God on the rack

An odd story was passed along by Mark Shea, whose blog is on hiatus while he vindicates the Queen of Heaven. According to a report from the other side of the pond, human research subjects "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."

And no, this isn't the Sun wot reported it; it's from the Times of London. The new Center for the Science of the Mind, we are told, will 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."

Backed by a major grant of the Templeton Foundation, this two-year study "will involve dozens of people being subjected to painful experiments in laboratory conditions."

In a twist that's likely to be worse than The Godfather: Part III, "While enduring the agony, [subjects] 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."

Further, "As they suffer, the human guinea pigs will be asked to access a belief system, whether religious or otherwise." The Times explains:

Scientists have long been baffled at the persistence of these beliefs in the face of seemingly irrefutable logic. Professor Lewis Wolpert, the biologist, has speculated in the past that a belief in how the world was created and what happens after death may have conferred an evolutionary advantage.

By way of introduction, Shea wrote, "If it weren't in the Times, I'd take it for a parody."

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