Apparently our brains have “a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times.” This does not bode
well for advancing the interests of reason and science in the continuing economic crisis—especially if you believe, as
I do, that what we’re seeing now is just the beginning.
Born Believers: How Your Brain Creates God
WHILE many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During
this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.
This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that
human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure
up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of
this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.
The Credit Crunch Could Be A Boon For Irrational Belief
dougsmith Posted: 11 February 2009 10:22 AM
Joined 2006-02-14 I don’t see how humans could be “hard-wired to be religious” in any serious sense of the term “religious”. I imagine what they’re talking about is a hard-wired tendency to find agency where it is not; spirits, ancestors, and yes gods; but there is nothing necessarily religious about this. How could we be hard-wired to be religious if religions basically didn’t exist until five or ten thousand years ago? They are a relatively modern phenomenon, as much sociopolitical as anything.
Perhaps the thought is that our hard-wiring tends to make people receptive to religious ideas in the present environment. But that’s sort of a vague claim, and not clearly true either, especially when the same hard-wiring could easily lead someone into non-religious New Agey ideas. A large portion of the present acceptance of religion has to do with temporary factors of culture and family background (one tends to slide into the same religion that one’s parents hold).
Are you two talking about the same thing? It doesn’t appear so. By all appearances, Steve is talking about religious belief, while Doug appears to be referring to the institutions of religions.
Steve, how are you defining “religious”?
Doug, how are you defining it?
If you both post your answer, we’ll know whether you’re talking to or past each other.
How much of this simple exchange is a contest for etymological turf?
Of what use is that? What are its drawbacks?