Sunday, 24 April 2011

Religion: Of Science?

The Economist recently ran an interesting article on engineering a religion...

Of course, this caught my attention, not least since it comes hot on the heels of my reading the brilliant Religion Explained, by Pascal Boyer. It is fairly obvious (if you read Boyer) that The Economist does not quite buy into all of its findings, but it is close enough. For some rough-and-ready ideas pop over to the article, and for truly in-depth understanding of human mind and how it creates religions as a by product go read the book. What interests me here, however, is whether it is really possible, as the very last sentence of the article suggests, to create a religion that will succeed because it builds on the findings of Boyer, but one that will shun the usual silliness of ancient deities and arcane rituals and instead help nudge people towards the world view that is essentially scientific? The world view that will give wide berth to a notion of a supernatural creator and his (or hers) random rules (yes, some are usually sensible, but they are too often interspersed by truly ridiculous or even dangerous ones). Frankly, I doubt it is possible. A religion, almost by definition, is irrational and caters for the unconscious and irrational in humans. But still, it's a tempting thought to put an end to all existing ones in favour of a carefully crafted one deeply rooted in science.

A pipe dream, I know, but even atheists are allowed to dream sometimes...

I know I've promised mobile posting, but this one was too good to leave to chance so I wrote it on Friday already. ;-)