MirageThere's some science in itTue Apr 3, 2012 08:3422.214.171.124There are areas of the brain which do appear to have something to do with religion. There are injuries, seizures, and chemical imbalances which can change people's perception of the spiritual, even causing what seem to me to be pretty likely delusions, such as the perception that some serial killers have had, that they were told by something supernatural(sometimes not a figure normally considered evil) to go on a killing spree. Amergin used to argue with me that situations like that prove all religion is delusional, and I disagree. That's like saying if you're on a medication that makes all food taste bitter, it proves taste doesn't exist. It's really...reaching to say a malfunction or distortion of a sense means the sense itself is unreal, dangerous, or at best useless.
In the context of discussing the controversial God helmet experiment, I once told Amergin I think I have far more faith in evolution than he does. I think that when what is believed to be a majority of people have have some sort of religious or spiritual experiences or sense it indicates there is probably something there to sense. I'm not one of those people God talks to, but I think we may have a sense which detects something we variously regard as a holiness, immensity, Divinity, external power (which could be something non religious such as "The Beauty of Science," or "Nature."
The colors we see are how we interpret data we are receiving and you and I may disagree about whether something is orange or red, but we wouldn't be having a disagreement if there was nothing stimulating our light receptors. It's not completely unreasonable to postulate a valid sense we haven't named. I am thinking of umami here, a taste we have receptors for, but which until recently, in the West it was not considered one of the basic tastes here. The receptors were there all along, and most people even show a strong attraction to umami (savory) tastes, but we'd wrestle with trying to describe it as kids. I remember people saying things like "It's kinda salty, but it's not..."
When I talk about a potential sense and argue that all our other senses evolved for a reason and do actually detect something real when functioning properly, some people have become upset or offended. EH once asked me if I thought he was in a spiritual sense blind, and I said no no. I think for him it is triggered at the symphony perhaps, or by a Shakespeare performance. I think for some people group activities stimulate it. Ever seen fervor at a sports game? I also think it may be an experience which is difficult to describe, like umami.
Dawkins underwent the God Helmet experiment which attempted to create the perception of unseen presences via temporal lobe stimulation. He rather proudly declared he felt no presence, but he did say he felt strange and dizzy. Other researchers have been unable to reproduce the results that Persinger got. It has been suggested that Persinger's results depended on the suggestibility and personality of the subject. I can believe that. It might explain why Dawkins did not sense a presence. He is expecting not to, basically, and some of the other subjects came into the experiment hoping they would. What's most interesting about the experiment to me is the amount of furor and controversy over it. It also interests me that even Dawkins who apparently believes himself immune to indoctrination and religious hallucination felt something. If it's a matter of suggestibility, perhaps we can put ourselves into this altered state,and Dawkins did do so, but his subjective interpretation of the sensations he experienced are simply different from those of religious people. They may be feeling the same thing. Other studies of the brains of people who were praying or meditating have been much better replicated. We will never be able to prove or disprove God with any of this stuff, but we may be able to get a better sense of whether Amergin and others are correct that their brain functions are truly fundamentally different (and sometimes they feel superior) to those of spiritual or religious people.
Your car example got me thinking. Maybe most or all people do have some sort of hardwired "religious" brain function but someone like Dawkins experiences a car without a driver,something mechanistic. Others may experience it as an organism, such as Gaia believers. Others like myself may have the experience of something rather abstract and non corporeal which may have traits of both.
- Some have theorized that... Frashavan, Tue Apr 3 06:27... the human mind is naturally religious. (This can be framed either as a positive thing, or in a terribly deterministic way, like many scientific theories.) It's possible, of course. Or, it may be... more
- Limited to 16 Meyer-Briggs personality types (nm) Baruch, Sat Apr 7 09:39
- Great analagy clarym29, Tue Apr 3 08:47I like the ant comparison. I think that mankind is naturally drawn to what is later called religion. Humankind has a natural curious streak. Why this, and why that. Cave man, lets say, wanted to know ... more
- Father/Mother Mirage, Tue Apr 3 08:58I tend to call Him Father. I could just as easily call Her Mother. Baruch sometimes refers to Her. I am just traditional in that the generic pronoun in English has traditionally been masculine, but... more
- An explantion sai ram, Tue Apr 3 09:55Sai Baba gave an explanation once on why God is viewed as a male.....Avatars decend on earth as males because men would relate to them better and they also need their message more. Women are more... more
- Thanks Mirage, Tue Apr 3 11:17It seems kind of pessimistic about the male potential for spirituality, though. I'm thinking of you and the other guys who post here, and there are some pretty spiritually advanced men around here. A ... more
- Well, clarym29, Tue Apr 3 09:15If you said "she" you would include both. :))
- There's some science in it Mirage, Tue Apr 3 08:34