You Are What You Worship–Choose Your God Wisely

This morning Karyn Traphagen of Boulders to Bits fame drew my attention to a fascinating article in the Washington Post.

The article reviews a book entitled How God Changes Your Brain. In part, it seems, the upshot is that we must be careful in choosing what God we worship–we will be changed:

“But Newberg’s research offers warnings for the religious as well. Contemplating a loving God strengthens portions of our brain — particularly the frontal lobes and the anterior cingulate — where empathy and reason reside. Contemplating a wrathful God empowers the limbic system, which is “filled with aggression and fear.” It is a sobering concept: The God we choose to love changes us into his image, whether he exists or not.”

As another friend pointed out, the research is not simply about religion per se, but serves as encouragement and warning to any number of activities that both reflect and determine our beliefs:

For Newberg, this is not a simple critique of religious fundamentalism — a phenomenon varied in its beliefs and motivations. It is a criticism of any institution that allies ideology or faith with anger and selfishness. “The enemy is not religion,” writes Newberg, “the enemy is anger, hostility, intolerance, separatism, extreme idealism, and prejudicial fear — be it secular, religious, or political.”

The work also seems commendable for its refusal to allow the findings of neuroscience to weigh in on whether or not there’s a God. Describing religious experiences does not tell us where they come from or to what they may truly be directed.

Take and read. (And, make sure that the God you worship isn’t a jerk.)

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