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Does God Exist? Ask a Cognitive Scientist

Updated on October 5, 2014
Thomas Swan profile image

Dr. Thomas Swan studied cognition and culture at Queen's University Belfast. He specializes in the cognitive science of religion.

A bronze statue of Zeus, the most powerful God in the extinct religion of Ancient Greece.
A bronze statue of Zeus, the most powerful God in the extinct religion of Ancient Greece. | Source

There are numerous faiths scattered across each continent of the Earth, and a veritable necropolis of religions that have perished in the course of human history. Each has its own rituals and doctrines, and each makes an intransigent claim to be the paladin of truth. United under the common genus, religion, we find that each requires belief in supernatural beings. From Zeus to Allah there are thousands of deities littering the human timeline, bubbling into prominence before descending into obscurity. Such avid acceptance of contradictory faiths elucidates a remarkable facet of the human condition: we have a propensity for inventing gods.

To explore our fervor for the divine, we must understand how the mind works, and this can only be achieved with novel experiments exploring human psychology. In this article I will review the work of cognitive scientists who have investigated our proclivity for piety, yielding results that will shock theists and atheists alike. In doing so, some have made the greatest sacrifice; for in explaining the falsity of these myriad impostor religions, they inadvertently tarnish the credibility of the one they hold dear.

Intuition and Recollection

All humans perceive the world in an intuitive way. We possess a folk biology, which identifies beings that live, die and require sustenance as agents that may be dangerous or useful to us. We have folk mechanics, which tells us that solid objects cannot occupy the same space and dropped objects fall to the ground. We possess folk psychology, or the knowledge that other beings have desires, beliefs and intentions that are separate from our own. We are born with these intuitions, and they play a fundamental part in the way we perceive the world.

Any event that violates intuitive expectations is likely to garner our attention. When we read a story about a talking tree, it is more likely to be remembered than a tree that doesn't talk. Similarly, a narrative about an ethereal, eternal, omnipresent and omnipotent God is going to violate our folk biology, mechanics and psychology. We’re attracted to the narrative because the God is perceived to be an incredibly dangerous or useful being. It may possess strategic information about what’s in our mind or the minds of others. To protect or gain this knowledge and to avoid personal jeopardy, it is paramount that we learn about the God, even if its existence appears implausible. Pascal Boyer identified this attraction to the divine in his book Religion Explained.

Humans are pre-wired to absorb anything that is counter-intuitive, including gods, but this doesn’t include every wild creation of the imagination. Gods still think and act like humans; they create things they cannot reverse, they have beliefs about what is good and evil, they have plans for the future, and they communicate with people. The attribution of counter-intuitive abilities such as telepathy is what makes them memorable. Cognitive scientists have shown that counter-intuitive information must be embedded in intuitive factual information for it to be memorable. For example, in John 21:6, when Jesus auspiciously instructed his disciples to cast their nets on the other side of their boat, it was within the context of a fishing trip involving the usual travails of acquiring a catch. If Jesus created fish out of thin air and beamed them into the boat then it wouldn’t be such a memorable story. Scott Atran’s work, In God’s We Trust, illustrates this finding in greater detail.

The attractiveness of particular stories and how they spread through a culture is called the epidemiology of representations. Unlike Richard Dawkin’s memetic theory, stories are transformed based on information already held in an individual’s mind. The most successful stories are those which appeal to our evolved biases for absorbing particular information. The seminal work on this topic is Explaining Culture by Dan Sperber. The ability to absorb information about gods is called a memory cognitive bias. However, this bias does not explain why we create stories about gods in the first place.

It is better to be safe than sorry. We have a hyper-active agency detector.
It is better to be safe than sorry. We have a hyper-active agency detector. | Source

Creating Gods

Conjuring up a being in the abyss seems like the domain of science fiction, but it is something we do every day. We give our cars and boats names, we talk of gremlins in our machines, and we chide lady luck for our misfortunes. Like our cognitive bias for remembering counter-intuitive information, we have a bias for attributing agency to events that show signs of being controlled by some force. It would be foolish not to be biased in this way, because if an event looks like it is being controlled by another being, then it is far better to err on the side of caution than to end up being eaten! The costs of not attributing agency are so severe that natural selection has given humans a hyper-active agency detector that blames many events on non-existent beings.

A number of events meet the criteria for agency. Extreme bad luck may be seen as unlikely to occur without some intentioned malevolent being. Events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and hurricanes are all rare occurrences of terrible bad luck. The sun’s movement across the sky or the tides rising on the beach are examples of events that show signs of a goal-oriented controlling force. These events require beings powerful enough to perform them. Thus, stories are created about powerful gods, and our bias for absorbing these stories guarantees they will be popular.

Why Believe?

Many of us don’t believe religious stories when we hear them, but we still remember them. Perhaps some of us believe the stories because we encounter them when we are very young. Richard Dawkins has described childhood religion as a suspension of disbelief, which basically means children don’t have enough knowledge to properly evaluate the story, so they put it in a box marked “maybe” and let it fester. The testimony of authority figures such as parents and priests will constitute evidence for the story being true, improving the chances of the child forming a belief.

Nevertheless, different children will respond differently to testimony, suggesting the presence of another factor that affects belief formation. Furthermore, why do some adults turn to religion? It is apparent that many people become religious during times of stress and anxiety. This anxiety emerges from threatening events such as near-death experiences, illness, catastrophe, grief, pain, drug withdrawal, prison, or financial difficulty.

It is likely that anxiety reduces the scrutiny we apply to comforting propositions, such as the existence of an afterlife or God. Recent evidence partially confirms this theory by indicating the presence of another cognitive bias called the optimism bias. When presented with information that is better than our expectations, we are far more likely to adjust our beliefs than when we are presented with information that is worse than expectations. We appear to filter out bad information as a means of reducing stress and anxiety. Indeed, depressed individuals lack an optimism bias, suggesting a clear link between anxiety reduction and the acceptance of comforting beliefs.

Forming a belief in this way guarantees it will be staunchly defended against arguments that threaten it. This is known as confirmation bias.

Summary

The question of God’s existence is as unanswerable as the existence of an invisible elephant hiding behind Pluto; but the question of why people believe in God is open to the scrutiny of science. More research is needed, but it is clear that the cognitive science of religion may soon explain why we believe in God by illustrating the emotional condition of those most susceptible to becoming faithful. With a depiction of the processes that lead to our theistic beliefs it is possible that many people will abandon their faith. Regardless of atheistic motivations, what is most important is that we have what is needed to make an informed decision about what to believe.

Does God Exist? Comments

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    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you Nell. I sometimes think that our need to believe comes from a need to define ourselves as distinct beings so that we may appear interesting and attractive to like-minded individuals. As Freud might have said, it all comes down to sex!

      The beauty of science comes from its agnosticism for the unknown, so I commend your agnosticism regarding the question of where our universe comes from.

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      @ NR - Much more important than dwelling on irrational, wishful, religious beliefs is the development of a strong personal interest in the formation of ones own capacity to apply critical reason so one can relate to the many natural analogies which very clearly have no dependency on any man made gods.

      The forces of nature ultimately determine the objective reality we are trying to relate to from our own subjective perspective.

      You will have a hard time gaining a better understanding of an idea called objective reality by looking at things with a desire to discover reality in your own dream world instead of starting at the fact that you are a product of all the natural forces which continually shape this very objective reality into which we were born, currently exists, and before too long will depart from.

      The analogy in my mind, is the inherent potential for the existence of a multiverse within our own universe, one of which maybe represented by the great variety and diversity of life forms on our own planet earth.

      The natural potential for any living thing to have been brought into existence in this shape and form at this time, was after all only created through the unfolding of evolutionary forces contained within nature ...

      It is now up to us to study and discover more about all the natural forces and their inherent potentialities in all their dimensions without keeping our minds occupied with religious nonsense instead of broadening our insights into all the natural sciences in the most applicable terms possible.

      Franto in Toronto

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Fascinating read, and shows just how we need to believe as much as belief itself. I for one do believe that something must be behind the laws of the Universe, if you like, but on the other hand I love physics so wait impatiently for that Eureka moment when someone actually tells us! Seriously though the way our minds work as human beings is fascinating.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for reading and commenting Rad Man. I suppose what I mean is this knowledge needs to be out there so people have all the facts in front of them when deciding whether to become religious or not. It's the same with drugs I suppose. People need to know the drugs can kill them, and if they still decide to take them, at least they've made an informed decision. I agree, parents will cut their children off from this knowledge, but if it's popularized enough, they will encounter it at some point. I would say there is no bigger reason to doubt one's faith than to have it explained away as a disposition of our psychology. It makes a pretty unequivocal case for the foolishness of religion.

      You could be right about the age limit, I hadn't really thought about that before. There is some research out there to suggest that a scientist's mind is more like that of a child - ever inquiring about the world. If a young believer trains himself to shut off that instinct, I think they'd be impossible to reason with a bit earlier than the rest of us. The brain grows and develops along the pathways we habitually use.

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      Rad Man 4 years ago

      I'm in agreement with just about everything you've wrote except the last line "Regardless of atheistic motivations, what is most important is that we have what is needed to make an informed decision about what to believe."

      How can we have what is needed to make an informed decision about what to believe when most are told what to believe as very young children? We of course trust those who tell us about God and aren't able to think critically yet. I've been thinking lately that if the seed of doubt is not planted before age 25 (brain fully developed) it becomes almost impossible to reason with believers.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Franto. I was always critical of religion, I guess you could call me a "militant agnostic". I didn't realise you were defining theists as holding all the extra beliefs and dogma from holy books and the clergy. In that case they are far more irrational because they would hold far more irrational beliefs. I actually used to be an atheist though.

      With that list, you have to be careful. Some people define an atheist as someone who doesn't believe in a god. This is different to someone who believes a god doesn't exist. Both have been called atheists.

      There was a quote by Bertrand Russell: "As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods."

      Furthermore, Russell said: "I think that if I heard a voice from the sky predicting all that was going to happen to me during the next twenty-four hours, including events that would have seemed highly improbable, and if all these events then produced to happen, I might perhaps be convinced at least of the existence of some superhuman intelligence."

      So I would call him agnostic. Also Einstein, Darwin, Sagan, Hume, all agnostics.

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the reply.

      You say: "Believing there isn't a god doesn't affect much about how you view the world. If I stopped being agnostic, and became an atheist, very little would change. I'd still be very critical of religion."

      Well, I'm glad you cam this far! :)

      My problem with scientists who study things philosophically, they have a tendency of wanting to stay uninvolved.

      Bertrand Russell is high on my list of thinkers I admire, because they were activists and made a great contribution not only in their own field, but also to world peace and our idea of rationality, but there are more ...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_s...

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Franto, it's because I don't agree with how you want to frame it. Certainly, theists have have a far greater quantity of irrational beliefs than atheists. As far as I'm concerned, atheists have one irrational belief, and it's a belief that is largely insignificant anyway. Believing there isn't a god doesn't affect much about how you view the world. If I stopped being agnostic, and became an atheist, very little would change. I'd still be very critical of religion.

      I don't agree with lumping all the theist's beliefs together as if it somehow makes the belief about god's existence worse than the atheist's belief in the converse. To me, a theist who believes in a god, with none of the attached mumbo-jumbo about virgin births and resurrections, is as irrational as an atheist who believes no gods exist. This theist doesn't see gods behind "every natural process"... that would require more beliefs than we're talking about here. Granted, many theists hold these extra beliefs. Perhaps you need to define what a theist and an atheist is. To me, both can hold any number of irrational beliefs. Typically theists hold more.

      Sure, an atheist may then show greater interest in natural science, but a theist may show greater interest in "God's creation". I know many rational Muslim physicists. For your questions:

      1. If this deity is supposed to have created the universe then evolution will tell us that cats and dogs came after the universe emerged, so that god would be impossible. Also I'm sure cats and dogs have tried to mate (or been forced to mate) unsuccessfully before. Perhaps when cats and dogs try to mate, they produce something that resembles a deity though. If a deity is some invisible, ethereal being, then we have no idea what could produce it because we can't test for it. Because of this, you can't calculate the probability. Beliefs require a probability calculation, ergo I can't form a belief in this scenario.

      2a. Parthenogenesis is possible. It would probably require a lot of mutation for it to occur in humans though; so extremely unlikely but not completely impossible.

