Is God Just a Human Invention? - Video Interview and Book Excerpt with Sean McDowell
- Wednesday, October 20, 2010
* Since we talk about the morality question elsewhere, we will only mention here that the corollary of the religion argument would run the same way. If we discover through cognitive psychology that it seems certain moral behaviors are hardwired into properly functioning human beings, then this would fit nicely as well with the biblical notion of God's laws being written on the human heart (see Rom. 2:14-15).
Michael Murray describes the sort of cognitive evidence that leads some researchers to conclude that we are hardwired to believe in God:
We have a mental tool that makes us think there are agents around when we detect certain sounds (bumps in the night), motions (rustling in the bushes), or configurations (crop circles) in nature. This "Hyperactive Agency Detection Device" (or "HADD") leads us to hypothesize invisible agents that, for example, control the forces of nature. And this disposes us to belief in the supernatural.26
It needs to be pointed out that one could just as easily interpret the emerging cognitive evidence to mean that the reason that people naturally form beliefs about God is that God actually exists and designed humans to form these kinds of beliefs. Barrett, one of the pioneers of this field, concludes that "belief in gods generally and God particularly arises through the natural, ordinary operation of human minds in natural ordinary environments. . . . The design of our minds leads us to believe."27
If belief in God is indeed an issue of hardwiring, then two possible explanations exist for the design we observe. Either a blind process of natural selection produces religious belief over time as a by-product with some selective advantage, or an Intelligent Mind designed humanity to naturally believe God exists. If the latter is the case, then we are back to our original question— what is the evidence for God? The evidence is what will allow us to make sense of why people seem to naturally believe in God.
What If We Were Designed to Believe?
So if, as we have labored to show in this book, it is reasonable to conclude that God exists, then it is also possible to infer that the reason so many humans have desires for and beliefs in the divine points to God's desire to be known. This coheres nicely with the portrait of God we find in the Bible, for as the writer of Ecclesiastes observes, God "has also set eternity in the hearts of men."28
For Further Engagement
McGrath, Alister. Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.
Murray, Michael J. "Belief in God: A Trick of Our Brain?" In Contending with Christianity's Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors, edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, 47-57. Nashville: B & H Publishing, 2009.
Sean McDowell is a popular speaker at camps, churches, schools, and conferences nationwide. Sean has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth Specialties, Wisdom Works and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean is the national spokesman and a conference speaker for Wheatstone Academy (www.wheatstoneacademy.com), an organization committed to training young people with a biblical worldview.
Sean is the General Editor for Apologetics for a New Generation (Harvest House, 2009), and has also written Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World (B&H, 2006). He is also the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students (B&H, 2010), and has contributed to YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine, the Christian Research Journal, and blogs regularly at www.seanmcdowell.org.
Excerpt taken from Is God Just a Human Invention? by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Kregel Books, 2010, pages 120-129.
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