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I am God

Updated on May 30, 2014

Has man become God?

Some lament that in the absence of belief in a higher power, "man becomes God." However, this is not to be lamented. In fact, this prospect is nothing short of extraordinary. What could be more empowering than the notion that we are the masters of our own destiny? That we hold the keys to our own fate? That we are the final arbiters of truth and justice and right and wrong? That the buck stops with us?

However, this prospect does present us with an important realization. If we are to embrace our ultimate power and responsibility, we must confront ourselves and our actual moral potential.

If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.


If you were God, what would you do?

If you were God, or at least had the power of a god, what would you do? Would you end hunger? Wipe out poverty or suffering? Would you seek to exploit your privileged position, taking advantage of lesser people in service of your own petty whims and pleasures?

This comes down to the most important question the theist must ask himself. Not whether he believes in right or wrong, but why he believes in it. Does he believe in it because he fears punishment? Because he secretly desires eternal pleasure? Or does he believe in it because it is, independent of his own mind and soul, the right thing to believe? If you were God, what would you do? Whether you are an atheist, theist, nontheist or polytheist, answering this question provides a window into your true moral character.

But isn't man flawed?

Man may be flawed, but so what? If we read the Bible or the Quran, it appears that the Abrahamic God is flawed too--he gets angry, jealous, unstable, terribly violent, xenophobic, sadistic and generally irrational. Moreover, man's flawed condition means that, even if he were to follow God's orders all the time, he would mess up a lot anyway (whether in the interpretation, communication, or execution of those orders). So centering everything on God is no panacea. And this is all assuming God actually exists in the first place, which we don't know. By contrast, the absolute reality of human existence compels us to center morality on humanity.

It is only if morality is independent of God that we can make moral sense out of religious worship. It is only if morality is independent of God that any person can have a moral basis for adhering to God’s commands.

--Louise Antony

The sovereign human

Just as adults do not need a powerful father figure telling them what to do, human beings do not need God to find purpose and morality. Indeed, human history can be thought of as a process of "growing up." In our early history we were like helpless children without direction. We tried to reach out to a higher being for guidance. Hence the development of religion.

Today, we are grown up, smarter, more tolerant, open-minded and self-sufficient. We are capable of finding purpose and meaning on our own without a higher authority. We have become independent. We have reaffirmed an appreciation for humanity in and of itself. Humanity has become our highest priority.

Just as a child does something because a grownup told them to, humans under God do things because God told them to. When we grow into adulthood, we trust ourselves to make our own decisions and we do things because we want to or need to. The same applies for godless people.

If we all took the responsibility that being a God entails, instead of passing the buck upstairs and hoping "he" will solve our problems, the world would be a radically different place. Good deeds would be done not for the self-centered abstract justification of gaining eternal life or avoiding punishment from a cosmic tyrant. Instead they would be done for the sake of human wellbeing, and for goodness in and of itself.

By focusing on a "higher power" rather than their own power, human beings have lost and continue to lose their true moral potential. When this mentality changes, human life changes in an incredible way.

Marco V - Godd


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    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

      "As for the '99%' of questions asked by humans being answered by science, I couldn't disagree more. I'd say it's more like 49% if we're going to try to assign a numerical value. Again, the natural sciences can only explain the physical world."

      Now, I didn't say science. I said naturalism. Science is one manifestation of naturalism. Naturalism is simply the working assumption that nothing exists outside of this natural world/ reality. There is plenty of room within there for art, poetry, feelings, emotions, etc. All of those things can be explained and comprehended and understood *naturalistically* if not *scientifically.*

      Numbers and data are naturalistic tools, as are emotions and feelings.

      Both qualification and quantification are naturalistic phenomena. Both the tangible and the intangible are naturalistic phenomena. There is still no reason to believe in the existence of a supernatural realm. Everything is contained within this naturalistic box.

      (Actually, even the intangible things like feelings are themselves "tangible" in the sense that they can be reduced to chemical reactions and electrical impulses in the body.)

      "Again, though I know you won't see it this way, statements like this are faith-based on your part. Where you say I fill in gaps with God, you're doing the exact opposite here."

