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MicroscopeWhy Would Anyone Believe in God

by Justin Barrett


Copyright © 2011, Lorin Friesen

The concepts in this essay may be used freely as long as the source is acknowledged.

I have recently been examining the field of cognitive science and religion. I have looked at Minds and Gods by Todd Tremlin and have now gone through Justin Barrett’s book Why Would Anyone Believe in God? Tremlin’s book has an explicit evolutionary foundation (he takes thirty pages at the beginning of the book simply to talk about evolution before beginning his discussion of cognitive science and religion.) Because I read Tremlin’s book first, that analysis is much longer and looked at the big picture as well as including an analysis of the theory of evolution from the viewpoint of cognitive science.

Barrett’s book contains a lot of details, and he mentions numerous experimental results. However, what is missing from his book is a general theory or paradigm. In other words, the puzzle pieces are there in profusion, but they need to be put together to form a picture. Therefore, in this essay, I will be looking at a number of the findings presented by Barrett and showing how the addition of a few key concepts can be used to tie them together. A more complete description of the cognitive model of Christianity can be found in the essay on Tremlin’s book. Here, we will focus upon highlights and core concepts. I have done my best to present this information in a way that can be understood by someone who is not familiar with the theory of mental symmetry.

HADD and ToM

The basic premise of both Tremlin and Barrett is that a mental image of God emerges naturally from the two mental mechanisms of HADD and ToM. HADD (hyperactive agency detection device; Tremlin calls it ADD; Barrett adds the adjective hyperactive) describes a mental predilection to look for agents behind events. Thus, when something happens, the mind looks for some agent who is responsible. ToM (Theory of Mind) then attempts to work out the nature of this agent: what type of agent is he; how does he think; what does he know. ToM may also conclude that the event had a natural cause and was not caused by the actions of any specific individual.

For instance, suppose that I hear a branch breaking in the middle of the night. I will immediately think that some person or animal is responsible for making this noise and I will then attempt to figure out whether the cause was a wild animal, a friend, or an intruder. If I then notice that the wind is blowing, I may conclude that no person is responsible and that the wind caused the branch to break. On the other hand, if I see animal tracks in the dirt the next day, then I may conclude that there really was a wild beast outside.

An image of an unknown agent emerges when neither HADD nor ToM can come up with a satisfactory answer. The mind will then tend to believe that some unhuman or superhuman being caused the incident. Barrett refers to such an unhuman or superhuman being as ‘god’. Thus, Barrett defines ‘god’ as a generic superhuman class of beings which may include anything from specific ghosts, spirits, or angels to a universal monotheism God.

Mental Symmetry and HADD

The theory of mental symmetry provides a possible cognitive explanation for both HADD and ToM. Mental symmetry says that the human mind consists of seven interacting modules, each of which corresponds to a certain region of the brain. Mental symmetry also suggests that people can be divided into seven different cognitive styles, with each cognitive style conscious in one of these seven modules. Thus, the Perceiver person, for instance, is conscious in Perceiver mode, but the other six modes are also present within his mind subconsciously. The diagram of mental symmetry describes the type of processing used by each of these seven modules and the way in which these modules interact. For instance, the Perceiver module (or Perceiver mode) performs Perceiver thought; this mode of thought is conscious in the Perceiver person.

One of the seven modes is Mercy thought. According to the diagram of mental symmetry, Mercy mode is associative, emotional, and concrete. Mercy thought remembers concrete experiences, and each experience is given an emotional label. Whenever a new experience comes along, Mercy thought will associate to similar experiences, along with the feelings that are connected with those experiences. Those emotional memories will then color how Mercy mode feels about the current situation. Thus, suppose that a person sees a piece of black fuzz on the carpet. This may remind Mercy thought of a spider, triggering the emotions of creepy crawling insects and of encountering sticky webs in the dark.

Memory in the mind appears to be self-organizing. In other words, memories that are similar to each other will tend to connect with each other. When sufficient emotional memories connect together, then this network of memories will begin to function as an integrated unit. If the emotions are low, then it will take many related memories before this functioning state is reached. In contrast, if the emotions are intense, then one or two related memories may be sufficient to become a functioning unit.

This, I suggest, is the mental mechanism behind the ‘flashbulb memory’, in which the details of a traumatic event can be recalled in vivid detail even years after the event. Barrett points out that this vivid recall only occurs when a traumatic event is experienced first-hand and not when one simply hears about the event, confirming that we are dealing here with a non-verbal experiential mental mechanism. 

I will refer to a network of related emotional memories as a mental network, or MN. A habit is a simple example of a MN. A MN has several features: First, it will respond emotionally to any attempt to pull it apart with an emotion that goes beyond normal feeling. A single experience is associated with normal emotions of pain and pleasure. This is a label that can be either positive or negative. A MN is capable of producing what I call hyper-emotion, an emotion that is associated with integration and fragmentation. When a MN is pulled apart, then it produces the hyper-pain of fragmentation. When a MN experiences further integration, it then generates the hyper-pleasure of integration. Death and dismemberment are external examples of hyper-pain, while love and sex are external examples of hyper-pleasure. All of these go beyond normal emotion to involve the hyper-emotions of integration and fragmentation. Thus, we could say that a MN wants to stay alive and it does not want to be killed.

Second, a MN wants to ‘be fed’, it wants to have ‘personal freedom’ and it wants to ‘express itself’. ‘Feeding’ a MN simply means providing it with information that it can process. Giving it ‘personal freedom’ means allowing it to process this information, while permitting it to ‘express itself’ means giving it some way of expressing the results of this mental processing. In engineering terms, this simply describes the input, the processing, and the output of a function. If a MN is not permitted to function, then it will eventually ‘starve’, begin to fall apart, and respond with the hyper-pain of impending death. One sees this transition when attempting to break a habit.

This also explains why losing a loved one produces such emotional trauma. When I become emotionally attached to someone, the emotional memories that I have about that person become connected within my mind, and they form a MN within Mercy thought. Whenever I interact with that person or think about that person, this activates the associated MN within my mind. When that person dies, then the associated MN within my mind will no longer become activated and it will ‘starve’ and ‘die’. However, if I construct some type of external memento to that person, such as a gravestone, then visiting that memorial will activate the MN within my mind and prevent it from falling apart. And, because a MN is constructed out of emotional memories, interacting emotionally with the momento of a dead person, such as placing a flower on the grave, will be especially effective in keeping the MN in my mind alive. If triggering this MN is followed by a ‘moment of silence’, then the MN within my mind will be given the mental freedom to process this emotional input and express itself mentally.

