Religious convictions correlated to fMRI scans

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135 Responses to “Religious convictions correlated to fMRI scans”

  1. TroofSeeker says:

    Isn’t that curious! A few years ago there was talk about some thingie in the brains of gay people that was different. I hope to learn more about this stuff. I love brain stuff.

    Say Takky, maybe I can give you half of mine, and then we can agree that there used to be a god?

  2. Takuan says:

    here’s another you may find of interest
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0332626/

  3. davigoli says:

    Thanks for the Pinker link, Zuzu.

    Reminds me of the first chapter of “Primitive Mythology” by Joseph Campbell. He talks about the biological origins of myth-making and religious belief, relating it to observations made of the instincts of animals: chicks hatched in cages who, never having seen a predator, naturally recoil in terror at the sight of the silhouette of a hawk moving over the top of their cages. The particular response of the animal is instinctive, and not contingent upon training. How much more instinct do we have as humans, and how much more capability to shape and override those instincts! I think this “God” talk is best served when we understand “God” as a sum of the vectors of the human unconscious; whenever anyone talks about “God” they’re talking not about a supernatural being, but rather about their own personal confusion or sense of mystery. “God” is nothing that isn’t made out of the speaker. That may provide us clues to the psychology of the speaker, but it’s missing the point to think it should have anything to do with the outside world.

  4. Takuan says:

    where is the balance point between woolly thinking from an ill-disciplined mind, and not falling into dogma via the scientific method? I myself work from the acceptance that life as I know it is a product of evolution and physical coincidence. I do not question this at all in how I proceed with thinking about other things that stem from it or relate to it. But the scientific mind is supposed to always be open to revision of held beliefs and understanding. Would I ever change my mind about evolution? Yes, given evidence strong enough. While I could speculate alternatives, I cannot imagine any likely enough to exist to merit thinking about it. Is this lazy-mindedness? To dismiss without experience and to all practical intents and purposes operate as one with religious “faith” in something? Possibly. If I fall into habits of thought that automatically dismiss without thinking, there is a risk of missing something from simple prejudice.
    Is it “immunization” enough that I am aware of this? Or do I need some regular way of checking my assumptions? I don’t believe in miracles, but I would still like to see one.

  5. Takuan says:

    Troofseeker: I question your motives.

  6. robulus says:

    That was just a typical Friday night back in the day…

  7. podedwards says:

    “Pod, I question if you actually want anyone to talk to you.”

    No not really. My friends are not immature, irrational dummies. I learned that calling people names here has “evolved” into “naming”-wow how new age of you. My friends and I can strongly disagree on issues without falling to the level of intellectual poverty demonstrated here.

    What I have found here are intellectual cowards unwilling to do more than “naming” because they really can’t grasp the premise. For a while I thought maybe I was not communicating clearly. My bad-you folks are really just a bunch of dummies.

  8. tyrell_turing says:

    Uhm, Cory, I have to point out that the phrase “God-center” and the statement “…why would evolution create a God-lobe?” misrepresent the results of this study pretty badly. The regions that were more active in these subjects are also more active when understanding other cognitive agents, period (including Elvis as Spikeles points out). So, really, the results suggest that our understanding of God is the by-product of otherwise adaptive traits evolved to aide social interactions, the opposite to a “God-center” hypothesis. Thus, at face value, the study implies that far from creating a god-lobe, evolution created an ability to understand other people. Then, this unsavoury god character hopped on the band-wagon.

    Thanks for posting this BTW. Very interesting…

  9. arkizzle says:

    Troof, did any of your supernatural experiences take place outside your head?

    Was the real world affected, or just you, subjectively?

    /This isn’t a trick question, you can plainly see what I am asking and implying.

  10. Takuan says:

    goodbye, pod

  11. mdh says:

    whose got two opposable thumbs and a sense of righteousness?

    This guy!!!!!

  12. podedwards says:

    I am not now nor have I ever been a religious fundamentalist, as best I can understand the definition, or anything remotely close to it. I am unaware of any organized campaign but I am aware that there are some people who believe that their religious teachings should be put, in public venues, in the same rank as scientific inquiry.While I do not desire to see that happen in public venues, I support the right of any group to support any cause by legal means.I think private schools would be better places for them.

    I might best be categorized as a skeptic of all beliefs. I am not the first person to point out that people defend their beliefs, no matter what the belief, in about the same and in about the same order.

    My suggestion is that MRI studies are interesting and perhaps valuable. I suggest that it would interesting to see if ardent believers in evolution respond the same way in that it appears those folks react and respond in the same manner as folks who are described as having religious beliefs.

    I do respect researchers who explore and report on findings that might support part or all of evolutionary theories. And, I support the researchers brave enough to report contradictory evidence in a academic environment riddled with political correctness intolerant of other views or supporting evidence.

    It is obvious to me that when persons are the target of attack rather than their ideas, such attacks represents a failing system.

    I don’t know any of you folks and you don’t know me. My premises where not attacked intellectually. But I was characterized negatively for offering them. Doesn’t that give you pause to consider the emotions?

    I have appreciated most all the comments and I thank you all for the time taken to make them.

  13. KanedaJones says:

    it has been theorized that even pigeons would try to reenact patterns to try to illicit food from a random device (B.F. Skinner’s poorly done ‘Superstition in the pigeon’). All successful life forms on the planet are pattern recognizing machines and this causes most if not all of them to see patterns where none exist I.E. religion, conspiracy theories, and success in actions unrelated to the real end results – like this study. I guess Pavlov’s dog couldn’t be considered to have a religious faith when it came to a magic bell that often brought food? Just reminds me of belief in a sky wizard that occasionally brings kind things, but not always.

    also:

    Statements given to FORTY(!?) people hooked to fMRI machines.

    when neuroscience was brought up in the ‘british children are maligned’ thread I denounced it under the current habit of small sample groups. Caught flak from one individual who normally defends the scientific method (But also seems to be in the brain biz). How about someone here explain to me how this abysmally small sample group can mean anything.

    @#3 rationalist
    right on da money.

  14. arkizzle says:

    S’gottabe

  15. robulus says:

    @Podedwards said “Until evolutionary theory can prove congruence with the broad spectrum of scientific exploration and subsequent truth, it will remain what it has been, a servile substitute for religion giving rise to angry emotions for its defense and for attacks on it.”

    That sentence encapsultates neither the status of the theory of evolution, nor a logical condition it can meet to improve that status.

    That sentence is a bunch of big words that sound a bit scientific but have deliberately imprecise meanings.

    That sentence neatly demonstrates the contrivances of intelligent design and the discovery institute. Set evolutionary theory up as a straw man, make scientific sounding claims about it that are refutable with basic logic, and try to create the illusion of a struggle between competing theories.

    Scientists readily acknowledge that evolution is unlikely to be proven. It is none the less the most compelling theory of our origin, with overwhelming evidence to support it.

    Your argument about cars in the desert is a classic teleological argument, and suffers from the flaws that characterise such arguments.

  16. arkizzle says:

    Wow, my feelings are actually hurt.

    I said you were “portray[ing] yourself as a quack” because you said inertia was “voodoo science”. I then took the time to explain clearly, and without malice, how inertia worked (and offered a pretty undeniable proof (comets)). You didn’t even respond.

    Pod, I think you were genuinely challenged and don’t have the mettle to deal with it honestly and have the only conversation here with quick and logical answers (ie. things with proof).

    You seem to think that your idle curiosity can somehow unravel an incredible thing that thousands of trained critical thinkers, through varied empirical means, have battled with and nurtured for a century and a half. If you want to have a real conversation, based on the knowledge and evidence that has been gathered over that time – and the conclusions that myriad branches of science have come to – stick around, it will be interesting.

  17. robulus says:

    @Podedwards

    OK let me just be blunt here and tell you whats pissing me off about your posts.

    Your question “If the word “God” was replaced in the same context with with “evolution” in the study in question, would the same reactions occur in the different areas of the brain?” might be an interesting one to consider, but it’s not your main point. It’s a tenuous thread to keep your comments on topic.

    What you really seem to be interested in doing is making allusions and half statements about fundamental problems with science, the teaching of science, and the acceptance of well established theory. With understated implications that these fundamental problems could be adddressed by opening up enquiry to some “radical” ideas.

    What you want is for Intelligent Design to be taught side by side with Evolutionary theory in every school, right? So why not just come out and say it? Why try and frame it as some reasonable, empirically based critique of science, when you clearly can’t manage that, and you don’t care anyway, because you simply want divine intervention on the science curriculum?

    Science embraces the sort of controversies you decribe with open arms, and seeks to answer them rationally. The fact that Newtonian physics is inadequate to describe behaviour at the quatum level does not stop Newtonian physics and relativity from being compelling, rigorously tested theories with high predictive power. If any of these theories are proven wrong, science has the brevity to accept what it finds.

    Evolution is a thoroughly tested theory corroborated by several independent fields of scientific enquiry. Intelligent Design offers nothing to the theory of evolution, nothing at all.

    It’s just an axe head for fundamentalists to drive their agenda with. And you seem to be posting here with an agenda, and you don’t seem to want to be open about it.

  18. FoetusNail says:

    Not having our published professional reputations or more importantly our grants at stake should give us more freedom to change our minds.

    I can be hard headed, but I will change my opinion when confronted with new information. I learned a hard lesson in “The Manhattan Project Poll on the Use of Atomic Weapons, July 1945″ thread. I was emotionally wedded to an outdated idea, but eventually came around, it was difficult, after defending revisionist history for 30 years.

    How many times have we seen any religious commenter suddenly say, wow, you’re right, my beliefs are founded in 2,000 years of myth and there is absolutely no evidence that gods exist outside of my mind and I apologize for thinking my imaginary god is going to smite every last one of you heathens.

    The difference in this thread is we are talking about religious beliefs and scientific beliefs. For me there is no comparison. Scientific beliefs are based on hard evidence, while religious beliefs are founded on myths, on imaginary evidence accepted as real.

    The key here, is the fMRI’s are examining our ability to create anthropomorphic deities. So, even if we are emotionally wedded to a scientific opinion, our fMRI will probably look different, because we have not anthropomorphized our opinion.

    As to how do we protect ourselves, hopefully, immunization comes with age. After having to admit we were wrong a few thousand times, we finally understand we don’t have to be right. Hopefully, we create relationships where we can be wrong, because we will always be wrong.

  19. robulus says:

    Troof said “I don’t think it’s the Freudian womb thing, because we were too tight in the womb for a floating sensation.”

    Good point. Freedom of movement is a big part of the experience. Although Takuan’s link definitely seemed to cover both bases…

  20. podedwards says:

    If the word “God” was replaced in the same context with with “evolution” in the study in question, would the same reactions occur in the different areas of the brain? The results would be interesting.

    There are more interesting questions however. Is the human brain the totality of its systems? Is there evidence of programming? Does the brain allow a one to one correspondence with reality? Is the brain a tool for survival in this reality? What is time? How does time fit in? Time, in resent research, appears to be slowing. If it is slowing, it implies that time was faster in the past-what are the implications? The nature of reality may be dependent on the observer. What would that mean?

    There are many interesting and stimulating questions about the nature of human existence. Asking the questions is a constructive investigation of the the validity of any theory. If the premise is considered unassailable then it is no longer a theory to explore but rather a believe system.

    The emotional and defensive responses to any questioning of the validity of the theory of evolution are like those of a person defending a religious belief.

    Another example of a belief assumed to be scientific is gravity. We all know, don’t we, that gravity is what holds us on the earth and make the planets go around the sun. There is gravity because thing’s have mass. Mass is endowed with the mystical quality of inertia. The greater the mass,the greater the gravity. However, these long held titles and assumptions do not appear to be supportable.

    Electromagnetism is now seen as the source of the observed phenomena once attributed to gravity and gravity only had an occult definition.

    Time is the least understood phenomena we have but baseless assumptions about time underpin lots of theory. A really enlightening adventure is to apply the inverse square law to time. Assume the universe is what ever age you desire it to be. What are the results?

    I believe that science education has been of such poor quality that it has diminished and dampened the joy and excitement of true sceintific exploration leaving many just reciting a litany rather than developing a capacity to go beyond what is psychologically comfortable and to be radical in thinking.

    That is why I think exploring by MRI may help us to better understand ourselves and better understand the nature of and reason for our beliefs.

  21. thequickbrownfox says:

    I say again, nothing but Phrenology.

    These very expensive MRI machines need to be used continually to justify their cost, so it’s a case of “full speed ahead and damn the methodology”.

  22. TroofSeeker says:

    Well said, Robulus.
    I suggested the other day that two (or more)dimensions, one being ours, might overlap without intersecting. Evidence cannot be dragged from one into the other, but something in our mind perceives of something on the other side occaisionally.

  23. KanedaJones says:

    @#13 thequickbrownfox

    starting to think I was the only one around here with that opinion. ok that makes 2 of us.. any more out there?

    (doesn’t mean we are ludites neither.. :P )

  24. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Was the real world affected, or just you, subjectively?

    For those of us who believe that the physical world is a holographic metaphor for an archetypal world, that’s like asking us to define a solid in two dimensions.

  25. KanedaJones says:

    @#8 davigoli

    that’s why I made a cult telling members everything they did good or bad was gods will because they were all cogs of the god machine.

    explains rape cancer and christmas presents quite well, but the problem was they then realized god was ok with them not paying the membership fees.

    rats

  26. arkizzle says:

    An object is at rest with respect to the forces acting on it. If an object is at rest the forces acting on it must be balanced. The forces acting on an object are always in balance.

    How are forces always in balance? That suggests that 1) nothing ever moves ever, or 2) that all forces are universally homogeneous.

    1) Stuff does move, so that’s incorrect.
    2) Forces are not universal, nor homogenous, so that’s incorrect too.

    Friction is different depending on your location, there is air/water density, temperature of the fluid, chemical makeup of the fluid, etc. And gravity changes depending on your proximity to large bodies. So there is no constant balance, maybe that is your confusion.

    How does an object remain in motion unless a force acts upon it?

    I believe you have it backwards. You are presuming (in your reading of the Law of Inertia) either, the object is on Earth, or that the Earth is devoid of forces. But this is a universal law; the local effects of Earth must be separated from it. Gravity and friction are in place on Earth, so objects naturally come to a stop (due to those forces). Where the law says a body will continue until a force acts upon it, gravity and friction are some of those forces. Without them, however, things work quite differently.

    So any object in motion has infinite energy to continue the motion? How come?

    You only need energy to accelerate (start/stop, change speed or direction), or to overcome a force acting upon you: gravity, friction, etc. If there is no gravity or fluid-friction (eg. space), you can set an object in motion and it will keep going (at a steady rate) without further input, because nothing is acting on it to slow it down (sling-shotting can even use gravity to add energy).

    This isn’t some lofty theory, we encounter it all the time. How do you think comets work? They don’t have built-in infinite-powered rockets, but they traverse the solar system for thousands or millions of years.

  27. FoetusNail says:

    Did anyone read the article?

    Abstract

    We propose an integrative cognitive neuroscience framework for understanding the cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Our analysis reveals 3 principle psychological dimensions of religious belief (God’s perceived level of involvement, God’s perceived emotion, and doctrinal/experiential religious knowledge), which functional MRI localizes within networks processing Theory of Mind regarding intent and emotion, abstract semantics, and imagery. 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.

