doctor andy thomson. thank you! how many of you here, at some point inyour life, were religious believers? of course! most of us are. why did my mind, why did your mind,why did our minds generate religious ideas, religiousbeliefs, and accept them? why? and what i hope to show you this morningis the answer to those questions. we're getting tantalizingly close to a comprehensivecognitive neuroscience of religious belief. robust theories, empirical evidence.
and my plan this morning is to lay out foryou uh... some of the basics for this, and then to give you someof the empirical evidence. and to end on a historical note, that i think both illuminates the past and the present and may tell ussomething about the future. the way to think about my talk is that i hope to give you in a senselike a swiss army knife; a swiss army knife of tools that youcan take back to your community
in the debates that you have with believers. before i do that however,i need to thank a number of people. dave for the kind introduction, ed bucknerand american atheists for the invitation to behere today. to arlene-marie for some help with logistics. for tim dicks with all this help withthe av that you'll see today. also i thank this man behindthe camera here: josh timonen. built absolutely and maintains one of thebest educational websites in the world, richarddawkins.net
behind him his partner marine norton; josh and marine have contributed tothe material you will hear today. and i particularly want to thank richard dawkins for the opportunity to work with his foundation but more specifically his work. i think and i think this audienceappreciates that when richard christopher hitchens, sam harris,dan dennett, ayaan hirsi ali; when they publish these books, they are notonly creating a sea change in the culture, but they're putting their lives on the line.
people here know that thereare others out there who don't share these ideas,who are threatened by them. and they really put their liveson the line for all of us. i think we owe them anenormous debt of gratitude! where do we start? we start with darwin. darwin's remarkable idea not only gives us the onlyworkable explanation we have for the design and varietyof all life on earth;
his idea gives us the onlyworkable explanation we have for the design and architectureof the human mind, and in that architecture the piecesthat generate religious belief. basically you take darwin's idea combine it with watson and crick with genetics and you have this:this is the modern darwinian synthesis. every organism is an integrated collectionof problem solving devices designed over evolutionarytime by natural selection to promote in some specific waythe genes that produce that adaption.
let's look at us. look at me, ok? the heart solves the problemof pumping blood; hemoglobin solves the problemof transporting oxygen; the long solves the problemof extracting oxygen from the air. at every single level a biological inquiry, from membranes to mind: darwinian natural selection. now this statement also- i want to look at carefully - is also a statement about the human mind.
the mind is what the brain does, and the brain evolved under thesame rules of natural selection. the brain is a collection, an integratedcollection of problem solving devices, designed over evolutionary timeby natural selection, to promote in some specific waythe genes that build that adaption. steven pinker has the analogy that thehuman mind is like the apollo spacecraft: this compact collectionof engineering devices, solving a constant stream of problems, only a few of them consciousto the astronauts.
you're sitting there now. i am on your retina, upside downin two dimensions. specific adaptions are turning thatinto a three-dimensional image. you don't know it and i'll show you. you're watching my face, my eyes. you have a very complex socialcognitive uh... adaptations, some of which -i'll show you-contribute to religious belief. now the other fundamental is this: that we are, as we now know,risen apes, not fallen angels.
we arose in africa. put aside are ethnic religiousracial differences: underneath our skinswe are all africans. we are all -every one of the sixbillion people on this planet- we are all sons and daughters of asmall band of hunter-gatherers, that arose in africa about 70,000 years ago,and conquered the world. we are the last surviving hominid. you may not know it:this is your family history. over here, the common ancestor... down here,the common ancestor with chimps and bonobos.
and this is the hominid line. australopithicenes, lucy. panthropus and here we are, homo.our genus homo. homo habilis, homo erectus,homo heidelbergensis. homo neanderthalensis and then,we are the last surviving hominid. this is lucy, up here. homo erectus about two million years ago. and us. and notice in particularlythe area of the frontal lobes.
