This is your brain – This is your brain on faith

Read the whole article:

Newberg argues that religious belief is often personally and socially advantageous, allowing men and women to “imagine a better future.” And he does not contend, as philosophically lazy scientists sometimes do, that a biological propensity toward belief automatically disproves the existence of an object of such belief. “Neuroscience cannot tell you if God does or doesn’t exist,” Newberg states with appropriate humility. Neurobiology helps explain religion; it does not explain it away.

But Newberg’s research offers warnings for the religious as well. Contemplating a loving God strengthens portions of our brain — particularly the frontal lobes and the anterior cingulate — where empathy and reason reside. Contemplating a wrathful God empowers the limbic system, which is “filled with aggression and fear.” It is a sobering concept: The God we choose to love changes us into his image, whether he exists or not.

For Newberg, this is not a simple critique of religious fundamentalism — a phenomenon varied in its beliefs and motivations. It is a criticism of any institution that allies ideology or faith with anger and selfishness. “The enemy is not religion,” writes Newberg, “the enemy is anger, hostility, intolerance, separatism, extreme idealism, and prejudicial fear — be it secular, religious, or political.”

Michael Gerson – Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg on the Brain and Faith – washingtonpost.com.

Interesting, but is there really anything there? Are they just using science to try to explain the unexplainable? And, does this mean that atheists don’t have brains?

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6 Replies to “This is your brain – This is your brain on faith”

  1. I’ve been following the Andrew Newberg for about a year now. I’ve read some interviews with him, but haven’t got around to reading his newest book, How God Changes Your Brain

  2. Too bad that the God of much of Christianity has a lot of wrath—going so far as to torment people in fire forever and ever! How would that impact a person’s brain? I’m surprised it doesn’t lead to more neurosis than it does!

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