Can science “cure” religious fundamentalism?

Kathleen Taylor in 2007.

2007 MTA/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It is a time when science finally imposes its supremacy on the species with foie gras that is man.

We’ve tried our emotion-based lifestyle for a little too long. We talk about love and God as if they were tangible.

But if a scientist can’t see it, touch it, analyze it, and change it, then it’s not real.

Luckily, soon we’ll all be wearing Google Glass and behaving like automatons. Life will become rational and predictable. Sure, even. We don’t need bliss forever, because we will just continue to live in a timeless space. Until the food runs out and the planet melts.

There is still a little work to be done before we reach Nirvana, so how can we begin to adjust some of the extremities of human behavior that plague our daily lives?

Kathleen Taylor, a researcher at the University of Oxford, believes that neuroscience can begin to affect – with a view, perhaps, to cure – human beings of their most extreme beliefs.

She made a presentation this week at the Hay Festival in the UK – the same festival in which Google’s Eric Schmidt warned that adolescent mistakes would live forever, thanks, in part, to Google.

As the Huffington Post reportsTaylor thinks certain beliefs could soon be treated as illnesses.

She said: “Someone who, for example, has radicalized to a bigoted ideology – we could stop seeing that as a personal choice that they chose because of their pure free will and start treating it as a sort of of mental disorder.”

According to her, certain beliefs cause “a lot of damage”.

She referred not only to religious fundamentalism – particularly that of Islam – but also to behavioral mores such as the spanking of children.

Hearing his words, some might venture to think that so many other (to some) seemingly irrational beliefs – such as Apple fanboyism or the idea that wearing socks with sandals is somehow acceptable – may be modified by neuroscientific manipulation.

This is where the moral gradient becomes treacherous.

Who decides which beliefs really do “a lot of damage”? What if those in power decided that everyone should now believe something completely different from their previous beliefs?

Taylor studied the ramifications of brainwashing for some time. She refers to the brain as “that blood-infused piece of blancmange” that is impacted by elements of persuasion every day.

She acknowledged this in a previous article for the Huffington Post: “The techniques created for healing can also be used for other purposes, and the ability to obtain data from living brains is a holy grail for many. interested parties other than neuroscientists and physicians.”

It is often quite surprising to see people radically change their beliefs.

It could be a right-wing politician who suddenly supports same-sex marriage because he finds out his own child is gay. It may be someone who survives a serious illness and turns to religion in a much more committed way.

Sometimes we just meet people who change the way we see the world because, somehow, their point of view makes a little more sense than ours.

The things we hold most dear may be beliefs that have simply been passed down to us from generation to generation.

The things we hold most dear can also (or even therefore) be the result of pathology, as much as an essence of our very being.

Part of the problem with trying to cure ourselves of some of our core (ist) beliefs is that we will know it is happening. We will know that someone thinks there is something wrong with us.

And we all get very, very susceptible when someone thinks we’re not all there, don’t we?

Comments are closed.