Shifting from being front and center to an observant spectator, I began to see beyond myself, picking up the art of people-watching. As if placing an invisibility cloak on, I would quietly sink into the blue armchair, discreetly watching peoples’ behavior and interactions with one another. I found myself creating whimsical backstories of circumstance for each passerby, intertwining chance encounters and meaningful exchanges. People-watching not only helped me to become more aware of those around me, was also as an opportunity to explore undiscovered parts of myself.
T he sticky ‘problem’ of the persistence of religion is a favourite discussion topic on rationalist websites. Adhering to a view of history as a teleological climb by humanity to greater and greater heights of rationality, they see religion as an irrational vestige of a more primitive mankind. Just as those striving for transhuman immortality pity the ‘deathists’ – those caught up in a romanticised view of human finitude – the rationalists pity the ‘goddists’ and the ‘religionists’. Religion’s promise of heaven or another afterlife, they say, is a comfort that maintains humanity’s deathism and prevents it from working towards a better world in the here and now.
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: