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10/03/2009

Brain and religious beliefs- Evolution?!

'Theory of mind' could help explain belief in God


Once we had evolved the necessary brain architecture, we could "do" religion, brain scans indicate.

The research shows that, to interpret a god's intentions and feelings, we rely mainly on the same recently evolved brain regions that divine the feelings and intentions of other people.

"We're interested to find where in the brain belief systems are represented, particularly those that appear uniquely human," says lead researcher, Jordan Grafman of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland

The researchers found that such beliefs "light up" the areas of our brain which have evolved most recently, such as those involved in imagination, memory and "theory of mind" - the recognition that other people and living things can have their own thoughts and intentions.

"They don't tell us about the existence of a higher order power like God," says Grafman. "They only address how the mind and brain work in tandem to allow us to have belief systems that guide our every day actions.

In the study, the researchers gave 40 religious volunteers functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans as they responded to statements reflecting three core elements of belief. For each statement, they had to say on a scale how much they agreed or disagreed. The volunteers were believers in monotheist religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

First, volunteers responded to statements about whether God intervenes in the world or not, such as "God is removed from the world".

Here, brain activity was focused mainly in the lateral frontal lobe regions of the brain where theory of mind takes shape, enabling us to interpret other people's intentions. The regions link to mirror neurons which enable us to empathise with other people.

Second, the volunteers mulled statements on God's emotional state, such as "God is wrathful". Again, and as the researchers predicted, the activated areas were those where theory of mind enables us to judge emotion in others, such as the medial temporal and frontal gyri
Finally, the volunteers heard statements reflecting the abstract language and imagery of religion, such as "Jesus is the Son of God" or "God dictates celebrating the Sabbath", or "a resurrection will occur". Here, volunteers tapped into areas of the brain such as the right inferior temporal gyrus, which decodes metaphorical meaning and abstractedness.

Overall, the parts of the brain activated by the belief statements were those used for much more mundane, everyday interpretation of the world and the intentions of other people. Significantly, however, they also correspond with the parts of the brain that have evolved most recently, and which appear to which give humans more insight than other animals.

"Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks, and support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary adaptive cognitive functions," say the researchers
"It's not surprising that religious beliefs engage mainly the theory-of-mind areas, as they are about virtual beings who are treated as having essentially human mental traits, just as characters in a novel or play are," comments Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist at the University of Oxford.

"But it nicely reinforces my claim that it is the higher orders of intentionality that are crucial in the development of fully fledged religion as we know it," says Dunbar.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811717106).

Belief and the brain's 'God spot'

Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that control religious faith. And the research proves, they contend, that belief in a higher power is an evolutionary asset that helps human survival. Steve Connor reports
A belief in God is deeply embedded in the human brain, which is programmed for religious experiences, according to a study that analyses why religion is a universal human feature that has encompassed all cultures throughout history.


Scientists searching for the neural "God spot", which is supposed to control religious belief, believe that there is not just one but several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief.

The researchers said their findings support the idea that the brain has evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improves the chances of survival, which could explain why a belief in God and the supernatural became so widespread in human evolutionary history.
"Religious belief and behaviour are a hallmark of human life, with no accepted animal equivalent, and found in all cultures," said Professor Jordan Grafman, from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, near Washington. "Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks, and they support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary-adaptive cognitive functions."

Scientists are divided on whether religious belief has a biological basis. Some evolutionary theorists have suggested that Darwinian natural selection may have put a premium on individuals if they were able to use religious belief to survive hardships that may have overwhelmed those with no religious convictions. Others have suggested that religious belief is a side effect of a wider trait in the human brain to search for coherent beliefs about the outside world. Religion and the belief in God, they argue, are just a manifestation of this intrinsic, biological phenomenon that makes the human brain so intelligent and adaptable
The latest study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved analysing the brains of volunteers, who had been asked to think about religious and moral problems and questions. For the analysis, the researchers used a functional magnetic-resonance imaging machine, which can identify the most energetically-active regions of the brain.

They found that people of different religious persuasions and beliefs, as well as atheists, all tended to use the same electrical circuits in the brain to solve a perceived moral conundrum – and the same circuits were used when religiously-inclined people dealt with issues related to God.