There is a passage in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which provides a perfect example of how a MN behaves: “’Ghastly,’ continued Marvin, ‘it all is. Absolutely ghastly. Just don't even talk about it. Look at this door,’ he said, stepping through it. The irony circuits cut into his voice modulator as he mimicked the style of the sales brochure. ‘All the doors in this spaceship have a cheerful and sunny disposition. It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done.’ As the door closed behind them it became apparent that it did indeed have a satisfied sigh-like quality to it. ‘Hummmmmmmyummmmmmm ah!’ it said.”

I suggest that MNs provide the mechanism behind HADD. Whenever a new experience enters Mercy thought, it will bring to mind related memories. If one or more of those related memories are part of a MN, then that MN will attempt to activate itself by processing the new experience. It is this self-activation which is the hallmark of a MN. For instance, when my face itches, then I scratch it. However, if scratching my face turns into a habit, then I will find myself reaching up to scratch my face even when I do not consciously choose to do it. Thus, the distinguishing factor of a MN is that it is an intelligent agent. It is an agent because it tries to activate itself, and it is intelligent because it processes information.

Now suppose that the jungle native hears a twig break in the middle of the night. At least two MNs will be mentally triggered. The first is the MN associated with wild predators. I will imagine some wild beast stepping through the jungle, together with the various functions which such a beast can perform—such as catching prey and eating it. Second, the MN associated with personal identity will also be strongly triggered, because it is facing the hyper-pain of personal fragmentation. This will motivate me to act in such a way to preserve the integrity of the MN of personal identity.

As Barrett mentions, a MN with strong emotions will trigger more quickly and more insistently than one which contains only weak feelings: “In addition to what I have called the personal context, the immediate context also helps determine HADD’s sensitivity and likelihood to detect agency.”

The imagination and the motivation comes from Exhorter thought, a mental module which is adjacent to Mercy mode. Mercy mode comes up with the emotional memories; Exhorter mode is attracted to strong emotions and uses these as a basis for imagination and motivation. This mental drive is then turned into action through the assistance of other modes of thought. The Mercy person, who is conscious in Mercy thought, naturally thinks in terms of people, emotional experiences and intelligent agents. In contrast, the Exhorter person has a powerful imagination and is naturally drawn to the new and the exciting.

This suggests that fleeing from prey is actually a specific expression of a more general cognitive mechanism which involves Mercy thought and Exhorter thought. This premise is backed up by the observation that animals which have no experience with humans are not generally afraid of humans. Because humans appear small and weak, they are not naturally perceived as a threat. However, if humans start hunting and killing these animals, then they will start to fear humans and try to avoid them. In other words, the behavior of fleeing from prey emerges in the animal mind as soon as the appropriate MNs are developed. Until a MN is programmed, there is no fear or avoidance.

Before continuing, I need to give partial credit to Tremlin and Barrett for clarifying the mental role that is played by a MN. I had already developed the concept of living mental networks, as well as the difference between emotion and hyper-emotion, along with the role that MNs play in interpreting events that involve personal fragmentation or personal integration. However, Tremlin’s and Barrett’s descriptions of ADD and HADD brought additional clarity to these concepts and the mental role that is played by a MN. In a similar vein, the concepts of intuitive psychology, counterintuitive ideas, and minimally counterintuitive ideas are new to me. I see now that these concepts can be derived fairly easily from the theory of mental symmetry, but I did not come up with these concepts. However, I should also mention that I have been pursuing the topic of cognitive science for 25 years, and I worked out most of the fundamental concepts of the theory of mental symmetry back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Extending the Concept of HADD

One of the basic premises of the theory of mental symmetry is that the mind actually contains two mental modes which function emotionally. One of these is Mercy mode, and the other is Teacher mode. These are the two modules which are connected with Exhorter mode in the diagram of mental symmetry. (The diagram of mental symmetry labels Mercy, Exhorter, and Teacher as emotional modules. However, Exhorter mode actually works with excitement, which is a variant of emotion. Excitement habituates to any emotion which is not novel, and it treats both pleasure and pain as equally stimulating.)

The idea that the mind has two different ways of generating emotion is backed up by the fact that the brain contains two amygdalae, which function as emotional processors. One amygdala is located in the right hemisphere which works with objects and experiences; the other amygdala is in the left hemisphere, which deals with words and sequences.

If one examines the behavior of the Mercy person and Teacher person, it is possible to get a clearer picture of the nature of these two types of emotion. Mercy emotion deals with experiences, objects, and people. When I like hot dogs, hate my neighbor, skin my knee, or fondly remember my 16th birthday party, I am experiencing Mercy feelings, because in each case an emotional label is being applied to a specific memory or situation within Mercy thought.

Teacher emotion, in contrast, is based in order-within-complexity. Whenever many specific items combine to form an integrated whole, then this leads to positive Teacher emotion. Whenever there is chaos, or an exception to the rule, then this leads to Teacher feelings of pain. Teacher emotion could be compared to the monarch of a country. If the king has many subjects and these subjects all obey the king, then the king feels good. If one of the subjects rebels, then the king feels bad and is driven by Teacher pain to bring the subject back into line. If one of the king’s noblemen revolts and takes his followers with him, then the king experiences major emotional pain. And, if the country descends into chaos, then this Teacher pain will increase even further.

Intellectuals, scientists, theoreticians, mathematicians, bureaucrats, programmers, and technicians are all driven primarily by Teacher emotion. In each case, positive Teacher emotion is being produced by the order-within-complexity of some paradigm, general theory, system, organizational structure, or machine. One can see that Teacher emotion can express itself in many different ways, but the common element is the presence or absence of order-within-complexity.

Mercy emotion is based in concrete experiences. Teacher emotion, on the other hand, is linked to words, symbols and abstract concepts. These may be a verbal description of a scientific theory, a series of equations using the symbolic ‘speech’ of mathematics, the written rules and procedures of a bureaucrat, the computer code of a programmer, or the schematic of a machine.

Finally, Mercy emotion is natural, whereas Teacher emotion is developed. The physical body fills the mind with experiences that feel good or feel bad, providing emotional raw material for Mercy thought. Teacher emotion, in contrast, is only discovered as a person programs Teacher with words and symbols and then combines these words and/or symbols to form a general structure.

