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Reasons to Believe: the Science of Religion

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posted on Apr, 20 2008 @ 08:32 AM
Where Angels no Longer Fear to Tread

Religion cries out for a biological explanation. It is a ubiquitous phenomenon—arguably one of the species markers of Homo sapiens—but a puzzling one. It has none of the obvious benefits of that other marker of humanity, language. Nevertheless, it consumes huge amounts of resources. Moreover, unlike language, it is the subject of violent disagreements.

An report in the Economist on scientific experiments to identify, describe and explain the religious impulse and its origins. The questions they're asking are, is religion an evolved trait and if so, what is the evolutionary benefit that makes it worth the massive cost in energy and resources it imposes on the individual?

One proposed answer to the second question is that religion helps restrain individuals from acting in ways detrimental to the community -- in a word, it imposes or reinforces morality. Religious members of ATS often affirm that their faith is the source of their morality, so they may find it interesting to read that, on the face of it, some research does seem to bear out that hypothesis. But there are problems... click the link to find out more.

Unbelieving or agnostic members will find the article interesting for the sake of the original questions, I think.

posted on Apr, 20 2008 @ 05:28 PM
Its all psychological and besides what massive amount of resources and energy
All you need is a bible.

posted on Apr, 20 2008 @ 10:26 PM
For those that are not sure, this article is about the biological origins of faith and or God.

Hooked up to machines, they view your hormones and your neuro-chemistry, and they draw correlations between what the machines read and the cognitive thoughts you're having during.

Very interesting article
But the correlations are not proof of anything.

What if the brain changes its chemistry so that it can better percieve spiritual things it 'knows' it's about to deal with?

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 06:27 AM
reply to post by Lucid Lunacy

Very interesting article But the correlations are not proof of anything.

It seems you have already made up your mind in a certain direction. I don't think the researchers mentioned in the story have done that yet, though.

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 01:14 PM
reply to post by Astyanax

Well I ended what I said with a 'question' to consider. That's not very conclusive on my part.

Anyways, I was just trying to express the fact that these are correlations between chemistry and thoughts. Obviously that cannot consitute as proof, but surely as evidence, but not proof. We are still determining how and why consciousness even arises at all. So it would be silly to think absolute positive correlations could be made between chemisty and spirituality, or even more ambitious; God. That's all. Still I have always been interested in these ideas, and I read and enjoyed that entire article

[edit on 013030p://21u15 by Lucid Lunacy]

posted on Apr, 24 2008 @ 03:20 PM
Interesting article,
The thing is science (a subject which I adore to death) is limited to results that are repeatable and for the most part physical matter.

You can teach yourself to detach your consciousness from your body, while still keeping most of your 5 senses, and explore distant places around you, sepearte of your body.

That specifically is not an area where nuerological chemistry will not be able to conclude any solid eveidence that it's a certain chemical shift. Funny thing is if you know somebody else that can do OBE's at will, you can meet that persons consciousness outside of your body, and travel together...aww how nice

Hey, I'm against dogma and religion as much as the next guy, probably as much as many athiests are (though I wont go as far as ALWAYS bringing those aspects up to make points)

I think we should be studying anamolies and make note that certain experiments that have different outcomes each time they are produced, specifically produce differences each time or are not repeatable for a reason, something that should be known and studied instead of written off.

The key to unlock leaps and bounds in science is transcendence. Athiesm is simply being stuck in the confines of logic and reason.

If you want to unlock God and spiritual realms, you need an area of science that is specifically looking for these things, which means you may have to throw out, or circumvent most scientific laws, rules, and observations...starting from scratch.

Those that look for God independent of dogma and religiousocity......always find him specifically in transcendence....a point which isnt that complicated to realize.

If you go your whole life in limited logic and reason trying to find as many ways and reasons as you can as to why God's not there, your finding ways and reasons but missing the whole main point being God, which is the same issue with religous fundamental dogmatists.......its all literal for them and they're finding literalism, not God

posted on Apr, 28 2008 @ 10:43 AM
reply to post by dominicus

Thanks for your perspective. The research referred to in the linked article isn't about trying to find evidence for God, or disprove his existence. It is about exploring the religious impulse -- or 'instinct', if you like. It's trying to explain why people invent and adopt religious beliefs and rituals.

Now, you might say it's because God made them that way, but some people don't find that answer very helpful.

posted on Apr, 28 2008 @ 10:53 AM
I think people latch on to their beliefs in the hope that there really is something after death, the hope that their life continues in some way. An afterlife or reincarnation is the HOPE that most religions leave you reaching for. I also believe that all religious books are written by man to direct a certain behaviour from humanity.

posted on Apr, 30 2008 @ 02:45 PM
reply to post by alienib

You may be right as far as you go. Speaking of individuals, we all have our reasons -- or rationalizations -- for what we do. But what this research is seeking to understand is why the animal species called Homo Sapiens invents and adopts religious ideas and rituals. It's a study in evolutionary psychology, not psychoanalysis. It's interesting and different -- go and have a look.

posted on Apr, 30 2008 @ 02:54 PM
There can be no connection between science and faith. If a person truly believes in something then no claims about its scientific explanation should not influence him. And if a person is not sure enough to be influenced by scientific theories - this is not faith. This is my personal opinion, of course.
As for this theory - if it is correct and we are preprogrammed to believe in something, how is it weakening the God concept?

posted on May, 1 2008 @ 01:07 AM
reply to post by ZeroKnowledge

There can be no connection between science and faith.

Agreed. In fact, they are often mutually incompatible.

If a person truly believes in something then no claims about its scientific explanation should influence him.

Agreed. I trust the edited quote here is what you intended.

And if a person is not sure enough to be influenced by scientific theories - this is not faith.

Again, agreed. Though anyone who holds to the tenets of their faith in the face of solid scientific evidence contradicting them is playing a fool's game.

As for this theory - if it is correct and we are preprogrammed to believe in something, how is it weakening the God concept?

No-one is suggesting that it does. If we discover how and why we came to be so programmed, that knowledge may indeed weaken (or, for that matter, strengthen) what you call the 'God concept'. At the moment, this is simply a fascinating bit of science, which is why I chose to post about it in the present forum.

posted on May, 1 2008 @ 04:32 AM
THE most appealing theory about religion for me is that it is in fact a solution.

Society in general has a lot of problems in interactions, and religion solves a lot of those, although it creates some new problems. Some technical people fail to realize that religion may have been a solution because they cannot possibly understand that imperfect solutions can solve problems, but not all problems.

There have been a billion imperfect solutions in history that have solved the problems in hand.

In today's world we could create better solutions for problems of society, because we have the capabilities and knowledge for abstraction of subjects now. However, with mere glimpse of logic thousands of years ago in the eyes of biological evolution, religion was propably best solution at THAT TIME.

[edit on 1/5/08 by rawsom]

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