Theory of Mind, and belief in the supernatural

I wrote this really fast and did not check my work so; sorry.
I would probably first read these too articles

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/03/religionbrain/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/10/god-brai/


The first article appeared in Weird on March 9, 2009, it deals with the probability of belief in the supernatural being an accidental byproduct of social cognition. After reading it I was somewhat upset because it said that spiritual belief was natural and atheism and agnosticism take work. For me it was the complete opposite I did not lose my faith due things such as disillusionment with church, contradictions it the bible, doubts about god communicating, contradiction between concept of "free will" and concept of omniscience god with will, all the suffering in the world, or any of the other things tend to make people lose there faith, I lost my faith because I was never able to conceive of much less believe in a supernatural/spiritual/immaterial realm, particularly the concept of life after death, which even as a four year old seemed stupid to me. For a while I tried believing that because when I did good I felt good, that was heaven and when I did bad I felt bad that was hell. I saw god as metaphor for the entire universe, I have never believed in a personal god that answered prayers to me that has always been the equivalent of having an imaginary friend. I had never heard of the term atheist until I was in high school and realized that is what I was, or better to say I was a philosophical naturalist. But on the other hand I do not have. Theory of Mind which is what the article argues is what may lead to belief in the supernatural. Theory of Mind allows people to understand that other people have minds, thoughts and feelings, which I was unaware of until I was 16, and I only found out because a teacher yelled at me for being insensitive to people’s emotions. Before that it had never occurred to me that other people just might have minds, thoughts and feelings, no one had ever told me. The first article also states that “The advantages of a Theory of Mind are clear. People who lack one are considered developmentally challenged, even disabled”. This statement is definitely true of me I have an autism spectrum disorder and am unable to relate to people. The second article says that “brain scans of people who believe in God have found further evidence that religion involves neurological regions vital for social intelligence”, I am a complete social dunce, I’m 25 years old, I can not read facial expressions, I’ve never had a close friend, I can barely hold a two way conversation. I also have trouble comprehending a supernatural/spiritual/immaterial realm, I have never felt anything, nor do I have an impending desire to believe.

I often have wondered if atheism would be more common for people on the autism spectrum, I have been asking people in a support group that I go to for adults on the autism spectrum and from what I have been noticing atheism seems to be very common. I have discussed this topic in detail with two atheists that are also on the autism spectrum and they said the same thing about not being able to believe in the supernatural realm.

Views: 37

Comment by a7 on November 9, 2009 at 8:32pm
I have a question about this ability in not being able to believe in the supernatural realm. Why exactly do you mean ?

I believe and disbelieve based on available evidence, what would happen if the supernatural was supported by hard factual evidenced back by science. Would you still not be able to believe ?


George
Comment by Rachel Burke on November 10, 2009 at 11:04pm
If there was evidence then I would say I was wrong and change my mind, but it is really hard for me to believe in something with out evidence. I lot of people who are religious say they feel something, but I have never felt anything; nor have I ever had a desire to believe in a higher power.

A friend of mine who also has Asperger Syndrome said he has never believed in a supernatural realm either. As children both of us suspected that when we died there would be nothing me from age 4 him from age 5. Most children believe in the afterlife. I thought that was kind of weird, and wondered if there was a connection. But I also know an aspie who is a devout Christian.

I probably should not come to conclusions based on these articles, and a few personal experiences.

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