Minds Held Hostage: Adapted Human Brain Prone to God & Other Glitches


You can listen to the program at the link below

Evolutionary Psychologist Reveals a Robust Science of Faith

Dr. J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. – you can call him Andy – guides us through a provocative tour of the human brain on religion. Thomson introduces us to the many cognitive adaptations luring us into religious belief and other irrational ideas. 

One of those ideas happens to be, disturbingly, suicide bombing. He’ll provide an answer to the age-old question of why a talking wolf is more memorable than a tree balancing your checkbook. Thomson’s current research interest is in the area of evolutionary psychology and using its principles to understand depression, suicide terrorism, and religious belief. Thomson wrote the 2011 book, Why We Believe in Gods, A concise guide to the science of faith. He is a psychiatrist in private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is also a staff psychiatrist at Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Student Health Services, and the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

Written By: Alan Litchfield
continue to source article at malcontentsgambit.com


  1. Fascinating stuff, and, more importantly, useful, in that I agree that it is simply impossible to argue people out of religious belief, they have to come out of it of their own volition.

    The best that can be done is provision of an alternative environment that’ll provide some fun and laughs, and guilt free sex!

  2. Just the headlines alone got my attention, Minds Held Hostage.
    Held hostage by whom or what, most importantly where was the mind being held hostage?
    Is he “Dr J Anderson Thomas Jr” suggesting that our minds were predisposed for all of the terrible things happening in this world today.. Held hostage just waiting for man to evolve so that it could be in charge of all our decisions, if the answer is yes ,then Sam Harris is right when he say’s we have no Free Will, the mind has fooled our brains into believing that we make our own choices.
    I absolutely agree with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins .. Free Will is only an illusion we do not have any choice in any decision we make in our life . If the mind is part of random evolution why would IT choose to control us and make such a mess of this world, that to me sounds like an advanced plan which of course means there was intelligence behind the plan.. a reason for it..
    So!!! for thousands of years of war and hate and terror connected to religion wasn’t just man making bad decisions those decisions were already made.
    I think it’s about time that some genius scientist come up with an explanation for The Mind. What does it look like, where does it reside inside of our brain? Or outside of us , it has never been seen by the naked eye or I would not be asking these questions. On the other hand “am I ” really asking these questions because I want to know the answer.. was it really my choice to write in this forum, it’s just too complicated for me 😉

  3. I have just finished reading a couple more articles, one about choosing to be or not to be Catholic or an atheist or any of the many religious beliefs. just a few minutes ago I wrote and expressed my opinion on Free Will , I think it answers all questions about choices,according to Dr. Thomas Jr our minds have already been made up for us, so being a Christian or an atheist, isn’t my choice the MIND chose it for me.
    I’m confused enough already so i am not going to read anymore today.. Oh dear I don’t know if I am or not ,all depends what my mind wants to do :-):-) 🙂

  4. Hi crzylmy. Interesting concept – the mind; here’s my take on it. From birth, the brain receives and ‘stores’ information via the senses. This mass of information is the mind. These ‘contents’ obviously contain information that is vital to our day-to-day living – but much of it is propaganda in the form of beliefs. We identify with these contents, believing this random assortment of information (we call my ‘self’) is who/what we are. Generally, the contents that comprise our identities are so ingrained we are hardly aware of them, until that is; they are threatened in some way.

    The ego aspect of mind is that which maintains the sense of self, the ‘I’ concept. It habitually focusses on any number of the mind’s contents forming attachments to them. This is what the ego/mind does. Attachment to identity is a strong survival mechanism that emerged from the simple sense of a ‘me’ separate and different from ‘you’ or other. Yet for us humans with our advanced frontal lobes this physical sense of ‘me’ has been assimilated into our mental or conceptual world – and herein lies our main, if not our only problem.

    As we naturally protect our bodies so too we protect this brain/mind sense of ‘me’, of ‘self’. When our identity (our concepts of ‘self’) is threatened, maybe in the form of criticism; criticism of something we have grown up to believe and psychologically invest in such as our Gods and religion, our culture or our country. When these things are questioned or criticised it is as though ‘I’ am being attacked, it feels almost like a physical assault.

    And I also think that the mind operates automatically. As the ‘me’, the ‘self’ is not a real entity, just a construct composed of information, thinking and action just happens – there is no separate entity or ‘me’ to make choices. Perhaps our only recourse is to be aware of the processes that form our minds giving the chance of thinking and acting in a more wholesome and intelligent manner.

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