Essays on the formation of human character

An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion.

"... [Dr. Wathey's] book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond...[He] argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy. 

These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like:

If surpluses are used in charity, or in cooperatives for human purposes such as home-building for the less affluent, life necessarily becomes simpler and the ideal of voluntary poverty cannot be far behind. The Christian doctrine of property becomes a reality, namely the retaining of a sufficiency of goods for an adequate life and the sharing of the remainder with the needy. In point of fact, millions of Christians, working for wages, actually live out this teaching on property. How else do we explain the world-wide network of the works of mercy supported by the small gifts of the many, Though there are Catholic millionaires, the masses of Catholics are rather the victims than the beneficiaries of corporations as they roam about the world seeking profits.

Essays on the formation of human character

essays on the formation of human character

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