this shows is a little bit clearer. on the left is a skull of a homo erectus,on the right homo sapiens. notice in particular the enlargementof the frontal lobe area. and for evolution pretty quick period of timewe have all of these frontal lobes. why? if you remember, 1.5 - 2.0 million years ago,homo erectus left africa, without language, went to indonesia, the caucasus... really in some senseconquered half the world. they had conquered the physical environmentby a million years ago.
so what was left? what was the most challenging complexpart of our environment, that drove the evolution of us? well, the most challenging complex partof the environment was probably eachother! (laughter) and this is the... this is the originof our complex social cognitions. why is this important? because religious ideas
religious beliefs are just the extraordinary useof everyday cognitions; everyday adaptations; social cognitions; agency detection; precautionary reasoning. religious ideas, religious beliefs area by-product of cognitive mechanisms designed originally for other purposes. now, what's a by-product?
i noticed a few people taking notes. reading and writing isa cultural by-product. we don't have reading and writingmodules in our brain. it's a by-product of fine motor skills,vision, language. music is a by-product. a by-product of language: hard vowelsand consonants put to rhythm. originally the rhythmof a beating heart. and this is the essenceof what religions are. religions are by-productsof cognitive mechanisms,
everyday cognitive mechanisms,that created- and arise, really, as an artifact of our abilityto imagine social worlds. they're *always*... always... every religious idea is a human conceptwith some slight alteration. now, how many of you herelove big mac meals? now come on, i'm a psychiatrist,you can tell me! you know, it's confidential information,it's protected by hipaa rules. how many of you love big mac? come on! of course! of course.
how many of you... how many of youhave cravings for broccoli? cravings for broccoli? you can see there is variation in a species. but it is very few. why? the reason for this is that if you understandthe psychology of the big mac meal you understand the psychology of religion. we have... i'm serious!let me show you this! ok? we evolved adaptations for thingsthat were crucial and rare: sugars of ripe fruit;
fat of lean game meat; of salt. those were crucial adaptations in our past. and the modern world createsa novel form of it, that comes from those adaptations,but hijacks them with super-normal stimuli. not ripe fruit, but a coca-cola. not lean game meat, but a fat hamburger. french fries soaked in meat juice. and it creates these super-normal stimuli,but they're based on ancient adaptations.
let me just take you now ona little bit of a tour of some of these cognitive mechanisms. the first is decoupled cognition. this is a fancy word for...we can decouple cognition in time. since i have been talking, i will guaranteethat everybody in this room has thought of, while you're listeningto me and paying close attention, you have thought of a conversation youhave had with somebody in the past or you were thinking about a conversation you're going to have withsomebody later on today.
as i'm talking right now, everyone of us in this room canimagine and conduct in our heads a conversation with president obama. as you can see, it's extraordinary. and it's crucial for memory, for planning. absolutely one of the essences of our humanity. it allows us these complex interactionswith unseen others. complex social interactionswith unseen others. you can see that it's justone little step to,
you know, communicating with a dead ancestor. i don't know about you,but i'm getting to the age where a lot of those near anddear to me have died and i catch myself still talking to them. it's one step further tocommunicating to a god or gods. hyperactive agency detection. all of us will mistakea shadow for a burglar; we will never mistakea burglar for a shadow. we have these hyperactive agencydetection mechanisms.
if we were to hear a loud bang right nowwe would all startle, and we would assume it was not accident:it was agency and probably human agency. now, you may reasonably ask: well ok, how does decoupled cognition- interacting with another - how does hyperactive agency, how does that lead tosupernatural figures though? i mean to supernatural burglars? how do you get the next level outfrom human to supernatural? this!
your minds fill-in... there is,there are no lines there, but your minds see that squareand fill in the lines. it's called intuitive reasoning. and underlines the essenceof religious ideas which are minimally counter-intuitiveworlds: mcis. now, what is this? it's an optimal compromise betweenthe interesting and the expected. and it gives us attention arrestingand memorable things. let me illustrate.