It is possible for a MN to form within Teacher thought, but building a Teacher MN is far more difficult than constructing a Mercy MN. If an experience is sufficiently traumatic, then one emotional experience will be sufficient to form a Mercy MN. However, because Teacher emotion only emerges as many individual Teacher items come together, the mental order-within-complexity that is required to build strong Teacher emotion will only form once a sufficient large ‘pile of bricks’ has been collected and assembled.

Even though a general Teacher theory sounds similar to a MN (both involve an integrated network of memories), it appears that a Teacher MN is more than just a Teacher theory. The difference appears to lie in the presence or absence of self-activation. For instance, suppose that I tell someone about my theory of mental symmetry. He may understand enough of the concepts to experience the Teacher joy of order-within-complexity: “Oh, that is an interesting theory.” But, because the theory has not reached the point of a MN, he does not feel driven to learn more. Instead, he moves on to other subjects and other theories. When a general theory in Teacher thought turns into a MN, then a person feels driven to think about the theory, develop the theory, talk about the theory, and write about the theory.

For instance, I remember when the theory of mental symmetry made this transition within my own mind. Before this point, I had to choose to think about the theory. After this point, I would behave in a certain way and the theory would activate itself in order to interpret and explain what I was doing. It is this mental transition which the instructor hopes to trigger in his students. He does not want to have to force them to learn. Instead, he wants them to reach the point where they want to learn, where the MN of a general theory wants to activate itself and develop further.

A Teacher MN and a Mental Image of God

The theory of mental symmetry says that a mental image of God forms when a general theory in Teacher thought interacts with personal identity within Mercy thought. A general Teacher theory which does not relate to personal identity may create a MN within Teacher thought, and that MN will motivate a person to study, discuss, apply, and expand that theory, but it will not create a mental image of God. That is because the Teacher MN is not interacting with Mercy MNs. This is what occurs with modern science and its objective approach. It produces general Teacher theories which are impersonal and which have no connection with personal identity within Mercy thought.

It is also possible for a general Teacher theory to relate to personal identity within Mercy thought but not interact with it. This leads to the concept of God as ‘the ultimate watchmaker’ who created the order-within-complexity of the universe and who then stepped away in order to allow the universe to run by itself.

An image of God emerges when a general Teacher theory exists which both affects personal Mercy identity and can interact with personal identity. The reason for this is fairly simple. The mind represents a person or agent as a MN within Mercy thought. Mercy strategy is filled with various MNs, each representing some sort of agent. Now suppose that a general theory forms a MN within Teacher thought. If this general theory explains aspects of personal identity, then it will become activated by personal experiences. However, it will respond to these personal experiences in a way that is totally different than a Mercy based MN. Instead of reacting in a way that is experiential, personal, and concrete, it will respond verbally, generally, and in an abstract fashion. If ToM (which we have not yet discussed) attempts to analyze a Teacher based MN, it will conclude that it is an intelligent agent, because it is emotional, it is alive, and it does process information. However, if ToM attempts to determine the specific location of this MN, it will conclude that, unlike a normal Mercy based MN, a Teacher based MN does not appear to exist within any specific location but rather seems to go beyond space and time. As Tremlin points out, the one common feature upon which all theologians agree is that God is an intelligent agent. And, if we compare a Mercy based MN with a Teacher based MN, we conclude that this is all that these two have in common.

The major differences between a Mercy based MN and a Teacher based MN are shown in the following table:


Mercy based MN

Teacher based MN

Ease of creation




Many exist within the mind

Very few exist within the mind

Source of emotion

Specific experiences

General theories

Type of information



Type of Thinking

Teleological; goal oriented.

Why? How does this fit?


To improve specific experiences

To relate experiences together

Mental Structure

Objects, states and experiences

Sequence and process

Tries to avoid

Painful experiences

Exceptions to the general rule


Specific location in space/time

Outside of space/time

I should mention that an image of God will emerge whenever a general Teacher theory includes personal identity, but that an image of God gains emotional and mental potency when that general Teacher theory forms a MN. An image of God which comes from a general Teacher theory that is not ‘alive’ can be ignored. In contrast, when the Teacher theory forms a MN, then the image of God will mentally ‘hunt a person down’, because it will continually attempt to activate itself by explaining and analyzing personal experiences.

One is reminded of King David’s complaint at the beginning of Ps. 139: “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” This is what it feels like to have a mental image of God that is rooted in a Teacher based MN.

This concept of viewing a general Teacher theory as the source of a mental image of God is also consistent with Immanuel Kant’s description of God as the source of the categorical imperative, because a categorical imperative is by definition a moral rule which can be stated as a universal theory. While on the subject of Kant, I should mention that since I started my research from the starting point of Engineering, personality types, and cognitive systems, I only looked at Kant in detail fairly recently. When I read his analysis of Christianity, I was rather shocked to see how similar it was to my model. However, because I had come up with my conclusions independently of Kant, it appears that I have been able to develop a cognitive model of Christianity which goes beyond the model of Kant in at least two major areas.

Now that we understand the relationship between a general theory and a mental image of God, let us turn to Barrett’s book and see how this extended concept of HADD is consistent with what Barrett says and how it helps to explain concepts which Barrett says are outside of the bounds of his current understanding.

Before we begin, I need to point out that I am using a tighter definition for the term ‘God’ than Barrett does. Barrett says “By ‘gods’, I mean broadly any number of superhuman beings...I do not discriminate between ghosts, demons, chimeras, or the supreme gods of religions.” In contrast, I am using the term ‘god’ to refer specifically to ‘the supreme gods of religions’. In other words, Barrett separates agents into the two classes of biological and ‘other’, while mental symmetry suggests that it is possible to split ‘other’ up into at least Mercy based ‘other’ and Teacher based ‘other’, with tribal gods, ghosts and other superhuman creatures falling into Mercy based ‘other’ and the ‘supreme gods’ falling into Teacher based ‘other’. In addition, it may be possible to make even further cognitive distinctions. I will refer to the Mercy based ‘other’ as tribal gods with a small ‘g’ and the Teacher based ‘other’ as God with a capital ‘G’. It is also possible to make a more subtle distinction between an image of God which comes from a general Teacher theory and one which is based in a universal Teacher theory, with a universal Teacher theory leading to the mental concept of a single monotheistic God.

