Category Archives: Ramachandran

Why do we believe?

The mechanism of belief intrigues me. It’s not just matter of how we obtain knowledge but why we do we have such strong beliefs. The fact is that many of our beliefs are irrational. I don’t mean that as a judgment – we all have beliefs which have not been deduced rationally or properly tested against reality.

Then there is the wide diversity of belief. Many people have beliefs more or less consistent with a scientific description of the world. But a large group have beliefs which are not rationally derived. Beliefs of a superstitious and/or religious nature. Despite having the same starting material – the real world – we come to completely different conclusions about it. I can’t help thinking this difference results from the natural variability of humans. Perhaps some of us are more predisposed to non-rational beliefs. Maybe there are even differences in the makeup of our brains which predispose us to acceptance of either rational or non-rational beliefs about the world.

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Art and the limits of science

There are people who argue that science should not investigate some issues. Sometimes they say these issues should be left to religion and philosophy. No doubt there are questions which don’t lend themselves to scientific inquiry – but then is there any evidence that religion is capable of handling those questions?

In the past, areas related to mind, consciousness, spirit, soul and the artistic realm have been ruled “out of bounds” to science – often by scientists themselves. But, in reality, religion has not been able to investigate these areas either. Their pronouncements on these issues have been based on dogma, not understanding.

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