I caught the third episode of the BBC series Inside the Medieval Mind, presented and written by Professor Robert Bartlett. The episode I watched was on Belief. I thought Bartlett did a great job of not just recounting religious beliefs, but instead delved into beliefs around life and death and how the two were linked together. The series is actually a couple of years old I think, but I managed to catch an on demand episode last night via Virgin Media. It seems to be possible to watch the whole series online at OVGuide, but I haven’t tried it yet.
I found this story from The Economist interesting about a new research project into the biological basis of religion. As part of my world-building exercise this is quite a fascinating subject as I come to grips with the cultural background of my world’s peoples, which includes their religions. In fact I have decided that religious differences will play an important part and mostly leading to violence.
Here’s a quote from the research project’s brochure “Leading experimental psychologists and biologists have suggested that man’s universal religious consciousness results from innate characteristics in the evolved cognitive architecture of the brain. In contrast, the differences stem from variable priming of the cognitive mechanisms through creative thinking, memory and acquired expertise.”
So it seems that humans are biologically predisposed to be religious, or at least believe in something I suppose! I’m an athiest, but must admit that I find religions and their attendant cultural systems very interesting.