if i tell you that that big treeout in front of the conference center will do your taxes, wash your laundry,uh... you know, reprogram your computer... you're simply not going to believe me. but if i tell you that tree on the night of a full moon will hear your wishes and grant them you might be vulnerable to believe in it. not this audience, but many people. but you might be vulnerable to it,because there's just one slight twist;
everything you know about treesis intuitively in there and you fill in the blanks. now, think of the judeo-christian god. he's everywhere, there's a little twistof physics, but it's just a guy! and you fill in the blanks. you don't even think about it,but you fill in the blanks. there's no violation ofbasic human assumptions. 'he's a guy, he can understand mysouthern accent of english...' all the assumptions about humannessare just filled in.
there's just one little twist. and all religious ideas...have these supernatural templates. they have a counter-intuitive physical property.like you know, 'god is everywhere'. counter-intuitive uh... may havea counter-intuitive piece of biology: - the virgin birth - but mary is otherwise just a girl. a counter-intuitive psychology. you know, god knows what i'm thinking. but if he knows what i'm thinking,why do i still have to pray to him?
why do i still have to talk to him? because again those basic assumptionsabout humanness are all still intact. that's why we believe it. that's why will start to accept it andthat's why it sticks in our heads. there is always, always, the attributionof mental states; human mental states. look at any religious idea. you know, go back to your college courses. think about any religious system,any religious ideas you know of, and they fit this model.
we see this most clearly, some of thesevulnerabilities, in children. i mean, we're all children grown up. children from very early onare "common sense dualists". what does this mean? it means you can take a five-month-oldand you can have a box, you can arrange for a box to movejumpstart like a person, and a five-month-old will startle. a five-month old doesn't startle when ahuman being moves in exactly the same way. so very early on you start tosee that we have systems
that are designed for dealing withagents with intentions and goals, and physical objects. now, children know more than they learn. we come into the world with thesesystems already in place. it is natural from very early onto think of disembodied minds. you can flip it around and you canunderstand why this is crucial. if i require a body to thinkabout that person's mind, that's a real liability. it's burdensome.
i need to be able tothink about somebody, think about what'sgoing on in them, and what their intentionsor goals might be, without them present. jesse bering in ireland didsome fascinating experiments. a puppet show in which analligator eats a mouse. and then their children are asked: "well, does the mouse stillneed to eat or drink?" and the children say "no".
"is the mouse still moving around?""no." "does the mouse think certain thinks?does the mouse want certain things?" the children say "yes"! you start to see that division. half of four-year-olds, if you interview them,have imaginary friends. so that we see that thebelief in some life separate from what is actuallyexperienced in the body is the default settingof the human mind. another thing about children is thatthey are causal determinists.
well, any mind that is oriented towardsseeing intentions and desires and goals is going to overread purpose. if you ask a child: "what are birds for?"you know: -"to sing." "what are rivers for?-"for boats to float on." "what are rocks for?"-"for animals to scratch themselves." ok? we overread causality.way overread causality and purpose. if you go to the dawkins website there's a fascinating interview betweenrichard dawkins and randy nesse. and at the beginning of the interview,it's fascinating: they both catch themselves
talking about natural selectionas an intentional agent. and they realize they're using intentionallanguage and they stop themselves. and so it's very easy forus to imagine, again, intentional agents that areseparate from ourselves. children will spontaneouslyinvent the concept of god. what you start to see are thesemechanisms that were born with make us all very vulnerableto religious ideas. religious ideas are much easier. it's disbelief, it's truly understanding,say, something like natural selection,
that is cognitively a little bit harder. decoupled cognition, hyperactive agency,minimally counter-intuitive worlds, promiscuous teleology... ...starting to build this listof cognitive mechanisms. now we'll turn to the attachment mechanism. the attachment mechanismin humans was laid out by psychiatrist john bowlby in england,and mary ainsworth, a psychologist here. and the attachment system is the fundamentalcare-taking system in mammals. and think about religions:you're in distress, what do you do?