      2b. There is plenty of evidence to suggest people don't come back from the dead. We've probably tried everything to make it happen. However, people have been clinically dead for several minutes before being revived. If something could be administered that slows the decay of the brain, or perhaps a magnetic field generated by rocks in the tomb... yes, it's not beyond the realms of possibility for several minutes to become several hours or days. I suppose it would depend how the person died though. However, for someone to stumble on such a cure, it would also be very unlikely, near impossible.

      3. Of course believing in these highly unlikely events is irrational. Like I said, you want to lump every religious belief into one. If you do that, they would be very irrational people. But if you take the theist I described above, who has the simple belief that there is a god who triggered the Big Bang, with none of the mumbo-jumbo, then no.

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the reply.

      You keep framing the basic question incorrectly by not attaching greater value to the much more rational assumption with a much greater probability of being closer to the objective reality.

      Your arguments are some what low on intellectual substance ... :)

      Looking at nature and not seeing invisible gods behind every natural process is a much more rational view of reality, especially if it also involves a desire to learn how nature functions by developing a solid grounding in natural science - but theology, psychology, philosophy, etc. are not part of it ...

      Research into the natural formation of instincts and the development of intellect in various life forms is a much more interesting question, from my perspective!

      Having a solid grasp of such basic concepts as causality puts limits on what can be reasonable produced in the natural world we know, can examine objectively and form intelligent insights about!

      Let me ask you to asses the following questions:

      1 - What is the possible likelihood of a viable deity being the offspring between a cat and a dog?

      2 - What is the probability for a virgin to give birth to ...

      a - any kind of offspring without any artificial insemination, etc. ... and

      b - a human being capable of being raised from the dead?

      3 - Can the belief in such highly unlikely events be equated to a reasonable degree of doubt and possible rejection as irrational religious myth? Don't you see an enormous difference in intellectual value between such irrational beliefs and the rejection of irrationality in all it's forms?

      Franto Hruz

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks f_hruz. I wouldn't say atheists grasp reality. It takes quite an imagination to see the whole universe and conclude there is no being in it that could be classed as a God by any definition. Reality is an ever broadening word for all we have experienced, not what we haven't.

      Scientific progress is stifled by those who declare answers to unanswered questions, whether those be declarations in the positive or negative. Atheists or theists, there is no difference to the scientist.

      If you define atheism as a lack of belief in gods, that includes agnostics. If you define atheism as a belief that there aren't gods, that has more in common with religion.

      Without theists there would be no atheists, and anyone declaring the non-existence of gods would be ridiculed by a perplexed public. An atheist who believes this is as much a slave to their emotions as a theist. The pride that one has greater intelligence than the deluded theist is all it requires. We are a warlike species, we take sides. Scientists are trained not to do so prematurely.

      I think it would be impossible to study the loss to our species that religion has contributed. One can look at the Dark Ages, and how long it took humanity to reach the level of advancement enjoyed by the Ancient Greeks. We could be 1000 years behind (at least). Individual economies are not isolated though, so that study really would be impossible on any large timescale. It's also difficult to estimate how much religion was to blame for the Dark Ages. Perhaps religion contributed to the longevity of Rome (and other civilizations) allowing them to achieve enough power to develop new technologies. There is evidence that religion fuels co-operative behavior, as I've stated in the comments of my latest hub on religion. So I doubt a lack of religion would have seen greater co-operation.

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Congratulations to a popular hub, going by the number of comments so far.

      I can't wait to read what you may have to say about people who are clear of the fact that deities or any kind of gods do not exist in nature, who focus more on the value of grasping reality, have learned to view their emotions as an experiential component, subject to an ongoing desire to learn from the interpretation of the meaning of such emotions, and try to advance their intellectual abilities of coping with reality in an ever more objective fashion.

      Some people belief all kinds of things to avoid reality or to make them feel better. Many never acquired the mental tools of intellectual honesty ... after all, it's not rated very highly in too many societies when you have some!

      Many atheists and agnostics have a clear understanding that gods are a product of human minds who put illusions before the task of discovery how nature really functions.

      Religious believes do not advance any useful scientific concepts, critical analysis or objective observational skills on a broader scale, among people with various levels of education.

      It would be much more desirable globally to foster an international culture where people developed a greater interest in learning how to derive better use of their intelligence than dwelling on their emotions waiting for enlightenment about them from some non-existing gods.

