Thursday, November 30, 2006
Go to that video and about 45:00 minutes (actually exactly that far). V.S. Ramachandran talks about an amazing finding he made with a split brain people (fibers between hemispheres are cut). Using specific methods to contact just the one half of the brain and ask a series of questions about beliefs. When asked, the right hemisphere believed in God, and the left hemisphere astoundingly did not.
This is it. The answer to most questions atheists have had about theists. The implications aren't instantly apparent, hence the reason for the low impact of the find.
Ask people what evidence they have to believe in God. An atheist will usually give you a good reasonable set of reasons they don't have a belief in god(s). A fundamentalist will answer the question very directly, usually saying that the Bible proves the claim or Jesus existed and told us. These aren't good answers but they are actual answers to the question. Ask a liberal Christian, suddenly, the evidence is that religion gives meaning to their lives, that they wouldn't know what to do without their belief in God, or it gives them a purpose in life. These aren't answers.
They are responding with their right brain, because the left brain accepts the argument. So we are just getting emotional right brain responses to a left brain question.
The left hemisphere in many liberal Christians is atheistic. They don't actually use their belief in God to make logical or reasonable decisions about their lives, they know that burning young women because you think they are witches, or hurting homosexuals for being homosexuals is wrong (even though it says clearly in the Bible to kill them). These are left brain activities.
Liberal Christians often act in a way which doesn't reflect belief. They tend to reject religious doctrines they don't like, even if the book they come from is the only one thing that tells them to believe in God. Even acting in very moral ways, in spite of their religion which tells them to do the exact opposite.
This actually explains a huge number of other things. Consider the idea of wrestling with faith, it's actually a neurological wrestling match with the hemispheres of the brain. Why can't people reason their way out of faith? Because reason is the left hemisphere, and belief is in the right; it's emotional, not reasonable. How can people believe in proper scientific evolution and a 6,000 year old creation (eg. Ken Miller)? Each hemisphere takes one belief, and the two don't meet.