To derail religion is to derail happiness [Most commented]
Did humans create God? That's what J. Anderson Thomson and Clare Aukofer, authors of "Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith," argue in an Op-Ed article Monday. Scientists working to "unravel religion’s DNA" are looking at the psychological indicators, which have adapted over time, that serve as the foundation for religion. But why debunk religion? To live in a world that makes sense, and where reason is king, Thomson and Aukofer answer.
For example, human attachment is a physiologically enforced attribute and could shift from a childhood mother figure to a God "super parent." Humans can also concoct scenarios that predict what another person will do or say, or envision future situations, which is not far from conversing with the dead or God:
The better we understand human psychology and neurology, the more we will uncover the underpinnings of religion. Some of them, like the attachment system, push us toward a belief in gods and make departing from it extraordinarily difficult. But it is possible.
We can be better as a species if we recognize religion as a man-made construct. We owe it to ourselves to at least consider the real roots of religious belief, so we can deal with life as it is, taking advantage of perhaps our mind's greatest adaptation: our ability to use reason.
Readers took up this age-old debate on our discussion board.
Religion helps the miserable escape
Everyman, appalled by the evidence of his meaningless demise, either wimps out in apathy, or seeks solace in some mythology.
You should be allowed to believe if you want to, and shouldn't be forced to if you don't
I find it difficult to fathom why this is such an issue of debate and, often times, anger. If one believes, so be it and they should be allowed. If one does not, again, so be it. I rarely, if ever, have seen anyone convincing another that his or her belief is wrong. Religious freedom, including the right to believe, is one of the founding tenets of our country. Zealotry of any sort is always a negative.
Finally, to blame most wars on religion is just foolish. Some wars, of course; however most wars are about economics..just another type of god to many. (So perhaps, they too, are "religious" in nature)
Religion is worth it, despite its imperfections
I don't believe that religious institutions have to be all good or all bad. Religious institutions are creations of man and are therefore imperfect by their very definition. A lot of good things ... and a some bad things have been done in the name of religion.
Go to church and you see a neighborhood congregation putting its best foot forward. Young people get exposed to positive role models. Young people are exposed to the basics of moral teaching. Those are good things. There are a lot of good, decent people who are very religious. I am not talking about the ones who wear religion on their sleeves for the sake of politics.
Yes, there have been failings...some pedophiles, twisting religious teachings into prejudice, abusing religious teachings by mixing religion and politics, advocating violence, etc....
...but these are the products of the flaws of the characters of people...not of religion itself. Religion has been a justification for fanatics from every religious group for all kinds of atrocious acts...
...but it has also been the inspiration for many wonderful people, accomplishments, works of art, moral teachings and positive actions by society to better things for all people as well. I believe that the good things have far outnumbered the bad.
All in all, I'll take a world that has religion in it over a world that doesn't...any day of the week.
You can't say God exists without proof
I love how religious people make the most absolutely preposterous claims, with no basis in reality whatsoever, and then expect other people to dis-prove those claims. That is not a valid form of argument. I can say that I have an invisible monkey living on my shoulder, that I am the only one who can see or hear him, and that if you upset me he will punish you. It doesn't mean that it is real, and it seems very innocuous at first. If I then take it upon myself to throw my own feces at someone, and tell them that it was my invisible monkey (or even that the monkey told me to do it), then I would be rightfully locked away. However, that is pretty much the basis of most modern religions. There is something there, that you can have no knowledge of, but it is there. In the name of that thing that cannot be known, people commit horrendous acts daily. From the small, such as dismissing the reasoning and logic of those who disagree with them; to the large, such as killing people who do not believe the same. What it really comes down to is that if you are going to make a claim of some supernatural entity - YOU have to provide proof. You can't just say it exists, then get upset when people question that reasoning. You also can not simply quote your favorite bronze age writings either. Even most Christians realize how flawed their bible really is - hence all of the revisions.
Derailing religion is derailing someone's happiness
Interesting that some men spend their entire lives attempting to disprove another man's happiness. Depressing if you ask me.
Religion is fiction, in response to ahlgay
Interesting that some men spend their entire lives attempting to subjugate others based entirely on a work of fiction.
Everyone has faith, even if they argue against it
Faith, at its core, is courage. It is the courage to insist that life have purpose despite appearances to the contrary. It is the courage to believe in goodness and to act with kindness. We all have faith even when we argue against it.
Those studies don't prove anything about God
This essay consists of paragraph after paragraph of poorly interpreted scientific results... For example, "Brain-imaging studies at the National Institutes of Health showed that when test subjects were read statements about religion and asked to agree or disagree, the same brain networks that process human social behavior — our ability to negotiate relationships with others — were engaged." This neither supports nor detracts from the existence of a god. Aren't the Evangelicals always talking about building a personal relationship with Jesus? Someone with a relationship with a god or gods, whether the relationship or the gods were real or imaginary, would have the same fMRI profile when thinking about them. The rest of the essay is similarly misleading, which is not surprising as this seems to be just a PR piece that the authors are using to advertise their new book.
*Spelling errors in the above comments were corrected.
Photo: Workers install a huge cross in front of the Church of Our Lady, left, and the cathedral in Dresden, Germany. Credit: Robert Michael / AFP/Getty Images