you turn to a caretaker;you turn to an attachment figure. alan walker, the great paleoanthropologist, has this absolutely haunting storyin his book about the turkana boy. and they found this 1.7 million-year-old fossilof an adult woman, an adult homo erectus woman. 1.7 million years old. and she had died of severevitamin a poisoning, which would have meant that she washemorrhaging into her joints, pain, couldn't move;it's a terrible way to die. but on closer inspection they noticedthat there was new bone growth.
and it immediately caught them. they suddenly realized that this woman,1.7 million years ago, had lived for months, and that it meantthat somebody was taking care of her. bringing her food and water,protecting her from predators sitting with her through the long, dark,dangerous nights in the savannas. so you see this attachment system in our species,or in our ancestors, 1.7 million years ago. the attachment system isboth crucial to belief, but what i want to show you is, the attachment system is one of the thingsthat makes it very hard to give up belief.
and we see this illustrated in darwin's life. remember darwin went on the voyageof the beagle, 1831 to 1836. he comes home, and his ideasare starting to gel. john gould tells him his finches are speciesthat have never been seen before. and he's realized that species are not immutable,he starts to think about evolution. opens his notebook- this was his original tree of life - and sees that man may arise from animalsand there is no need for any deity. remember he went on board ofthe beagle as a creationist. this is what he writesin his notebook in 1837.
he's engaged to emma wedgwood,his first cousin. he realizes that species change: they evolve.but he doesn't have a mechanism. and in september 1838, he readsmalthus' essay and he gets his idea. he sees the mechanism: the strugglefor existence, at september 1838. somewhere in that fall, he told his fiancã©. in november, he gets the firstof these kind of letters. she was distressed, and she said this kind of thinking might cause'a painful void between us'. they were married in january 1839.
in february 1839, she writes him another letter. after his death this letter was discovered,and on the bottom in his own hand is written: 'you don't know how many timesi have cried over this.' by the 1840s, darwin is walking emma and the childrento the church on sunday mornings, stopping at the gate, they go into church,he goes off on a walk. and it is reasonable to thinkthat it is the concern about his wife's reaction,the potential rupture of that bond that's one of the things that led darwinto sit on his idea for twenty years.
and we see this fear of loss of attachmenteven in one of the modern apologists. karl giberson. a nazarene college physicist, who is constantlytalking about reconciling evolution and religion. and he states it quite explicitly. if he were to give up his faith, he wouldlose his parents, his wife, his children. fear of loss of attachment,the rupture of that bond. so we see that the attachment systemis both crucial to religion, it's one of the barriers to giving it up.
now i want to turn to theory of mind. all of you here know that i havea mind like your mind, with intentions, wishes and desires. with intentions wishes and desiresthat may be different from yours. these capacities come online... i think whenwe we're about 3 or 4 years of age. i want you to look at the pictureon the left of bogart and then quickly look over onthe picture on the right. if you do that, the picture on the leftbogart's eyes are looking to his left. when you look at the other picture,bogart's eyes are looking to the right.
but how can that be? it's the exact same picture,it's just flipped into a negative. why do bogart's eyes switch? and what i'm trying to teaseout here is to show you that you have a separate dedicated system. when you look at faces, you have a separatededicated system that monitors eye gaze. take a look at this for a momentand and make a guess. use your gut, make a guess as towhat this individual is feeling. anybody want to guess?
uneasy? that's right, uneasy. what about this one? playful. it's playful. now, think about it for a moment. you're looking at grainyblack-and-white photos of eyes, and you are making sophisticated discriminationsabout complex emotional states. the women are a little bitbetter at it than the men,
but we can discern 212 complicatedemotional states just from eye gaze. if you're interested in this,this is uh... sacha baron cohen's smarter brother,simon baron-cohen at cambridge. this is much better than borat. but look at it. it's fascinating stuff. and again, this is part of theory of mind. you probably can't read the caption here,let me read for you. it says: "what do you think i think about what youthink i think you've been thinking about?"