      Well, I have not filled the gaps with anything. I freely said that we don't know everything about the brain or about human evolution.

      But since you claimed God is the answer to these gaps in our knowledge, the burden of proof is on you to explain how you came to that conclusion. How do you know that God is responsible for X, as opposed to, say, an angel? Or an unconscious supernatural "life force" of some kind, like the Tao? Or ancestor spirits?

      You see, this is the problem with the "God of the gaps" approach: even if supernatural explanations were permissible (which they are not) you still must explain why your particular supernatural character is the right one. Why not Zeus, or Thor, or Vishnu?

      I reiterate there is no reason to believe in the existence of a supernatural. We need only believe in the natural.

      Does reducing life to physical and chemical processes take the beauty out of life? Only if you think that way. I, for one, still see life as beautiful and amazing. Does the fact that I know my feelings are reducible to chemical reactions make me question them? No. I can still enjoy them and embrace them.

      I can sit in the audience and enjoy the performance even though I may have worked behind the scenes in the theater for years. I know about lighting, sound systems, costumes, rigging, castings, etc. Yet ironically it is those who are the *most* familiar with a field and how it works technically who typically appreciate it far more than the average observer.

    • HeadlyvonNoggin profile image

      Jeremy Christian 5 years ago from Texas

      You're right. I misread regarding your statement on early European scientists. Whatever the case, you won't very often find me defending organized religion. Now that the church no longer has the power it once held it can no longer hide the fact that it is an imperfect, fallible institution made up of humans that don't know any better than anyone else. Organized religion got by for far too long by passing itself off as an infallible moral authority that cannot be questioned. And just as you said, today they have no leg to stand on in the 'marketplace of ideas' as you put it. This is a vitally important realization in my opinion. As we both said before, the answers can only be found within. Churches are an external influence claiming all-knowing authority in matters they as a human institution are just as blind to as the rest of us.

      As for the '99%' of questions asked by humans being answered by science, I couldn't disagree more. I'd say it's more like 49% if we're going to try to assign a numerical value. Again, the natural sciences can only explain the physical world. Physical matter. To say nearly all questions are answered is to dismiss philosophy and psychology and art and poetry everything else that makes up the whole other half of the human condition that cannot be measured or observed in any sort of tangible/quantifiable way. Artists have struggled for centuries to convey the human experience. What it 'feels' like to be human. Being an artist myself, I'm intimately familiar with this perpetually frustrating need and find it borderline offensive when someone tries to diminish it to something definable by science. If it were truly that simple, art would be irrelevant.

      "Nope. Consciousness and its related phenomena are quite well explained by evolution, psychology, anthropology, biology, neurology, etc, and the combination thereof. If you think all we have is "vague conjectures," you should familiarize yourself with the science."

      I am well aware of what we know and what we do not in this arena. We don't even understand how the physical/observable qualities of the brain create the conscious experience as we know it, so how could we possibly have explained it? I know what you're referring to when you say it's 'well explained' and understand you truly believe that. I'm familiar with the current state of neuroscience and other related fields and I know for certain we are far from explaining anything. Again, though I know you won't see it this way, statements like this are faith-based on your part. Where you say I fill in gaps with God, you're doing the exact opposite here.

      Science can only ever hope to explain what is physical material. The entirety of what being a human being is cannot be so neatly fit into that box. As will often be the case, the same mistakes made in the past will be made again. Just as religion made the mistake of assuming they knew better on all matters including those that fall outside of their jurisdiction, the same happens on the other side of the fence. It's the ebb and flow of life and is unavoidable. It's that arrogance I was referring to. Science is a profoundly important tool that we can learn from. But it is not the answer to everything. To say it is is to first diminish life by diluting it down to nothing more than physical matter. Once you stop looking at the whole picture you lose all hope of ever really understanding.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      I didn't say the first Christian scientists were just taking advantage of the church's resources. I precisely said they were devout Christians. Only the most devout Christians--i.e. those ensconced in the world of the church--had access to the wealth, literacy, prestige, etc. So basically religious men became scientists, not the other way around.

