Seeing God Like Seeing Different Colors, Or How Beliefs Change The Brain

One of The Daily Dish readers posed an exceptionally provocative hypothesis:

An interesting angle you haven’t mentioned concerns how belief systems concretely affect the development of the brain. People raised in cultures with distinct words for certain color tones see them more clearly than those in which just one word suffices (the most well-known example is Russian, which has one word for marine blue and another for sky blue — but there are many others). So believers, having been raised in a cognitive environment in which this mystical experience was ritualistically repeated presumably have brain architecture that differs in significant ways from those raised outside the Church. This could explain the special pain of being a lapsed-believer. Your brain is structured to believe, but your intellect won’t let you. In any case, my point is that this is why I try to cut believers a break. If they were raised in that world, they can’t help but carry it within them.

Anyone know anything more about this?  In particular, any psychologists?

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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