There’s been a lot of interest about naturalistic approaches to religion recently, largely related to the release of Daniel Dennett’s new polemical book Breaking the Spell.
In a similar vein, the New Times has an in-depth article about much of the empirical research that’s fuelling the debate.
Crucially, this research is not simply tackling the idea that biblical ideas such as creation are incorrect, but arguing that the belief in God or other supernatural forces, itself is a product of evolution.
The article focuses on the work of psychologist Jesse Bering, whose work we’ve featured before on Mind Hacks.
Unlike with the wider evolution debate, however, reaction to such work seems to be muted, even among the religious community.
Even when their afterlife study was featured prominently in a recent Atlantic Monthly article written by Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology and linguistics at Yale, and titled provocatively “Is God an Accident?,” there was scant response.
“I tell you, a couple of years ago, there was a science article on a dog, Rico, that could obey verbal commands,” Bloom tells New Times. “That got me ten times more angry e-mails than this. Souls and gods are one thing, but people care a lot about their dogs. So my rule is: I can write about God but not dogs.”
I suspect, however, that as the issue becomes more widely known (especially with Dennett turning up the ante) this will quickly change.
Link to article ‘The God Fossil’ from New Times.