Neuroscientists carried out a research on the activities of both religion and science in our brain, and series of discoveries were made; ranging from how they both struggle for dominance in the brain, to the link between empathy and religion.
Science and Religion jointly create conflict in the brain, a result of their quests to activate different networks and to suppress each other.
Those who think about the physical world analytically, are able to suppress the brain circuits meant for empathy. While the religious ones succeed in suppressing the circuits responsible for analytical thinking.
“When there’s a question of faith, from the analytic point of view, it may seem absurd, Dr Tony Jack, the lead author, said.
But, from what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking to help us achieve greater social and emotional insight.”
Professor Richard Boyatzis, another author added that:
“Because the networks suppress each other, they may create two extremes.
Recognizing that this is how the brain operates, maybe we can create more reason and balance in the national conversations involving science and religion.”
The researchers analysed that, the brain has different networks of neurons; for critical thinking and for thinking empathetically.
“Because of the tension between networks, pushing aside a naturalistic world view enables you to delve deeper into the social/emotional side, Dr Jack added.
And that may be the key to why beliefs in the supernatural exist throughout the history of cultures. It appeals to an essentially nonmaterial way of understanding the world and our place in it.”
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It is very important we have both analytical and empathic networks. Dr Jack explained that one can be religious and be a very good scientist.
“Far from always conflicting with science, under the right circumstances religious belief may positively promote scientific creativity and insight.”