The Spiritual Brain – Part 2


Posted November 12th, 2017

What does it mean to be spiritual? Is “spirit” just a supernatural idea? A bedtime story parents tell to their children to make them believe in God? Or is there something physical, tangible, measurable to spirit?

Glenn is joined by Kevin & Campbell Oleson to discuss these questions with neuroscientist Dr. Michael Adam Ferguson, to preview Michael’s upcoming project “The Spiritual Brain Podcast,” and to better understand his scientific approach to spirituality.

A video of this conversation can be found here:

The Spiritual Brain Podcast website:


  • AnotherClosetAtheist

    I guess I missed the overarching hypothesis. To be a scientific inquiry, you must first notice some occurrence in nature, develop a temporary hypothesis, test and control for a single variable, make an input/output correlation, and then accept or reject your hypothesis based on the results. Once you have quantified multiple related natural phenomena, only then can you develop an overarching explanation to connect them into a unified theory.

    The occurrence being noticed here is that “kids these days see the world and how bad it is because we have thrown out spirituality for scientific knowledge and lost all sense of meaning in life.”

    Really? Prove it. And until these statements are proven, it seems like they are engineering a problem that doesn’t exist so someone can sell you a solution. Been there, done that. Had it sold to me at birth, went on my own two-year sales trip to grow my down-line.

    I say that kids can look at the world and see the height of human civilization. They see Europe maintaining its longest-running peace and unity in history. War and violence are at an all-time low worldwide. Food production, democratization of knowledge, global communication — all time high. Nobody in the West believes that witches are the cause of disease and plague. We are rebelling against our seats of power and wealth and ejecting sexual predators.

    If the argument for meriting this inquiry is “the world has gone to shit, won’t someone please think of the children” then the inquiry invalidates itself through its stated purpose. Non-starter.

    On the line of “losing spirituality for science” — people used to think that rainbows were God’s way of reminding us that he feels sorry for drowning for whole planet for things his omniscience allowed him to know before we ever did them in the first place. Today we know about the electromagnetic spectrum and that you can refract and bend light into its subcomponents.

    Which one of these gives more meaning to life and betters the “human condition?” (Let’s quantify “human condition” as well if we are going to make this scientific.) I vote for the one that actually makes life better. The same God that drowned the whole Earth is reported to have walked upon its surface and given sight to a couple of blind people, but he certainly didn’t cure blindness. Our knowledge of the nature of light and how to manipulate it has allowed us to correct more eyesight than God has even dreamed about. As far as a moral lesson goes, “obey or die” teaches me to kill people who don’t do what I say. The other makes me want to learn more about physics and optics.

    Is a rainbow any less beautiful — or any less meaningless — just because we know the scientific truth behind it?

    Also — Plato’s Republic should be a warning against attempting to tell a Noble Lie to try to unite a population under a story that gives their lives greater meaning.

    I got halfway through this episode, still need to churn through the rest. Maybe these topics got covered and I’m jumping the gun. It was good to see Glenn give some pushback.