At least that’s the idea behind some new research on the effects of belief in God on the brain. Apparently, people suppress the areas of the brain used for analytical thinking and engage those parts of the brain used for empathy in order to believe in God.  The clear message of these research “findings” is that you have to stop thinking in order to believe in God.  Belief in God is about how you feel, not about what you think.

I have not read the actual research, and probably couldn’t make much sense of it even if I had.  But I don’t need to review the research in order to know that this research is irrelevant to the question of whether God exists.  First, it commits a logical fallacy known as the genetic fallacy.  This fallacy is committed any time one attempts to invalidate the truth of some X because of the origin of X.  Since belief in God has its origin in our feelings rather than our thinking (the origin of X), God (X) does not exist.  He’s just a product of our personal feelings.

Secondly, to claim that belief in God is based on feeling rather than thinking requires that one be ignorant of the entire field of the philosophy of religion, and Christian apologetics in particular.  Thousands of books have been written providing rational reasons to believe God exists.

Thirdly, it’s just empirically false that people have to suppress their thinking and tap into their feelings in order to believe in God.  Way too many people who lacked belief in God came to believe in God precisely because they began to think hard about the question.  It was the rational evidence for God’s existence that convinced them that God existed, (in some cases) despite their lack of feelings.  While some people may believe in God based on their feelings, that’s not true of all theists, and more importantly, feelings are not the justification for theism.

Brain studies such as this one are interesting, but they can never tell us whether God exists.  And when they are used to imply that God does not exist, or that belief in God is just a product of our emotions, they should be used in philosophy classes as textbook examples of fallacious argumentation, not taken seriously as contributions to the debate over God’s existence.