Cognitive science and religion views tribal gods as counterintuitive modifications of human life. Thus, a ghost is an invisible person who does not die, while Superman is a normal human who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. This Mercy based description appears to adequately describe most tribal gods and spirits. But, as Barrett himself admits, it is unable to include a monotheistic God of higher religion: “Some religious ideas seem far from minimally counterintuitive. Common concepts of God, for instance, appear to be massively counterintuitive, including such properties as being immortal, all-knowing, all-powerful, nontemporal, nonspatial, a trinity, and so forth...some theological beliefs, more typically held by clergy and theologians than regular folk, do have a large number of counterintuitive features and do not fit the MCI [minimally counterintuitive] label.” And later, he repeats that “the notion that God is nontemporal or somehow outside of time...also proves difficult for mental tools to comprehend in any consistent manner.” And, “a third example of a God property with no special natural support is omnipresence of having no spatial location.”

However, I suggest that these apparently anomalous traits do make cognitive sense if one expands the concept of agents to including MNs that are based in general Teacher theories. If one views a universal theory in personal terms, it does appear immortal and it gives the mental impression of being nontemporal and nonspatial. For example, what would you say if I asked you where and when the law of gravity lived? You would respond that it is not limited to any specific space or time. But that is exactly what happens mentally when the mind encounters a Teacher based MN that affects personal identity. Its MN form makes it ‘feel’ and ‘act’ like an intelligent agent, but it is not a normal human type of intelligent agent. A universal theory is also, by definition, all-knowing. And, a being which ‘lives’ within the realm of universal law would be all-powerful because it would literally be able to change the ‘rules of the game’, just as an absolute monarch is all-powerful because he does not just work within the rules but can actually change the rules themselves. Finally, one can understand why theologians tend to emphasize these aspects of God because theologians deal with verbal theories about God.

Barrett also mentions in a later chapter that experiments have shown that children find it intuitively obvious to believe in a God that is superknowing, superperceiving, superpowerful, immortal and (perhaps) supergood. The studies which Barrett cites are quite interesting. In general terms, a child that is younger than the age of about five will ascribe these superhuman attributes to all adults. However, a child that is older than five will stop thinking about people in these terms but still think about God as being super-this and super-that.


In order to explain cognitively how this works, we need to understand how Teacher strategy constructs a general theory. It is common knowledge in linguistics that when children learn grammar they will begin by first overgeneralizing a grammatical rule and then learning the specific exceptions. Since Teacher mode handles words, I suggest that we are dealing with the same mental module. Thus, the default is for Teacher thought to come up with a universal theory and the generality of this theory will only become restricted as another mental module steps in and points out the exceptions. Mental symmetry suggests that pointing out the exception to a general theory is one of the functions that is performed by Perceiver thought.

Stated very briefly, Perceiver thought is the mental mode which handles object detection, which it does by organizing the experiences of Mercy thought into categories of ‘same’ and ‘different’. As we shall see later, ToM appears to be a function of Perceiver thought. When Perceiver thought divides Mercy experiences into categories, this can have the indirect effect of restricting the domain of a general Teacher theory. The disrupting effect which Perceiver thought has upon an overgeneralized Teacher theory could be compared to the societal effect which laws of enclosure had upon British and Scottish peasantry several hundred years ago.

Going further, I suggest that the development of a general theory within Teacher thought goes through three stages: First, Teacher thought overgeneralizes and comes up with some grand sweeping statement. Second, as Perceiver thought within a person acquires facts, this overgeneralized Teacher theory becomes restricted in domain. Third, Teacher thought rearrangements all of these fragments and puts them together in a more realistic form. All learning seems to go through these three stages: The beginner thinks that he knows everything, but his ‘knowledge’ actually consists of a few sweeping statements. The intermediate student has such a collection of semi-digested facts that he thinks that he knows nothing. Finally, the advanced student puts things back together and concludes that while he does not know everything, he does know something.

Comparing a general Teacher theory to the monarch of a kingdom, the chieftain of a small tribe is ‘absolute ruler over all he surveys’—but ‘all he surveys’ may be limited to a small valley in the jungle. As long as the chieftain never encounters any person from another tribe, he can continue to maintain that he is a universal ruler. However, once people from other tribes start showing up, then this will shatter his illusion of universality. He will no longer be able to overgeneralize his domain. But, if these various tribes begin to cooperate with one another, then it is possible to build the order-within-complexity which describes a truly general Teacher theory.

Barrett mentions that the same type of overgeneralizing occurs with children’s concepts of God. Referring to the work of Piaget, he says, “until children outgrow this stage and being to appreciate human fallibility, God is just another human who just happens to live in the sky. After children understand that humans do not, in fact, possess Godlike properties, God is left as the only member of the pantheon.”

In addition, if we look at the universal traits which children ascribe to God, they are all of the overgeneralizing type: superknowing, superperceiving, superpowerful, and never limited by mortality. In contrast, in order to conceive of a God which lies outside of space and time, one must first form mental concepts of space and time. This describes an order-within-complexity type of general theory. Concepts of space and time produce the complexity, and then Teacher thought constructs a universal theory which goes beyond this, and the universal theory which goes beyond space and time becomes the cognitive basis for forming a mental image of God.

Summarizing, we have the following sequence: Teacher thought overgeneralizes to form a universal theory, Perceiver thought acquiring facts which restrict the domain of this theory, and then Teacher mode cooperates with Perceiver mode to develop a genuine general Teacher theory which contains order-within-complexity. (This process of Teacher thought cooperating with Perceiver thought is described in detail elsewhere.)

Returning to the subject of cognitive science and God, I suggest that these two forms of general Teacher theory make it possible for us to distinguish between the theology of a higher religion and the writings of Eastern mysticism. Theology is a mental attempt to construct a general Teacher theory using Perceiver facts. (I should point out that the mind can acquire Perceiver facts in one of two incompatible ways. That will be mentioned later and is also analyzed in excessive detail elsewhere.) One can tell that this is the case because theology emphasizes truth and belief, both expressions of Perceiver thought.

Eastern mysticism, in contrast, attempts to form a universal Teacher theory through the process of overgeneralization. The universal theories of Eastern mysticism are usually stated as an overgeneralization: “All is One”; “Everything fits mystically together”. And, instead of using facts and beliefs to construct a universal theory, Eastern mysticism sees truth and logic as obstacles which must be removed in order to feel the presence of God: “God is beyond logic”; “physical matter is illusion”.

