PEOPLE are to be tortured in laboratories at Oxford University in a United States-funded experiment to determine whether belief in God is effective in relieving pain.
Top neurologists, pharmacologists, anatomists, ethicists and theologians are to examine the scientific basis of religious belief and whether it is anything more than a placebo.
Headed by Baroness Greenfield, the leading neurologist, the new Centre for the Science of the Mind is to use imaging systems to find out how religious, spiritual and other belief systems, such as an illogical belief in the innate superiority of men, influence consciousness.
A central aspect of the two-year study, which has $2 million (£1.06 million) funding from the John Templeton Foundation, the US philanthropic body, will involve dozens of people being subjected to painful experiments in laboratory conditions.
While enduring the agony, they will be exposed to religious symbols such as images of the Virgin Mary or a crucifix. Their neurological responses will be measured to determine the efficacy of their faith in helping them to cope.
The aim is to develop new and practical approaches “for promoting wellbeing and ultimately maximising individual human potential”.
…He said that the experiments would involve non-invasive simulation of burns and will be conducted according to strict ethical rules. As they suffer, the human guinea pigs will be asked to access a belief system, whether religious or otherwise. [Source]
Access a belief system? This almost sounds as if faith is being viewed like a file on a hard drive. Please wait – accessing belief system. For atheists it must be "file not found." For syncretist you would then proceed to select from a menu of choices. For Sunday Christians the file is archived during the week. When losing your faith maybe you should first check the Recycle Bin before panicking.
Reading science stories like this really makes you feel that we have come a long way. That we are truly enlightened now. Pick up your cross daily while we calibrate the potentiometer of pain and measure your belief response. No pain no scientific gain. What that hurts? Then look at this religious symbol and see if that helps your neurological response.
Now a non-invasive simulation of burns sounds like something out of the Dune series. In Dune a Gom Jabber (needle with lethal poison) was held to the neck of Paul Atreides while he placed his had in a box that simulated burning pain to determine if he was a "true human." If he removed his hand to soon the Reverend Mother would poke him with the Gom Jabber.