*** DEBUG END ***

Religion and the architecture of the brain

06 November 2015


From the Revd Professor David Martin

Sir, — A book by Roger Trigg and others (Books, 9 October) postulates a religion-shaped hole in “the architecture of our brains” as revealed by cognitive science, to the supposed dismay of sociologists emphasising history and socialisation. Presumably this book discusses just why this hole varies in size from maximal to non-existent, takes completely contradictory forms, and virtually disappears on the Western side of the Oder-Neisse, while being massive on the Eastern side.

How could Charles Taylor be so indifferent to the constant architecture of the brain as to identify the hole as universal in 1500 while identifying secularity as the default position in 2000? Why are sociologists so poorly equipped with the universal hole? Why are Ghanaians so plentifully equipped with it?

What arguments negate an approach, based on infinite variety, in favour of a constant? Why, for example, is the hole so shallow in Estonia and so deep in Lithuania? What has happened to the hole in Britain that it gets shallower with successive generations? Why can my lovely grandson speak and know what sex is, without having this further universal feature, religion?

The answer is that neither his mother nor his school taught him, and his friends think religion is weird. In this respect, the “architecture” of his brain does not have a chance. It is that vague and latent, rather as it is with 42.5 per cent of the people of Norwich, but only 21.6 per cent of the people of Chester.

174 St John’s Road
Woking GU21 7PQ

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Train-a-Priest Fund 2022 Appeal

Please consider a donation to TAP Africa this year. Every penny you can give goes to ordinands in Africa who face financial difficulty, to support them as they complete their training. 

Donate online

Read more about this year's appeal

Forthcoming Events

24 May 2022
Disability and Church: Intersectionality
A joint webinar from HeartEdge and Church Times.

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)