Might advances in neurotheology help end religion?

Nonbelievers see faith and religious experiences as purely psychological phenomenons. But how can we prove this?

It may seem a little radical now, but I think that once we gather more information on the biochemical basis for belief and how it takes hold in the brain (resulting in strong convictions known as “faith”, as well a feeling of a sensed presence), then we nonbelievers may be able to expose religious experiences as the purely internal phenomenons that we all agree they are.

Once we have this data, the world may know for a fact that religious experiences point to no spiritual entities existing outside of the brain. Maybe with advances in genetic engineering we can even eliminate the capacity for “faith” from the human genome? (With consent of course, haha) Imagine a world with no fundies or muslim extremists. It’s tempting.

But I’m pessimistic about it because i know that the religious will carry on with their usual tactics and bury their heads in the sands. They desire too strongly their comforting illusions..

Scientists have already started studying this:


^^fascinating series, by the way

Hopefully with religion out of the way, the world will finally be free of superstition and dogma. Of course, if it ever happens it’s almost certain it won’t be within any of our lifetimes, sadly.

Posted: June 5th 2011

Blaise www

Self-delusion is one of our most common traits, as a species. Until we evolve out of that, religion will always be with us. We can only hope to breed less virulent strains as time goes on, so their negative effects on the world will be mitigated.

Posted: June 14th 2011

See all questions answered by Blaise


I think you’re really taking the wrong tact; religious belief is not about rational analysis, it’s about emotional comfort.

Look at the liberal democracies of Europe and the tremendous drop in religious belief over the last 50 years. It’s not coincidental that when people have fewer worries and concerns about their future that they are less religious.

Posted: June 6th 2011

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

George Locke

Suppose there were irrefutable proof that religious experiences are always associated with specific activity in the brain, and that religious experiences could be artificially induced or suppressed by prodding the relevant neurons. I doubt this would convince the faithful that the experience wasn’t actually religious. I mean, it might convince some but not all. Such a discovery might show beyond a reasonable doubt that religious experiences are equivalent to brain phenomena, but people are often willing to insert unreasonable doubt if it supports their preconceptions.

As you say, there’s no need for new data to prove that religious experiences are natural phenomena. There’s already plenty of evidence to support this claim. If theists are willing to deny the implications of existing evidence, new evidence seems unlikely to much of a difference.

Posted: June 6th 2011

See all questions answered by George Locke

Dave Hitt www

It won’t matter.

Consider that the religious still deny evolution. They’ve not only created elaborate idiotic explanations to fool themselves, but also continue trying to force schools to teach their superstitions as science.

If this turns out to be true the enlightened will say “Cool, so what’s for dinner?” and the stupid will either ignore it or lie about it. It won’t change anything.

Posted: June 6th 2011

See all questions answered by Dave Hitt


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