and this is another part of theory of mindcalled intensionality, with an s. and it goes like this. the first order is "i think." second order "i think you think." third order "i think you think that i think." fourth order, and we can go to about five,sometimes six orders, and that's about it. and you can see, i hope, were this isabsolutely crucial: to social interaction. utterly crucial. and again, an extraordinary pieceof cognitive software.
just extraordinary. can everybody read the captions in there? ok, first up the wife says:"i think he's very boring!" the stranger says: "i believe thatshe thinks i'm very attractive!!" and the husband says: "i suspect that he believesthat she wants to run off with him!!!" you can see now. look at what religions do. religions again utilize this. "i believe."
"i believe that god wants." "i believe that god wants usto act with righteous intent." fourth order is social religion. "i want you to believe that god wantsus to act with righteous intent." fifth order: communal religion. "i want you to know that we both believe thatgod wants us to act with righteous intent." and see how religions utilizethis cognitive adoption, which is just an ordinary-not so ordinary, really- but cognitive adaption that is crucialto our social interaction.
now, let me turn to one of the,i think, most exciting things that's come along in a long time. just came out this past march. it is the paper by a group of peoplewith senior authors: kapogiannis. this research comes from thenational institute of health. national institute of stroke andcerebrovascular disease. which i just love. and what they did is that...this is a unique study. they took twenty man, twenty women,various religions,
and they put them infunctional mri machines, and they read about a hundreddifferent paired statements about religious experience,knowledge, various things. 'god controls the world.' 'god is absent from the world.' 'god has views on marriage.' 'god disapproves of homosexuality.' 'god has ideas about marriage.' there's this long list and they put theseindividuals in functional mris,
and asked them whether they agreedor disagreed with the statement and then measured their response. if you're not used to seeing mris: if you start over here on the left, that'slike my right hemisphere has been removed and you're looking at a split brain,you're looking into my brain right in the midline, and then as we go down to the right,the rest of my right front... my right hemisphere is filling in.
so, midline on the left, and at the endon the right is the outer cortex. and the patterns that arose were uniform. god's love, god's anger. doctrinal religious knowledge. and then experiential religious knowledge. and in all these individualsthe patterns came out the same. well, why? there are three dimensions ofreligious belief, that teased up. god's perceived level of involvement
god's perceived emotions and doctrinal knowledge andexperiential knowledge. all of this, all of this was localizedin networks that processed theory of mind... theory of mind capacities andabstract semantics and imagery. why this is important is that it's unique. we know we've had mri studies withbuddhist monks in some outlines, but these are just ordinary peopleof various religious persuasions. and what it shows is that the componentsof religious belief are served by well-known neural circuits,- circuits that we already know about -
which mediate these evolutionaryadaptive cognitive mechanisms. that religion is integrated into the brainusing networks for social cognition. they're not specific religiousnetworks in the brain or specific religious networksin various individuals; they come down on well-knowncircuits used in social cognition. and this is what i think powerful evidencesupporting the idea that religions arise from these ordinary evolved cognitivemechanisms used in social interaction. and you gotta just love this comes fromthe national institute of health. [laughter]
now. problem of dead bodies. what do we do with dead bodies? is it dead or is it asleep? and what happens when we areconfronted with a dead body, is that, in particular ifit's someone we love, we've got a problem becausethere's a conflict. there's a conflict between thosetheory of mind capacities that we have, because those theory of mindcapacities keep on going,
and the part of us, the natural kinds modulesthat tell us: "this body is quite dead." so the mind is alive, the body is dead;we have a conflict. this is why when you lose somebody that youlove, you just keep on talking to him. this is part... it's very hard becauseof our theory of mine modules. it's very hard for us toconceive our own deaths. this is why we plan our funerals, as partof us thinks we're still going to be there. i had a patient a couple of weeks agowhose best friend committed suicide.