The study found that several areas of the brain are involved in religious belief, one within the frontal lobes of the cortex – which are unique to humans – and another in the more evolutionary-ancient regions deeper inside the brain, which humans share with apes and other primates, Professor Grafman said.

"There is nothing unique about religious belief in these brain structures. Religion doesn't have a 'God spot' as such, instead it's embedded in a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use everyday," Professor Grafman said.

The search for the God spot has in the past led scientists to many different regions of the brain. An early contender was the brain's temporal lobe, a large section of the brain that sits over each ear, because temporal-lobe epileptics suffering seizures in these regions frequently report having intense religious experiences. One of the principal exponents of this idea was Vilayanur Ramachandran, from the University of California, San Diego, who asked several of his patients with temporal-lobe epilepsy to listen to a mixture of religious, sexual and neutral words while measuring their levels of arousal and emotional reactions. Religious words elicited an unusually high response in these patients.

This work was followed by a study where scientists tried to stimulate the temporal lobes with a rotating magnetic field produced by a "God helmet". Michael Persinger, from Laurentian University in Ontario, found that he could artificially create the experience of religious feelings – the helmet's wearer reports being in the presence of a spirit or having a profound feeling of cosmic bliss.

Dr Persinger said that about eight in every 10 volunteers report quasi-religious feelings when wearing his helmet. However, when Professor Richard Dawkins, an evolutionist and renowned atheist, wore it during the making of a BBC documentary, he famously failed to find God, saying that the helmet only affected his breathing and his limbs.

Other studies of people taking part in Buddhist meditation suggested the parietal lobes at the upper back region of the brain were involved in controlling religious belief, in particular the mystical elements that gave people a feeling of being on a higher plane during prayer.

Andrew Newberg, from the University of Pennsylvania, injected radioactive isotope into Buddhists at the point at which they achieved meditative nirvana. Using a special camera, he captured the distribution of the tracer in the brain, which led the researchers to identify the parietal lobes as playing a key role during this transcendental state.

Professor Grafman was more interested in how people coped with everyday moral and religious questions. He said that the latest study, published today, suggests the brain is inherently sensitive to believing in almost anything if there are grounds for doing so, but when there is a mystery about something, the same neural machinery is co-opted in the formulation of religious belief.

"When we have incomplete knowledge of the world around us, it offers us the opportunities to believe in God. When we don't have a scientific explanation for something, we tend to rely on supernatural explanations," said Professor Grafman, who believes in God. "Maybe obeying supernatural forces that we had no knowledge of made it easier for religious forms of belief to emerge."

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(no subject) - mackname - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 01:38 am (UTC) Expand
Re: UP
charityplayer wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 01:56 am (UTC)
UP IN

UP IN BONNy DGJYHOQKLAND


AAAH BISTO

BISTO PANGE D*HORIOL
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Re: DAOWN - charityplayer - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:05 am (UTC) Expand
Re: DAOWN - charityplayer - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:06 am (UTC) Expand
Re: MARTIN IN BELLFFASST - charityplayer - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:08 am (UTC) Expand
THE BEESTE - charityplayer - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:09 am (UTC) Expand
Re: GAN - charityplayer - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:11 am (UTC) Expand
Re: TOLER 7* - charityplayer - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:13 am (UTC) Expand
Re: W - charityplayer - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:15 am (UTC) Expand
Is there something wrong with your 'God Spot', dude?
mackname wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 03:43 am (UTC)
Get some rest, you look worryingly wobbling about.
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Re: Is there something wrong with your 'God Spot', dude?
testing_times wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 05:42 am (UTC)
Who let 'im out?
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I don't need God. Go away!
living_fossil wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 06:01 am (UTC)
I'm a atheist and I feel OK with my soul being cut off from the rest of me. I don't feel like going on a religious war, I don't feel like burning witches at the stake, I don't feel like flying passenger jets into tall buildings, I don't feel like joining the Spanish Inquisition and I don't believe in justifying my wrongs and forgiving myself in the name of some invisible deity. By god I feel godless.
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Re: I don't need God. Go away!
boudica_brown wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 07:27 am (UTC)
I'm an atheist too, but what is your point here? This article is about scientific studies done on the brain... do you actually have something to contribute? Or like fellow atheist Dawkins, are you just "hellbent" on taking any opportunity to degrade those you disagree with.

Atheism is built on more than just degrading the theist.

Please remember that.
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Re: I don't need God. Go away! - clickety6 - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:42 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: I don't need God. Go away! - dimlocator44 - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 01:49 pm (UTC) Expand
Big Dave Higgins
jakhiggins wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 06:15 am (UTC)
So..who put the spot(g) there?
God or evolution?
Could be Richard Hawking be suffering from brain damage.
It would explain why he is spiritual dead.
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Re: Big Dave Higgins
jonny_socialist wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:53 am (UTC)
Who on earth is Richard Hawking? There are two people one is Stephen Hawkings and the other is Richard DAwkins. Who do you mean?
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Re: Big Dave Higgins - turk_diddler - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:12 pm (UTC) Expand
No God Spot because No God!
testing_times wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 06:43 am (UTC)
"Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks" (Grafman)
- Depends on how we're defining 'religious belief'. It's potentially wide open, incorporating just about any abstract or hypothetical 'spiritual' tenet. These networks might be the same as those used in many variant thought processes relating to our existence, the world & our place in it, & the unknown generally. Observation of such a pattern is certainly not evidence of a predisposition to believe in some form of intelligent design (a magician behind the curtain). It doesn't follow & there's no foundation on which to allege it.

"Religion..[is] embedded in a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use everyday"
- That's not saying much, nor is it revelatory. You might as well say: "it's buried in there somewhere". Not very convincing at all! Everything's buried in there somewhere.

"When we have incomplete knowledge of the world around us, it offers us the opportunities to believe in God. When we don't have a scientific explanation for something, we tend to rely on supernatural explanations"
- You've hit the nail on the head here &, unwittingly perhaps, undermined your own argument. God is just that: an illusory representation of the unknown; that which we do not know. Man's unknown, that is. A species-centric imaginary entity (in our own image) to provide us with reassurance when we are fearful & insecure about that in our world which we cannot explain or understand.

"Maybe obeying supernatural forces that we had no knowledge of made it easier for religious forms of belief to emerge."
- "obeying supernatural forces": out on a limb now! In what way may such an obeyance be observed? How may a link with "supernatural forces" be proven & how might these "supernatural forces" be defined?

As is always the case with religion, we're left with more questions than answers. That's because there is no God!

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So jack, if god is so perfect why men have nipples...
mackname wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 06:46 am (UTC)

etc.
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Re: So jack, if god is so perfect why men have nipples...
talandy wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:41 pm (UTC)
I agree completely wormery...

I don't understand why people tend to think that such a thing as a "God-spot" can exist. That shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the human mind. :/
Furthermore, I don't understand why "scientific" magazines entertain these arguments .....is it because they produce sensational headlines?
People have to learn to make a distinction between the cultural and the biological, i.e. between adaptive behaviours and genetic traits.
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Religion = imagination + tribal instinct
wormery wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 07:08 am (UTC)
Talk about stating the obvious!

Religion is learned imagination - and, of course, if a tribe has the same belief system (religious or not) that confirms the human instinct to conform and promotes survival - so religious group identity is an utterly Darwinian thing.

Religion came about at the same time as human imagination - and this too promoted survival. For example, connecting two events not directly connected helped early Man: the tribe which noticed that when the leaves went brown the fish appeared in the river five days' walk away got the fish; and the tribe that noticed when the leaves went brown the antelope crossed the river 20 days' walk in the opposite direction got that meat.

There is no 'God spot' and silly ontological arguments for the existence of God were old hat in Descartes time. The existence of human imagination and religious/superstitious thought, and tribal instinct and conformity, is enitrely due to evolution. Darwin was right. End of. This all proved the fact that is evolution - NOT teh existence of that imaginery friend and parent substitute called God for whom there is NO evidence.

The human brain is a pattern creation and pattern recognition machine - sop Man created God tro explain that which he didnlt understand and impose a pattern and a grib on the world around him. Religion = imagination. End of.

