viewpoint on the research).

Juno said...

Hi Ewan

Thanks for the link - I'll take a look. Interesting what you have to say about the article not being violently anti-religion. I am an ardent atheist, but I don't think of myself as being anti-religion, or at least not to the extent that I would want to bludgeon believers with my point of view. Although I'm a big fan of Richard Dawkins, I sometimes think his point of view is drowned out by his militant anti-religion stance. I don't blame him for taking that stance, and I agree with everything he says, but I can see that it pisses off a lot of people.