Religion from the other side, biased by faith


Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality

by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

My first clue was learning Hagerty's the religion correspondent for NPR. Intelligent and talented though she may be, she's also very biased toward the existence of God. It's impossible to present a logical and objective argument when you are as unashamedly firm in your beliefs as Hagerty.

The simple truth is anything can be bent to fit anyone's agenda, even, apparently "science." The book tells story after story featuring great "epiphanies" people have had, turning the unbeliever into the believer instantaneously. Anything that sudden can be reversed just as suddenly. It's human nature.

There's much more behind this subject than science can be expected to prove or disprove. Science doesn't deal in emotion, nor in anything as ephemeral as "faith." It can track the absence or presence of certain chemicals in the brain, but the release of these chemicals and the subsequent euphoria experienced by these converts cannot be assumed as a product of concrete evidence of a God.

The book is faulty and frustrating. The reader doesn't need to be a scientist to see her assertions are built on shaky ground. Just as books violently assaulting religion, and the faithful, are irksome and annoying, books with the opposite bias are just as useless to anyone seeking well-written and objective arguments on that which is in essence unprovable.

Anyone looking for objective books investigating the potential existence or non-existence of a God  are far better off reading about the philosophy of belief. Belief, or faith, are the core issues, clearly not measurable by science, nor by those already converted. The religious are too biased one way, and science often too biased the other. It's only in philosophy where we can even begin to honestly debate the issue, but even then it can never be resolved.

For those established in their faith, it's all well and good they find this a consolation and a base of support. But for the rest of us interested in unbiased thinking, the debate is fascinating. Feelings, suppositions and the nature of faith have no place in the argument. Neither do many of the hard facts of science necessarily negate the existence of an ephemeral being.

And I don't expect an answer. I just enjoy asking the questions, and thinking about both sides of the issue. As with the secrets the Universe holds, I will most likely never know the truth regarding how life was created, and what lies beyond. People say once you die you'll know, but even that's no proven fact. Who says so?

I'll continue to question and investigate. The questions I love most are open-ended and unanswerable. The fun, for me, is in the open debate. And there is no debating without bias, without pre-conceived opinion. The search continues.

3 thoughts on “Religion from the other side, biased by faith

  1. While there is never a debate without bias, the religion question is the worst of the lot.
    I have done this search, too, and have found myself, after years of philosophical study, non-theistic.
    I have also found myself becoming increasingly hostile to the religious camp, as they continue to spout inanities supported only by ancient words in books of dubious origin.
    Like that’s debate.


  2. I love that you continue to explore this and seek more information and viewpoints! And yes challenging the “accepted” doctrine. No one has the answers and no one should think they do. But we should all be respected for what we do believe — and you do show that respect. Always supportive…


  3. I won’t ever read Hagerty’s book because I have heard enough of her on NPR to question everything she says. I am, in fact, one of those Christian-type folks. But I am also a Temporal Lobe Epileptic and have done a great deal of research (much of which I don’t know enough to understand) about the brain and religious experience and such. I don’t have a clue where I stand on many related issues, and I know that Hagerty SHOULD admit the same. The freakiest thing I ever heard her do was her foray into the “God-Helmut” with Dr. Michael Persinger—to prove you can conjure up God with an electronic gadget. She took him seriously, of course, and did not bother to discover that his work has been thoroughly discredited (is anyone surprised?). She does not deserve her influential position, and no one should buy her book.You can read my open letter to her at


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