I just finished reading The Believing Brain by self-described skeptic and scientist, Michael Shermer. The book was a very interesting examination of beliefs from a science perspective, as in what is provable and measurable. It gave me a lot to think about, in terms of what is happening biologically when beliefs are created to how we justify and find evidence for the beliefs we hold, as well as the social and cultural influences that help us decide what to believe.
For me, a firm dualist (I believe I have a mind that generated thought and is separate from my brain which does the mechanical processes of running my body), I had to really set aside my own beliefs and bias to read the book and take in another perspective. This was good practice, as I’m always preaching about how we need to be able to do exactly this in order to understand where others are coming from.
The book created strong arguments for the author’s point of view, and I definitely can see the case for the brain being what allows us to think and the mind not existing apart from the brain. But I have to admit, I prefer the idea that my mind or soul or whatever you want to call it goes on beyond the death of my physical body. Can I prove that scientifically? No. But I can’t disprove it either. Whether all our beliefs can be biologically and scientifically explained away or not, I think we are fortunate to be able to decide for ourselves what we believe. Even if we can’t back it up with science and logical reasoning. That is what makes us uniquely human, and interesting! What do you believe about all of this?