for weeks after he's stilltext messaging his best friend. and you can see that this conflict, the theory of mind and natural kinds modules,the problem of dead bodies really dovetails with decoupled cognitionand these other things i've shown you and creates the release and the idea of soulsand the continued life afterwards. which again is not, as i hope i've shown you,is not that much of a stretch based on our evolved cognitive architecture. what do you... just do a gut check. what do you feel when you see this man?
i feel... 'kindly older brother'. and this is a concept that wasdiscovered by freud. the concept of transference: that we basecurrent relationships on past relationships. we set a grammar of relatednessvery early in our lives. how many of you have seenthe movie momentum? it shows what happens whenyou lose that capacity. you have to learn about socialrelationships each new time. you can see how religions hijackthese capacities for transference. and particularly parental transferences.
so you start, i hope, to see howwe hijack parental transferences and how it also queues intothe attachment system. some other cognitive mechanisms. childhood credulity.as richard has said. natural selection designs child brainsto soak up the culture around them. and a child can't tell the differencebetween good advice: "don't swim in the river with alligators" and bad advice: "sacrifice a pigfor the new harvest." all of us are much much more deferentialto authority than any of us would like to
believe. the famous stanley milgram experimentsthat showed that we will do things under the guide of an authority that weat another level know we shouldn't. reciprocal altruism. all of us keep in our heads who we oweand what we owe, and who owes us. and you can see religions utilize this. if you sacrifice, you'll receivesomething in return. reciprocity. this: romantic love.
we have circuits in our braindesigned for romantic love, for intense focus and love andcommitment to an individual. and this cognitive mechanismis also used in religions. think about mother teresa's recent letterswhere she talked about "marrying christ". if you've seen the moviethe painted veil, the diana rigg character, the nun,has this powerful soliloquy in which she talked about when as a younggirl she fell in love with jesus. moral feeling systems.
all of us have inferential moral systemsthat come online has early is age one. but it's very hard for us to beconscious of the origins of this. we just sort of know itinstinctively at a gut level. it's very hard to be conscious of it,and this is what religions hijack. and then they claim we wouldn't havemorality if it weren't for them. and they recruit these moral systems, obviously,to lend credence and plausibility to gods. particularly use these moral systemsto link commitment mechanisms, to provide a competent,morally competent witness. and it helps us become consciousof our moral systems
- which are still basically instinctive. i think this is a useful way to think aboutthe difference between morality and 'religious morality'. "morality is doing what is right,regardless of what we're told; religious dogma is doing what we're told,regardless of whether it was right." something that is related to thisis altruistic punishment. this again is a cognitivemechanism all of us have. we are willing to punish social cheatsat a cost to ourselves. all of us do it,all of us have done it.
again: crucial the social life. suicide terrorism is just one step removed. empathy. if i raise my right hand, there are neurons in my leftmotor strip lighting up. as you all are sitting there watchingme raise my right hand, the same neurons in your left motor striplight up; the exact same ones. but you inhibit the response. if i take my hand and i take this knifeand i start to poke it in,
i feel a little pain right now and some neurons are lighting upin my left sensory motor strip, my thalamus and i'm starting i'm starting to feel pain. ok? as you are watching me do this, the same neurons in your left sensorymotor strip are also lighting up. as i'm doing this. all you gotta dois see me doing this, and maybe a little whince on my face,and you feel the same thing.
you literally feel my pain. this capacity for empathy, again:crucial for social relationships. how do religions hijack this? this is a filipino devotee who last yearhad himself nailed to a cross. now, i don't know about you,but when i was a child i saw a lot of this,and it really distressed me. and i thought: "well maybe there'ssomething wrong with me..." but i can remember beingdistressed by this. and every time that this kindof thing is displayed,
no matter how hardened youget to it, at some level those parts of you thatfeel the kind of pain that would be induced by this torture,will light up. and religions hijack this capacity forliterally feeling other's pain to induce guilt and obligation. another thing that we use are hard-to-fakehonest signals of commitment. how do you know i'm really committed? why would you believe what i say? i need to give you a hard-to-fakehonest signal of commitment.