  28. wolfiesma says:

    I went to this drumming/meditation/guided visualizatioin event one time and imagined/experienced that I was floating in a universe of honey colored light which was like a liquid which you could breathe and eat. I figured it was something akin to floating in the amniotic fluid or maybe it was, as Robulus describes, an ancient piscean consciousness being activated. The drumming was supposed to induce some other brainwave state. I have no idea what any of it means.

  29. BadKittyM says:

    Without imagination – the ability to conceive of that which does not physically exist – nothing would ever have been invented. On the heels of imagination one also needs the desire to see if that which has been imagined, can then be created.

    *just a passing thought

  30. robulus says:

    Pod old chap. It seems likely that you’ve just trundled on in here with an interestingly eccentric view about human knowledge, and gotten your head bitten off.

    Evolution is a hot button topic, I think we need to be clear when discussing it. But I did make a number of assumtions about your motives that aren’t really borne out by the substance of what you wrote, so I apologise for being heavy handed.

    IMO, what separates the factual status of science from religion is the scientific method. Scientific claims must be testable and must accept the results of testing, while religious claims are not subject to the same scrutiny.

    And this is why they shouldn’t be muddled together. The nature of the claims of evolutionary theory, the way these claims are modified to accomodate evidence, these are important lessons about science and its practice.

    Its hard to speculate on what an MRI scan might show. I suspect that some people may hold evolutionary theory in the same way as religious conviction, but I doubt scientists working in the field would. I think they would hold the theory entirely differently.

  31. KanedaJones says:

    @#20 FoetusNail

    “I missed the part where they imply which came first.”

    I took “contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary adaptive cognitive functions.” to suggest order of causation but reflecting on it I guess it doesn’t. People seem to generalize it like it does in the media a lot though.

  32. FoetusNail says:

    Imagine High School history classes.

  33. Takuan says:

    “mean”? Transcending doesn’t have to worry about that.

  34. podedwards says:

    To respond to personal comments. Robus: I consider the Bible to be a combination of Jewish mythology, folk wisdom and history. It is not unique at all but I am respectful of it. I do think evolutionary theory is plausible but has been subject to little scientific scrutiny for the reasons I brought up in my posts and will blossom further if allowed to.

    Teresa Hayden: I have no idea who you are, what you think and what your motivations are. It is a mystery to me how you might express the degree of prejudice and bigotry shown towards me.

  35. robulus says:

    I think the universe has a tendency to experience itself, and probably does it a lot.

  36. podedwards says:

    Wassily Kandinsky, the artist, was a Theosophist and helped found the movement. He saw everything in the universe evolving towards conscious awareness of being part of one consciousness. His description of evolution is interesting as well as his description of the process of intellectual, spiritual, scientific, and artistic evolution. While I am not a Theosophist, I do appreciate Kandinsky’s insight into why new ideas become tradition, why tradition falls to blind acceptance and why those with new ideas are seen as heretics to be assailed.

    The tipping point seems to be where an idea becomes sacrosanct and the freedom to form new views becomes threat.

  37. davigoli says:

    It’s all in your head, people. Bottom line: it’s all in your head.

  38. robulus says:

    Wikipedia reckons current estimates using the Drake Equation put 2.3 other intelligent, technologically advanced civilisations in our galaxy right now.

  39. robulus says:

    We broke pod’s think box. Tak’s right, troll’s got fat.

  40. FoetusNail says:

    Still nothing. Well he can never say he wasn’t given a chance, for he has tread where others were disemvoweled.

    The problem is you’re rude and your education comes from the web or some religious homeschool or christian university. So, even if you’re right you’re going to have a hard time getting your point across.

    For example: I’ve obviously found my ass if my head is in it and you left off the ultimate anthropomorphic figure, Mother Nature, whom many here worship.

    However, for the second time I don’t believe in evolution. Evolution is simply a fact of life, like the foul-mouthed garbage flowing from your finger tips.

  41. KanedaJones says:

    @#32 FoetusNail

    “Anyone who believes in psychic experiences should offer up their proof before Randi withdraws the million dollar challenge.”

    this isn’t directed at you specifically since you don’t act like a jerk or anything, but I find it very interesting how people accept established belief systems and attack the unusual ones.

    Colbert himself made the point recently while discussing scientology.. he said now only if they added a woman made pregnant by god and a firey bush then they’d be even more believable. (paraphrasing don’t have the episode on tape)

    clever of him to point out the hypocrisy

    psychic experiences vs religion vs non accepted religions. Interesting dynamic

  42. Takuan says:

    good song waiting to be written about what the others think about when they look up.

  43. KanedaJones says:

    @#16 FOETUSNAIL

    yes the abstract translates to ‘thinking people light up the coralating thinking parts of their brain.’

    to suggest however, as it does, that this supports the theory that the ability of the brain to think that way came first and the thought patterns came afterwards is backwards and stupid.

    Thinking in itself lays down neuro pathways and is more similar to creating paths in a forest, seeing as how if unused they do disappear. I do know this is an oversimplification since there is a generalized map of where the majority of people think different thought patterns but even the standardized ‘everyone does it’ patterns of thought don’t say what can first, chicken or the egg.

  44. robulus says:

    Ha! Nice one Takuan. Way to make me look verbose…

  45. TroofSeeker says:

    That was great, Sylvanfae!
    I just knew there were athiests who can accept that there are psychic phenomenon. I’m pretty sure there are dimensions that we can’t prove, but somehow perceive.
    I didn’t bring up a phenomenon that I experienced because I’m convinced it was some sort of ripple in time, but your preconception doesn’t fall into that category.
    Maybe there’s somewhere you could post any preconceptions, for verification.

  46. Takuan says:

    not at all Robu, you made a clear prose explication. Did you ever read the original book?

  47. fltndboat says:

    Just entertain the notion that the Universe is You.

  48. robulus says:

    Takuan asked “While I could speculate alternatives, I cannot imagine any likely enough to exist to merit thinking about it. Is this lazy-mindedness?”

    Nup. If you had to constantly try and be mindful of all possible counter-explanations to every firmly held, well based belief you have, you’d just freeze up and wake up three weeks later after the ECT.

    One has to function, after all.

  49. minTphresh says:

    hesse: ” nothing is within, nothing is without, for what is without is within.”

  50. robulus says:

    Foetusnail @#83 – Awesome post.

  51. fltndboat says:

    Mind makes a Theory of Mind about something that happens in it? One of my most respected Cognitive Scientists , the great Dr. Useless, pointed out that fish don’t know water while they are in it. The majority of sentient life in the universe would be better served if this bunch took their minds for a walk and lost them.

  52. arkizzle says:

    If the word “God” was replaced in the same context with with “evolution” in the study in question, would the same reactions occur in the different areas of the brain?

    I doubt it. Even if I grant that both are equal belief systems (which I utterly don’t), one is about lateral knowledge and the other tends to be about communing with some kind of higher consciousness. You can force evolution into a ‘belief’ box, but it doesn’t relate so well to how people see god and how the relate to the subject.

    I do think evolutionary theory is plausible but has been subject to little scientific scrutiny..

    Um.. no. Just no. Go study more.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Physicists have yet to conclude what inertia might be, or what causes it or, more interestingly,how an object acquires inertia or what mass is or how can mass be measured, or how and object acquires mass, or what gravity is, or what causes gravity, or how something acquires gravitational forces or if it is electromagnetic or why some objects’ “mass” fail to equal the predicted gravitational attraction or how the Higgs Field, String Theory, Super String Theory, or Brane Cosmology or any other theory fail to answer these basic questions as of yet.

    So an attempt to defend the concept of inertia when it described as “voo doo science” would be impossible because when a concept is used as a proof but there is no scientific explanation for the phenomenon, then it has to be used as an occult definition and “voo doo” is exactly what such a description is-a magical belief.

