No area of the debate between biology and religion has been more contentious than the debate about brains and minds. Without a doubt this topic hits particularly close to home, since it concerns the essence of who we are. What do the contemporary neurosciences – neurophysiology, neuroimmunology, neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, cognitive science – have to tell us about the nature of thought? Do they support or undercut the belief in the existence of souls? Probably the hardest position to defend would be the view that what occurs in the brain has nothing to do with our thought. After all, if I have a stroke or a brain hemorrhage while writing this paragraph it will be less coherent than if my brain is functioning normally, and the text might make no sense at all. If you ingest drugs or a large amount of alcohol before reading this chapter or attending a lecture you are likely to experience it and recall it differently. (Probably it will strike you as funnier.) Let us leave such strongly ‘separationist’ or ‘dualist’ positions aside for a moment, then, since there seems to be much evidence against them. (Don’t worry; we’ll return to them below.) This opens up space for the opposite response:

Correlations between brain states and mental experiences are no big deal. After all, why should we care? All that matters is that scientists acknowledge that we have real thoughts and mental experiences, that our consciousness is not merely an illusion.