why study neurology?

mat mats_trash at hotmail.com
Sun Jan 13 14:37:15 EST 2002

james at teoth.fsnet.co.uk (James Teo) wrote in message news:<3c41a4f8.2557161 at news.freeserve.net>...
> On 13 Jan 2002 05:58:54 -0800, mats_trash at hotmail.com (mat) wrote:
> >As I have said in other posts, religion and soul etc.. start with the
> >premise that they are not scientifically provable or unprovable. 
> >However, if you can prove a scientific theory of mind, then the
> >religious option become less attractive.  You can never disprove the
> >religious hypothesis becuase by definiton people who believe it don't
> >want it to be disproved and will have faith regardless. 
> Well, I must point out that in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,
> the Catholic church felt there were two paths to God: rationality and
> faith. Descartes would be the best example as he often used
> rationality to prove the validity of religion.
> I am curious about your comment: 'proving a scientific theory of mind
> then the religious option becomes less attractive'. A scientific
> theory of mind might actually plausibly conclude that the religious
> option is an unavoidable product of our mind and that it does have
> profound psychological benefit. In medicine at least, religous
> behaviour in first world conditions decrease morbidity.

You've misundertood:  I've no doubt that religious beliefs are a
succesful evolutionary strategy that helps large societies live
together for the benefit of the species, and I would almost expect a
theory of mind-evolution to explain this.  But that would mean the
scientific theory had explained the mind and religon as part thereof,
not that religion had explained the mind.  What I'm saying becomes
less attractive is the notion that religion actually explains the

Descartes reasoned that religion must be true.  If religion is a
succesful evolutionary strategy, then you might expect that the human
mind would reason it to be true.  Later philosophers, notably Kant,
question how much can be purely reasoned.  I don't think philosophy
can explain this kind of thing on its own.

> [Disclaimer: not a personal attack, just an observation]
> I think you are approaching cognitive science with a preconceived
> desire to knock down religion and spirituality. I think anti-religious
> mindset characterised by Richard Dawkins is in itself a religion based
> on faith alone with limited evidence. At this point in time, there is
> nothing which will prove or disprove the existence of noncorporeal
> concepts like soul, God, the Why question, life after death (sic),
> etc. This does not mean that the soul is never provable by scientific
> reasoning, but simply that we don't have the tools (yet). I'm not a
> religious person myself and am a devout agnostic (as you might
> imagine).

:) Firstly, I only knock religion and spirituality because of its
inherent paradoxes.  If it were a coherent theory then I might be
prepared to accept it.  What I cannot fathom are people who want to
explain why they are here, how they came to be etc. but can't, and so
search for explanation. However they are subsequently quite happy to
but tremendous faith in something that has absolutely no shred of
proof, but becuase it offers them divine gifts on receipt of a
lifetimes faith are quite happy to believe.  They search for
explanation and then believe in the inexplicable!

Second, you have misundertood my point.  Religion is never provable by
scientific reasoning because it defines itself as such.  It never
wants to be proven no matter about disproven.  It wants the element of
faith.  If you said you'd proved you had a soul, church leaders would
say no you haven't becuase you can't do that. no-one can or ever will.
Religion is unprovable, whatever you prove is not what we believe!  As
you can see, you never get anywhere, it is always a question of faith.
 Believers in religion only believe because it is something totally
beyond human comprehension at any time present or future.  If you
proved it, it would take away all its appeal (for those who like it

If you did, it would only mean they would then want something to
explain what you've proved - a 'higher religion'.  People are very
afraid to believe that things are just so. There always has to be a
higher explanation, a something to direct the apparent orderliness of
what they see.  To prevent an infinite regress, the "obvious" choice
is to believe in an omnipotent inexplicable entity.

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