  54. milovoo says:

    Julian Jaynes covers this pretty well in Bicameral Mind.

  55. TroofSeeker says:

    Arkizzle, let me quickly admit that it has been mostly in my head, or incidents we could call coincidence. Like coming home to find no food at all, then praying that the Lord provide. I opened my eyes to see a girl I didn’t know who walked up and gave me $20 to get some food. That doesn’t prove anything. Astral projection? My first was to another planet, much like the planet Mormot (?) in Barbarella. The second was to some pot plants I had out in country. Don’t mean nothing. Probably illusions. I see ghosts, even here in this house, out of the corner of my eye. Again, probably illusions.
    No sir. I have no proof, we don’t get no proof. We can’t even prove that Julius Ceasar lived- all we have is vague evidence.
    Each of us chooses to accept, reject, or remain undecided on issues that have no proof.

  56. podedwards says:

    The correct definition of anthropomorphized is as follows: Having attributed human characteristics to animals, inanimate objects, deities, plants, or ideas. Let’s not overlook all the elements of the correct definition. Evolutionary theories are ideas are they not? Ideas then are subject to anthropomorphism. Can we agree that anthropomorphism is a characteristic of human psychology not limited to consideration of deity?

    Can we agree that science and scientific theories do not have qualities that can be defended in that defend means to or secure protect or vindicate? Security, protection and vindication are concepts of human ownership. Why should a scientific theory be held free from attack, or in safety or held free from being proven all or partly false to its premise? Would this not be the very antithesis of the scientific method? If one values the scientific method, one must give up defense of premises and subsequent theories.

    Here is my premise: The rigors of the scientific method are not valued, by some number of individuals defending evolution, beyond its ability to support and sustain a life view contained within a believe system offering an alternative to religion. Consequently these individuals will not support and are threatened by experiment testing the premise but simply attack the premise disingenuously as a threat to the scientific method rather than correctly as a threat to their anthropomorphized concept of evolutionary theories.

    To test the premise MRI’s should be conducted on individuals defending evolutionary theory as truth to determine if their responses are different from individuals holding a religious belief as truth and to address the subjects of validity and reliability of the premise for the initial MRI results.

    On a more personal note, I don’t give a flying fuck if you jack off to a photo of Darwin or if you think you’ve had a blow job from the Virgin Mary. Who the fuck cares? That’s not the issue, dummies.

  57. arkizzle says:

    Pod, did my last post help you understand the Law of Inertia, or are you maintaining that it’s “voodoo science”?

    Genuinely asked, as #102 was genuinely posted.

  58. arkizzle says:

    Oddities of thought such as an object remaining in motion until a force acts on it is voodoo science.

    Try it in space; thats how we get places.

    Boost.. Coast.. Correct.. Boost.. Coast.. Correct..

    On earth; gravity, friction and wind resistance are the appropriate forces. What was your point? Other than to portray yourself as a quack..

  59. robulus says:

    Nope. I think I first came across the concept in a book called “synchronicity”, which was saying something similar to what troof is saying.

    I’ve been watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos again lately, and he does a nice little piece on it too, more focused on established physics (as it stood in the eighties).

  60. podedwards says:

    A proof of my argument would be for you to participate in the MRI study to determine if your belief in evolution produces the same result. It would determine if you simply adopted the theory of evolution as a belief to explain your existence.

    A critique of the limitations of inductive reasoning is not a teleological construct. Intelligent design does not exclude evolution nor does evolution exclude intelligent design.

    No attempt was made to defend or attack evolutionary theory or intelligent design but rather to argue that evolutionary theory has simply replaced religion as a explanation for human existence based on inductive reasoning.

    People react predictably when they feel their belief system has been attacked no matter what heading that system might fall under-they attack in defense of their beliefs like you did which is the point.

    An interesting study would be determining if belief in evolution merely serves the same purpose as religion. To counterpose religion with evolutionary theory is not a defense of criticism of evolutionary theory. It’s an irrational argument defending core beliefs.

    Evolutionary theory has languished as a belief not disposed to criticism. Congruency with the broad spectrum of scientific inquiry based on deductive reasoning is likely to find parts of evolutionary theory true ans parts to be false. Adopting it as a belief system delays that process.

  61. robulus says:

    So, just to clear the air then, can you declare right now whether you believe the theory of evolution is the most plausible explanation of how we came to be, or do you believe that we were created as is by God, as revealed by the Bible?

  62. podedwards says:

    OK let me just be blunt here and tell you whats pissing me off about your posts.

    but it’s not your main point

    you really seem to be interested

    What you want is for Intelligent Design to be taught side by side with Evolutionary theory in every school, right?

    you simply want divine intervention on the science curriculum?

    And you seem to be posting here with an agenda

    All the statements above concerning my posts are false and represent an attack on an imagined me rather than on the questions I posed. It’s very unfortunate. Is it representative of the level of discourse here? Gee, I hope not.

    Regarding “Newtonian physics”, I assume you mean what is in the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Newton believed that Alchemy was real and believed that he proved that it was real. Knowing a little about Newton, the British Empire in his time and how the British Empire used Newton’s “Laws” to establish power is kind of helpful. The only “law”, which is attributed by many to Newton but not actually his, that has had any real value is the inverse square “law”.

    Oddities of thought such as an object remaining in motion until a force acts on it is voodoo science. Objects at rest in balance to the forces acting on them.

    I can throw a base ball 30 feet for a hundred times and the results will demonstrate predictability but will in no way explain why it has happened. I am more interested in the “why” than the “what”.

    If anyone is “pissed off” by these ideas then its proof of the presence of a belief system rather than the presence of scientific understanding which is the whole point.

    You you provide us with which independent fields of science have corroborated evolution and the identification of which elements have been corroborated and how, your definition of corroboration and all the sources you used as a basis for the allegation.

  63. podedwards says:

    A conjecture that Evolution occurring over many millions of years is more plausible than a believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago in no way proves any part of Evolutionary Theory. However horribly implausible a particular religious belief may be, its failings are not proof that another conjecture is true. Because research has produced evidence consistent with evolutionary conjectures, therefore refuting a religious belief, it offers only a higher probability that evolutionary theory is more plausible that a religious belief.

    Religion makes the issue simple. God did it and that’s it. Evolutionary theory can have no influence on such a belief unless understanding evolution with its complexities, flaws, contradictions and probabilities become unimportant, like a religious belief, and not subject to any and all comparisons.

    Purporting that any theory is beyond the pale of reason by claiming that it has no flaws, weaknesses, contradictions or has no possibility of being untrue is not science but merely a plausibility accepted as belief.

    And that is the problem. Attacks on a less plausible explanation are substituted for scientific inquiry and are no better than some occult belief demanding sovereignty.

    I cannot and will not defend the plausibility of any religious belief system. I do, however, question the plausibility of many ardent proponents of evolutionary theory statements about it being sacrosanct because of their understanding of the “scientific” proof. What I have read here are mostly undisciplined and sophomoric opinions lacking any crdibility.

    What is below would be good study for them to help learn the difference between just mouthing off and engaging in a reasoned intellectual discussion.

    1. Polya: Patterns of Plausible Inference

    1. Meta Pattern: Probability – The likelihood that something will occur again based on its past performance (measured by occurrences ÷ opportunities).

    A. The more something occurs the more we believe it will occur again.

    B. If something which is not very probable occurs it tends to validate the cause-effect belief which predicted it.

    2. Verification of a Consequence – If a particular belief (B) implies a particular
    consequence (C) and we verify that consequence then it makes the belief more plausible (it does not prove it however). The degree of plausibility will be stronger if there is a lack of other probable causes.

    IF B implies C AND C is true THEN B is more credible.

