Teaching science to the religious: theories of development

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: February 21, 2012

“Teaching science to the religious? Focus on how theories develop.” February 19th, 2012.
Comment from a correspondent: ”Religious [people] base their belief in God on a feeling, like indigestion  …  Unfortunately, there is no antacid medication for stupidity…”
My response:  You seem to be conflating religion and belief in God. This invites comparison to the belief in God held by some molecular biologists (note the mention in the article of NIH director Francis Collins) who may better understand how medications for mental disorders change affective responses to sensory input. In this context, stupidity may or may not be a mental “disorder,” and it is problematic to classify via current knowledge of experiential changes in the brain that correlate with affective responses. Perhaps those with no religion have never experienced a brain change that others may or may not link to their belief in God. Clearly, however, some medications change the brain by altering the molecular biology of intracellular signaling, gene activation, and gene expression in cells of brain tissue in other mammals, and in people who believe in God, and in people who don’t. The basis for the development of these medications and their effect on hormones / neurotransmitters, which affect behavior, is the molecular biology that is common across all species from microbes to man. Until someone explains the commonality of the molecular biology, conflation of religion with belief in God, with indigestion and with stupidity seems unscientific, which I think is the point that people, like Miller, is trying to make. He said:  “It was and is philosophically consistent to be a person of faith and also a scientist.” (e.g.? like the scientists who developed the antacid medications for indigestion based on the molecular biology common to all living species?). Did you intend to indicate that this philosophical consistency is stupid? My intent is to indicate that philosophical consistency incorporates what is currently known about the across-species consistency of molecular mechanisms, like those found across species that incorporate the gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ system approach to life.

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