I argue often in this space that religion is often
misunderstood to be a tool that humans use to achieve certain ends – perhaps
comfort or meaning in trying times, etc. The premise of this false notion is
that religion is not objectively true – it does not tell us anything about
reality – but rather is a projection of the mind. In the context of a naturalistic worldview in which matter is all there is, the brain works up
"useful lies" in order to get through human animal through life.
Here is a story that gives a perfect example of this idiocy taken to its
logical ends. Researchers in Britain are preparing to conduct pain
experiments on "faith-filled" humans to see if they can
locate the neurological basis of religious belief. By determining where it comes
and how it operates, one assumes they think that perhaps they will be able to
start controlling it and do great things for the world like deprogramming
terrorists of their convictions.
The study could help to reveal how faith is represented
in the brain. Other projects will look into the conditions that make people
susceptible to strong yet irrational beliefs, such as the age people are
exposed to certain ideas and the frequency with which religious messages are
The centre has been set up for an
initial two years with a $2m (£1m) grant from the US-based John Templeton
Foundation, which promotes research into theology and science.
"People are realising these
are the most exciting questions that anyone can ask," said Lady
Greenfield. Understanding the basis of religious and other types of belief
could help to shed light on the surge in fundamentalism and terrorism.
"One of the fundamental reasons why religious
beliefs have to be taken seriously … is that they are potentially very
dangerous, and that can be true of other dogmatisms too," said John
Brookes, professor of science and religion at Oxford.
(And how is it that the people
on this planet who understand religion the least are the religion professors?)