      Today there is no meaningful scientific research whatsoever that occurs in religious institutions. It all happens in secular universities, laboratories and research centers. This indicates that it is not religion or religious institutions that were ultimately responsible for the development of human knowledge. Instead, religion got lucky by virtue of its social/ cultural power and being on the safe end of the sword.

      When religion lost its power in society and its advantage in the realm of violence and coercion--surprise, surprise--we now see it can no longer compete in the marketplace of ideas. It can only compete with other religions.

      It is not an act of faith to assume that most unanswered questions will ultimately be answered by naturalistic means, when 99% of all questions humans have ever asked about the world and about themselves, have already been answered through such means. That's a pretty good record.

      To the contrary, it would be an act of faith to assume otherwise, to assume that supernaturalism has some great as-yet-undiscovered insight into anything, when it has not answered a single question reliably in all of human history.

      "Humanity has progressed by leaps and bounds by first trying to understand God through understanding physical existence."

      No, to the contrary, human development was retarded and inhibited for thousands of years by the ignorance of which religion is a primary manifestation. If you were to make a list of all the actual insights and discoveries that people have made, you would find that probably well over 95% of all of them have happened in the absence of religion, where religious belief itself played no role. Insights in geography, archaeology, medicine, astronomy, you name it.

      Perhaps supernatural beliefs or imaginings inspired some people to go out and study the world, but the actual knowledge discovery itself had nothing to do with supernaturalism.

      "... the human conscious mind has no discernible natural/physical cause... without vague conjectures involving assumed social development."

      Nope. Consciousness and its related phenomena are quite well explained by evolution, psychology, anthropology, biology, neurology, etc, and the combination thereof. If you think all we have is "vague conjectures," you should familiarize yourself with the science.

      Do we know everything about the human mind? Of course not. But that does not mean God is the answer to anything.

      To think so is to fall prey to the well-known "God of the gaps" fallacy: we don't understand it, therefore it must be caused by God. There is no logical reason to come to that conclusion.

      "Using the term 'supernatural' is a bit misleading as everything God does will appear to be a natural occurrence..."

      Precisely. And this is exactly why belief in the supernatural (which includes God) is unwarranted. Nothing about it can be proven or disproven.

    • HeadlyvonNoggin profile image

      Jeremy Christian 6 years ago from Texas

      Right, and in the case of early Muslim scientists in the centuries following the fall of Rome, as well as the first scientists of the Romans, the Greeks, and even the Sumerians/Akkadians/Babylonians, in most every case it was a matter of theists attempting to understand the physical world created by their god/gods. The Sumerians, for example, became humanity's first astrologers/astronomers through their attempt to understand their moody unpredictable gods better by understanding the heavens which they associated those gods with.

      Regarding the early Western European forefathers of science, many of these people were devout believers, not just people taking advantage of the resources of the church. Like Galileo, who was a devout Catholic. His heliocentric planetary system in itself didn't get him in dutch with the church. It's only when he attempted to go back through the bible and re-interpret things based on this new knowledge to reach a better understanding that he and the church got crossed.

      "Yet modern believers in God don't take that as evidence that polytheism has an upper hand over monotheism. Isn't that interesting?"

      Actually, what's even more interesting, at least to me, is the distinct possibility that those first gods of the Sumerians/Akkadians/Babylonians/Greeks/Romans were not entirely myth, but were rather inspired by actual figures in history. I cover this in my 'God created evolution' hubs, but basically Genesis makes it clear that the creation of Adam happened after the world was already populated. Adam and his descendants are described as living for centuries in comparison to 'mortal' humans who only lived 120 years max (Gen6 1-3). The bible, as well as the mythologies of all of the above civilizations, speak of immortal beings, human in form, who intermingled with mortal humans creating beings of both bloodlines, or demigods. The descendants of Noah who were dispersed throughout the world still had immortal lifespans for generations.