      Would you know of a scholarly study estimating the loss to various national economies around the world due to religious believes and social inaction instead of useful information for greater co-operation and social development among people ?

    • pennyofheaven profile image

      pennyofheaven 5 years ago from New Zealand

      ElSeductor,

      Fear of what? Not everyone that believes in God believe so because of fear. Not everyone who believes have been taught God as children. In our culture you experience before you ever are taught anything about that experience. If you do not experience, you do not ask and you are never told.

    • pennyofheaven profile image

      pennyofheaven 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thomas,

      I would say emotion has more to do with it then evolution in progress. Emotions tend to define how strong that belief is and how long they will cling. Any thing that has emotional impact will inevitably etch itself into the psyche and become hard wired.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      I agree with you there ElSeductor. The passing on of religious beliefs is akin to passing on a drug addiction or a parasitic infection. The sad truth is the children are helpless. Their minds aren't trained to screen out far-fetched claims; they are suggestible, especially to the words of authority figures.

    • ElSeductor profile image

      ElSeductor 5 years ago

      There is one reason people believe in God. That is fear. Children should not be subjected to the beliefs of their parents. This transferring of beliefs is a huge disservice. Children should be brought up with a freedom of beliefs only to later choose for themselves what they want to believe. Using God to comfort children is easy. Allowing children to believe in God is similar to perpetuating their belief in Santa Claus. As soon as children become aware of Santa's non-existence, they should also be told that God, as described in the Bible, may not exist. We should leave it up to the individual to choose his/her beliefs.

      R

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the comment Penny. I agree that we cling to beliefs, and I think that is down to a mixture of evolution and emotion. In evolutionary terms, it is important to have defining characteristics that make us unique and interesting to the opposite sex. So in that sense it doesn't matter what we believe as long as we believe in something (is that what you meant by hard-wired?). Of course, we cling to some beliefs more than others, and I think this is where emotion comes into it. I've noticed that atheists in particular are very proud of their belief in the non-existence of God. Conversely, theists generally hold their belief in God's existence because it helps to suppress existential anxiety.

    • pennyofheaven profile image

      pennyofheaven 5 years ago from New Zealand

      The essence of 'what is', is normally lost when the mind is engaged. Beliefs are over rated processes of the mind. We like to cling to beliefs even if they are not useful. We like to cling to beliefs even if new experience or information clearly negates that belief. The hard wired then is this clinging. If we do not place too much importance on our beliefs we are less likely to cling to them. Beliefs then do not change 'what is'. 'What is', is constantly changing. This is the only constant in our existence, change.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Kris for the vote and follow. I think it's commendable that you can disagree strongly with something and still appreciate it. We would no doubt have very amiable discussions, which is rare when it comes to religion.

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      KrisL 5 years ago from S. Florida

      Thanks for the follow, and I'm following back.

      I just voted this up and interesting -- and I strongly disagree with most of it. I think we might have some interesting discussions, as liberal Christian humanities prof (me) and agnostic scientist.

    • jantamaya profile image

      Maria Janta-Cooper 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Thomas. I still have my problems with the definition of "time" and "now"... However, I'm thinking here it isn't the right place to discuss it :) Here we have the question, "Does God exist?" I love and hate this question. Love, because it is a very interesting question; hate, because I can't answer it!

      I loved to read your article, and I like that you're not 100% atheist-scientist (like Dawkins and Hawking maybe are ???). I know some who would say, "Can you prove that God exists? No, you can't. Therefore, God doesn't exist. Period." I think that a scientist who closes his mind for possibilities isn't doing his job well. It's good to know that you're the open-minded scientist. :)

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi jantamaya, we can measure time anywhere in the universe. The instruments we send into space depend on measurements of time to function. Time is not a constant flow though, sometimes it gets slower. When you're travelling really fast, it slows down. This is called Special Relativity. I agree, we can't sense time, but we do have an episodic memory, which can place events in the past, and plan for the future. I think the real question is what makes an event a past event? The answer may include the notion of causality. An event in the past is capable of influencing events in the present or future; it can be a cause. If an event in the present were to influence an event in the past, could we still call it the past?