    A. Successive Verification of Several Consequences.

    B. Verification of an Improbable Consequence (Extremes).

    3. Contingency – If a belief (B) presupposes (or requires as a pre-condition) some event or phenomenon and we verify this contingent event (C) then it makes the belief more plausible. The degree of plausibility will be stronger if the contingent phenomenon would not probably occur in and of itself.

    IF B presupposes C AND C is true THEN B is more credible.

    4. Inference from Analogy -A belief (B) is more plausible if an analogous conjecture (A) is proven true. If the analogy cannot be shown to be true but it can be shown to be credible then it still increases the plausibility of the analogous belief.

    IF B is analogous to A AND A is true THEN B is more credible.

    5. Disprove the Converse – The plausibility of a belief (B) increases if a rival conjecture (C) is disproved.

    IF B is competing with C AND C is false THEN B is more credible.

    A. Comparison with Random – If a belief can be shown to predict a particular result with better than random accuracy then it is more credible.

    Polya: Patterns of Plausible Inference

    1. Meta Pattern: Probability – The likelihood that something will occur again based on its past performance (measured by occurrences ÷ opportunities).

    A. The more something occurs the more we believe it will occur again.

    B. If something which is not very probable occurs it tends to validate the cause-effect belief which predicted it.

    2. Verification of a Consequence – If a particular belief (B) implies a particular
    consequence (C) and we verify that consequence then it makes the belief more plausible (it does not prove it however). The degree of plausibility will be stronger if there is a lack of other probable causes.

    IF B implies C AND C is true THEN B is more credible.

    A. Successive Verification of Several Consequences.

    B. Verification of an Improbable Consequence (Extremes).

    3. Contingency – If a belief (B) presupposes (or requires as a pre-condition) some event or phenomenon and we verify this contingent event (C) then it makes the belief more plausible. The degree of plausibility will be stronger if the contingent phenomenon would not probably occur in and of itself.

    IF B presupposes C AND C is true THEN B is more credible.

    4. Inference from Analogy -A belief (B) is more plausible if an analogous conjec- ture (A) is proven true. If the analogy cannot be shown to be true but it can be shown to be credible then it still increases the plausibility of the analogous belief.

    IF B is analogous to A AND A is true THEN B is more credible.

    5. Disprove the Converse – The plausibility of a belief (B) increases if a rival conjecture (C) is disproved.

    IF B is competing with C AND C is false THEN B is more credible.

    A. Comparison with Random – If a belief can be shown to predict a particular result with better than random accuracy then it is more credible.

    http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Polya.html

    http://www.math.wichita.edu/history/men/polya.html

  64. Takuan says:

    podewards: clicking on the name/handle of a poster at the top of their post will bring up everything ever posted here by that person.

    Say Nail, that reminds me…

  65. Takuan says:

    I suspect Sr.Edwards wishes to have discussion from First Principles on every point. Agreement of all terms, absolutely nothing assumed or presumed etc. Most philosophical. Platonic even. I highly commend any who wish to work that hard.

  66. sirdook says:

    I’m encouraged to see the skeptical responses here; brain scan work is interesting, and it’s part of a larger project of theory formation, but people (especially the media, but also researchers themselves) jump way too quickly to conclusions based on them.

    I don’t have the reference, but a CogSci prof told me of a study that showed average people were much more likely to buy into an explanation if you had an fMRI picture with it, as compared to the same explanation without the picture. Of course I don’t know important stuff like the sample size or if the results have been reproduced.

  67. Takuan says:

    I keep returning to Jill’s talk, something more to be mined each time.
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

  68. TroofSeeker says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Kaneda Jones, that this tiny sample doesn’t mean jack squat. They need to examine thousands of people of different ethnicities before it means anything.

    Maybe it is related to ESP, or as I had suggested, maybe it’s a sensor detecting the presence of a parallel dimension, but most likely it’s nothing as exciting as that. As the author suggested, maybe it’s there to let our ancestors quickly distinguish between friends and enemies. BUt isn’t that a form of ESP- perception beyond our 5 known senses? Hmmm.

  69. robulus says:

    Wow. Sounds good. I really had just completely forgotten this entire line of enquiry. I was right into it when I was studying.

  70. Ugly Canuck says:

    What of other species?
    They got a “god-center”(sic) too?
    Is their “god” of their form too?

    Link:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7928996.stm

    Maybe like language, the abilities of empathy & compassion are useful for survival, in such a very very social species as ours?

  71. FoetusNail says:

    I missed the part where they imply which came first.

  72. arkizzle says:

    Did you ever read the original book?

    Well it looks like whoever made that version of the film (there are two) certainly didn’t! They totally messed up the 2D/3D thing! It doesn’t make sense like the book does.

    I’m gonna watch both versions tonight; apparently the other (longer) version is truer but less well made. I’ll be the judge of that!

  73. tim says:

    perhaps this is the seed of a brain function that vaguely perceives another dimensional plane

    Hunh? Do you actually read what you type?

  74. FoetusNail says:

    FLTNDBOAT, feeling better eh?

    Dead cat who glimpsed eternity or fish in a tank?

  75. airship says:

    If you’re interested in such things, you should follow the Mind Hacks blog @ http://www.mindhacks.com

  76. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Community Manager says:

    I don’t unthinkingly believe these people about sex. Why should I believe them about god?

    ===

    PodEdwards, you make a good show of sounding logical and scientific, though you aren’t. You make arguments that are constrained from their beginning to arrive at certain conclusions desired by religionists. Are you not displaying a lack of faith in your core message, as well as disrespect by falsifying it?

    This would all be much clearer and simpler if you guys would just leave off your feud with evolution. God is great; God is beyond our comprehension; God can build and furnish the universe any damn way he pleases.

  77. arkizzle says:

    Exactly.

    There are giants offering us their shoulders, that we might peek a little further into the unknown..

    Come on up. The view is lovely :)

  78. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    Stroke victims and other abnormal brains that somehow manage to have normal function are examples of the brain’s ability to work around damage. That being said, it doesn’t mean a physically normal brain can’t be mapped.

    fMRI has shown the brains of people who pray, meditate, or perform other acts significant ot their personal beliefs light up in a certain place. Nothing else lights this place up. That’s significant.

    For one, it implies that to our brains, when separated from conscious thoughts about it, whatever beliefs we hold are all EQUAL. As long as those beliefs serve to instill some sense of faith or devotion in the individual, they are equivalent to any other faith, religion, or creen in some part of our brain.

    Again, I don’t ascribe any supernatural significance to it. If there’s a part of our brain that evolved to “believe”, it was to form what we call civilization. Religious beliefs have always played a big part in building cities, nations, empires… no matter what they were… Mere coincidence?

  79. podedwards says:

    The definition of inductive reasoning is:”going beyond the confines of our current evidence or knowledge to conclusions about the unknown”. Conclusions of evolutionary theory represent the result of inductive reasoning. These conclusions support the premise of the argument for evolution but do not and cannot reflect its truthfulness. Until evolutionary theory can prove congruence with the broad spectrum of scientific exploration and subsequent truth, it will remain what it has been, a servile substitute for religion giving rise to angry emotions for its defense and for attacks on it.

    No doubt the human brain reacts the same to the defense of any belief providing an explanation for existence be it evolution or religion.

    If we wandered through a desert and found a long row of cars beginning with an A Model Ford and ending with a new Corvette, we might conclude evolutionary development for that set if we examined the parts and capacity of each car in sequential order. That process might reasonably be described as deductive reasoning with a valid conclusion. If, however, a conclusion is drawn about the source of the animating force then deduction changes to induction and its conclusions become completely unreliable.

    Perhaps the best proof would be to conduct the same experiment on believers in evolutionary theory to determine if their belief performs the same function in the human brain. It will likely prove that we havn’t “evolved” very far at all.

