Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Origin of Species…of theism

These are a few of my favorite things: philosophy, theology, epistemology, psychology…and the supposed evolutionary origins of each.

Michael Murray, a philosopher at the Templeton Foundation, is a self-described theist who subscribes, more or less, to the idea that everyone is born with a ‘god-shaped void’ which becomes occupied by God when one believes. Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology and linguistics at Yale, by contrast is a non-theist who nevertheless views the ubiquitous theistic tendency as “an incidental by-product of cognitive functioning gone awry”. They both take a general belief in supernatural phenomena to be innate and even hard-wired by natural selection—for Murray it’s a feature, whereas for Bloom it’s a bug.

Unfortunately, they’re both so close, yet so far away…from a meaningful appreciation of the metaphysics of faith.