25 January 2011

Religion Meets Science ~ Biocultural Studies...

Thanks to Karen Weintraub for her Globe interview Religion Meets Science with Patrick McNamara, BU associate professor and co-founder of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion. Among the tasty discussion morsels...
"Q. What do you think science can learn from religion?
A. If we can uncover the essential nature and functions of religiousness, we’re going to learn something really deep and interesting about human nature.
Q. Is this a feedback loop -- does religion offer anything to the brain?
A. I think one of the things that religion does when it’s working properly is it strengthens the prefrontal lobes. All those practices that the religious people tell their adherents to do -- like prayer, ritual, abstaining from alcohol, controlling your impulses -- strengthen the ability of frontal lobes to control primitive impulses.
Q. Does that help explain why religion has had such staying power?
A. If you’ve got a cultural system that produces people who are reliable, who cooperate, who are relatively honest and trustworthy, who can control their impulses, who are good parents, who abstain from ingesting addictive substances -- if a cultural system does that on a consistent basis over the centuries, that’s a pretty valuable system."
Fascinating stuff!

No comments: