Monday, March 16, 2009

Religion Evolves

Found this in the archives...

I will overlook (for now) the notion that "religion evolves", and examine the data of the study:
  • Religious rituals such as prayer and meditation affect the parts of the human brain that are most important for self-regulation and self-control;
  • When people view their goals as "sacred," they put more energy and effort into pursuing those goals, and therefore, are probably more effective at attaining them;
  • The fact that religious people tend to be higher in self-control helps explain why religious people are less likely to misuse drugs and alcohol and experience problems with crime and delinquency.
The first bullet interests me. I have seen studies that show that "mindless" meditation (the kind proposed by eastern mystics) deactivates certain parts of the brain. Biblical meditation is very different (it is reading and contemplating a small section of the Bible) - I have not seen anything about what is going on in the brain for that.

The second seems to apply equally to "secular religions" (environmentalism, animal rights, etc.).

Of course, they can't help but attack religion:
"McCullough's review of the research on religion and self-control contributes to a better understanding of 'how the same social force that motivates acts of charity and generosity can also motivate people to strap bomb belts around their waists and then blow themselves up in crowded city buses,' he explained."
Because atheists never do crazy things (like invade neighboring countries, or shoot people at school, or anything)...

No comments: