What God does to your brain

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Post by Guest on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:21 am

The controversial science of neurotheology aims to find the answer to an age-old question: why do we believe?

When neuroscientist Andrew Newberg scanned the brain of “Kevin”, a staunch atheist, while he was meditating, he made a fascinating discovery. “Compared with the Buddhist monks and Franciscan nuns, whose brains I’d also scanned, Kevin’s brain operated in a significantly different way,” he says.
“He had far more activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area that controls emotional feelings and mediates attention. Kevin’s brain appeared to be functioning in a highly analytical way, even when he was in a resting state.”

Would Newberg find something similar if he scanned my brain? I, too, am an atheist. This is largely the result of my upbringing (my father is a theoretical physicist, who, as a former director general of Cern, set up the Large Hadron Collider that is searching for the Higgs boson, or so-called “God” particle – though many physicists loathe that phrase), but also of prolonged investigations into other religions to see if I was “missing” something central to billions of people worldwide.

In this spirit, several years ago, I attended an “Alpha” course, a 10-week introduction to evangelical Christianity. It utterly failed to convince me but, during a service, another “recruit”, Mark, fell to his knees, babbling “in tongues”. When he came round, he was convinced he had been possessed by the Holy Spirit. I watched, bemused. Why had he entered this transcendental state, while I was completely unmoved? Was he deluded, or was he genuinely a conduit of God? Or were our brains simply wired differently?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10914137/What-God-does-to-your-brain.html

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:45 am

It seems to suggest that those who are religiously inclined -- perhaps, to be more fair, religiously inclined to the extreme -- are simply neurologically more able to shut off that prefrontal activity and stop the reasoning part of their brain from dominating their thought patterns.

I've said before, I think many "believers" are just afraid to confront the stark truths of an existence that doesn't include a higher power, maybe because accepting that would be tantamount to accepting that life is finite, and can be taken away by factors that amount to nothing more than chaos (most people who don't die from the aging process die in stupid accidents) and perhaps equally that good deeds aren't rewarded any more than evil deeds are punished unless it happens in the here and now.

This is what Marx was talking about when he called religion the opiate of the masses. It's so much more comforting to think that the likes of Stalin or Hitler will be punished after death for the evil they did; so much harder to think that if they escape earthly justice, they've gotten away with everything they did and will die just like the most helpful, kind and caring person in the world.

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Post by Guest on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:49 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:It seems to suggest that those who are religiously inclined -- perhaps, to be more fair, religiously inclined to the extreme -- are simply neurologically more able to shut off that prefrontal activity and stop the reasoning part of their brain from dominating their thought patterns.

I've said before, I think many "believers" are just afraid to confront the stark truths of an existence that doesn't include a higher power, maybe because accepting that would be tantamount to accepting that life is finite, and can be taken away by factors that amount to nothing more than chaos (most people who don't die from the aging process die in stupid accidents) and perhaps equally that good deeds aren't rewarded any more than evil deeds are punished unless it happens in the here and now.

This is what Marx was talking about when he called religion the opiate of the masses. It's so much more comforting to think that the likes of Stalin or Hitler will be punished after death for the evil they did; so much harder to think that if they escape earthly justice, they've gotten away with everything they did and will die just like the most helpful, kind and caring person in the world.



I think a literal belief is where the problem is, that people thus shut themselves off from reasoning, they do not necessarily have to be what we define as extreme, very interesting points though Ben and agree.

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Post by Guest on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:54 am

I'd like to say that it's nice for people to have something wonderful to believe in, even though it goes against all common sense.

I think just before i take my last breath i may just ask god to take pity on me and let me in.

But, it (believing) does tend to taint these people with perculiarities, mental illness and beard growth.

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:55 am

Didge wrote:
Ben_Reilly wrote:It seems to suggest that those who are religiously inclined -- perhaps, to be more fair, religiously inclined to the extreme -- are simply neurologically more able to shut off that prefrontal activity and stop the reasoning part of their brain from dominating their thought patterns.

I've said before, I think many "believers" are just afraid to confront the stark truths of an existence that doesn't include a higher power, maybe because accepting that would be tantamount to accepting that life is finite, and can be taken away by factors that amount to nothing more than chaos (most people who don't die from the aging process die in stupid accidents) and perhaps equally that good deeds aren't rewarded any more than evil deeds are punished unless it happens in the here and now.

This is what Marx was talking about when he called religion the opiate of the masses. It's so much more comforting to think that the likes of Stalin or Hitler will be punished after death for the evil they did; so much harder to think that if they escape earthly justice, they've gotten away with everything they did and will die just like the most helpful, kind and caring person in the world.



I think a literal belief is where the problem is, that people thus shut themselves off from reasoning, they do not necessarily have to be what we define as extreme, very interesting points though Ben and agree.

I agree, and I don't really mean extremist in ideology, more like extreme in the spectrum of being able to shut off that rational mind. You can view it as a spectrum on which at one end, you have people who are able to shut down rational thought completely, and at the other end, are totally incapable of shutting down their rational mind. That's more what I meant -- those people whose brains are fully capable of shutting down reason, and I would think at the same time totally able to submit to the will of some authority they've designated as superior, whether religious or political, whatever.