      How interesting would that be if Genesis actually proved to be accurate and actually managed to explain the dawn of those first civilizations as a result of the introduction of free will into an already populated world through Adam, as well as provide an explanation for the inspiration behind all of those ancient mythologies? To actually be aware of all the various puzzle pieces, yet totally miss how they're all related due to one small misinterpretation of Genesis would border on poetic.

      "There is absolutely nothing in our experience or observation that demands a supernatural conclusion."

      Using the term 'supernatural' is a bit misleading as everything God does will appear to be a natural occurrence, and anything 'supernatural' would fall outside of the jurisdiction of the natural sciences anyway. But to basically say that everything in our experience or observation currently has a 'natural/causal' explanation is incorrect and to say that everything will eventually have a 'natural/causal' explanation through science is an act of faith.

      As I pointed out before, the human conscious mind has no discernible natural/physical cause. The deeper we probe the physical mind the more questions we end up with where the conscious human mind is concerned. And we're nowhere near finding an explanation to things like a sense of humor or crying or love or imagination/inspiration or anything that speaks to that higher/alternate understanding we as artists are always trying to get at and define through art or literature or music. We cannot even begin to explain the development of these things in any sort of natural/causal fashion without vague conjectures involving assumed social development.

      If anything, natural science has defined the lines between what does have a discernible natural cause and what does not. And the gaps that remain happen to be located exactly where a believer such as myself would expect them to be.

      I agree the key to understanding is to turn within. We are all born alone and die alone. Every external influence is exactly that, external. But to think there's nothing greater than ourselves, to assume we're the height of intellectual development and consciousness, is to prematurely dismiss a very likely explanation with no factual reasoning to do so.

      Humanity has progressed by leaps and bounds by first trying to understand God through understanding physical existence. To change gears now and decide there is no God and that we are the masters is a mistake in my opinion. To attempt to find the answers within ourselves as the pinnacle of conscious existence would be like trying to discern something from a cell that lives a day versus the DNA code which represents an unbroken chain of successful life all the way back before our ancestors climbed onto the land. Without first understanding the bigger picture outside of that cell and how it relates to the DNA code found within, there's little hope of ever finding any real meaning.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      The release of supernatural explanations is both a cause and a result of our intellectual growth. I discussed that in my hub on "Religion, atheism and human wellbeing."

      It's obvious that the first western scientists were devout Christians. Mostly because the church was the only institution with the power, influence, money and prestige to collect, organize and disseminate knowledge.

      There were Muslim scientists and thinkers before Christian Europeans ones, yet we don't hear many Christians saying that Islam has some special role to play in science or knowledge. The original, original scientists were polytheists--the Greeks and Romans, and the Indians before them. Yet modern believers in God don't take that as evidence that polytheism has an upper hand over monotheism. Isn't that interesting?

      Our many commonalities are explainable through our evolutionary roots and similar development across this planet. There is no need for a supernatural explanation. Everything can be explained naturalistically.

      There is absolutely nothing in our experience or observation that demands a supernatural conclusion. This is the basic problem the theist faces. He wishes to center his entire life around an idea for which there is no real intellectual need.

      There may be an emotional need, but it seems foolish to reorganize one's entire life for emotions and feelings.

      As a result, the theist must rationalize backward from his belief in a higher power, read into things, and see supporting evidence for a supernatural, when there is no actual reason to come to that conclusion.

      The human mind is designed (by nature, not God) to recognize patterns. This pattern-recognition tendency often causes us see meaning and predictability where there is none. This is a well-documented phenomenon. It's what makes us see the face of a man in the moon, or animals in the clouds, or monsters and heroes in the stars, or to decide that someone is "cursed" because of a series of unfortunate coincidences (the beginnings of a rudimentary religion), etc.

      Life is indeed precious. It is not precious because a cosmic dictator said so, it is precious because it is us, because we are it, and we seek to live and find joy and fulfillment in it. We don't need anything more than that. Everything we need for purpose and love is in our hearts and our heads.

      People need to stop looking outside, searching, seeking endlessly for a sign, a direction, a guide from someone or something greater and more powerful than us. They've been seeking for thousands of years and still haven't found it. They need to start looking within themselves. That's where the power and potential has been all along, if only they could accept it.

