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Tue Jul 17, 2018, 06:51 AM

Science and Philosophy Offer More for Grief than Religion [View all]

Last edited Tue Jul 17, 2018, 07:39 PM - Edit history (2)


Bereavement is horrible, but religion is false comfort.


In a recent New York Times column, Stephen T. Asma claims that religion can help people to deal with grief much better than science can. His case for religion over science has four flaws. It depends on a view of how emotion works in the brain that has been rendered obsolete by advances in neuroscience. It underestimates how much science can help to understand the nature of grief and to point to ways of overcoming it. It overestimates the consoling power of religion. Finally, it neglects how science can collaborate with philosophy to suggest ways of dealing with grief.

Asma tells the heartbreaking story of the murder of a teenager and its devastating effect on his mother, brother, and sister. I know how overwhelming grief can be, having lost two parents and a beloved wife who died young of cancer. But Asma’s reasons for looking to religion as consolation are not convincing.

He claims that science can only reach the recently evolved rational part of the brain, the neocortex, whereas religion can access the older emotional part of the brain, the limbic system. This view of the brain as sharply divided between cognitive and emotional systems has been overthrown by decades of research. Brain scanning and other methods find enormous integration between the prefrontal cortex and parts of the limbic system such as the amygdala. Luiz Pessoa’s book,The Cognitive-Emotional Brain, thoroughly reviews the effects of the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system on many kinds of perception, cognition, and motivation. These cortical functions also affect the amygdala, so science with its evidence-based approach to theory and rationality can influence emotions by helping people to evaluate the situations that generate emotions. Understanding grief can help people to recover from it.

There is good scientific research on grief that can help people understand its process and prospects. For example, Ruth Davis Konigsberg's The Truth about Grief cites studies that most people substantially recover from the horrors of grief within about 18 months. For those who have greater difficulty, there are psychotherapists who are skilled at helping people deal with underlying emotional problems. There is no scientific backing for the famous five-stage model of grief based on denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Coping by repressing emotions is sometimes effective. So science can suggest ways of dealing with grief without buying into the metaphysics of religion.


https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hot-thought/201807/science-and-philosophy-offer-more-grief-religion

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Reply Science and Philosophy Offer More for Grief than Religion [View all]
Voltaire2 Jul 2018 OP
Wwcd Jul 2018 #1
Act_of_Reparation Jul 2018 #2
edhopper Jul 2018 #3
Jim__ Jul 2018 #4
Duppers Jul 2018 #5
Voltaire2 Jul 2018 #8
Jim__ Jul 2018 #10
Voltaire2 Jul 2018 #11
Jim__ Jul 2018 #13
gtar100 Jul 2018 #6
Act_of_Reparation Jul 2018 #7
Voltaire2 Jul 2018 #9
gtar100 Jul 2018 #12
Voltaire2 Jul 2018 #14
gtar100 Jul 2018 #15
Act_of_Reparation Jul 2018 #16
gtar100 Jul 2018 #18
Act_of_Reparation Jul 2018 #19
Voltaire2 Jul 2018 #17
Pope George Ringo II Jul 2018 #20