While it is possible to use overgeneralization to produce a universal Teacher theory, it appears that the emotional appeal of such a theory is rather shallow. That is because Teacher emotion is generated by order-within-complexity. For instance, if I learn that F = MA, this will not produce any strong Teacher emotions in my mind, because this statement of natural order is not accompanied by any complexity. However, if I use F = MA to solve several hundred physics problems, then there my mind will contain both order and complexity.

It seems that the overgeneralized theories of Eastern mysticism attempt to add complexity in one of two ways: First, complexity will be provided by the mental struggle involved in disabling Perceiver thought so that it does not restrict an overgeneralized Teacher theory. This is illustrated by the koan of the Zen Buddhism, in which the acolyte continues to ponder a logically impossibility until his mind can make a leap that is ‘beyond logic’. Second, complexity can be acquired by mentally ‘turning one’s back’ upon a complex society in order to ‘see through the illusion of matter’ in order to contemplate the unity of existence.

Moving on, cognitive science and religion states that an image of God has access to strategic information. I suggest that strategic information has two fundamental qualities: First, it deals with connections and relations. Instead of focusing upon individual experiences, it looks at the relationship between situations and people. Second, it ignores trivial details and emphasizes significant features. Both of these qualities are aspects of a general Teacher theory. First, a general theory looks for order-within-complexity; it takes individual elements and ties them together. Second, it searches for generality; it ignores the trivial and focuses upon the significant. Thus, we see that a universal Teacher theory naturally provides strategic information.

Cognitive science and religion also states that an image of God regulates morality. This too is a natural feature of a universal Teacher theory. Teacher mode feels good when everything fits together; Teacher thought feels bad when it encounters an exception to the rule. When a general Teacher theory describes personal experiences, then whenever a person violates a universal rule, then this will be viewed by Teacher thought as an exception to the general rule. Thus, a Teacher based MN will naturally react emotionally against any personal attempts to violate the rules. This is consistent with Immanuel Kant’s description of the categorical imperative and the way in which it is opposed by what he calls ‘radical evil’.

Reflective and Nonreflective Belief

Finally, I suggest that making a distinction between Teacher thought and Mercy thought provides an explanation for what Barrett calls reflective and nonreflective belief. In essence, I suggest that reflective belief is based in Teacher theories, whereas non-reflective belief comes from Mercy experiences. 

Let us look first at reflective beliefs. A general Teacher theory has three main components: It is a construction; it is constructed out of words; and it is constructed out of words. Saying this another way, it takes many individual items and puts them together to form order-within-complexity, the basic building block is words, and it takes time to build a general theory.

Barrett ascribes these three major attributes to reflective belief: First, he says that reflective beliefs “draw on outputs of many mental tools and memories.” Second, he says that “unlike nonreflective beliefs, people present direct verbal evidence for their reflective beliefs.” Third, he states that “reflective beliefs take relatively more time to form.”

Mercy thought is quite different. It is based in experiences; it is the first module to develop in the child because the physical body provides the mind with a stream of emotional experiences; and it is capable of making snap judgments because it can associate immediately to other Mercy memories with pre-existing emotional labels. For instance, suppose that I eat chocolate for the first time. I do not have to think about whether or not I like chocolate because my taste buds provide me with the answer. The next time I see something that looks like chocolate, it will only take a simple memory association for Mercy thought to decide that I want that new object. 

According to Barrett, these same three characteristics describe nonreflective belief. First, when introducing nonreflective belief, he comments, “perhaps you have noticed that all my examples of nonreflective belief rely on nonverbal behavioral evidence to support the belief.” Second, Barrett gives an example of nonreflective belief involving the behavior of infants. He also he says that nonreflective belief comes from ‘unconscious mental tools’, implying that these beliefs came into being early on in the process of mental development. Third, he says that nonreflective beliefs are ‘produced automatically and rapidly’ and that they are ‘produced by one or a small number of related mental tools’.

And, in another passage, Barrett basically equates nonreflective beliefs with associative Mercy processing: “A third and less direct way through which nonreflective beliefs shape reflective beliefs is by shaping experiences and memories for experiences.” That is precisely what Mercy thought does. It emotionally ‘shapes experiences and memories for experiences.’

Before we go on, I should emphasize that I am deliberately ‘painting with a broad brush’. In this essay we have focused primarily upon two major type of mental processing: Teacher thought and general theories, and Mercy thought and subjective experiences. Barrett’s descriptions of reflective and nonreflective belief correspond quite closely to Teacher thought and Mercy thought.[1] Barrett also makes a number of insightful remarks regarding the relationship between reflective and nonreflective belief. But, in order to interpret these comments, we will have to pick up a finer brush and add some details to our analysis.

We will begin by clarifying the concept of belief. While reflective belief involves Teacher theories and nonreflective belief comes from Mercy experiences, belief itself does not occur within either Teacher or Mercy mode. Instead, it is the Perceiver module which handles facts, truth, and belief. As I have mentioned, Teacher thought works with words. Teacher words become connected with Perceiver beliefs via the mental circuit which assigns meanings to words. The meanings are stored in Perceiver thought; the words are within Teacher mode. The existence of different languages indicates that it is possible to assign different meanings to the same word. For instance, in English the word ‘gift’ means a present. In German, ‘gift’ means poison. Barrett notes that such variability is possible when he says that ‘reflective beliefs vary from individual to individual and from cultural group to cultural group.’

Perceiver beliefs can also come from Mercy experiences. When Perceiver thought is operating, it will organize Mercy experiences into categories based upon similarities and connections. (It is also possible for Mercy emotions associated with some ‘flashbulb event’ to overwhelm Perceiver thought with the arrangement of a specific situation.) Because all humans occupy similar physical bodies and live on the same physical world, there is a commonality between the nonreflective beliefs of one person and another. As Barrett states, “no matter where you go or to whom you talk, people believe that rocks can be in only one place at a time.”

As Barrett points out, both of these two methods of defining Perceiver belief play a prominent role in defining religious belief. On the one hand, “when people think about or discuss religious beliefs, they usually consider reflective beliefs. Though these explicit beliefs capture the attention of theologians, pastors, and social scientists, religious beliefs come in both flavors.” On the other hand, “all folk theology and religious practices gain structure and support from nonreflective beliefs.” I suggest that both of these methods show up in religion because a mental image of God will only emerge when both of these methods are activated simultaneously.

