Tomorrow night, Sunday, February 21, “The God Brain” premieres on the National Geographic Channel. It’s fascinating.
The energetic host, Jason Silva, travels to Jerusalem to test how deeply people believe. He first asks them their favorite color, for example, and then offers to pay them to change it. They all do – for cash! But none of the believers, regardless of their faith, would take any amount of money to say they no longer believed in God.
Once the brain believes something, how easy is it to change that belief? Is it even possible?
So, are humans hardwired to believe?
Brain research seems to establish that we are.
What is our image of God and how does it change from early childhood to adolescence and adulthood? If you ask people to draw their image of God the vast majority draw one of three basic images. What does this mean?
The next part of the hour-long episode then looks at how we see and tests our morality: for believers or nonbelievers, are we truthful when someone is watching us vis-a-vis when no one is, or we don’t think anyone is? The answer may surprise you.
What are the psychological dimensions of belief? Do we see things based on what is suggested to us?
The one experiment I really liked was a professor who asked a group of non-believers about a certain fountain pen and a pull-over sweater that belonged to famous people. What does our association with objects belonging to famous people, good or notorious, mean to us? (This made me think about why some Catholics are so taken with body relics of saints – thought the show does;t mention this per se.)
But it’s the final moments of the film that I think are the most challenging as humans excel in the brain-based creative dimensions of existence and reality. The narrator asks: now that we have invented God do we turn into God?
Lots to think about.