19 Sep 2006
This article from The Atlantic is a very well-written expose exploring the question where religion comes from (a doctrinated opium for the masses like Marx said?) and where it is right now (about to vanish facing the success of science?).
Both of those questions are answered by the thesis that religious/supernatural thinking lies in the genes. It has always been there from the start and it always will be. By ascribing intentions to some "things" of the world (like people) but not to others (like chairs) people naturally act as dualists. In fact, people are born as dualists (dualists separate soul and body) - they treat the world in that way measurably already as infants.

The article mentions writers like Steven Pinker (a Cognitiver Scientist/Linguist) and Richard Dawkins (a Zoologist, inventor of the term "meme"), both of which I already read books of.  They are both very worth reading and are not too hard to understand.

This topic is actually one where some disciplines of Cognitive Science meet. In this case, there are Philosophy (of the mind) and Psychology.

I once had the idea for an interesting experimental setup: I would compare the brain activity of people while they pray to children talking to their imaginary friend. I think both of these behaviors evolved to deal with the ongoing dialog in your own head - so you have someone "to think to". I would expect these activities to share the location and patters, of course. Nobel Prize guaranteed.
Or what do you think?
# lastedited 19 Sep 2006
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