Barrett then looks at the interaction between reflective and nonreflective belief and concludes that Mercy based nonreflective belief usually provides the starting point for belief, that there is often a significant discrepancy between what a person reflectively says that he believes and what he nonreflectively indicates that he believes, and that nonreflective belief usually takes precedence over reflective belief. These are all significant findings, and they are also consistent with my own personal observations.

However, I suggest that this is merely a snapshot of mental activity and that if one wants to get the complete picture then one must use a mental ‘video camera’.

For instance, suppose that I enter an elementary classroom in the middle of a lesson. I will observe that the teacher is using words to describe verbal concepts to the students. I will also notice that the teacher is describing these concepts using real experiences with which the students can identify. If I question the students, it will become apparent that they may be able to give the right verbal answer, but their intuitive responses will still probably be determined by their childish preconceptions.

Is this an accurate description of my classroom visit? Yes. But it is not a complete description of the process of education. In order to get that, I have to take a series of mental snapshots and work out the sequence that leads from one snapshot to another. My thesis is that if one takes a mental ‘movie’ of the entire process of cognitive development from infancy through to complete mental integration, the sequence of cognitive steps which one observes correspond at a detailed level with the doctrines of Christianity.

Isn’t It Obvious?

Cognitive science and religion says that a mental image of God emerges as Mercy concepts of human intelligence are modified in counterintuitive ways to generate ideas of superhuman creatures. While this explanation may be sufficient for ghosts, forest spirits, and tribal gods, I suggest that one must expand this concept to include Teacher thought and universal theories in order to provide a cognitive explanation for the monotheistic Gods of higher religion. And, I have also suggested that there is substantial material within Barrett’s book to back up this cognitive extension.

If this concept is so obvious, then why has it not been suggested by others? (Maybe it is now. Barrett’s book was written in 2004 and Tremlin’s in 2006.) However, I suggest that cognitive science and religion has not connected a universal theory with a mental image of God because it already has an image of God which is based in a universal Teacher theory. And, anyone who has tried to introduce either scientists or religious believers to a new paradigm knows that there is only room for one universal Teacher theory. Thomas Kuhn makes this abundantly clear in his Study of Scientific Revolutions.

This also became quite clear to me when going through Minds and Gods by Tremlin. Before he begins discussing cognitive science and religion, he takes thirty pages to describe the theory of evolution. According to Tremlin, evolution is a universal theory of human thought: “As Robert Wright says, ‘if the theory of natural selection is correct, then essentially everything about the human mind should be intelligible in these terms.’” However, if one takes Tremlin’s cognitive analysis of a mental image of God and uses this to analyze Tremlin’s description of evolution, one concludes that Tremlin either consciously or subconsciously views evolution as God—with a capital ‘G’. I have taken several pages to follow this connection further in my analysis of Tremlin’s book.

Barrett, coming from a somewhat different perspective, makes the same statement in a more oblique way. Describing a specific college course in evolution, he says that: “The agency of God was systematically replaced by the agency of natural selection. And I do mean agency. One of the embarrassing realities for evolutionary theorists is the difficulty of consistently thinking or talking about natural selection without using mental-states language. At an implicit level, natural selection amounts to a sanitized and scientifically sanctioned ‘god’ that may displace God.”

Thus, my sense is that the field of cognitive science and religion is willing to consider the concept of God if this concept can be limited to the realm of Mercy experiences, people, and personal emotions. But, it is unwilling to extend its analysis of God to include the Teacher realm of universal theories because it already has a God there—the God of evolution. Mental symmetry suggests that both of these mental realms are needed to produce an image of God: a mental image of God emerges as universal Teacher theories impinge upon personal emotions, people and experiences within Mercy thought. The concept of a superhuman being is merely a subset within the general cognitive concept of god.

This premise that cognitive science and religion already has an image of a universal God and that Teacher thought only has room for one universal God is backed up by Tremlin’s approach to theology—the attempt by religious scholars to construct universal theories about the nature of God and religion. Tremlin says that theology is irrelevant: “Here, again, is another way in which theologians and philosophers of religion are fundamentally irrelevant: their profundity and their abstract, tightly reasoned statements of the properties and logic of gods are of little practical value to us common folk.” And, he states that theology is basically ‘soothing background noise’ which has nothing to do with religious ideas or religious development: “It is sometimes all too obvious that the religious system works quite well without depending to any significant degree upon such theological notions. Sometimes theology seems to do little more than provide soothing background noise. Even if this is an unnecessarily harsh characterization of theology’s place in religious systems, at least it must be said that such notions are not the motor that drives religious ideas and the practices these ideas inform, nor does it play any significant role in the growth and decline of religious traditions.”

When a researcher writes off an entire group of fellow researchers so thoroughly and with such finality, then one can conclude that one is dealing with competing universal theories. Both the cognitive scientist and the theologian are attempting to build a universal Teacher theory that explains the nature of God. The cognitive scientist likes to accuse the theologian of being dogmatic and close-minded, but it seems that in this case both are equally guilty of the crime.

In addition, modern science is objective. It tries to protect its Perceiver facts by avoiding Mercy emotions. (This interaction between Perceiver facts and Mercy emotions is very significant and is briefly discussed later.) By following this objective approach, science has managed to build universal Teacher theories of natural cause and effect, theories which are far more powerful, more logical, and more universal than the theories of religion and theology. As a result, science concludes that its approach of following logic by avoiding subjective emotions is far superior to the religious method of attempting to construct general theories upon subjective emotions.

This leads science to make the following hypothesis: Any mental processing which is based upon subjective Mercy emotions is incapable of constructing valid Teacher theories. As a result, the theologian is condemned before he even opens his mouth. Because he is working with subjective emotions, anything that he says is automatically rejected as invalid.

However, mental symmetry suggests that the fundamental problem is not the presence of subjective Mercy emotions, but rather the absence of Perceiver facts and Perceiver logic. It is possible to construct a valid universal Teacher theory of subjective thought if one learns to hold on to facts in the presence of strong emotions. This mental struggle to cling to truth even when subjected to emotional pressure defines a core aspect of Christian doctrine.   

Summarizing, evolution uses a universal Teacher theory of life to form a mental image of God which competes with religious concepts of God. Objective science, by limiting itself to the objective and ignoring anything that is related to agents and intelligence, creates the mental image of an un-God by concluding that universal Teacher theories have nothing to do with subjective emotions. This provides an additional reason for Barrett’s observation that education and industrialization tend to promote atheism.

