Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


God in a box

A recent article in The New York Times, Darwin's God, tells in part of "the magic-box demonstration" Scott Atran first conducted in the 1980s, when he was at Cambridge University studying the nature of religious belief. In the demonstration the article says,
He presents students with a wooden box that he pretends is an African relic. “If you have negative sentiments toward religion,” he tells them, “the box will destroy whatever you put inside it.” Many of his students say they doubt the existence of God, but in this demonstration they act as if they believe in something. Put your pencil into the magic box, he tells them, and the nonbelievers do so blithely. Put in your driver’s license, he says, and most do, but only after significant hesitation. And when he tells them to put in their hands, few will.

If they don’t believe in God, what exactly are they afraid of?
What indeed? This is the question being considered by scientists considering whether humans are "hard wired" to believe in God. I think so and think we were wired that way by a creator. But the scientists are working on the puzzle. The full text of the rather long article is here: Darwin's God.

But I wonder...would you have put your hand in the box?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor



  • At 3/06/2007 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Back in the 80's, I am 99.9% sure that I would have put my hand in the box. Sadly, though, I don't know if it would have been because of my faith in God, or because I was young and "invincible." I thrived on the excitement that a dare could bring to me back then.

    In my defense, however, even though I had developed major resentments toward my religion, I never had any doubt in the existence of God. I know that because of faith, I would not have believed in any mystical powers of an ancient relic and would have put my hand in, or not. Because of this faith, I may have seen the whole experiment as a waste of time for me.

    It's sad that these scientists continue trying to prove or disprove the existence of God and unfold the mysteries of faith. They're missing out on the joy we receive from faith alone.

  • At 3/06/2007 11:28 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Most people who chose not to believe in God make their arguments against the lamest and most ridiculous claims made by religions.

    The first and most absurd claim made by us the faithful, is that God's Existence can not be proved so therefore we must accept him on "Blind Faith" or "Thall shalt not test the Lord your God!"

    The Bible is full of men who tested God. Abram, Gideon, Moses, etc...

    A few years ago Stephen W. Hawkings stood the physics community on its ear by postulating that at the center/bottom of a black hole matter/light/energy/information simply ceased to exist. He backed it up with a beautiful formula and dared the physics community to prove him wrong. (You may view this short and elegant paper at ).

    As you can imagine most physicists hated that idea because they had become quite used to “The Law of Conservation of Matter”. This Law states that matter cannot be created or destroyed, only redistributed.

    That Law quite conveniently omits any potential Extra-Universal Actor and the possibility that something could be created from nothing. A short time later, when the ramifications were realized that with utter un-creation there must have been a creation, Stephen Hawkings himself had to come up with a way to refute his own theory using Multiverse Theoreticals. If some thing ceased to exist in one universe it must still exist in another universe, so the thing that ceased to exist wasn’t mathematically viable in the first place. No elegant formulas this time, just dirty excuses.

    The truth is that most laws of physics fit quite nicely with a belief in God who is an involved Creator. You just can’t make your box too small! The Universe exists in God, not the other way around. IF YOU DON’T LIKE GOD BEING THAT BIG THEN GET OUT!

    Theologically, how could we reject physical proof of his existence? Scientifically, how can you be lazy in your investigations of the Universe because you might, by accident prove something you didn’t intend?

  • At 3/06/2007 11:44 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Correction the 1975 Paper with the elegant formula can be downloaded from ...

    The above mentioned web address was his lame excuse.

  • At 3/06/2007 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Faith alone" was not intended to mean "blind faith." It merely means that I know that there is God. It is not blind faith because God makes his presence known to me in ways that I can understand and accept. I find joy in getting to know God rather than exploring the universe to find out "if" God...

    Yes, I too have tested God. But, why would I waste my time with that if I didn't know He was there in the first place?

  • At 3/06/2007 9:54 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Did you read beyond my second paragraph?

    My comments were not a rebuttal to yours but a comment on the phrase, "God in a box".

  • At 3/08/2007 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The end of the Newsweek article puts it well:

    "This internal push and pull between the spiritual and the rational reflects what used to be called the “God of the gaps” view of religion. The presumption was that as science was able to answer more questions about the natural world, God would be invoked to answer fewer, and religion would eventually recede. Research about the evolution of religion suggests otherwise. No matter how much science can explain, it seems, the real gap that God fills is an emptiness that our big-brained mental architecture interprets as a yearning for the supernatural. The drive to satisfy that yearning, according to both adaptationists and byproduct theorists, might be an inevitable and eternal part of what Atran calls the tragedy of human cognition."


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