A neuroscientist at Texas A&M University is offering a new course that will attempt to explain religious beliefs through empirical science, a topic that the professor says will challenge what he thinks are the atheistic beliefs of many scientists, but is sure to irritate both atheists and religious believers alike.
“Many polls show that most scientists are atheists,” said Dr. W.R. Klemm, a senior professor of neuroscience at the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, in explaining why he created the course. “I think that is unfortunate to say the least.”
But even that statement has already angered atheists.
“Why is that unfortunate?” asks atheist writer Hermant Mehta. “There’s no reason atheist scientists couldn’t contemplate the same ‘big’ questions about things like ethics and free will. But the Bible? Genesis? Why not the Koran? Why not the Book of Mormon? Why not How to Use Dianetics?”
“Many people, especially college students encountering what seems like intellectual culture shock, struggle with the conflicts between evolution and religion,” said Klemm.
Klemm (pictured) says that in the course, “we explore how neuroscience and religion should inform and enrich each other.”
Neuroscience is the increasingly popular field which studies how the nervous system — especially the brain — works and how its physical function influences human behavior.
In the new Texas A&M course, Klemm plans to explore how religious beliefs have their origins in the actual functions of the brain.
“As a neuroscientist, I know that the human mind has a material basis, and that may cause even more cognitive dissonance for people,” Klemm says.
For example, the concept that human beings have free will comes under scrutiny in the course, which explores how free will is possible if the human mind is simply the result of biological functions found in the nervous system.
Klemm is the author of several books and hundreds of scientific publications. According to an earlier writing, "Free Will is NOT an Illusion," he does believe that human free will exists despite the attempts of some to demonstrate that it doesn’t.
SOURCES: TAMU Times, BioNews Texas, Brain Blogger, Patheos