Barrett provides a good cognitive explanation for why industrialization leads to atheism. According to cognitive science and religion, a mental image of God emerges when HADD detects the operation of some agent but concludes that a human could not have acted as the agent. In preindustrial societies, most items which people encounter, such as trees, animals, plants, mountains and rivers, were not created by humans. In contrast, almost every item within an industrialized society has been created or least processed or modified by human hands. Thus, the industrial citizen sees no need to invoke a higher power, because he can explain everything in terms of human effort.

However, suppose that cognitive science comes up with a universal Teacher theory which explains human thought and behavior. This will lead to the emergence of an image of God—but a God that is based in human cognition and not one that is rooted in natural order. This is already partially the case for the Gods of higher religion, because as Tremlin points out, they deal primarily with the realm of intuitive psychology.

Mental Symmetry and Theory of Mind

Let us turn our attention now briefly to another key concept behind cognitive science and religion, which is ToM.  As I have already implied, I suggest that the interaction between Mercy and Perceiver thought can provide a cognitive explanation for Theory of Mind. This discussion will also help us to tie together a few loose threads.

I have mentioned that a MN, or living mental network, emerges within Mercy thought whenever a sufficient number of related emotional memories form an integrated network. Whenever Mercy thought recalls a memory or encounters an experience which relates to a MN, then that MN will attempt to activate itself. Observing all of this from ‘next door’ is Perceiver thought, which is trying to organize Mercy memories into categories by looking for solid connections and similar features. However, if the level of Mercy emotions is too high, then Perceiver thought will become overwhelmed and will be unable to function. For instance, Perceiver thought will notice that there is a relationship between ‘eating too much’ and ‘getting fat’. However, hunger is an emotional state. Therefore, Perceiver thought may be able to mentally assert this connection when the body is sated and not in a hungry state, but find itself overwhelmed by Mercy feelings when the body is feeling hungry. I refer to the ability to hold assert a fact without falling apart as confidence.

The relationship between Perceiver confidence and Mercy emotion is dynamic. If Perceiver mode does succeed in holding on to some fact, connection, or category, then it will be able to handle more emotional pressure within that context the next time. Similarly, if it fails to hold on to facts, then it will be less capable of handling emotional pressure the next time. Thus, one could compare the gaining of Perceiver confidence to the exercising of a physical muscle.

With this in mind, let us turn to the developing mind of the child. It is easy for Perceiver thought to work out categories and connections when dealing with the natural world. On the one hand, the connections are obvious. It is easy to conclude that one tree looks like another tree and that a rock is different than a tree. Similarly, it is obvious that an object which is dropped will fall to the ground. (I should point out that while both objects and mental links of cause-and-effect are handled by Perceiver thought, a mental sense of cause-and-effect goes beyond just Perceiver thought to include Server thought as well. That is discussed elsewhere.) On the other hand, physical objects do not emote. Therefore, no emotional pressure is present to overwhelm Perceiver thought. The end result of all of this mental processing is what psychology calls intuitive physics.  

A different balance of power emerges when Perceiver thought attempts to function in the presence of Mercy MNs, because if Perceiver thought attempts to ‘vivisect’ a MN by dividing it into various categories, then that MN will mentally scream with hyper-pain, overwhelming Perceiver thought and preventing it from performing further analysis. Therefore, Perceiver strategy will find itself limited to categorizing existing MNs. I suggest that this type of thinking leads to what researchers call intuitive psychology—an attempt to classify and categorize the various MNs which drive personal behavior.

This same mental mechanism can explain Theory of Mind. When I interact with another person, Mercy thought within my mind is continually being reminded of appropriate MNs: “Why did he look away? Did he see someone that he knows? Is he bored and trying to change the subject?”, and so on. Meanwhile, Perceiver thought is performing a form of object detection, attempting to decide which mentally triggered MN most successfully represents the mental state of the other individual. In essence, ToM can be described as Perceiver thought trying to identify an object in the dark while the ground is shaking. It is in the dark because MNs are mental constructs and not real objects; the ground is shaking because MNs emote, making it difficult for Perceiver thought to think clearly. Intuitive biology is simply the same mental processing applied to external life forms. Because one is dealing with physical living entities, the mental ground may still be shaking, but at least the lights are on. 

Psychology uses Perceiver thought to classify and interpret MNs. Religion goes beyond psychology by using Perceiver thought to assemble and disassemble MNs. Stating this more simply, religion deals with issues of life and death. This distinction provides a possible solution to the ‘Mickey Mouse’ problem that is mentioned by Tremlin. In essence, what is the mental difference between a mental image of Mickey Mouse and a mental image of a god? If I have enough related emotional memories that involve Mickey Mouse, a MN of Mickey Mouse will form in my mind within Mercy thought, even though this MN does not correspond to any real, biological person. However, in order for my mental image of Mickey Mouse to become a religious concept, I have to believe that Mickey Mouse has the power to resolve situations which involves the hyper-emotions of personal fragmentation and personal integration.

But what mental tool does religion have which permits it to go beyond psychology? A mental image of God. It is possible to handle emotional pain within Mercy thought if this pain is balanced by some other source of emotional pleasure. Thus, if I understand what is happening to me, then the Teacher pleasure of a general theory will take the edge off the Mercy pain of what I am currently going through. This principle applies equally well to both psychology and religion.

Religion adds the second factor of providing an alternative MN. It is possible to allow a MN in Mercy thought to fall apart and ‘die’ if some other MN provides a source of mental integration and guarantees that the MN which has fallen apart will come back to life again. But, what is a Teacher MN that relates to Mercy MNs? A mental image of God. Therefore, my belief in God will allow me to believe that even if I die, God will bring me back to life. This belief may involve physical rebirth, or it may relate to mental rebirth. In both cases, the cognitive mechanism is the same, because we are dealing here with the mental ability to handle the thought of having an MN fall apart. 

If one examines why a Mercy based MN needs to fall apart and be put back together, and how a Teacher based MN can make this possible, then I suggest that one derives the core doctrines of Christianity.

Mental Symmetry and MCI

We will finish this essay by looking briefly at one more core concept of cognitive science and religion: the counterintuitive idea and the minimally counterintuitive item or MCI—a term that was coined by Barrett.  In order to understand this concept, we will need to introduce the cognitive module of Facilitator thought. If you look at the diagram of mental symmetry, you can see that Facilitator strategy is the final module of thought. Facilitator mode could be compared to a mixing board in a sound studio. The mixing board receives a number of inputs and it adjusts the relative levels of each input in order to produce the desired mix.