    • HeadlyvonNoggin profile image

      Jeremy Christian 6 years ago from Texas

      Humanity makes me think the architect has the greater good in mind. Our human experience. Life. Each of our human experiences, though differing in region, in influence, in tradition, throughout different ages, with different beliefs, in different conditions, and different ancestry, shares such similarities across the board that things like art and music and literature speak to all of us in much the same way. Just as Joseph Campbell points out regarding the Hero's Journey and how the same stories with the same thematic elements from Homer's works in ancient Greece all the way through to today with franchises like Star Wars having such universal appeal for good reason.

      In my mind, a natural, causal-only existence spawning something as dynamic and complex, yet universally similar, as human consciousness with nothing like it ever existing anywhere else in the universe before it or since just doesn't jive. The whole reason the study of the conscious human mind and everything born of it is branched out under the umbrella of the 'social sciences' is because it cannot be grasped in any physical/material/measurable way. It falls outside of the jurisdiction of the natural sciences. The existence of a conscious being outside of us would be just as undetectable, yet would be a more likely explanation for our conscious experience than a strictly natural phenomenon. In that way, our own conscious experience would serve as the best possible example for grasping the nature of that conscious being outside of us.

      Life is a series of moments and experiences that we all have in common. And we all ultimately learn many of the same lessons and values along the way. There's a lot to love about life. A lot to embrace. There's a reason people like us spend the time we do discussing these matters at such great length. Life as we know it cannot be the work of a benevolent, cold architect. Life means too much to us for that to be the case.

      As for the rebellious teenager versus adult analogy, that more applies to the overall picture. There will always be exceptions to the rule (like the platypus). As is usually the case, those that approach anything with humility and a willingness to learn will always grow over those that approach something assuming they already know better. Just as the arrogance of those believers who dismiss science through thinking they already know better stunts their growth, so too does the arrogance of atheists (I specify atheists rather than 'nonbelievers' so as to exclude those of the agnostic persuasion) where the dismissal of the possibility of anything bigger than us is concerned.

      The majority of the forefathers of modern science were themselves believers who were attempting to better understand God's creation. They did not first 'release their grip on supernatural and superstitious explanations'. This is a common misconception.

      Though there have been those of the atheist mindset dating as far back as ancient Greece, there is a much more wide-spread occurrence of this mindset that can be seen now because science has ruled out many of the traditional interpretations of Genesis that have been held for far too long, again because of the assumption that some know better than others.

      But as I pointed out above, the natural sciences are ill-equipped to disprove God's existence all together. Yet there is an obvious wide-spread dismissal of God's existence that can be seen in this modern age that more has to do with a natural human tendency to question and often rebel against established views and beliefs as this conclusion cannot be reached in any factual manner.

      I would argue that the release of supernatural explanations is not the cause of our intellectual growth so much as it's more of a result.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, Headly.

      What makes you think that architect has the greater good of humanity in mind? Or the greater good of all existence, for that matter? He may be an architect, but that does not mean he is a fundamentally good ethical being.

      I can cultivate an ant population. Thus I would essentially be the "reason those ants are there." Doesn't mean I love those ants or necessarily want anything good for them. I might be a mad scientist.

      Well, we certainly have a long way to go in our development, I agree with that.

      But I don't think the most intelligent or learned people think they know it all. Indeed, they tend to be the most humble and are the most acutely aware of how much more there is to learn. Perhaps some less intelligent individuals have such arrogance, but there have always been those kinds of people, over thousands of years of history. So nothing new there.

      History and current experience tell us that when humans release their grip on supernatural and superstitious explanations, and force themselves to confront the mirror, and the reality right in front of them, that is when they achieve great things.

      That teenager can either give daddy a call when he gets into an unusual or difficult situation, or he can exercise his own mind and reason to overcome and become stronger and more self-sufficient. We know which is the healthier option.

    • HeadlyvonNoggin profile image

      Jeremy Christian 6 years ago from Texas

      Good hub, secularist10. Voted up and interesting. Of course I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear (or read) I have some thoughts....

