Sunday, September 06, 2009

God, tarts and a misleading Sunday Times story


Dr Andrew Newberg: Not quite the know-all atheist the Sunday Times would have us believe

"We are born to believe in God" is the headline of a Sunday Times story today. Various quoted research studies suggest that natural evolution requires us to have faith in a deity for the betterment of social bonds. Put another way, and leaving aside any independent paranormal, religious or mystical experience, people end up believing in God because our brains are hard-wired tarts, and a healthy tart will opt for whatever promises a good time. God-belief is a sort of john/client/punter/trick that delivers a benefit after the fantasy-screw. Yum yum.

The faith of Atheism appears to be going the way of all other religions: sinking into the pit of dogmatic fantasising. Having failed to disprove the existence of gods/afterlife/paranormal whatever, the salaried secularists in their uni labs are resorting to a form of academic Lego to construct theories from their experiments which are essentially unprovable (or essentially speculative). The agenda is to ignore countless subjective experiences of the mystical and explain them away in biological terms. Professorial livelihoods boom or bust on the dismissal industry.

Yet a closer inspection of at least one of these supposed apostles of Atheism reveals a more interesting and complex picture. Take Dr Andrew Newberg. for example.

He is quoted in the Sunday Times story. He's an Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Author of Why God Won't Go Away and other works, he uses brain-imaging techniques to show how religious and spiritual experiences are the result of "belief networks" operating across different parts of the brain.

You would think from the article that Dr Newberg has reduced all mystical or religious experience down to mechanistic brain function - it's all in the head. That is not the case. In a Q&A on Newberg's website, he states plainly: "Whether or not God exists 'out there' is something that neuroscience cannot answer."

He goes onto explain: "For example, if we take a brain image of a person when she is looking at a picture, we will see various parts of the brain being activated, such as the visual cortex. But the brain image cannot tell us whether or not there actually is a picture 'out there' or whether the person is creating the picture in her own mind. To a certain degree, we all create our own sense of reality. Getting at what is really real is the tricky part."

It didn't suit the Sunday Times and its Atheism agenda to flesh out this subtlety.

2 comments:

Blithe Spirit said...

Oh well, this is interesting: silly me I have been thinking all along that the reason I believe there is a God is because I'm too humble to think we cannot be at the height of the chain of evolution when it comes to intelligence. So, it has not been my choice to believe that all that is there is the product of a Higher Being (or several layers of)? My genes are programmed to make think this way, eh?

Let me get this straight: We are IT, there is nothing more out there. We are all there is and we are born, we carry on with our lives, die, turn into dirt and what we did in life may or may not be remembered and nothing we do during our lives count for any silly spiritual development. But natural selection has made us (the ones that are NOT too arrogant to believe we must come from and be part of a Higher Being) the final product.

Has this belief made us survive better? Does it mean that we have a better chance at going on as a species and does it make atheism a genetic flaw? Does this means that unless they start believing there is something out there they will become extinct? Oh, that's funny!

Well, if you think of it, that is kind of what the prophets of each faith have kind of foreseen; in a round about kind of way. Atheists and their theories can be so entertaining; it's just too much fun to sit and watch them make fools of them selves trying to make sense of creation and the Universe.

I guess this means I'm going to have to make time to read that silly article and the Q&A section to get a better... Laugh!

Madame Arcati said...

Don't forget the Thetans!