Personal God Q&A

This is part of my series on doubt. You can see the whole series here.

I got a few questions after my last post on God in our brains.

As long as you think of God as primarily loving, research indicates the effects on your brain will be similar. Focusing on love, or the goodness in mankind is neurologically similar to focusing on a loving God. In fact, the first case I read about was a study incorporating Nuns and Buddhist Monks, both of whom had very healthy brains thanks to their frequent prayer/meditation sessions.

By that reasoning, it doesn't matter if you believe in the Judeo-Christian God, Allah, Buddha, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster as long as you believe God is loving. The exclusive claims of many religions don't hold up we when look at brain activity.

That's why I tend to defend faith in general, and not Christianity specifically using scientific data. That's not to say I am a New Age Spiritualist. I'm a Christian, and I follow Christ. We'll cover my reasoning for that decision in a future post.

Jim Holtom: Wondering if the lack of personification is on purpose? Although the title says 'He' the article tends to propose God as a force, item, something, or just a belief; etc but says nothing in regards to a person, just an observation.

The lack of personification is on purpose. My axioms are a fence against doubt, and by doubt I mean a rational deconstruction of faith. It's a way to prove to myself that following "God" is not a fool's errand, but based on evidence. The existential searching and analysis associated with doubt mainly happens in our prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain responsible for analytical thinking, among other things.

Our brains change our memories and ideas every time we access them. People who experience doubt tend to devote most of their mental energies about God toward rational analysis, which slowly erodes the emotional and experiential parts of that person's model of God in their brains.

That means my axiomatic definition of God only includes elements I can defend scientifically. So, while I certainly experience a personal God, I can't prove the scientifically. My experiences with God reflect a personal God, but I can't back that claim with science.

Process Theology is interesting. For those unfamiliar with it, Process Theology attempts to reconcile classical Theism with the insights of naturalism. However, like all Theologies, Process Theology makes assertions based on assumptions--something I can't do as an empiricist. I'm perfectly happy making assumptions, but I disclose them as such. I'm also not clear exactly what is and is not process theology, as major contributors to the movement don't seem to agree on its basic tenets yet.

So, it's a bit more rationally coherent than classical theism, but still very much theological in it's habit of making claims without evidence.

The most common questions I've gotten lately don't have anything to do with the nature of God. Most of my email the last few weeks has been questions about dealing with others during faith transitions. How does a person with doubt deal with spouses, children, family, friends and faith community? And how do those groups deal with loved ones who's beliefs are changing? That will be my next post before we return to my outline.