      I agree with the analogy you use that compares early human history to childhood, but I don't think humanity has reached adulthood just yet. I think we're more in the rebellious teen years now.

      We're developing our own minds and our own identities. We've learned a thing or two on our own, we're questioning established ideas, making new discoveries, and now we're becoming a bit cocky. We're beginning to think we now know better than our childhood selves and the parent we always looked up to, and we're beginning to think we're ready to take the wheel in our future development, so to speak.

      To use another analogy, this would be the equivalent of individual cells in an organism deciding they now know better how to function than what the DNA code dictates. Unlike the DNA code, which has been honed over countless generations of lifetimes of experience that's gone into its makeup to produce results that best enable survival and procreation, individual cells only live a few days or so and die.

      Say each individual cell in your body developed its own free will and then developed the ability to accumulate and pass on knowledge from one generation to the next. After a while the cells that make up your left hand decide they're tired of just being the same old hand that they and generations that came before have been. They think they've got a pretty good 'hand'le (get it?) on how things work now and they think they can do better. It's decided that from that point forward, rather than conforming to the old ideas and old ways, they're going to be a hand that's ten times as large and purple.

      Of course, not having the accumulated knowledge of what's physically possible and what best works to sustain the life of the organism they're a part of like the DNA code does, they have no way of grasping the effect this change is going to have overall. To keep this giant purple hand alive they're going to require more resources, which in turn takes away from the rest of the body.

      Basically, by deciding they know better than the established ideas that came before, they have now become a cancer that endangers the organism they're attached to and every other cell that lives as a part of it. For the organism to continue to live, the hand will have to be removed.

      That's us now. We're now the equivalent of a stubborn, cocky, know-it-all teenager wanting the keys to the car. No longer a child, but definitely not yet an adult.

      "This comes down to the most important question the theist must ask himself. Not whether he believes in right or wrong, but why he believes in it. Does he believe in it because he fears punishment? Because he secretly desires eternal pleasure? Or does he believe in it because it is, independent of his own mind and soul, the right thing to believe?"

      In my opinion organized religion has really mucked things up. In an effort to control the masses, retain power, drum up business, etc... they've made a big thing out of this whole eternal damnation versus eternal heavenly bliss thing. And because of that I think there are many whose 'works' are more attributed to trying to avoid punishment or gain reward.

      In my mind it's a simple matter of trust. I trust the architect and creator of this existence knows better than I do. If He deems it necessary to snuff me out, blink me from existence, or for whatever reason sentence me to an eternity in hellfire for the greater good of all humanity and all existence, I trust He knows better than I do and will accept my fate.

      He made me in the first place. He's the whole reason I'm even here. To borrow from Bill Cosby, He brought me into this world, He can take me out.

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden

      Jane, not at all. Yes the second half departs from neuroscience and delves into history. Yes the theory is an imaginative "stretch". But then so was Darwin's theory in 1859, and Einstein's theory in 1905. All I'm saying is that I have not seen a better interpretation of the all relevant facts (and there are many in his 500 pages) that makes sense of the psychological underpinnings of modern reality, which you would have to admit is not particularly healthy.

      The key (which relates to this hub) is the realization that reality is not something that just IS, but something that we actively CREATE, and that we do so using our brains.

      Anyway, I am happy to admit that I may be wrong, and leave it at that!

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      "Frankly it reminds me of the arguments creationists use to deny evolution." seem to be using 'left-brain' as an adhominem pejorative now. Most of the criticisms I've read are not antagonistic toward Mc Gilchrist...they almost all acknowledge that it is a fascinating book but suggest that while the first half of the book is based on solid neuroscience, they have reservations about the latter half, where he apparently veers into circumstantial evidence and sweeping generalisations, drawing conclusions from the science that can't necessarily be backed up.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      Joyus, I certainly agree that many place too much emphasis on religion, when it is in fact a symptom of deeper issues. Fostering critical thinking and a skeptical attitude would accomplish much more than trying to reign in the influence of religion per se.