  80. TroofSeeker says:

    I wish we could take our own little poll here:

    “I am an athiest. I have had a strong, inexplicable ‘psychic’ experience.”
    Or “Never had a convincing ‘psychic’ experience.”

    Or

    “I am spiritual, and I have had strong, convincing ‘psychic’ experiences.”
    Or, “I am spiritual, but have never had much of a ‘psychic’ experience.”

    Again, this little poll wouldn’t amount to squat, but it might provide some indicator, or just something to mull over.

    I, for one, am ‘spiritual’, and have had a lot of what I believe to be supernatural experiences, up to and including astral projection.

  81. podedwards says:

    “The key here, is the fMRI’s are examining our ability to create anthropomorphic deities. So, even if we are emotionally wedded to a scientific opinion, our fMRI will probably look different, because we have not anthropomorphized our opinion.”

    Mine was not the first post to use the word “anthropomorphic”. It may be that an MRI might look different but that is the question. We do not know if MRI’s are examining the human trait of anthropomorphizing by the presumably associated brain activity. We do know there is some discussion of the possibility and experiments to explore the possibility. An equally valid hypothesis is that the brain reduces electrical activity in other parts of the brain.

    Probability-like parameters appearing in some statistical models, and their prior distributions, are reinterpreted through the notion of `circumstance’, a term which stands for any piece of knowledge that is useful in assigning a probability and that satisfies some additional logical properties. The idea, which can be traced to Laplace and Jaynes, is that the usual inferential reasonings about the probability-like parameters of a statistical model can be conceived as reasonings about equivalence classes of `circumstances’ – viz., real or hypothetical pieces of knowledge, like e.g. physical hypotheses, that are useful in assigning a probability and satisfy some additional logical properties – that are uniquely indexed by the probability distributions they lead to. Quantum Physics
    Title: `Plausibilities of plausibilities’: an approach through circumstances
    Authors: P. G. L. Porta Mana, A. Månsson, G. Björk

    In this discussion, plausible explanations have been confused with “scientific proof” without any understanding of the parameters of probability.

  82. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    fMRI is being used to justify a lot of pseudo-science…

    However, PET and EEG also show that specific parts of the brain, at least on a general level, are responsible for specific functions.

    I won’t ascribe any supernatural or religious significance to it, but doesn’t it make sense that our brains would evolve a region that perceives some kind of collective consciousness or intelligence?

    As for a bullet to the brain making you lose your “God”? Ask Phineas Gage about that one

  83. FoetusNail says:

    Damn.

  84. Takuan says:

    it is inbedded in my pattern to seek patterns.

  85. robulus says:

    Yeah. But I possibly did froth at the mouth just a little. I’m feeling much better now.

  86. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Community Manager says:

    Weightedcompanioncube, there’s no way we can tell whether or not it’s coincidence, which makes the question less useful than it might be.

  87. 13strong says:

    A friend of mine who specialised in child development and Theory of Mind, responded to the article with this:

    “Interesting, but it is what you might expect if they were thinking about any person. It does not seem to me to explain religious thinking in any way. You would use Theory of Mind for those questions/tasks and tap emotional processing for the others.

    What I have found more interesting recently and may be more directly connected is a paper on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that explores the experience from the point of view that OCD is about responding to perceived potential threat or danger; normally people respond for a bit to feelings of potential danger, then get a sense of knowing that it is ok and the unease switches off. In OCD the sense of knowing never happens so the feeling of threat remains. The hand-washing, repetitive behaviour, or denying oneself + ‘magical thinking’ is reminiscent of religious thinking and religious ritual. In those instances too, where earlier peoples perceived threat and could not do anything about it, they created supernatural routes to reassurance and switching off. Hence sacrifices to the gods, rain dances, and so on. They were giving some sense of control and neutralising danger. Interesting stuff.”

    It kind of goes without saying that my friend is an agnostic/atheist.

  88. robulus says:

    Troofseeker said “perhaps this is the seed of a brain function that vaguely perceives another dimensional plane”

    To which Tim said “Hunh? Do you actually read what you type?”

    Troofseeker is getting at the idea that there may be more spacial dimensions than the three we are capable of perceiving, so that some unexplained psychic phenomena may theoretically be explained by imperceptible physical connections between apparently coincidental events, or synchronicity.

    The idea fleshes out a little something like this.

    Imagine a world with only two dimensions, like a piece of paper. Imagine a lifeform living in this world. They can move left or right, but not up and down, there is no up or down.

    Next imagine a piece of rope passing through the paper at one point, then back through again at another. We perceive the rope as a single, consistent form. But our lifeform living in the two dimensional world sees two distinct forms, with no possible physical connection between the two.

    Now imagine extra dimensions beyond the three spacial dimensions we perceive, and it is theoretically possible to imagine extra-dimensional structures that would appear to us as distinct events with no physical connection, but that are in fact physically connected.

    Its a cool theory. As a plausible explanation for psychic phenomena, its got some major challenges. The most significant is that most reported psychic phenomena can be explained more easily through well understood, established scientific principles, and Ockhams Razor indicates we shouldn’t run off to extra dimensions unless we absolutely have to. Plane crash dreams are very common, it is statistically likely that occasionally someone will have a plane crash dream just before a plane crash. If there is a space shuttle launch, you are more likely to dream about a space shuttle.

    Still, next time you are stoned with some friends, tell them the whole extra dimension thing, its a guarranteed brain exploder for the uninitiated.

  89. FoetusNail says:

    What we have here is a homeschooled christian fundamentalist. He or she was given the chance to present their opinion and then quickly became very un-christian like, as they are prone to doing.

    It’s times like this that make me yearn for a level-headed creationist, but that seems to be an oxymoron.

    One of the biggest problems they have is understanding many of us don’t have beliefs in the same way they have beliefs. They can’t understand how beliefs can change.

    The very idea of transitory belief is the antithesis of intractable religious belief. They’ve believed themselves into a corner, where any small bit of contradictory evidence that cannot be dismissed brings the whole construct down. This is why they so quickly plug their ears and start screaming like Colbert.

    Imagine getting straight A’s in school and then coming out into the world where your life’s knowledge is simply wrong. Imagine coming to terms with the revelation that almost everything you were taught is a religious construct built to protect ancient beliefs from modern science.

    Thankfully, their belief insulates them from ever discovering their mommy, daddy, and everyone at church school lied to them about evolution and the age of the universe. Oh, and don’t forget gravity, that’s new to me, and the voodoo of static and dynamic physics.

  90. Takuan says:

    “God is great; God is beyond our comprehension; God can build and furnish the universe any damn way he pleases.” And there it is, I can accommodate a god that is acknowledged as utterly beyond myself and the person telling me about it. Where I have difficulty is when people make a god, a small god, smaller than themselves in fact since they claim to understand it – and then bring this very small indeed god to me and expect me to acknowledge it. I’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone and stare into infinity.

  91. minTphresh says:

    i dunno robulus, a little frothing now and again is good for the soul.

  92. robulus says:

    It was very therapeutic at the time.

  93. podedwards says:

    Is there a “group” opinion? That’s interesting. One brain controlling many bodies-explains the individual deficiencies expressed in some posts. Not enough horsepower I guess.

    The origin of these posts was an MRI study (move your cursor all the way to the top and see the big words). Religious beliefs, as an artifact of an evolutionary response enhancing human survival, is the premise.

    Although interesting,the underlying assumptions are week with the crucial assumption being that only religious sentiments produce the neural response. Any further study would have to include the presence of the responses from non-religious sentiments to test the construct validity.

    I have already stated the premise I would add-you either understand it or not.

    The response to that suggestion brought about name calling, derision, and an irrational defense of evolutionary theories with grade school conceptualization in fact like might be founds in defense of a belief system exactly like religion.

