Friday, February 13, 2009

"If There Were No God...

...there would be no athiests." So goes G.K. Chesterton's quip against those who refuse to believe in a creator God.

I ran across an interesting article in New Scientist magazine online which attempts to explain away belief in God by saying that our brains are hardwired to believe in him. Specifically, scientists have always viewed children's brains as revealing more of a default state of the human mind than adult brains, and children's brains are naturally more open and receptive to the concept of God. They explain:

...babies as young as five months make a distinction between inanimate objects and people. Shown a box moving in a stop-start way, babies show surprise. But a person moving in the same way elicits no surprise. To babies, objects ought to obey the laws of physics and move in a predictable way. People, on the other hand, have their own intentions and goals, and move however they choose.

[Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University,] says the two systems are autonomous, leaving us with two viewpoints on the world: one that deals with minds, and one that handles physical aspects of the world. He calls this innate assumption that mind and matter are distinct "common-sense dualism".

The body is for physical processes, like eating and moving, while the mind carries our consciousness in a separate - and separable - package. "We very naturally accept you can leave your body in a dream, or in astral projection or some sort of magic," Bloom says. "These are universal views."

So this is the default state of the mind: we process irrational phenomena in the natural world around us by referring to it as driven by supernatural powers. We do this without any training or formation; every culture in the history of the world comes to this conclusion.

Some say that any culture that experiences science above its own level of discovery naturally refer to it as magic (like gunpowder to the early North American aboriginals, for instance), and it's a fair point. Not everything that's seemingly driven by a supernatural force is truly so. But it is illogical to maintain that if A=B, then C, D, E, F, G, etc must also equal B.

Consider this point made in the same article: "...a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in the body [is considered] to be the default setting of the human brain. Education and experience teach us to override it, but it never truly leaves us." To my knowledge, this is the only example in modern sociology when science would have us accept education and experience as a reason to override the brain's natural affectations. If one is born with homosexual inclinations, we are told it is unhealthy to suppress those as it's "who we are." If a man feels he has always been a woman trapped in a man's body, we are expected to offer state-funded surgery to release her. But if a grown man - especially one who embarks in a career in modern science - states that he has believed in God for as long as he can remember, he is mocked, ridiculed, and generally not taken seriously until he renounces his faith. There's a serious double-standard being applied.

I regard such militant athieism as a great danger to those who promote it. For if they are wrong in their blatant rejection of God, they stand to lose their very souls at the Last Judgement. But if I am wrong in my fanatical acceptance of God, then I merely rot in my grave if I'm wrong, and I lose nothing. I'm right, I gain every reward in Heaven. And if the athiest is right, his reward is maxed out at rotting in his grave.

He doesn't even get to say, "I told you so."


  1. I like the way you put it in the last paragraph. And as far as I'm concerned, I also get to live a more fulfilled life, and experience true and lasting happyness that tresncends the fickle world around me. But I guess that argument is a bit more subjective than yours.

  2. The last paragraph is, of course, Pascal's wager. The problem with Pascal's wager is that it isn't believing because you believe, but rather pretending to believe because it works in your favor. Isn't God smarter than to be fooled by that?

  3. Pascal's wager is more like a temporary dare: pretend like you believe for a set period of time, and when it's over you'll actually believe. This, of course, does not fool God. But it does fool you.

    The point of Pascal's wager, or of the logic I expounded in that last paragraph, is to give the rational mind a way to Christ. Athiests and agnostics frequently maintain that they are merely following the logical flow of evidence or lack thereof. It is that appeal to logic that I wish to challenge.

    I also long ago learned that it's very easy for me to be bloated with my impression of my own intelligence (my IQ is around 140). This is a very difficult concept for a non-believer to understand, but it is necessary for us "smart" ones to turn our brains off if we are to come to a true knowledge of Christ. This does not make us idiots or automatons, but it does make us childlike - which is how Jesus wants us to approach him.

  4. By the way, using the same type of logical thread, I can convince an evolutionist that homosexuality, birth control, and abortion are a distortion and rejection of nature.

    Think about it.


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