Field of Science

Faith begets faith

In A TEMPLETON CONVERSATION Jerome Groopman is asked by Michael Shermer why he believes at all. Here is his answer:
Why believe? I have no rational answer. The question seems to be in the domain of why do we love someone? You could reduce it to certain components, perhaps refer to neurotransmitters, but somehow the answer seems to transcend the truly knowable. This is the cognitive dissonance that people like me live with, and with which we often struggle.
He has no rational answer, no. But that is because he doesn't know enough science. One can answer that it is most likely because his was brought up to believe. The best predictor of religious faith is the faith of the parents. Faith begets faith, you might say. Another answer is that religious faith has adaptive value; it enables social cohesion and promotes altruism, both of which would have be selected for at the dawn of humanity. However, once, i.e. now, we realize this, it is no longer necessary to believe in the myth in order to appreciate the value of cooperation and altruism, etc. Additionally, as many authors have argued recently (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris), there is a great many reasons why we should abandon faith at this point.

Why does God want us to believe in him? Yesterday Nancey Murphy started answering this question saying "because God is.." (pause), and I, to my own surprise, said "vain" out loud. Three people in front of my turned around to look at me, and I excused myself. But I really can't see any other reason why he should be so worried that we worship him, and neither can any theologians that I have ever heard of.

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