The Observer is the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper.
. . . Brain scanning has indeed shown particular bits of the brain lighting up with activity when people pray, look at pictures of the Virgin Mary or recollect intense religious experiences. Richard Harries said: “It would not be surprising if God had created us with a physical facility for belief.” But there is another interpretation, which might eventually lead to the completion of the scientific harvest. . . .
increasingly, those who study the human brain see our experiences, even of our own intentions, as being an illusory commentary on what our brains have already decided to do. Perhaps we humans come with a false model of ourselves, which works well as a means of predicting the behaviour of other people - a belief that actions are the result of conscious intentions. Then could the pervasive human belief in supernatural forces and spiritual agents, controlling the physical world, and influencing our moral judgments, be an extension of that false logic, a misconception no more significant than a visual illusion?
I’m dubious about those “why” questions . . . Either they make no sense or they can be recast as the kind of “how” questions that science answers so well.
When we understand how our brains generate religious ideas, and what the Darwinian adaptive value of such brain processes is, what will be left for religion?
I don’t get the distinction between why and how. " Why is this such?" is the same as “How is it that this is such?” I’m not sure if that means I am agreeing or disagreeing with the distinguished Professor of Neuroscience.
Many Christians believe dogs don’t have free will but many of these same Christians still think the lives of their dogs have meaning. So if we don’t have free will as science is now suggesting, our lives too may still have meaning. I think the same goes for if our spiritual ideas are shown to be illusory. Life can be rewarding even if free will and our spiritual ideas are unreal. Being w/o free will is like riding a roller coaster. You are not in control of your movement, but you still have a lot of fun riding it.