Mind, Religion and Science

29 Sep

There are lots of negative aspects about religions and religious beliefs, but there are some good features: in particular about aspects of human behaviour.  A number of years ago[1] I was at a lecture given by a catholic priest who was discussing the idea put forward by some neuroscientists that there was a part of the human brain -the pineal gland, which encouraged humans to believe in a supreme deity. The lecturer’s argument was not on whether the idea was true or not – he thought it was a false idea but that it was totally unimportant compared to how humans behaved towards each other as a result. Whatever else they do, religions lay down modes of good behaviour between human beings. I am certainly not saying that religious scientists behave better than atheist scientists – that would be nonsensical. But both religious and non-religious scientists have to accept that good scientific practices have developed out of a general framework, which has evolved over centuries and which is rooted in ancient religious beliefs. Also, as science informs us about nature, including the biology of our own bodies, religious, as well as cultural ideas have to move in step, resulting in an expansion of religious ideas beyond the body to include the mind: unfortunately, this does not always happen.


[1] Alfredo Dinis Has Neuroscience Any Theological Consequence? In Science Matters: Humanities as Complex Systems, Maria Burguete and Lui Lam (Eds.), World Scientific, Singapore, 2008, p74.