This 'research' is utterly flawed and biased and done by (probably American) God-squadders.
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No doubt
francetta wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 07:21 am (UTC)
Look like the religious right at play--
what plots what utter rot--
watch out for judgement day!
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Not god squadders
tjmanley wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 07:33 am (UTC)
Hey wormery, the American research is saying religion is biological, not divinely inspired. It couldn't be more obvious.
How you get the idea that these neurologists are "god squadders" is utterly bizarre, and their being American irrelevant, irrational and prejudiced to your little screed.
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Re: Not god squadders
wormery wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 09:10 am (UTC)
Hey twit-boy

YOu'll find actually that some of these god-believing scientists are attemting tp prove God exists via ontological arguments (look it up, dumbo - in a dictionary - you may have to borrow one from a grown-up)

It is utterly relevant that these researchers are American - the USA is an extremely religious country, and religious research gets millions of dollars too. Most Americans believe in God, atheists face massive prjudice and attacks, and most do not believe in evoliution. THAT is not prejudice thicko - just a rational assessment of research coming out of America based on the religious beliefs of the population causing 'confirmation bias' in research - such as the chistians at a christian university doing 'research' to show prayer works in hositals (all rigged and flawed).

No go away and grow up, and learn how to read (upi obviously are too dim to read and take in what I said in my post). But good luck in your GCSEs.
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Re: Not god squadders - rmcbride05 - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:16 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Not god squadders - wormery - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:39 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Not god squadders - tjmanley - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 11:20 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Not god squadders - wormery - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:03 pm (UTC) Expand
test
jonesest wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 08:47 am (UTC)
test
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Re: test
jrkeith wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:24 pm (UTC)
"Science can reveal everything." Isn't that a statement of belief, rather than of fact?
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I hope there is a God.
jonesest wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 08:58 am (UTC)
It's easy to say 'there is no God', but for me, I would find it incredibly difficult to live without some kind of hope that suffering here on this madhouse of a planet leads to something better and not just nothing. We know nothing, NOTHING! Even all this nonsense about a big bang. In order for something to go bang there must have been something to go bang and something for it to explode into. Therefore BIG BANG, if it happened, may explain the existence of a universe but not of life. I prefer to believe in A God, there must be something after this insanity.
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Re: I hope there is a God.
pipestar57 wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 09:27 am (UTC)
Wow. Whilst I definitely understand why you say what you do, to me it implies that you have given up making the world a better place. As trite as it sounds, that's what we are here to do.

I don't believe in God. I grew up a Catholic before moving on to Humanism. If you own a car, you're responsible for its maintenance. If you are a father or mother, your child's wellbeing is your responsibility. If you have a house, keeping it clean and tody is up to you. We as humans directly affect our planet and the people on it every single day. If we have a direct effect on something, we are partly responsible for how that thing turns out.

We affect our planet. And we affect its people. And it is our moral and ethical obligation (at least in my opinion - I wouldn't like to dictate) to make our lives and the lives of others better, each and every day. By being considerate, by being tolerant, by being democratic, through respect, charity and all those other lovely words.

I try and practice this on a daily basis. Nothing complicated - I'm just polite to everyone I meet, I try not to judge people based on my limited perception of them, and generally try and live up to the expectations my parents set for me. It's in this way that we get better as a race and as a species. To say "I really hope there's a God because this world is insane" means to me that you've given up all hope of it getting better.

Hope is key to humanity's survival. But hoping someone or somthing else is responsible for Humanity's mess is (IMHO) naive to the point of insanity.

The more we lose hope, the more insane the world gets. I hope you don't lose it entirely. Because that would suck :-)
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Re: I hope there is a God. - jonesest - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:39 am (UTC) Expand
Re: I hope there is a God. - wormery - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:06 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: I hope there is a God. - jonesest - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 08:40 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: I hope there is a God. - twelve_three - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 01:31 pm (UTC) Expand
Science is not going to replace God
arion444 wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 09:00 am (UTC)
Wonderful reseaerch, interesting conclusions, but missing the point entirely. If these same scientists would also study quantum physics, they would quickly understand that when you limit your investigations to the merely physical/chemical universe, you will get physical/chemical explanations. However, that's not how it really works. In the quantum, whatever you are looking for will manifest according to your expecting it to be there. In other words, its back to the old 'chicken and the egg' connundrum. Having had numerous, unlooked for and 'scientifically' inexplicable spiritual experiences in my life, I have come to the understanding that creation is an inside-out game, and that whatever can be proved or disproved, measured or not measured, is a blind alley. Religious, or in my case, spiritual conviction, will never come from a 'God' helmet. Simulations are useful, but not conclusive. Has anyone thought that the portal to other dimensional states may have evolved within the development of the human brain, and that it was created there by the very fact that we are, each on of us, individuations of that eternal, singular and multidimensional, God?