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden

      Secularist, obviously--no one said or intended to imply anything different (certainly not me, nor McGilchrist). Nothing is wrong with being ruthless as long as it is restrained with humanity and kept in balance. And that is what health comes down to, no? Keeping in balance. The Western world (which, thanks to the global economy, is now the entire world) is clearly out of balance, and that extends directly from human psychology. I don't think religion alone is to blame for that--from my perspective the problems of religion are more symptom than cause.

      Jane, yes we need both hemispheres--they function as an integrated whole, as McGilchrist is careful to say. It's simply a matter of asymmetry and functional specialization. As a developmental biologist I can tell you that McGilchrist's thesis makes perfect sense, because development is essentially a symmetry breaking process that leads to differentiation and functional specialization. All of the organs in the body develop and functionally differentiate along polarized axes (e.g. rostral-caudal, dorsal-ventral, left-right), and that includes the brain.

      The problem with Grayling's criticisms is that they are not based on anything except his own belief (as he admits, he is very left-brained, so that makes sense). His argument is essentially that despite the reams and reams of hard neuropsychiatric evidence regarding the workings of the brain that McGilchrist provides, his thesis is just too unbelievable to be believed. That's hardly a counterargument, much less a refutation. Frankly it reminds me of the arguments creationists use to deny evolution.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore


      Oh well, I liked that reviewers remark, irrespective of Mc Gilchrist. You may be right about science being motivated by the right brain -that makes sense to me. But it took the left brain to make it operable. Of course we need both sides.

      I'm pretty sure I'm right-brain dominant. I feel more at home with the arts than with science and struggle to understand the latter, so if my response is flawed, it's probably down to the right hemisphere. But see? Mc Gilchrist is encouraging a warring left/right dichotomy!

      Anyhow, I just listened to a podcast of him discussing his book, which is the best I can do without actually reading it. At least some of Grayling's criticisms seem reasonable...McGilchrist does seem to heavily favour the 'emissary' and do we really understand enough about the brain to make it reasonable to draw the conclusions he does? But of course, without reading the book....I have no leg of my own to stand on, so I'll go no further into these unclear waters. I would like to know though, just because I haven't read it and would like to know, what it is, that you say Grayling has missed?

      Secularist, lol, ah yes I'm making a wage now...'course it's a third world wage of $2 a day. I wont be sailing off to the South of France just yet!

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City


      Indeed, playing on base desires and fears works great for children. Problem is when those children grow up and they still need an overseer to make them act responsibly.

      How have you been doing? Getting rich from the ad program, yes? :)

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City


      But what's wrong with being ruthless?

      Yes, many of our evolved tendencies are obsolete. But many are still very useful, just in different ways. Without this fire, this aggressive urge for domination, for conquest, improvement, advancement we would be soft and weak. No significant accomplishments, daydreaming as we float aimlessly through life.

      Both aspects are essential, as they are two sides of the same coin. We need the tendency for ruthlessness and ambition, as well as the tendency for quiet reflection; for domination and intimidation, as well as empathy and tolerance.

      It takes all kinds to make a world, as they say.

      Being led by psychopaths may bring problems, but being led by Teletubbies would not be a panacea either, for entirely different reasons.

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden

      Jane, those reviews indicate quite clearly that the reviewers did not get what McGilchrist is saying. But that itself is completely predictable from his perspective. The right hemisphere engages the world creatively, attracted to what is new, wheras the left hemisphere engages the world mechanically, attracted to what it (thinks it) knows. Addiction and denial are hallmarks of left brain dominance, as is fundamentalism of any sort, be it religious or scientistic.

      I would add (as would McGilchrist) that science itself (as opposed to the belief structure of scientism) is motivated by the right hemisphere.

      Finally, I would venture that left-brain thinking would lead one to judge a book by reviews that "sound right" (i.e., match the reader's preconceptions), whereas right-brain thinking would inspire one to read the book itself before passing judgement.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      AC Grayling's review is very interesting too. He makes that point that we simply don't know enough about the workings of the brain to support Gilchrist's claims. Also Gilchrist seems to have a bias toward the right....(brain that is)

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore


      Since I haven't read the book, I can only glean a small inkling of what the author is about from the opinions of others. Maybe I'm a left-brain horror but I have to say I don't like the sound of it terribly much so far, though it seems to be highly praised. He 'strongly condemns the Enlightenment'?

