Date: April 12/2004
I got this question:
I'm looking into Christianity and I find the lot of it essentially logical and reasonable. I have, however, come across an allegation by a friend of mine that I cannot counter. The argument goes like so:"Now you know this is all a delusion, right? Christianity and such. It's all a man-made fabrication. Want to know how I know this? There's a part of the brain associated with spirituality and things like this. It's biological, it's not a soul, or a spirit, or an inner sense of God. It's a different sensation we get from a different part of the brain. That's all any of this is."
There is, in fact, an area of the brain associated with spirituality. I was curious as to how this relates to Christianity, and how an allegation such as the one above can be refuted.”
I replied with this tiny/hasty email:
“I plan to do a longer piece on this (dealing with, among other things, the evidence of history—unrelated to our subjective religious experiences, generally), friend, but let me mention one point now to think about:
We normally 'expect' God to have a physical 'receptor' for interactions with Him/Her/It/They, so the presence of such a 'receptor area' in the brain wouldn't REALLY count as data for OR against God. It would be expected (predicted by hypothesis) on the basis of a God who WANTED us to experience His interventions (at least occasionally), but it's not as clear to me if such an area would be expected/predicted (scientifically, that is, as from a hypothesis) in a fully/only NATURAL world. I could argue, I think, that a purely 'ethical' area MIGHT make sense in a purely NATURAL/Dawkinsesque world (i.e., promoting the survival of a community), but the presence of a 'spiritual', 'numinous' area just doesn't make as much sense to me as being 'useful' from some naturalistic, evolutionary perspective (ethical area, yes; spiritual area, not sure--it might get in the way of survival, actually -- "too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good" is the old phrase).
At any rate (I guess this is really TWO points--not good with numbers I guess, am I? [smile]), I don't consider the presence of a receptor to count as data EITHER WAY (apart from the slight leaning toward a supernatural reality--as argued 'lightly' above). It like a sense of taste in my tongue. The fact that it can be stimulated by probes/electrodes in my brain DOES NOT MEAN that when I eat a REAL peach or a strawberry (with those wonderful, fresh, tart sensations) that I am NOT 'in the presence of a peach/strawberry'---see what I mean? 'Nerves' can either be stimulated from within (giving a false positive?), or from without (giving a true positive). The fact that the nerves are there doesn't in itself mean much (other than the mild argument-from-design I mentioned above).
That's my first take on this--does this make sense?
Anyway, thanks for the question and your honest and inquisitive heart! keep seeking truth--you'll find it...
It seemed to help the person:
Thank you very very much for answering my question. Keep up the fantastic work on the Tank<