I suppose science will never give up debunking religious belief. I, for one, find man-made religion to be a form of authoritarian enslavement. But, how can anyone of us not look into ourselves, and wonder at the wonder of our own beingness? That, will never be something that science will look for, and therefore the quantum will not provide the evidence of its existence.
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Re: Science is not going to replace God
sara_sense wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 09:49 am (UTC)
Great post.

I have nothing more to add!
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Re: Science is not going to replace God - wormery - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:16 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Science is not going to replace God - turk_diddler - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 01:37 pm (UTC) Expand
Religion?
merijn_nl wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 09:15 am (UTC)
I don't see why the discussion is going about the existence of God, as has been said, it was a problem in the time of Descartes, now the problem is people still believing it. This research has formed a theory about how the 'creating' of a God with our thought was a very logical evolutionary happening. It's what we still do; understand the world with whatever hazy concepts we create and interact with the world through this understanding. Trough the evolving of these concepts we improve our grip on reality and, suposedly, further evolution. Darwin knows all ;)
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God is a figment of the imagination
thearnitis wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 09:24 am (UTC)
Tjmanley got it right! Since there is a bit of our brains that is programmed to believe in a supreme honcho, it raises the likelihood that it be but a figment of the imagination. I do not believe that the scientists who have published this are godwarriors, rather the contrary! And disqualifying them just because they are Americans is pure undiluted racism.

BTW, dear Arion444, science is definitely not going to replace god because you cannot replace something that didn't exist in the first place. (If it turns out that you actually can, I want my 18-digit-balance Swiss account back, please).
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Re: God is a figment of the imagination
wormery wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:01 am (UTC)
Listen liar - No-one is 'disqualifying them just because they are American' - you're another one who reads what you want to read rather than what is there (that could be called quasi-religious, actually). It is perfectly valid to bear in mind that the USA is axtremely religious, has christian university and has academics who DO do 'research' to 'prove' what they already believe (that God exists and prayer works, for example). It's the same in Pakistan where 'universities' try and work out the temperature of hell, because the Koran is the fact and they bend the real world to agree with it. If you cannot grasp that point, you are very ignorant of other cultures and sensibilities.

And it wouldn;t be racism anyway, but bigotry - the Americans are not a race.

Read my post before you spout crap and accuse people of saying what they haven't. If you had read it you would see that I cite imagination as the originator of God - but of course you didn't bother - you just relied on second hand opinion. Silly and shabby.
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Re: God is a figment of the imagination - thearnitis - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:10 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: God is a figment of the imagination - chrisdanes - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:39 am (UTC) Expand
Re: God is a figment of the imagination - wormery - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:53 am (UTC) Expand
Re: God is a figment of the imagination - thearnitis - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:37 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: God is a figment of the imagination - chrisdanes - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 03:20 pm (UTC) Expand
Belief in God
hanif001 wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:14 am (UTC)
Have you ever considered that belief in God might be a gift of a specific awareness - an awareness of life beyond the norm.

If you have a monkey having a bad hair day and show him his image in a mirror. He may recognise himself in the mirror, but he wont know that he is having a bad hair day. The ability for that type of self awareness just doesnt exist in monkeys.

Belief in God is a unique type of awareness in humans - we can call it "God aware" if you like. Its the awareness of being an actor in a play called life. Many have the gift and some will not. As God says, mankind is not created equally, each person will have his/her own level of awareness.

This explains why such a large proportion of the population intrinsically believe in God, even with Darwinism and evolution being rammed home day-in, day-out.

