I've just noticed an interesting project being undertaken at Oxford University, attractively titled 'Empirical Expansion in Cognitive Science of Religion and Theology'.
The £1.9 million project aims to figure out whether religion is a natural human behaviour, and if so, whether this fact supports or contradicts theological and paranormal propositions.
Sounds like fun. Someone remind me about this in a couple of years - I want to know if anything useful results. More than anything I'm interested in whether they come up with an investigative methodology that would be acceptable to both scientists and religious leaders. I doubt it because, like most paranormal propositions, religion has built-in escape clauses to evade such scrutiny. Still I like to imagine some simple test that would indisputably answer the question "Does God exist or did someone just make Him up?"
Of course no such test is possible but even if it was, people like Brian Tamaki could just say it was the Devil confounding our minds. Religious people think atheists are deluded and vice versa. So shall it always be.
Here's the project details.