Now imagine that one person in a singing group is singing badly out of tune. Obviously, the sound engineer will turn down the level on the corresponding microphone. Or, suppose that a solo passage comes up. In this case the appropriate sound level will be turned up. In this manner, Facilitator mode acts as the filter for the mind, emphasizing what is deemed to be important while filtering out that which is regarded as incorrect or unimportant.

But what guides Facilitator thought in its filtering? In the right hemisphere, it appears that Perceiver belief sets the context for the Facilitator filter. (In the left hemisphere, Server mode—another mental module—sets the context.) Thus, belief itself is provided by Perceiver thought, but the way in which this belief is interpreted and applied is determined by Facilitator thought. This cognitive distinction is quite important because Perceiver mode and Facilitator mode approach information from a completely different perspective. Perceiver thought is digital. A fact is true or false; an experience falls into one category or another. As Perceiver categories develop, it is possible for Perceiver thought to make more subtle distinctions, but the overall approach is still digital. Facilitator thought, in contrast, is analog. As far as Facilitator thought is concerned, nothing is black or white; everything is a shade of grey.

So, which of these two mental modules has the upper hand? It depends. On the one hand, Facilitator mode provides the filtering for the entire mind. Thus, if Facilitator thought filters out beliefs which appear too dogmatic, then Perceiver mode will not be programmed with any digital facts. On the other hand, Perceiver mode provides the context for Facilitator mixing. Therefore, if Perceiver thought does not contain solid facts, then Facilitator strategy will become confused and not know how to filter incoming information.

I suggest that it is the Facilitator filter which is responsible for determining what the mind accepts as intuitively reasonable and what the mind rejects as counterintuitive. Notice that the Facilitator filter focuses primarily on the way in which belief is presented and how it fits within the current context. Perceiver mode, in contrast, is a more basic mode of thought, concentrating on evaluating the belief itself and not necessarily the way in which it is presented or the source from which it comes.

Facilitator thought tests an incoming concept for reasonableness by ‘checking the levels on the mixing board’. If something enters the mind and all of the lights on the board are ‘green’, this will indicate that all of the parameters fall within acceptable limits and the incoming information will be judged reasonable. On the other hand, if several of the lights are flashing ‘red’, then the information is counterintuitive.

Now suppose that all of the lights are green except for one or two which are red. The Facilitator filter may try to turn these red lights green by applying Facilitator processing. One option is to extrapolate, by raising the level beyond 100% or below 0%. For instance, everyone can run, but Superman can outrun a speeding locomotive. Therefore, Superman’s ability to run is an extrapolation of normal human ability. If the Facilitator filter takes Superman’s ability to run and turns the level way down, then Superman becomes a normal human being.

The Facilitator filter can also try to make a counterintuitive signal normal by blending the information from more than one context. For instance, think of a talking horse. When the Facilitator filter encounters this, Perceiver thought will be reminded of two mental contexts: the context of horses and the context of humans. By blending the human trait of talking with a normal horse, then Facilitator thought can make the horse appear mentally reasonable.

Thus, if Facilitator thought can ‘normalize’ a counterintuitive item by applying Facilitator processing, then the Facilitator filter may judge it to be minimally counterintuitive and allow it to pass. 

Both Barrett and Tremlin mention these two possibilities and they correspond to the functioning of Facilitator thought. However, notice that Perceiver mode sets the context for Facilitator filtering. Therefore, while Facilitator mode determines what is and is not reasonable, it is Perceiver mode which determines the rules that guide Facilitator evaluation. And, as I have mentioned, Perceiver thought can determine facts and beliefs using one of two incompatible strategies. We will finish this essay be looking briefly at these two possibilities.

One way is for Perceiver thought to look for categories and connections which are repeated. For instance, think of the Perceiver category of intelligent agent. The only intelligent agents that we know are human beings. Therefore, any type of intelligent agent which does not fit the pattern of human behavior will be rejected by the Facilitator filter as unreasonable. This concept is used by cognitive science and religion to explain religious thought.

However, suppose that Perceiver thought makes a distinction between people with white skin and people with dark skin. This is what many Europeans and Americans did in the past. Now, anything that is spoken by a dark person may be rejected as counterintuitive because it does not meet the requirements for human intelligence. Such a Perceiver distinction can be emphasized by having dark people live in unintelligent looking ghettos, wear unintelligent appearing garments, and carry out jobs which do not require intelligence.

Looking now at the second way of gaining Perceiver facts, if Mercy emotions are too strong, then Perceiver thought will lose its ability to function and Perceiver truth will be determined by Mercy feelings and emotional status. Using this mental mechanism, intelligence may be defined as that which is spoken by someone who has a PhD and teaches at a university. Anything spoken by a person who lacks this emotional status will automatically be rejected by the Facilitator filter as counterintuitive.

When Perceiver facts change, then the definition of what is intuitively reasonable changes as well. For instance, most modern inventions which we accept today as commonplace and reasonable would have been rejected as extremely counterintuitive if encountered several hundred years ago. For instance, I remember reading a fairy tale as a child about a king who asked for a miracle from a holy man. The miracle was ‘fresh strawberries in the middle of winter’, something which any large supermarket now provides.

One final point before we finish. In the same way that HADD can be extended from Mercy-based thinking to general Teacher theories, so I suggest that there is a left hemisphere version of the intuitive Facilitator filter which involves process and sequence. For example, the theory of evolution is minimally counterintuitive from a left hemisphere viewpoint because it explains everything using natural intuitive processes, being counterintuitive only in the sense of adding time, a form of left hemisphere Facilitator extrapolation. Thus, the person who has programmed his mind with scientific theories of natural process will tend to regard the theory of evolution as intuitively reasonable. In contrast, most religious accounts of creation involves processes which are completely unnatural and thus the scientifically trained Facilitator filter will reject them as unreasonable. 

And, referring to the content of this essay, I have attempted to write in a way which would be regarded as MCI by someone who is familiar with the field of cognitive science and religion, limiting my analysis either to concepts which are part of this field or else ideas which are extrapolations of these concepts.

You can find much more on the subject at

[1] There is also the matter of automatic thought which I am glossing over in this essay but treat in more detail elsewhere.