Religion, neuroscience, and the search for meaning
As always, I enjoy reading what you have to say even if I don't necessarily agree.
That said, I'm not really sure how to react to this piece, and forgive me if I'm misreading it. I definitely get a little dubious (or uncomfortable?) when Christians talk about the intersection of faith and reason. Mystery is what drives science to replace the unknown with the known--not to insert faith in the absence of an answer. I don't necessarily think that's what you're suggesting, but I do think that faith and reason should never be circles in a Venn diagram. Faith shouldn't be used as a term when hypothesis and theory are the ones scientists employ. In the same way, most Christians would argue that if there were ever definitive, empirical proof of God's existence, a vital part of the salvation equation would be missing. It reminds me of the translating 'Babel Fish' from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
"Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that something so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith, I am nothing.' 'But, says Man, the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' 'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and vanishes in a puff of logic. 'Oh, that was easy,' says Man..."
I have to admit that I get a little annoyed with the Christian idea of a mysterious God. I think Sam Harris once said something to the effect of whenever God does something good, he is just--whenever he does something awful, he is mysterious. I don't like the idea of a mysterious God excusing all the obvious flaws with the scriptures, specifically, and the obvious evils we see in the natural world, generally.
It is unreasonable to believe something on faith, and it is unfaithful to believe solely on reason. The further the two stay away from each other, the better society, our planet, and the mind will be. However, if the course and discussion are actually about the parts of our mind that create the supernatural, that gravitate toward a patriarchal totalitarian deity, that manufacture a faith-based existence out of coincidence (or tea leaves) in an indifferent spinning cosmos then I could get on board.
Thanks again for the thought-provoking writing! I look forward to it in my inbox.
All the best,