I’m not trying to say this is possible, or even probable, but I think it is an interesting idea. I’d be interested in hearing what you might have to say or think.
I remember reading some years (more than a decade) ago in Scientific American a short article published about some findings by a group of neurologists in which they had managed to identify the part of the brain responsible for profound religious experience. It didn’t produce feelings of religiosity in everyone, but in those who felt it most strongly it was discovered that their neural-pathways were more developed in this region of the brain.
In any case it, I’ve been thinking about it again lately and it got me wondering. Noting that the frontiers of Neuropharmacology are making breakthroughs fairly regularly, it wouldn’t surprise me if they did come out with a pill (or vaccine) for controlling the synaptic response of this region of the brain, thus reducing (or at least controlling) strong religious feelings.
Of course then, the next question would be how to use it. After all, considering how strong religion is in this country (US) I couldn’t see it being used here. I also wouldn’t be surprised if most people here were to see this as a bio-chemical weapon. But I could see it being used overseas where the US does have differing opinions of a dogmatic nature. Say for instance Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uganda... Do you think that if such a drug could be made, would be used? Do you think it should be used? And what about it being used as a weapon against in this country?
I can see some interesting complications to this issue, with religiosity and rationality being two sides of the same coin. Would the US want to reduce an enemy from a state of strong religiosity and potentially increase it sense of rationality, a rationality without dogmatic interests?
The same part of the brain probably mediates other feelings of awe and connection to something greater than ourselves. I'd rather see this capacity mobilized in concert with reason, the way Neil DeGrasse Tyson does, than see it suppressed.
On the other hand, we might be better off if we thought more analytically and less intuitively.
It's often been noted that there are fewer atheists among women. Perhaps careful control of testosterone levels in utero for female fetuses would help.
... the more prenatal exposure to testosterone women receive in the womb, the less likely they are to make intuitive decisions, relying on conscious analysis instead.
I had a similar thought, reading the above idea: What would the side effects of this pill be?
How about the ability to make leaps of faith? Intuition is surely involved and has to be involved, in many new discoveries.
It is a very amusing idea though. It seems like it could make a wonderful comic sci-fi novel.
People in a Pentecostal service, speaking in tongues and writhing on the ground. The anti-religion Bomb is dropped, the fallout falls on them. What happens? They all stand up aghast, and very embarrassed, hesitantly start questioning each other. What were we doing?
People at a snake-handling service. The anti-religion Bomb is dropped. They scream and drop the snakes. The poor rattled snakes all burrow under the pews and hide out, watching the people freak out.
What if the anti-religion Bomb gets stolen by militant atheists and detonated in Jerusalem?
Anti-psychotics might turn off that religious part of the brain. I wonder what would happen if Thorazine or Prolixin were dumped into the city reservoir.