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Post by Guest on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:55 am

BigAndy9 wrote:I'd like to say that it's nice for people to have something wonderful to believe in, even though it goes against all common sense.

I think just before i take my last breath i may just ask god to take pity on me and let me in.

But, it (believing) does tend to taint these people with perculiarities, mental illness and beard growth.

But as stated do people with a literal belief of a religious faith thus stop themselves from being able to reason on issues that are at odds with their faith?

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:56 am

BigAndy9 wrote:I'd like to say that it's nice for people to have something wonderful to believe in, even though it goes against all common sense.

I think just before i take my last breath i may just ask god to take pity on me and let me in.

But, it (believing) does tend to taint these people with perculiarities, mental illness and beard growth.

No shit, and if I'm wrong I'll be the first to say I'm sorry. But I don't think anything's happening to me after death other than I become a (hopefully) tasty snack for insects and microbes ...

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:58 am

And let me add that I don't think religion leads all believers into bad behaviors, for some it inspires them to really good things and selfless acts.

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Post by Guest on Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:01 am

Didge wrote:
BigAndy9 wrote:I'd like to say that it's nice for people to have something wonderful to believe in, even though it goes against all common sense.

I think just before i take my last breath i may just ask god to take pity on me and let me in.

But, it (believing) does tend to taint these people with perculiarities, mental illness and beard growth.

But as stated do people with a literal belief of a religious faith thus stop themselves from being able to reason on issues that are at odds with their faith?


Well it should stop them, shouldn't it, or we can just say they don't believe.

I know so many "Christians" who say they don't need to do this, don't need to do that, but they are definitely... let's say Catholic.

Now, i've been to church once or twice, and i have definitely heard the Padre say "you have to go to church" and lots of other teachings. Now, if all these Padres are the messengers from god, you aint following your religion if you don't do it.

These people want their own religion to suit their own agenda - every flipping last one of them.

Unfortunately Didge, and you won't like this... that goes for the gays AND the liberal Padres/church people who accept the gays.

Live and let live eh? Let them have the churches (until just before that last breath of course, then let me join, please)!

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Post by Guest on Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:01 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:And let me add that I don't think religion leads all believers into bad behaviors, for some it inspires them to really good things and selfless acts.


The latest Pope is a good example of trying to do so much good, inspired by his faith, if he pulls off peace between Israel and Palestine, it will be one of the most significant breakthrough this century

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Post by Guest on Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:02 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:And let me add that I don't think religion leads all believers into bad behaviors, for some it inspires them to really good things and selfless acts.


That's very true.

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:11 am

Didge wrote:
Ben_Reilly wrote:And let me add that I don't think religion leads all believers into bad behaviors, for some it inspires them to really good things and selfless acts.


The latest Pope is a good example of trying to do so much good, inspired by his faith, if he pulls off peace between Israel and Palestine, it will be one of the most significant breakthrough this century

Not to mention just the general caring about people, and the feeling you get from him that he genuinely does believe that human life is more valuable than money (which is funny if you think about it, because so many countries treat profits as more important than people, yet throw tons of money at the military, which theoretically exists to protect human life).

BA -- yeah, when I was a Catholic and fairly active in the church, I saw our church groups do all sorts of things to help our community. We had a trailer park that was devastated by flooding and a bunch of people basically set themselves to hard labor for a weekend to help those people out. The problem really comes when people think their god wants them to murder others ...

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Post by veya_victaous on Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:42 pm

The Problem is too much focus on limiting monotheist religions..

I believe that spirituality and religion are separate and it is spirituality that causes people to do good things because they are concerned about morality and posses a basic Karmic belief of do good and get good luck/reward (Wether it be Karma or blessings from a sky giant it is essentially the same thing)

Religion on the other hand is the Dogma and power structures that Really while founded in Spirituality are more about power, control and social manipulation.

The notion that being religious increases kindness is false, it may be a case in the USA that they are more organised but that is changing .


Here is a group from Ben's neck of the woods


http://kylyssa.squidoo.com/Atheist-Charities


Here we Have Fred Hollows to remind us you don't need to Pray to Jesus to make Miracles happen
http://www.squidoo.com/fredhollows

The hymn Amazing Grace declares: “Was blind but now I see.” and Fred Hollows has been almost deified since his death in 1993.

It’s the sort of joke he would appreciate. Fred, who once studied for the priesthood, died an atheist. In the end he cared too much about humans to devote his life to God. Tran Van Giap was one of those humans.

In 1992, the Vietnamese boy with a severely damaged eye, squeezed to the front of a crowd gathered around Hollows. The boy’s injury and lack of treatment enraged Fred. What the seven-year-old didn’t know was that Hollows was ravaged with cancer and had less than a year to live.

In 2008, Giap made a pilgrimage of more than 7000km to Bourke to thank the man who turned his life around that day — and to assure him his work had not been in vain.

Today there are more than one million people in the world who can see -- because of Fred Hollows


A true Secular Saint   ::alahoo:: ::alahoo:: ::alahoo:: ::alahoo::

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