      I looked it up on Amazon and the reviews were glowing but to present an opposition case which is not my own, I've pinched this from the one critical review I could find:

      "Despite the brilliance and erudition of this book and all I have learned from it, I feel the author has erred in framing science as the product of an over-dominate left brain with its implications of its dehumanization of our social being. That is not what science does. To seek, to the greatest degree possible, knowledge of the reality behind appearances (and illusion) does not diminish or demean humanity. It enriches it. Let a few words from Richard Dawkins in his "Unweaving the Rainbow - Science, Delusion And The Appetite for Wonder" be my coda. He took the title of his book from Keats who believed that Newton had destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to the prismatic colors:

      "Newton's unweaving of the rainbow led to spectroscopy, which has proved the key to much of what we know today about the cosmos. And the heart of any poet worthy of the title Romantic could not fail to leap up if he beheld the universe of Einstein, Hubble and Hawking".

      That sounds right to me.

      Full review here:

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden

      Jane, I would argue that those personality characteristics (ruthlessness, selfishness, etc.) and 'scientism' are inextricably intertwined, a product of 'left-brain' dominance. I am not saying that the problem is "unerring belief in the left brain", but rather an imbalance favoring the latter's particular way of representing reality. Read McGilchrist, and you will see what I mean.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore


      We may be flawed but we've all we've got eh? It's never seemed particularly moral to me to be motivated to behave well because of the carrot of Heaven or the stick of Hell. Even if I was a believer, I'd still regard morality as separate to God, otherwise I'd just be blindly following authority.

      Joyous, while many of the leaders in business and society may well be "bullies etc", I don't believe this is because they are rationalists or atheists or have an unerring belief in the left brain..I'd argue many of those those who do tend to rise to the top and accumulate vast wealth and power do so because they have the kind of personality characteristics required - ruthlessness, selfishness..greed, megalomaniacal delusions. These are not a product of 'scientism'.

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden

      I am not so optimistic. From my perspective the narrow 'scientism' that dominates the thinking of many atheists/secularists, which is based on reductionism, is as big a part of the problem as is religion. Most of those who are among "the most intelligent people (and therefore leaders in business and society)" seem to have an unreasonable faith in the technological aspect of the human mind (left brain). Also (and I don't think coincidently) many of those folks are sociopathic bullies with a paucity of empathy and emotional intelligence. In short, when I say humanity has to grow up what I mean is that we have to overcome a very real form of mental imbalance that our species has developed. Religion is one aspect of that, but so is scientism. It does not bode well that very few people recognize the problem.

      See "The Master and his Emissary" by Iain McGilchrist:

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      Austinstar, if I had to choose between person being atheist and a deadbeat convict, or that same person being devoutly religious and a productive member of society, then of course I would choose the latter. For anybody with true humanist instincts, that choice is not a difficult one.

      But there is potential being lost there, nonetheless. It may be the lesser of two evils, but we can do better.

      And you are right, our knowledge of our own limitations clouds our recognition of our true power.

      Joyus, thank you. And that is absolutely true. Thankfully human intelligence has increased massively over our history (otherwise that power would not be possible in the first place). But old habits die hard, and the vestiges of our evolutionary past continue to influence us.

      Luckily, the most intelligent people (and therefore leaders in business and society) tend to be atheist and agnostic, so that bodes well for the future.

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden

      Well said secularist10. Unfortunately our power has increased much faster than our sense of responsibility. Clinging to the childish notion that we need a strict father-like god keep us in line is one of the reasons. If we don't want to self-destruct we need to grow up, and fast.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      If a person needs a God (or to be a God) in order to be constructive, I'm ok with that.

      If a person needs a devil in order to be destructive, I'm ok with that too.

      I would hope that more people choose constructive morals than destructive ones.

      Man created God to thank or to blame. That is really all there is to it. No one wants to own up to their own Godness though. Silly humans.