That Goofy God Helmet

There was a really great article on First Things about Materialism and the general gullibiilty of its proponents. It is an intersting article that uses the ruckus over the “god helmet” to illustrate just how credulous the “skeptics” and “critical thinkers” can actually be. It is an interesting read.

Materialism, being a fairly coarse superstition, tends to render its adherents susceptible to a great many utterly fantastic notions. All that is needed to make even the most outlandish theory seem plausible to the truly doctrinaire materialist is that it come wrapped in the appurtenances of empirical science. This is not particularly blameworthy. True believers in any creed are usually eager to be persuaded that there is better evidence supporting their convictions than there really is. But there is a special kind of pleasure to be extracted from the credulity of materialists, if only because they are more prone than most other fanatics to mistake their metaphysical presuppositions for purely rational conclusions drawn from dispassionate reasoning.

Consider, for instance, the recent and curious episode of the “God Helmet.” If you have not heard of it before, this was a device that for a time was believed to have the power to induce “religious” experiences in those who wore it, simply by stimulating the temporal lobes of the brain with weak magnetic field emissions. Its inventor was the cognitive neuroscientist Michael Persinger, who began studying religious mental states as early as the 1970s, and who eventually hit upon the theory that all such experiences have something to do with the structure of the bicameral brain. Perhaps, he speculated, a man who finds himself seized by a mystical sense of an unseen presence—God, an angel, an extraterrestrial, a ghost, a fairy, what have you—is merely experiencing a transient excitation of neurons that causes his brain’s left hemisphere to become indirectly aware of the distinct and usually tacit “alternate self” of the right hemisphere.

Read the rest