A concise guide to the science of faith. Andy Thomson and Clare Aukofer have recently published their groundbreaking book, Why We Believe in Gods. Andy Thomson is an outstandingly persuasive lecturer, and it shines through his writing. Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith Why We Believe in God (book cover) Download the free PDF. PDF | Belief in a god or gods is a central feature in the lives of billions, and We review this research, and discuss remaining barriers to a fuller.
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ABRIDGED TRANSCRIPT. “Why Belief in God Persists: Why We Believe What We Believe”. Andrew Newberg, M.D.. University of Pennsylvania. David Brooks. evidence outweighs counterexplanations, we believe the claim to be true. If only it from, and how do they relate to reflective beliefs, particularly belief in God?. to maroc-evasion.info format by Bradley Cobb, and made available by: http://www. .. We believe in God because Atheism, the only other alternative, cannot be proved.
Yet prominent atheists display an almost aggressive lack of curiosity when it comes to the facts about belief. In The God Delusion , Richard Dawkins expertly demolishes what he calls 'the God hypothesis', but devotes only a few sketchy anecdotes to establishing that this God hypothesis is the one that has defined religious belief through history, or defines it around the world today. AC Grayling insists that atheists are excused the bother of actually reading theology — where they might catch up on debates among believers about what they believe — because atheism "rejects the premise" of theology.
And when The Atlantic ran a piece last year entitled Study theology, even if you don't believe in God , Jerry Coyne, the atheist blogosphere's Victor Meldrew , called it "the world's worst advice.
My modest New Year's wish for , then, is that atheists who care about honest argument — and about maybe actually getting somewhere in these otherwise mind-numbingly circular debates — might consider reading just one book by a theologian, David Bentley Hart's The Experience of God , published recently by Yale University Press.
Not because I think they'll be completely convinced by it. I'm not, and I'm certainly not convinced by Hart's other publicly expressed views, which tend towards the implacably socially conservative.
They should read it because Hart marshals powerful historical evidence and philosophical argument to suggest that atheists — if they want to attack the opposition's strongest case — badly need to up their game.
The God attacked by most modern atheists, Hart argues, is a sort of superhero, a "cosmic craftsman" — the technical term is "demiurge" — whose defining quality is that he's by far the most powerful being in the universe, or perhaps outside the universe though it's never quite clear what that might mean. The superhero God can do anything he likes to the universe, including creating it to begin with. Demolishing this God is pretty straightforward: all you need to do is point to the lack of scientific evidence for his existence, and the fact that we don't need to postulate him in order to explain how the universe works.
Some people really do believe in this version of God: supporters of 'intelligent design' , for example — for whom Hart reserves plenty of scorn — and other contemporary Christian and Muslim fundamentalists, too. But throughout the history of monotheism, Hart insists, a very different version of God has prevailed. In a post at The Week, Damon Linker sums up this second version better than I can: … according to the classical metaphysical traditions of both the East and West, God is the unconditioned cause of reality — of absolutely everything that is — from the beginning to the end of time.
God is what grounds the existence of every contingent thing, making it possible, sustaining it through time, unifying it, giving it actuality. God is the condition of the possibility of anything existing at all.
God, in short, isn't one very impressive thing among many things that might or might not exist; "not just some especially resplendent object among all the objects illuminated by the light of being," as Hart puts it. Rather, God is "the light of being itself", the answer to the question of why there's existence to begin with.
In other words, that wisecrack about how atheists merely believe in one less god than theists do, though it makes a funny line in a Tim Minchin song , is just a category error.
Monotheism's God isn't like one of the Greek gods, except that he happens to have no god friends. It's an utterly different kind of concept. Psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists and even neuroscientists have suggested explanations for our natural predisposition to believe, and for the powerful role religion seems to play in our emotional and social lives.
Death, culture and power Before delving into modern theories and research, we need to ask how religion came about, what role it fulfilled for our ancestors and what part it may have played in the birth of large, modern societies. Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou discusses the origin of religion and its relationship with power and hierarchy at an ancient stone circle, where legend says nine women were turned into stone for dancing on the Sabbath.
Recent research claims that reminders of God can increase obedience. Even in societies that tried to suppress faith, things were set up in its place - like the cult of a leader or of the state.
The less stable politically and economically a country, the more likely people are to seek comfort in faith. Religious groups are often able to give people who are feeling marginalised the support that the state might not provide, such as food or a support network. So environmental and social factors both help develop and reinforce religious belief. As does the way we relate to the world and others.
Whenever a storm rolled into land it was thought he was angry. He was a god with a human temperament capable of great highs and lows. In every culture gods are essentially persons, even when they take other forms or no physical form at all. Many psychologists now think that the belief in gods is an extension of our recognition, as social animals, of the existence of others, and of our tendency to see the world in human terms.
We project human thoughts and feelings onto other animals and objects, and even natural forces, and this tendency is a fundamental building block of religion. It's an old idea, going back to the Greek philosopher Xenophanes, who is quoted as arguing that if animals could paint, they would depict gods in animal shape.
So religious belief may well be founded on our human culture and thought patterns. Some scientists, however, have gone one step further and scanned our brains to look for the legendary "God spot".
God in the brain Neuroscientists have tried to compare the brains of believers and skeptics, and observe what our brains are doing when we pray or meditate. Very little is known in this field, but there are a few clues.