    • jantamaya profile image

      Maria Janta-Cooper 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Thomas, very well written hub. Thanks. I don't know nothing about God, but I've got a question. Why nobody is asking, "Do you believe in Time?" Can you see time? Can you smell time? Can you taste time? Can you touch time? No! Yes, we can measure time, but... only here on Earth... ???

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Angie for the welcome and compliment! When I can get back to writing hubs they will certainly be centred more on psychology, religion and politics than on sport. My sport hubs were for a big tournament recently that is over now. Unfortunately, those hubs seem to do better than the more intellectually stimulating ones.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      It's refreshing to read something so knowledgeable on HubPages ... many thanks.

      Welcome to the supportive community that is HubPages. I look forward to reading more from you ... just not the football stuff. A girl has to have standards :)

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the comment Elijah. As a scientist I have to be agnostic on the subject of God, but that doesn't stop me investigating why people assume he does or does not exist. This hub is about people who assume he does exist. Who knows, perhaps God gave us these cognitive biases to help us form a belief in him. You might enjoy a hub I plan to write about people who assume God doesn't exist (atheists), that will be equally saturated with critical analysis.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the comment tsmog! Evolutionary theory seems to give us this cause and reason for the mental functions we have. These biases operate in the unconscious mind, influencing the judgements of the conscious, so in that sense we do have a kind of bicameral mind.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Shuck, thanks for the comment. You raise a really good point. I have also seen similarities between religion and drug addiction. The way I see it, 12 step programs just replace one addiction with another, so are not very productive at all. One addiction is just more accepted by society. I will probably write something about this in future.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the comment and share tammy! I certainly have other cognitive science of religion articles planned. Most of this knowledge isn't particularly well known because people like Dawkins only tackle religion from their particular area of academia (evolutionary biology mixed with philosophy). Cognitive science can deal with religion directly, and can apply the stringent precision of scientific investigation.

    • elijahtruth profile image

      elijahtruth 5 years ago from texas

      Well presented, go to http://www.adamandeveseedgatheringministry.com for scientific evidence of His yes being very real, visit the Prophecy and the Signs page where the signs prewritten over three years ago now fall as daily news for sounding and waking Scientists, also go to the site at http://adamandeveinaction.blogspot.com/ and comment on the PHD who says he can now slow aging then end it... Respect to the Author of this Hub

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great read. I appreciate the presentation of logical flow leading to the conclusion of futuer possibilites. Julius Jaynes touched on explaining God with the theory of the bicameral mind. Of course Dionysus was a good read on this line too. Science and philosophy attempts to solve the riddle with researching effect seeking the affect, reverese engineering they say, yet left pondering the cause at the beginning.

      If you thunk it, it is, answers Rational thought, while emperical cries for proof in statistics, aha math, back to the rational and the circle rolls like a tyr . . .or I may just have it wrong. God is a mystery, indeed, yet what of deity. Theist thought says I believe, while gnostic says I not only believe I know.

      Honestly, too much too think about at this moment. Like you said one thought would have to be negated for the other to take hold.

    • shuck72 profile image

      shuck72 5 years ago from Seattle

      Interesting ideas and well written, I think anyone who has lost a loved one has applied the optimism bias. Also 12 step programs are very higher power based, perhaps to help with the anxiety alcoholics or drug addicts must deal with then quitting. Look forward to reading more by you.

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      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      This is a great deep hub. I enjoy philosophical and theological debate. I hope you will continue writing great articles like this. I learned a great deal about how people come to believe in a higher power. Voting up and sharing!

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Cheers for the comment dwilliam. I've been studying this topic for some time, so its nice to receive good feedback on how I communicate it.

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      d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Welcome to hubpages. Excellent article, well written and well presented. I look forward to reading more of your works.

    • Thomas Swan profile image
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      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the comment! I'll take a look at your hubs. To my knowledge NDE's induce a kind of mortality saliency and this has been proven to increase religiosity. Scott Atran's book, which I've linked to above, provides plenty of evidence for this.

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      Karla Iverson 5 years ago from Oregon

      Wonderful hub! And welcome to HP! Voted up, I'm sharing this and I'm going to follow you. I think you'll do well. I look forward to your future topics. You might be interested in reading a hub I wrote on how different scientists perceive the NDE.