again: crucial the social relationships. you can see how religions utilize this.all religions. suicide terrorism is another hard-to-fakehonest signal of commitment. it's connected with religious rituals,that tap into another mechanism: our threat response system. they're compelling and rigidly scripted, usually have to do withcleansing and order, and they enable rituals, again. i hope you start to see how all of these mechanismssort of come together.
we experience them in our consciousnessas a seamless whole, but they're really very specific parts. and religious rituals enable us to both demonstrate and have scrutinizedour hard-to-fake honest signals. they communicate intentions; it's anotherway of communicating goals and intentions. inculcate doctrines, forge alliances. create hope, solace, entertain... they are divorced from theoriginal goal of protection.
they delimit sacred spaces. and they exploit another thingthat we're biased towards, which is the gestalt law of the whole. basically what this means is when you seea flying v formation of birds you don't see the individuals,you just see the formation, the v. ok? the gestalt law of the whole. religions exploit this, creating these attention arresting memorableand often intimidating spectacles. designed, again, to engage usand make us tremble.
other mechanisms that are involved: motivated reasoning:we doubt what we don't like. confirmation bias: we noticedata that fits our beliefs. mere familiarity, and kin psychology. and this is huge in religion. all of us have mechanisms toidentify and favor kin. and religions hijack this. just look at the catholic church, you know:
the priests are brothers, the nuns aresisters, the pope is the holy father. so, i hope i have shown you... and this is just a modest list. this is not the complete list of the thingsthat we have teasted out; the cognitive mechanisms,designed for other purposes, that come together to createreligious beliefs, religious ideas, and make us vulnerable to believingthem and passing them on. so i'd like to end now ona little historical note that i think is interesting and mayshow the light to the future.
in 1918, 80 years after darwin had figuredout his idea of natural selection, william jennings bryan began what dudley malonecalled his 'dual to the death' with evolution. and culminated in the john scopes trialin dayton, tennessee in the summer of 1925. only evolution survived, bryan did not. clarence darrow put on one ofthe most spectacular cross-exams of a hostile witness ever,and utterly devastated bryan. he took him apart on his witness stand. william jennings bryan diedfive days after the trial.
things remain quiet for about 40 years. and then in the 1960s, we begina sequence of court cases starting with uh... the ones in yelloware the supreme court cases... starting with the epperson case which bannedany bans on teaching evolution. and then, there was the pushbackfrom the religious, the attempts to get creation taught;"creation science". there have been seventeen cases, major cases,the most recent being the dover case. and in each case, scienceand evolution has won. at the scopes trial, dudley malone,
who was an irish catholic divorce lawyerand who was clarence darrow's co-counsel, gave what is considered the best speech ofthe trial; the academic freedom speech, in which he said:"teach science, teach evolution!" but he said there was no conflictbetween religion and science. and if you remember the dover case, kenneth miller, the brown biologist,was one of the chief plaintiff's experts and he said intelligent designwas "not science", but there was "no conflict"between religion and science. and that made it into judge jones's decision.
i think this audience knows, that *there is indeed* a conflictbetween science religion. and if i have done my job this morning,and if i've done my job well, i hope i have shown you thatwe are on the threshold of a comprehensive cognitiveneuroscience of religion. and it deepens the conflictbetween science and religion. not just the science of evolutionarybiology which darwin started, but the science of the mind,the evolutionary cognitive neuroscience which darwin also started.
and it deepens that conflict. and it is not long before anypsychology textbook for a psychology textbook tobe current and up to date you will have to include thiscognitive neuroscience of religion. and it's not going to be long beforea john scopes, or a jane scopes moves to teach cognitive neuroscienceof religion in a high school class. in a public school. and you and i know that therewill then be litigation. litigation will be broughtby the religious right.
and i think, i hope, given whati've shown you this morning, that your feeling about that litigationis the same as mine, which is: "bring it on!" thank you very much! [applause]