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April 11, 2006

God evolved in the minds of men

Science, Just Science - News

An intersting article from the Guardian which posits that god evolved in the minds of men in reaction to our understanding of causal reasoning.

"The ideas interview: Lewis Wolpert

If religion is a consequence of the way our brains are wired, hears John Sutherland, all the more reason to question the truth of our beliefs

Tuesday April 11, 2006
The Guardian
Humankind's incorrigible and wholly irrational religiosity originates, Lewis Wolpert believes, in our addiction to causal explanations. We make gods and religious systems for the same reason that we make tools. Religion is as human, and as explicable, as the flint axe and the computer. It is a tool for the soul. Religion is a natural consequence of how we are wired as human beings: we have an inbuilt "belief engine". We should not, for that reason, accept that our beliefs, particularly our religious beliefs, are correct.
Wolpert, one of our best known explainers of science, came to his view about religion through his family experiences. He was born into a strict Jewish household and was, he records, "quite a religious child" until "I gave it all up around 16 and have been an atheist ever since." More specifically, he is "a reductionist, materialist atheist".
His son, Matthew, went the other way. Brought up in the Wolperts' atheist household, he was converted, in late adolescence, to fundamentalist Christianity. Matthew envied his father, he said, because Lewis was going to die soon. Matthew, alas, would have to wait years for admission into heaven (whence, as he later made clear, he was not entirely sure his father was going).

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