June 16, 2009

God, the Evolutionary Artifact

Matthew Alper went on a solitary quest to understand religion. What he found was that his mind was trying to trick him.

David Goldenberg

Matthew Alper doesn't believe in God, and he doesn't think you should, either. That's because he's sure that God is a figment of your brain's imagination, one that evolved to make you feel less anxious about your insignificant place in the universe and your impending death.

Alper isn't your typical philosopher or cognitive scientist. He was working as a screenwriter in Germany when he decided to devote his life to understanding why people have a predisposition towards religion. After years of scientific research in which he helped to develop the multi-disciplinary field of neurotheology, Alper self-published his opus The GOD Part of the Brain in 1996. Over the next decade, as the religion wars rekindled and more scientists came to agree with his view of the evolution of religion, Alper's book sold more and more copies, and last year Sourcebooks decided to publish a new edition.

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Article by David Goldenberg

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