Why does it matter if God exists or not?

I came across an article called “Is the brain hardwired for God?” in the online newsletter, The Big Think, sometime ago. I always save these interesting snippets for suitable times. Quite heavy duty scientist and researchers seem to participate  these newsletter debates, and I am always pleased that some of the  topics, especially those on the nature of  human consciousness,  are taken so  seriously in mainstream science. These studies often throw interesting light on the search for the real understanding of reality and our place in it.

Interesting points in the debate

Firstly it is asked -Why do we care whether God exists or not? The obvious answer I would give is that yes we do care. This question is fundamental to the understanding of the big picture of reality. Are we  designed or randomly made? Purposeless or here for a purpose? The answer makes a big  difference to our understanding of reality and our place in the world.

Secondly -What they are really asking though is an interesting question. Are religious thought and experience somehow hard wired into the human brain? Why religion? Is the need for religion an integral part of us?

Dr Andrew Newberg,  a pioneer of something called Neuropsychology, studied the brains of various committed religious groups as they were having spiritual experiences. He found that the lobes of the brain worked together to give the participants an intense experience.

The conclusion was  that there was no way yet  of telling if  this process was the spirit of God working  (as the religious themselves assumed) or something that had developed in humanity, for some reason, as an evolutionary driven survival tool.


As ever, in the study of the human brain and  consciousness, firm conclusions are elusive.  All we can say is that it does matter if God exists or not because we need to know if the consciousness generated by the human brain is the whole story or if there is a bigger picture of our creation. We cannot wholly begin to understand our consciousness until we know one way or another.

The same article gave an interesting quote, though, from an Eric Kandell

“Reductionism-the idea that a system is nothing more than the interactions between its parts, is an extremely successful theory of biology but as a theory of everything it fails to provide us with a sufficient explanation of a sufficient explanation of a few basic fundamentals that shape human perception”

I think this hits the spot!

What do you think?


5 Responses to “Why does it matter if God exists or not?”

  1. Nick Allen says:

    The fact that humans throughout the ages, and throughout the world have believed in a god suggests that beliving in a god is hard-wired. But as we have believed in different gods depending on when we were born and diffeent gods depending where in the world we are born, that strongly suggests there is no ‘one god’.

    If we accept that 99.9% of all gods ever mentioned are false, then how can we say the Christian God is not false too?

    Again, I think a belief in God is another way of saying “I can’t understand how this works, so I’ll invoke a supernatural explanation. That’ll save me the trouble of trying to explain it properly!”

    As for human perception, is it not just an extention of our intellience and imagination? Surely both valuable form an evolutinary point of view.


    • Marian says:

      Hi Back from spain and back to work. looked again at your post.
      *Would point out that what a human perception of a god or designer is is probably irrelavent.
      This notion of perfection, goodness etc is a human presumption.Humanity may have thought that but it is not neceesarily the case.What is a false god? Humans may presume things that turn out to be false, but it does not mean that the concept of a god/designer existing is not. We may just not have the equipment to cope with the reality of it. We may be just an interactive video game after all. Our god may be just a geek in another dimension. The fact that humans give him wise and powerful attributes which are completely wrong does not negate the fact of his existence. I dont think we know the half of it!!!!!
      *The argument whether human perception is just a factor of our normal human brain, an extension of ordinary human charachteristics, or more than that is hundreds or even thousands of years old.
      There are those that think it is a product of evolution and there are those that think that the levels we reach are beyond that which is evolutionary neceesary, therefore must come in from elsewhere. The jury is out.
      * There are those who believe in a superstitious paranormal and probably always will be.. But there are a huge number of people like me looking for the scientific explanation and looking for the real big picture as a frame work to explain them.Rather than dismiss them per se I look at them as anomolies which indicatethat the big picture that we believe to be true is not necessarily the whole story.
      Cheers Marian

  2. Nick Allen says:

    Sorry – I forgot to answer your main question – does it matter if God exists?

    Yes it does, if people are going to kill each other over something that is imaginary. It’s like rowing about who your imaginary friend likes best!


    • Marian says:

      Hi, nick,
      Came across this article and thought that it did ask an interesting question that I had not heard before. You know me ..have to look at everything!!!!
      God in this contex stands for any human designer of course. It does not matter who or what they are.
      The sub question of course is does it matter in our every day lives?
      As ever, several conflictring points here.
      + on a basic level..if Gods do not exist then we are just a random product of evolution
      + If the perception of gods is hardwired into us humans , it must give us an evolutionary advantage.
      +Is the percieved evolutionary advantage enough? There is a school of thought that says the conciousness and spirituality which inherent in humanity is greater than that actually required in evolutionary terms.
      +If one believes that good and evil exists as outside concepts, and that there is a bigger picture, it does matter whether good , as personified by our gods, exists. Although Gods historically have not always been pure goodness, that is quite a late concept of ours.
      + Does it matter in how we live our lives, do we need god’s rules..hardwired or not?
      + would the denying of gods lead to a cessation of holy wars , or would the war like just find another excuse anyway?
      The next post will actually look at the samish subject from another angle.

  3. Nick Allen says:

    I think that ‘any human designer’ would not coun’t as ‘God’. If an alien race seeded our planet, they could have long diesd out by now anyway.

    But that aside, when people talk about a God, they mean someone who watches the movements of mankind, influences events on earth, has power over life and death – and usually is in an afterlife where he will greet the dead. Aliens don’t tick these boxes.

    If someone did ‘supernaturally’ make mankind et al, that does not automatically make them good, the ultimate in moral guidance or worthy of worship. Indeed, from the evidence of my own eyes, anyone with god-like powers over this planet could not be moral for all the suffering that is allowed to happen. Put it like this, if you took a tribe of people and left them in a place riddled with disease, war, and poverty then stood back and did nothing to help when you easily could, you would rightly be called immoral. That is what the Christian God does time and again. If you believe the Bible he commited genocide with the flood. Oh and he tortured an innocent man to death (Jesus) because ‘others had sinned’. That’s the most amoral thing I’ve heard! No, don’t get your morals from the Bible!

    Wars? I think some would stop. And some terrorists die because they think they are going to have lots of virgins waiting for them on the otherside. I bet they’d think twice if they understood that was not true!

    No, for my money the world would be a brighter place without deluding ourselves that God is going to answer our prayers if we are good etc. If God answerd prayers, all sick children would recover and no one would go hungry. The belief in God ruins our world in my opinion.

    So, you might have guessed, I’m not prepared to belive in a magic being, which the evidence for is none-existent. However, there is not one scrap of evidence anywhere that throws doubt on evolution. It’s a no-brainer in my eyes!

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