Thursday, April 16, 2009

Religion and the brain

Michael Gerson reviews research on the interaction of religion and the brain here.

This study is the most balanced I have yet seen. The author of the study is himself a skeptic, but admits that his research does not disprove the reality of religious experience. Neither does it prove it. How you interpret the findings will undoubtedly be influenced greatly by whether or not you are already religious.

I am just always happy when a skeptical scientist if honest enough to admit that science isn't the end-all of truth. I'll admit it about religious truth, glad to have a reciprocation.

6 comments:

Andy Walters said...

Robert Wright interviews Andrew Newberg on meaningOfLife.tv; you should check it out. He also interviews other leading scientists, philosophers, and spiritualists.

It is true that neuroscience doesn't "explain away" religious experience, but merely "explains" it. But that inexorably raises the question "If my experience can be *completely* explained in natural terms, from end to end, why posit the supernatural at all?" It is similar to positing that the real work of a petrol engine is done by invisible gremlins. That may be true, but why even bother?

Further, don't you find it suspicious that Buddhists AND Christians have the same types of experiences (at least according to the fMRI), and yet believe dramatically different propositions about reality? Further, how can Christians posit that life on this earth as a Christian is infinitely more satisfying than life without Christ, if a committed Buddhist and a committed Christian experience roughly the same thing?

What does Christianity have to offer on earth that the other religions don't?

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