"The brain treats questions about beliefs like physical threats. Can we learn to disarm it?"

From a recent article with the above title:
Jonas Kaplan is an assistant research professor of psychology at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute. He studies the human brain using fMRIs to observe how it responds to, among other stimuli, challenges to predisposed beliefs.

In a study that he and his research team published in Scientific Reports last year, they studied the scans of people undergoing simultaneous questioning, and demonstrated the physical effects that take place within the brain during periods when political beliefs were questioned.

The study uncovered a correlation: when a belief is directly challenged by new information, parts of the brain that typically show activity for physical threats expressed greater activity in people who tended to be more resistive to changing their minds.

“The brain can be thought of as a very sophisticated self-defense machine,” Kaplan told me. “If there is a belief that the brain considers part of who we are, it turns on its self-defense mode to protect that belief.”

Kaplan argues that this demonstrates that the brain reacts to belief challenges in the same way that it reacts to perceived physical threats. This would help explain why minds are so resistant to change the beliefs that form one’s perception of reality.
Can we learn to disarm it? The answer is Yes!

To reiterate, Guy P. Harrison put the problem this way. If a skeptic disputes a psychic’s readings, then “the believer’s brain is likely to instinctively go into siege mode. The drawbridge is raised, crocodiles are released into the mote, and defenders man the walls.” He goes on to explain, “The worst part of all this is that the believer usually doesn’t recognize how biased and close-minded he is being. He likely feels that he is completely rational and fair. It doesn’t happen just with fans of psychics. We are all vulnerable to this distorted way of thinking.” [Think: Why You Should Question Everything, 2013), p. 67.] This process happens whenever the brain feels threatened by contrary data. The brain feels physically attacked when confronted with ideas that challenge it, and will do what it takes to deflect that attack.

To overcome this strong propensity of the brain honest seekers of the truth should see this as a very serious problem. Anyone who does not see it as very serious problem is not interested in knowing the truth. Period. That's the primary indicator one's brain is up in arms over facts that bring it discomfort. To honestly seek the truth we must determine to disarm the brain. Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step to recovery is to recognize we have a problem. The problem is the brain won't allow us to entertain facts that disrupt our comfort zone, so it will do everything it can to reject them. We know this from multiple scientific studies. That's the problem. So again for emphasis, to honestly seek the truth we must determine to disarm the brain.

I have never heard a Christian apologist admit these facts about the brain. If you want to know how serious a Christian apologist really is at knowing the truth of the faith they were raised to believe, then 1) Count how many times they talk about the brain's armor; 2) Listen to how they propose to disarm it; and 3) Pay close attention to why they think atheists are not doing anything about this problem.

For my part, and anyone else who understands this very serious problem, we need to see evidence, objective evidence, sufficient objective evidence. We cannot accept anything less. To do so allows the brain to deceive us, which we cannot allow if we honestly want to know the truth. (Or to put is more accurately, the rational side of our brain should take over and reject what the irrational reptilian side of our brain wants to do). No special pleading is to be allowed. No anecdotal testimonies will be tolerated. No subjective experiences count for objective truths. No you tooing (i.e., technically called Tu quoque) precisely because there are too many yous to too (this is used by the brain to deflect the precise issue before them)! No mystery substitution permitted (i.e., it's a mystery therefore I can substitute a different mystery, god, my God!) No red herrings, the biggest one is to deny the overwhelming objective evidence for evolution based on the falsely supposed lack of morality if evolution is true. Because an honest seeker of truth does not dismiss an overwhelming evidence on behalf of anything. One can only rethink morality in light of the evidence for evolution.

Read the rest of this article on Street Epistemology to see how our brains can be disarmed. Used in conjunction with The Outsider Test for Faith and you'll find two powerful tools to disarm your brain. In fact there is no other way. The extremely sad part is that the brains of many people who read this will scoff at what I've written. Honest people will take it seriously. You do want to know the truth, don't you?