    While evolutionary theories have many, many weakness (obviously unknown to the dummy crowd), pointing out weaknesses does not mean that I have devalued the process of evolutionary study-not at all.

    The responses from the dummy crowd did not indicate a strong attachment to the scientific method but rather an irrational attachment to what is an occult believe. A belief that is unattached to evolutionary theory.

    The dummies reacted like someone had called their momma a dirty name or like folks who share a common sense of paranoia.

    It takes no intellectual effort to build a straw man which is what happened. To label my remarks as one with “fundamentalist beliefs with an agenda” is the product of mental laziness and lack of credible education on the subject matter.

    Sorry I walked into your Sunday school class and expressed doubts about your deity.

  94. TroofSeeker says:

    @tim: >”…Hunh? Do you actually read what you type?”

    Tim, may I put you down as athiest, no psychic experiences?

  95. arkizzle says:

    Is there a “group” opinion?

    No Pod. I said “our opinions“.

    The response to that suggestion brought about name calling, derision, and an irrational defense of evolutionary theories..

    No. I said you were “portray[ing] yourself as a quack” because you called inertia “voodoo science”. And went on to explain it, which you never responded to, under repeated requests. Which led to you being portrayed as “homeschooled”.

    ..with grade school conceptualization in fact like might be founds in defense of a belief system exactly like religion.

    Your main points have been about how people “anthropomorphise” concepts, so can’t possible know anything. Your language has been lofty to the point of meaninglessness. How do we engage with that, when you won’t engage in any of the conversations directed at you?

    While evolutionary theories have many, many weakness (obviously unknown to the dummy crowd), pointing out weaknesses does not mean that I have devalued the process of evolutionary study-not at all.

    Again, the weakness you have pointed out, were spurious and based on our conception of the world filterd through our senses, which would mess up everything we discover, not just our study of evolution.

    As Robulus said, way upthread: “Your question … might be an interesting one to consider, but it’s not your main point. It’s a tenuous thread to keep your comments on topic.

    Have you any ‘weaknesses’ of evolution that relate to evolution itself, or is it all handwavium?

  96. Takuan says:

    of who’s wiki also contains:
    “Along with obvious desirability of correcting the record of a famous case, Macmillan states that “Phineas’ story is worth remembering because it illustrates how easily a small stock of facts becomes transformed into popular and scientific myth,” the paucity of evidence having allowed “the fitting of almost any theory to the small number of facts we have.” This echoes the concern expressed more than one hundred years earlier by neurologist David Ferrier, who in 1877 confessed to being “amazed at the inexactitude and distortion to which [the facts of the Gage case] are subject by men who have some pet theory to support.” Thus in the 19th-century controversy over whether or not the various mental functions are localized in specific regions of the brain, both sides found ways to cite Gage in support of their positions. Adherents of phrenology made use of Gage as well, claiming that his mental changes stemmed from destruction of his “Organ of Veneration” and/or the adjacent “Organ of Benevolence.”

  97. robulus says:

    Pod, my old mate, my old chum.

    Evolution is only required to “sustain a life view contained within a believe system offering an alternative to religion”, if that religion requires you to believe in creation, literally, as described by the bible.

    And if you believe in creation, literally, as described by the bible, your beliefs have nothing to do with science, scientific rigor, or any interest in finding objective truth, whatsoever. So don’t pretend like you do, and act all “sciencey”.

    Pod also completely wigged out and said “I don’t give a flying fuck if you jack off to a photo of Darwin or if you think you’ve had a blow job from the Virgin Mary. Who the fuck cares?”

    Awesome!

  98. Anonymous says:

    Regional brain studies and diagnoses are garbage, for two closely related reasons:

    1) there are people out there whose brains are strips around bags of water, who have normal intelligence.

    2) In a lot of cases, stroke victims can completely re-learn, from scratch, lost abilities (walking, talking) The real test of this will be before-and-after brainscans of these patients (in reasonably large numbers, of course) doing the activity

    Incidentally, why are there never ‘controls’ in these studies? I’m thinking at the very least people told to think about something boring and noncommittal, instead of an emotionally charged subject?

  99. Takuan says:

    Pod, I question if you actually want anyone to talk to you.

  100. jrustenhoven says:

    so it boils down to emotional statements stimulate emotion centres,knowledge based statements stimulate linguistic centres and statements about god’s intent towards us stimulate centres that process people’s intentions. shock horror, quel surprise! can’t believe that shit gets into PNAS!

  101. FoetusNail says:

    Finding it impossible to silence my thoughts, I instead attempt to ignore the noise. Chanting has always been a shortcut.

    After watching Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED presentation, I’m thinking chanting, drumming, or other repetitious tasks occupy or hypnotize, (grasping for words) the left brain, so the right brain can do its thing. These tasks would also be easily ignored or enjoyed by the right brain.

    Taking this further, maybe some of us non-musicians, who are inexplicably drawn to music, are unknowingly trying to silence an annoying left brain.

    Taylor’s presentation left me with a new worry; if I have a cerebral hemorrhage, please don’t let it be on the right side. My left side is verbose o_O

  102. arkizzle says:

    SO.. basically:

    â—Œ You disagree with our opinions, so we must all be deluded by anthropomorphism and not ‘get it’.

    â—Œ Only you know the ‘true’ scientific method, and we all are blinded by dogma and catechism?

    Okaaay..

    Do you actually have an opinion (reasonable ideas on the topic of evolution), or are you just here to stir it up by dismissing science as fundamentalism?

  103. robulus says:

    I quite like Kadinsky too, for that matter. I think I saw some of his work at the Guggenheim.

    Probably wouldn’t want him heading NASA though.

  104. Anonymous says:

    fMRI stands for fantastic Magical Religion Indicator?

  105. FoetusNail says:

    Anyone who believes in psychic experiences should offer up their proof before Randi withdraws the million dollar challenge.

  106. Takuan says:

    why is there a correlation between spiritual experience in humans and “flying” (as mentioned in sky diving,scuba/free diving comments? Is there a physical reason?

  107. FoetusNail says:

    Evolution is not a religion, but simply a theory that attempts to understand the evidence. We believe the theory because we understand the evidence. While we can be hard headed in our opinions, we do not anthropomorphize evolution. We do not claim to find spiritual peace or salvation in evolutionary theory.

    Religion, and probably gods, are merely inventions of the mind. The foundation of religious belief is literally ancient myth that is accepted as knowledge. Each new religion is generally cleaved from another and builds on the myths of the older religion.

    Since the dawn of science, secular knowledge has slowly, and usually painfully, supplanted religious myth. That the universe is unimaginably older than our dominate Western religions would have us believe, casts more than a little doubt on all of the claims made by these religions.

    The Theory of Evolution does not say how or why we were created; the theory merely interprets evidence that was beyond the philosophies of the time. The question, is why don’t these ancient texts contain anything of substance beyond the ignorance of the times in which they were written. The age of this universe is difficult to comprehend, but is also why life is possible. When you only need one out of infinity, then yes chance can create a world filled with sentient life. Maybe this is all there is in the universe.

    That people accept these myths as metaphor and accept the Theory of Evolution as the best explanation for the mountains of evidence confronting us, says nothing about their spirituality.

    That thousands of gods have lived and died in our imaginations, does not speak well of religious belief. The fMRI’s serve to explain the nature of belief, which in turn provides insight into religious belief. That our minds process these religious feelings and emotions no differently than a child believing in Santa Claus, explains the ubiquitous nature of religion and why our place of birth is the biggest reason for our religious convictions.

    We’re discussing the very nature of belief, not religion. Obviously, the ability to believe, not necessarily what we believe, is important to our survival. Everything is a product of evolution. There is no which came first question. Creatures and eggs evolved together. Memory, imagination, belief, and intelligence are the cornerstones of humanity, without which we would not be human.

