Sunday, January 01, 2006

God as a consequence

An excellent article by Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, in December's Atlantic Monthly.
His thesis is that the way our brains work to deal with the here and now leads them also to believe in God. Naturally, as it were.
Firstly, our brains from birth divide the world into 2 realms: the physical and the psychological. In the first realm, it expects causality and mathematical consistency; in the second, a much more elastic reality that includes beings with volition and intention (see the 3rd point).
Secondly, identity is separate from body and brain, both of which are regarded as its instruments. We continue in this belief all our lives without any hard evidence that it is well-founded. We act and speak as if it were true.
Thirdly, since the calculation of etiology is such a vital survival skill (What is he up to? What is he after?), we are inately expert at imputing purpose and pattern.
Mr Bloom's point is that, whereas the evolution of these cognitive skills is explicable in evolutionary terms, their application to the 'larger' questions inevitably leads to God. 'What's it for?' becomes 'What am I for?': a question that carries with it the assumption that 'I' am for 'something'. And that something can only be granted by a Supreme Being.
Believing in God is evolutionarily determined.
My apologies to you and to Mr Bloom for this skeletal summary. Best to read the article itself.

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