Simply put, you either have it or you dont. Those that dont will have no idea what the ones who have it are blabbering on about.
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Re: Belief in God
media_myths wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:33 am (UTC)
And vice versa.
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Re: Belief in God - wormery - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:46 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Belief in God - sara_sense - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:48 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Belief in God - hanif001 - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 03:37 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Belief in God - sara_sense - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 04:34 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Belief in God - hanif001 - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 05:18 pm (UTC) Expand
Now we can be safe and free
setusallfree wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:28 am (UTC)
This is perfect!
Now this spot has been located, all we have to do is round up all the religious fanatics - correction - everyone who is even remotely religious and zap them with a beam or put something in their water that shrivels up that part of their brain. That way, undeniabley, as religeon has been the biggest cause of death and destruction on the face of this planet, we can eradicate religeon from the planet and we can all live more peaceful, safe lives!! What bliss!
In fact, religious people should welcome this because if they truly believe in good will to all men then eradicating their belief, therefore, the scourge of religeon, then without religeon, there truly will be peace on earth (free from death brought about by a belief in some fictitious god at least).
I am being sarcastic of course, but what a lovely thought.
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It's all too daft!
needforreform wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:33 am (UTC)
Clearly, what scientists have noted is that the human brain has the capacity of survival through imagination and creativity. Put altogether, the qualities and characteristics that form the imagination, they fall into the major category HOPE. Without hope, one despairs and dies. Hope is vital for the continuance of life.

For scientists, together with the Media, to try to convince people that religion is programmed in the brain is quite daft and offensive to the intelligent mind. Hope is drawn from a belief - a belief that struggle, of whatever nature, could lead to victory. It is worthwhile to keep going to reach the silver lining. Nevertheless, that silver lining cannot be defined and there are as many divergent forms of Hope as there are men and women on earth or as there are stars in the sky or fish in the sea.
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r_small wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10:56 am (UTC)
It's actually hilarious watching sanctimonious atheists, like wormery, confidently pronounce that there is "no god", failing to realise that in itself is a belief.

As supposed "rational/scientific thinkers", you should recognise that atheism is not the null hypothesis. This article suggests that theism is the default. That doesnt mean that a god definitely exists, only that the question cannot be answered until we eliminate all of the impossible, or we have proof that there is a god.
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wormery wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 11:59 am (UTC)
Yes thicko, believing there is not god is a belief - but it is NOT a faith. It is a belief based on evidence. If one starts believing in stuff without evidence, then one may as well believe in pixies and fairies and eskimos too! And then where would we be? And would we be any better than the worst inmate of a nuthouse who think he's a frog made of moondust? It;'s hilarious that some people refuse to accept the evidence but prefer to life according to a fairytale they were brainwahsed with from birth. Sad, too.

God was created by Man through his imagination which provided an evolutionary survival advantage, therefore religion proves Darwin's natural selection theory correct.
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(no subject) - r_small - Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:41 pm (UTC) Expand
Misleading first para..
tommytcg wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 11:06 am (UTC)
not Universal, only maybe, earthly. www.theyfly.com info tells us that we are the only known intelligence-bearing planet that has man made religions. Other spiritually advanced planetary races follow the laws of creation, where spirit is the highest level, and to which we are all connected.
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Religion
luculluscicero wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 11:10 am (UTC)
I don't have a problem with religion, just the imbociles who run it. Throughout our history, the enlightened have dictated to the unwitting followers and made handsome profit in some cases. God is a personal escape, a diety of the mind. The god spot theory is intriguing, and people like Hawkins are no better than zealots dismissing it out of hand. God exists or he doesn't, you poor sods will never know.
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There is no proof of God's existence - only some clues
jont_b wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 11:39 am (UTC)
Some food for thought: Does God exist?

Clue 1 - The universe exists - BUT, that doesn't prove God exists - maybe it just started by itself.

Clue 2 - The universe is so fine-tuned there is only a very improbable chance that it would support organic life - BUT, that doesn't prove God's existence - it could still be random chance, perhaps multiple universes.

Clue 3 - Nature is regular and we can study it using reason, science, logic. We have no reason to expect this in the absence of a designer/creator. BUT, again that doesn't prove God exists - nature could be regular just because it is.

Clue 4 - Beauty and meaning. If we are the product of the meaningless forces of nature then how do you account for our senses of beauty, love, purpose, and that life matters? BUT that doesn't prove God exists either - perhaps thoses senses arose within our ancestors for some evolutionary fitness advantage.

But hang on - if we can't trust our belief-forming faculties in the area of meaning, then we should not trust them in any area. If there is no God we should not trust our cognitive faculties at all. If reason is product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we really have in a rational argument for natural selection? Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it. If what our brains tells us about morality, love & beauty etc. is not real (if it is just neurochemistry) then so is what the brain of an evolutionary biologist tells him or her about the world. Do you trust them?

But, be honest with yourself here - we do trust our cognitive abilities and this is a clue to God's existence too. If we believe God exists, then our view of the universe gives us a basis for believing that cognitive faculties work, since God would make us able to form true beliefs and knowledge. If we believe in God then the big bang is not mysterious, nor the fine-tuning of the universe, nor the regularities of nature. All that we see makes perfect sense. BUT - if you don't believe in God, all these things are profoundly inexplicable, and your belief that God does not exist would lead you NOT to expect them [your existence, morality, meaning etc.]. THough you have little reason to believe your rational faculties work, you go on using them. Though you have no good reason to trust your sense that love and beauty matter, you go on doing it.

None of these clues are proof. They can be avoided through reason. But their cumulative effect is provocative. A secular view of the world makes much less sense of the universe and our lives than the view that God exists. The latter theory accounts for the evidence better than the former. It's up to you to decide what you do with the evidence.

Thanks to Tim Keller for these insights.
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Re: There is no proof of God's existence - only some clues
turk_diddler wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 02:11 pm (UTC)
So... a very convoluted way of saying that religion makes more sense of the universe because all science ever does is end up asking more questions and providing more uncertainty? Thus we should believe in God?
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God or self?
stimparavane wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:34 pm (UTC)
From the Buddhist perspective, there is no God and there is no (fixed) self. For the atheist, why not contemplate the Buddha's teaching that the self as we ordinarily conceive it is a set of five aggregates (form, feeling, thought, choice, consciousness) which are in a permanent state of flux. As these aggregates are constantly changing there is therefore no fixed self, only the illusion of one. Seeing through this illusion of an independent self or ego then is nirvana - only pure awareness remains. If as an atheist you can dismiss God as a concept then it is a small step to dismiss your own ego as being a creation of the discrminating mind.
To my thiestic brothers I would say that the experience of pure selflessness is God, but it is non-conceptual which is why a Buddhist can say there is no God.
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Re: God or self?
wormery wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 03:43 pm (UTC)
Buddhism is just as bad as any other religion. This crap about transience and self has kept the poor poor for hundreds, and thousands of years - Buddhah was a prince, unsurprisingly. So the people of Buddhist countries are massively oppressed - just look at Sri Lanka, Tibet, Thailand. It's all about power. And money. So idiots accept their oppression because 'life is all a dream'. Really pathetic. It is only by fighting religion and living in the real world that people fought the oppression of religion to take power from the ruling classes - that includes the Dalai Lama and prince called Buddhah.
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tjmanley wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:40 pm (UTC)
There you go making assumptions again wormly. I'm from the Midwest, and did graduate work in Paris.
The percentage of Brits who accept Darwin's theory is not fantastically greater than that of the U.S. A BBC poll in I believe 2005 found it at about 50%, though a study just released saw improvement. A U.S. study just released found that those Americans self-described as "without religion" has doubled since 1990. In any event, evangelical schools are largely undergraduate institutions, and those that do have graduate programs rarely deal in "hard sciences".
Research scientists, even in the "Bible belt" (Emory, Duke)are not god-botherers. Peer reviews would laugh them out of the academy.
First year philosophy students deal with ontology, not neurologists.
Finally, this stream of research dealing with the evolutionary basis of religion is also going on in Europe, and their conclusions are not any different from their colleagues in the States. In fact they work together. By the way, stem cell research is not legal in many parts of secular Europe.
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The ultimate parent
max_price wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:50 pm (UTC)
I feel sure that belief in God must be related to our experience in early life, when parents provide everything, organise everything, look after our safety and appear to have everything under control. When we grow up, many of us simply cannot believe that there isn't someone in charge.
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Positivism rules...
eve_ntual92 wrote:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 01:13 pm (UTC)
'Scientific knowledge' is based on the empirical method - sensory experience. This in turn is based on mathematical symbolism and interactions between - postulated - chemicals and forces. In truth we can't say that anything objectively exists outside this very human and wholly subjective schema. The 'physical world' is far from being that in absolute terms. Way to go people...

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