It seems that the trend in modern science is no longer to try to prove whether God exists or not, but to try to explain why belief in God exists. At least this last quest should lead us somewhere...
I have had the chance to come across this rather long and instructive article about this debate (also available here). Not only did I learn a new word (though "spandrel" might be quite difficult to use in an every day conversation, I must admit...), but it gave me matter for a lot of thoughts on the subject that had been initiated by my recent reading of "The Selfish Gene" (Richard Dawkins), which I strongly recommend by the way.
So, to have it brief, evolutionists have taken this matter with high interest, and now
the debate over why belief evolved is between byproduct theorists and adaptationists.
Nothing like a good controversy to spice up things ! I am enjoining you to read the rest of it, as I could not easily summarize the subject. And if you think that science is not compatible with belief, especially on the matters of God, you might be surprised :
At first blush, Barrett's faith might seem confusing. How does his view of God as a byproduct of our mental architecture coexist with his Christianity? Why doesn't the byproduct theory turn him into a skeptic?
"Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people," Barrett wrote in his e-mail message. "Why wouldn't God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?" Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them, he wrote. "Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me - should I then stop believing that she does?"
I just love this last sentence. It reminds me of the proclaimed life long quest of Hubert Reeves
While meditating on the glory of a sunset over the ocean it came to him that its astonishing beauty could be explained in “excellent mathematical representation of light’s behaviour.” (...) The equations themselves were “superb, mathematically elegant, and functional,“ but Reeves feared that his ability to reduce the play of light and colour to a result “perfectly predictable and calculable” from the right set of numbers might forever limit his instinctive response to the natural world. From that time onwards he set out “to reclaim the right to enjoy in peace the sight of pink waves”
And as for me, if you ever wondered, I am more versed into Fictionology, the only religion that cannot possibly starve my need for poetry ;-)
Labels: religion, science