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One of the strangest insights to emerge from neuroscience is the distinction between perception and reality. We experience our perceptions, not reality. Ever since the cortical physiology of color was first explored in the 1960s by David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel, physiologists have understood that color does not exist in any absolute sense.

Whenever I hear this kind of sly denigration of our ability to apprehend an external reality (an ability that evolution of course would have favored), I’m reminded of this limerick:

There was a faith-healer of Deal

Who said, ‘Although pain isn’t real,

If I sit on a pin

And it punctures my skin

I dislike what I fancy I feel.’

PLANS to build a state-of-the-art library next to Republican catastrophe Sarah Palin are causing outrage across mainstream America.

Almost 40% of Americans still support the idea of books Campaigners have described the project as insensitive and a deliberate act of provocation by people with brains.



For the vast majority of people, religion is a way of life. It is about community and music, place and food, comfort and emotional support.

Not really

For something close to half of believers its not much more than a pleasant thought about the afterlife and an easy way to be persuaded to follow the leader.

The thing about this type of subject is that our feelings are in direct correlation to our experiences. The vast majority of the religious people I have known enjoy the communal brotherly/sisterly aspect of religion-oriented communities, and their music, and their zeitgeist, etc etc

I grew up feeling apart and not relating to all of this.

The afterlife may be what people say is most important in response to some survey, but it is my experience that it is the social contacts which have the strongest influence on them.

Absolutely JoAnn. When I was a 'regular' churchgoer I did not believe in the existence of a god, I followed the patterns expected of me and fit in with the society around me. I did this, largely, to give support to my family (mainly my children) who were interested in activities associated with the Church - choir, guides etc. Since then I have 'come out' and have not taken an active part in a church service locally for many years. I do, however, go to church every time I visit churchgoing relatives and friends in the USA - "when in Brooklyn, do as the Brooklyners do."

The vast majority of religious people don't go to services.

Pedant, you are indeed a good friend if you're willing to go to church with them. I'm not sure that I would be willing to do the same. My relatives know me well enough to not expect me to go to church with them.

I don't have any friends that I visit on vacation who go to church. I visited a friend in France who's a Catholic but he never spoke about church or god and he doesn't attend church.

I have ended up in church for a few deaths and some weddings though.

My wife induced my attendance at an Easter service many years ago at the church where my youngest daughter attended when she was still in high school (she's now a 2nd-year grad student). I've never been "invited" back. That may have something to do with the complaining she had to endure on the way home in the car, but she's never said so. Anyway, since then I have been left to sink into a state of moral turpitude - it's great!

Turpitude is a blast


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