Daniel M. Ogilvie

The God Problem

I won the Henry Murray Award in 2007 and that required me to deliver an acceptance speech at the 116th Annual American Psychological Association Convention in August 2008, held in Boston. I used that event as an opportunity to formulate my thoughts on what I call "The God Problem".

Working on the God Problem and related issues will occupy me for the rest of my career. It is my current passion and will remain so. My basic concern is with the prospect of religious disputes being the spark that ignites a nuclear war. There is an abundant amount of research literature that supports the view that belief in God is beneficial for those that believe. I have no intention of challenging that literature. At the same time, several notable books have recently been published that argue the case for religions being the ultimate source of our self-destruction. Given the nonrational foundation of religions and the weight of scientific support for Darwin's theory of evolution, why do so many people (80-90% of American according to some polls) continue to believe that God created them and proper conduct on their parts will lead to the everlasting life of the soul?

My approach to this problem is derived from my understanding of the human brain and the evolution of senses of self in childhood. Click here for access to an unpublished paper I have composed on this topic based on my talk at APA. I will continue to elaborate on my position about why religions are so resistant to extinction as I continue to conduct forays into fields of cognitive psychology, cultural anthropology, neuroscience, philosophy, sociology, religion, and other disciplines to become better educated, more articulate, and more scientifically grounded in my understanding of the serious dangers we face. I believe that we have no chance of alleviating the problem if we don't understand the depths of its psychological foundation.

My work on the God Problem has morphed into a project titled Soul Searching.  Return to the Research Interests page and click Soul Searching for more information on this project.

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