People who believe devoutly in religion will tell you that we’re obligated to respect and believe and follow the word of God however that word is determined. 

I wrote with a colleague of mine, Michael McGuire, a book called God’s Brain in which we were able to suggest, if not demonstrate, that religion is really made by the brain.  It is a secretion of the brain and this gets us away from the issue of whether religion is true or not true.  The fact is that there are 4,200 religions in the world, each of them believing they’re absolutely correct and everyone should follow their views and some 90% of human beings are describable by themselves, if not others, as religious.

So we’re not dealing here with a casual phenomenon even though no one has any evidence of the stories behind the religions and so we get interested in this massive unreality, which is in fact finally a real reality, namely religions, and so there are cathedrals and towns.  There are tax exemptions.  There are people donating money to religions still in America. 

Religions receive more donations than any other part of the community and so we were fascinated with what animated this and as I said I think we were able to suggest, if not also demonstrate, that the brain creates religion and the brain consumes religion.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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