For me, here's the problem with the "brain is unreliable mush" argument. The brain is also what gives us intelligence, logic and reasoning. It is what we use to understand science and evidence. If we say it's unreliable mush, then that not only undermines our religious/spiritual experiences, it also undermines our faculties of thought and understanding. I would prefer to say that the brain is not unreliable mush, and simply analyze, with all the powers we have, all our experiences, whether in the spiritual/religious realm or the rational/scientific realm.
But the brain is unreliable mush. We perceive what our senses allow us to perceive, our brains actively construct our realities and we are plagued with cognitive biases which colour our perception. Some people more than others.
Epistemologically there are different ways of knowing, people's spiritual experiences shouldn't be placed in the same sack as scientific pursuits. One is subjective, with no explanatory and predictive power, while scientific endeavors strive to be more objective, are falsifiable and have explanatory and predictive power. It all comes down to what you give higher value at a given moment or situation .
I hope I have expressed my thoughts adequately, I'm tired as hell so my brain is mushier than usual.
I reject everything you say because it comes from a mushy brain.
That's your prerogative.
You may reject what I'm saying but your brain is still being rewired based on what I'm saying. In other words, you're learning.
Seriously, you say one epistemological view is subjective and one is objective, but the whole concept of epistemology and standards and values comes from mushy brains. If a particular viewpoint works for me, I feel justified in giving it high value.
And that's exactly what people do...are you saying that you don't?
Other mushy brains may disagree, but why should I care? If I chose a viewpoint that does not specifically violate any clear factually established position, why should I be concerned about other mushy brains disagreeing with me. If I say "the moon is made of green cheese", then I would agree that my mush is mushier than your mush. But if I say "at the foundation of the universe there is intelligence, consciousness and will", then I don't think my mushy brain is in any worse position than your mushy brain. You don't know any more about whether a creator exists than I do. Now, mush mush.
Oh, there are a variety of factors that would cause you to care, such as the possibility of social rejection, emotional valence...but I'm not going to get into those as it would slightly derail this conversation which I find so interesting.
I and many atheists don't claim to know that a creator doesn't exist, those claiming knowledge are usually on the theistic side. Not only knowledge and certainty that a creator exists but a particular
creator too, whose will and personality usually corresponds with that of the believer.
As for unreliable mush, human beings, like any other animal, are the product of evolution, and our cognitive processes are no different. Biases evolved to protect us and make life easier for our brains. For instance, an animal that makes a decision based on experience is an animal with higher odds of survival, and is more likely to pass on their genes to the next generation. In that sense, the brain is a reliable survival machine, evolved in a primitive world to deal with that primitive world, even if it isn't always reliable at discerning reality. Thing is, our biology changes much slower than our societies do.
(What I find interesting is how the concept of deities have changed as societies have evolved. From the primitive animalistic gods to the increasingly abstract god of today's major monotheistic religions, this must certainly reflect on cognitive processes.)
Did you know that when people are in love activity in their prefrontal cortex is lessened? The prefrontal cortex is responsible for rational thought, among other things. There was a study done some time ago which showed that the brains of highly religious people were very similar to those of people who were in love, with downregulation of that region. Everybody knows that people who are in love are less rational...