Monday, March 5, 2007

"Darwin's God"

"...He has put eternity into man’s heart...."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

This Sunday the New York Times Magazine contained an article describing efforts to provide a scientific explanation for the seeming human need for religion. What, they ask, is the Darwinian explanation? What "survival value" does religious belief have? One of the scientists is Scott Atran:
When he was 10 years old, he scrawled a plaintive message on the wall of his bedroom in Baltimore. “God exists,” he wrote in black and orange paint, “or if he doesn’t, we’re in trouble.” Atran has been struggling with questions about religion ever since — why he himself no longer believes in God and why so many other people, everywhere in the world, apparently do.

Call it God; call it superstition; call it, as Atran does, “belief in hope beyond reason” — whatever you call it, there seems an inherent human drive to believe in something transcendent, unfathomable and otherworldly, something beyond the reach or understanding of science.
[the article]
The article is very interesting and the explanations ingenious. But even if one of the approaches proved to be true [and this is one of those questions the answer to which will be forever speculative], it would tell us nothing about whether or not there is a God. Perhaps the actual explanation is the simplest one: that God exists and, consequently, the human beings He created yearn for the God that is.

"You have created us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
St. Augustine

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