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Author Topic: Searching for God in the Brain  (Read 7177 times)
RandallS
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« Topic Start: October 08, 2007, 09:48:25 am »

Are deities real or just an invention of the human brain? Why do some people have religious experiences and others don't?

From Scientific American:

Quote
Searching for God in the Brain

Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith
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« Reply #1: October 08, 2007, 01:24:02 pm »

Are deities real or just an invention of the human brain? Why do some people have religious experiences and others don't?

I'm alternately interested in and bored by this sort of thing, y'know?  Because it doesn't answer anything, it just pushes questions back a level.

"Where do these experiences come from?" if answered with, "They appear to be originating in this bit of the brain" doesn't answer the question of whether the brainbit is responding to unseen reality or creating impulses.  Just another level further back.

I'm glad I'm a hard agnostic and thus can treat this stuff as an intellectual toy rather than something that actually matters, mostly. Wink
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« Reply #2: October 08, 2007, 02:27:09 pm »

I'm glad I'm a hard agnostic and thus can treat this stuff as an intellectual toy rather than something that actually matters, mostly. Wink
Ditto.  Interesting, but meaningless.  Which even the article admits. 

All they show is the part of the brain that registers deep religious experience.  They don't show if the cause is something within the brain itself, or if it is caused by an outside stimulus - physical or metaphysical. 
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« Reply #3: October 08, 2007, 02:33:03 pm »

All they show is the part of the brain that registers deep religious experience.  They don't show if the cause is something within the brain itself, or if it is caused by an outside stimulus - physical or metaphysical. 

Exactly!
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« Reply #4: October 08, 2007, 04:57:54 pm »

Ditto.  Interesting, but meaningless.  Which even the article admits. 

I dunno, it could have a purpose in that they know more of what the brain does, that can help in a number of things, epilepsy comes to mind. Also, it could help in that a person who basically burns out and is depressed on such a degree that, and not chemical, they proscribe anti-depressants. Well, if they can figure out which spots on the brain to touch they can have an alternative mode of treatment. So while, currently yes it is meaningless when studying the brain everything will add up to a better understanding of things.
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« Reply #5: October 08, 2007, 05:35:52 pm »

Because it doesn't answer anything, it just pushes questions back a level.

I agree, but I still think it very interesting. I suspect there could even be multiple causes. For many people, I suspect it is mainly internal -- but for some people I think it is external.
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« Reply #6: October 08, 2007, 05:36:21 pm »

I'm glad I'm a hard agnostic and thus can treat this stuff as an intellectual toy rather than something that actually matters, mostly. Wink
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« Reply #7: October 08, 2007, 05:40:44 pm »


While I agree that this kind of study does push the question back a level (is the divine touching a specific part of my brain, or is that part of my brain manufacturing my experience of the divine), I am nevertheless fascinated by it.

I just had an MRI and an MRA (that one is a study of the arteries in the brain).  While I don't yet have the details, I do know from this MRI and several others I've had over the years, that I have "UBOs" in my brain -- Unidentified Bright Objects.  (Seriously, that's what the neurologists call them, although some neurologists also call them lesions).  Every doctor I've talked to about them tells me that nobody knows what they are, but they are most common in people who suffer from severe migraine syndrome and/or from multiple sclerosis.

In addition to that, I've been on MANY meds that affect my brain, all in futile attempts to control the migraines.  Most recently, as many of you know, I was hospitalized and put on DHE.  I'm off it now, because my semi-permanent IV line got clotted and had to be removed, but trying something different.

I know that, when I'm on certain meds I simply can't reach a trance state.  Period.

It all just makes me wonder if 1) my messed-up brain has, in fact, made up everything I think I've experienced relative to Brighid; or 2) Brighid or my connection with Her has somehow *caused* the oddities in my brain; or 3)  the oddities in my brain have made me more receptive to Her.

I have no idea.  Nor do I know what I'd do with the answer, if I had it.  But it does interest me.
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« Reply #8: October 08, 2007, 08:43:36 pm »

I dunno, it could have a purpose in that they know more of what the brain does, that can help in a number of things, epilepsy comes to mind.
Oh, I only meant meaningless in the context of religion.  As in explaining if deities are "just" a brain function, as the title suggests.

I can see all kinds of good reasons to learn everything we can about how our brains work, and about how the rest of the universe works as well.
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« Reply #9: October 09, 2007, 04:16:18 am »

I just had an MRI and an MRA (that one is a study of the arteries in the brain).  While I don't yet have the details, I do know from this MRI and several others I've had over the years, that I have "UBOs" in my brain -- Unidentified Bright Objects.

A gal I know had three of those show up for "no apparent reason" after a spirit she worked with pulled off the back of her head and dropped three rocks in. When they first showed her the MRI she busted up laughing and said something along the lines of, "That little bastard! What did he do to me?" The neurologist didn't quite know how to respond to that.

The rocks, in case you wondered, help her find her location and the locations of other things on the astral.

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« Reply #10: October 09, 2007, 12:12:52 pm »

A gal I know had three of those show up for "no apparent reason" after a spirit she worked with pulled off the back of her head and dropped three rocks in.

So, you're saying I have rocks in my head?   Wink
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« Reply #11: October 09, 2007, 12:58:49 pm »

Ditto.  Interesting, but meaningless.  Which even the article admits. 

All they show is the part of the brain that registers deep religious experience.  They don't show if the cause is something within the brain itself, or if it is caused by an outside stimulus - physical or metaphysical. 

Actually, there's some evidence that brain function (and changes in brain function) can cause deep religious feelings.  From Nova's "Secrets of the Mind".  The part about John Sharon and his temporal lobe seizures is what you'll want to read.

The thing I love about Dr. Ramachandran is that he doesn't make a lot of value judgments.  About Sharon's experiences.  In fact, he's respectful of them.  But his research does seem to indicate that there might be a biological trigger, at least.

Brina
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« Reply #12: October 16, 2007, 06:39:47 pm »

Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith

Scientific American http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa017&articleID=434D7C62-E7F2-99DF-37CC9814533B90D7&sc=WR_20071016
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« Reply #13: October 17, 2007, 06:32:31 am »

Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith

Scientific American http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa017&articleID=434D7C62-E7F2-99DF-37CC9814533B90D7&sc=WR_20071016

I really could swear we just had a thread on this, but I can't seem to find it now.  Huh  If anyone else has any better luck, please bump the other thread and I'll merge them so we don't get parallel discussions going on.
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« Reply #14: October 17, 2007, 10:40:35 am »

Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith

Scientific American http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa017&articleID=434D7C62-E7F2-99DF-37CC9814533B90D7&sc=WR_20071016

Very cool story!
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