    That we use these abilities and our capacity for belief to create religions is not surprising. What is surprising, is our clinging to archaic beliefs in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. We build layer upon layer of conspiracy and contrivance in an effort to deny the obvious. There are people who refuse to believe the Earth orbits the Sun, because this contradicts a bible passage. No one is demanding anyone give up on their gods. Just shelve the archaic divisive god of vengeance and retribution. Find the god of compassion. Find a god that instead of capricious and conditional forgiveness, offers acceptance.

  108. Takuan says:

    has anyone lost their god after say, a bullet through the right place?

  109. TroofSeeker says:

    @Takuan
    >”…it is inbedded in my pattern to seek patterns.”

    Absolutely. And I’ve seen lots of patterns. d8^)
    I don’t trust illusions or halucinations any more than you do.
    I wonder if my “god lobe” is bigger than yours, and that’s why I have faith in a god you deny? Given a choice, there may be some other organ I’d rather have enlarged…
    I hope some hard facts come up on this. I find it fascinating.

  110. robulus says:

    Takuan asked “why is there a correlation between spiritual experience in humans and “flying” (as mentioned in sky diving,scuba/free diving comments? Is there a physical reason?”

    I’ve always felt that scuba diving reactivates some deep seated prehistoric genetic memory of my piscean ancestry. Kind of like “Ahhhh yes, floating! This is where I belong.”

    Could be a Freudian womb thing though.

  111. minTphresh says:

    yay! foetusnail for the mfw!

  112. FoetusNail says:

    “Is this love or confusion?”

    IMO, there seems to be confusion, people confuse euphoria, caused by an adrenalin flood, with spiritual experience. When we intoxicate ourselves in Sunday service we call it a religious experience. But is it anymore spiritual than having the shit scared out of you?

    Many women giving birth naturally, experience more of a Zen like satori, where time and self cease to exist. They don’t really hear what is going on around them, and afterwards feel as though they’ve returned from somewhere they’ve never been before. When they are in *baby time*, talking to them is not only pointless, but can actually interrupt the birth.

    My wife took advantage of her knowledge gained during her first delivery and more thoroughly experienced and enjoyed the second. As the night started we listened to music and talked between contractions in the first stage of labor, but then once she went into transition and then the second stage of labor, she was in another place. Her body took over and she was able to experience a totally different state of awareness.

    I am envious of her experience. When discussing my children’s births, with my five year old son, I explain to him this is why mommies will always have a different love for their children than we men will ever understand.

    My experiences have been both sudden and disorienting, and gradual. Having been in a aerobatic sailplane or on a 300 ft. roller coaster, or a car accident or any number of adrenalin floods, my experience is those are not spiritual moments in and of themselves. Reality certainly shifts when you’re hiding in a dark room with a gun in each hand, but it ain’t spiritual. They weren’t looking for me, but I was unsure if they new that important piece of information.

    Every moment is a spiritual moment, but what is our level of awareness. Are we too busy collecting rocks to remember we are on the moon?

    However, few things equal the experience of three or four hours of intense meditation and chanting. Chanting for a few hours, with fifty others, is a hell of an experience, though not a gospel hour exhilaration. The room ceases to exist and there is no longer a sensation of sitting on the floor with others.

    Moments of extreme clarity come out of the blue. Unaware of time, my perception of my surroundings changes radically. Consciousness grows outside of my physical confines without the effort of meditation. It’s not so much that I leave my body, but that I’m no longer aware of a physical being. Or, maybe my physical being just grows to encompass everything.

    When I was younger I wanted to be a monk, but I did other things; now I have two kids.

    Maybe, if I have any time left, I will return.

  113. podedwards says:

    An object is at rest with respect to the forces acting on it. If an object is at rest the forces acting on it must be balanced. The forces acting on an object are always in balance.

    How does an object remain in motion unless a force acts upon it? Is force a quality of mass like gravity is supposed to be? So any object in motion has infinite energy to continue the motion? How come?

    What is gravity? How is gravity an innate quality of mass? How did it get this quality? Where is it going? What is it going to do?

  114. rationalist says:

    Assuming that everything must be the “deliberate” product of evolution reveals a poor understanding of evolution. Many emergent phenomena are by-products of evolutionary development, rather than being specifically selected via natural selection. The human brain is the most complex system ever evolved; it manifests all sorts of emergent behavior not clearly related to evolutionary imperatives.

    When it comes to physical structures in an organism, it typically takes millions of years for significant changes to occur, particularly when we’re talking about internal structures. There is no reason to support that the “God-center” is the product of an evolutionary imperative than there is to suppose that the harmony between certain types of classical music and the resultant brain waves they induce is the product of evolution.

    There are theories about why it might be useful to believe in a God, but it is just as likely that we survived, and evolved, in spite of it, rather than because of it.

  115. arkizzle says:

    Why should a scientific theory be held free from attack, or in safety or held free from being proven all or partly false to its premise?

    It isn’t; that’s exactly the point of science.

    Evolution has been attacked for 150 years, by both the people who cared about scientific rigour and those that didn’t. It has been expanded and refined, but it’s still here. You’re not the first to question it, and you won’t be the last. If you want to make a dent in evolution, you had better go and study the appropriate disciplines, because you have a lot of catching up to do if you think inertia is voodoo.

  116. Spikeles says:

    “They say humans evolved to imagine what other people are feeling, even people who aren’t present”

    therefore:
    If we hook people up to machines and ask them about someone who isn’t present these bits of their brain light up.. cool huh?

    Wonder what would happen if we replaced the word “God” with “Elvis”..

  117. arkizzle says:

    Yeah, that was a really nicely written post, Foet’.

  118. FoetusNail says:

    I’m not yet convinced, but will temporarily give the benefit of doubt. And no, the responses to your comments say nothing about people’s emotions. Your premises were not attacked intellectually, because they were off topic and trollish.

    The Theory of Evolution is no more similar to some religious belief than the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun and is billions of years old.

    The reason for this is the Theory of Evolution is simply a fact of life. The basic concept that life on this planet has evolved over billions of years is not in question. While there may be disagreements as to exactly how evolution works, there is no question, no argument, or disagreement that everything is the result of evolution, except of course, from religious fundamentalists.

    Your calling inertia voodoo, may have saved your ass.

  119. Takuan says:

    hey, so long as they eventually come up with a machine to put people in that makes them see me as their god, it’s all good.

  120. TroofSeeker says:

    @WeightedCompanionCube
    >”…I won’t ascribe any supernatural or religious significance to it, but doesn’t it make sense that our brains would evolve a region that perceives some kind of collective consciousness or intelligence?”

    Very interesting, Mr. Cube! Here’s a couple thoughts of mine…

    1.) Religion and spiritualism aside, perhaps this is the seed of a brain function that vaguely perceives another dimensional plane. That might just encourage a lot of creative imaginings.

    2.) I wonder if it might be larger in children, and often wither over time in adults that don’t use it.

    3.) Maybe it’s genetic, like a prehensile tail.
    If you tease me about mine I’ll slap you with it!

    @Takuan
    >”…has anyone lost their god after say, a bullet through the right place?”

    More likely MET their god.

    Let’s apply for a federal grant of, say, $3B US to research this!

  121. sylvanfae says:

    Troof: “I am an athiest. I have had a strong, inexplicable ‘psychic’ experience.” More than one.

    But also the “I am spiritual” could apply too. Insufficient terminology? Atheists can be spiritual. You might mean Militant Rationalist, instead of atheist. You know, the ones who reject anything they perceive as superstitious, out of hand, before even examining evidence. They’d be more likely to explain it in their preferred manner, as hallucinations, not admit they can’t explain it.

    Arkizzle: The nature of most of the phenomena would place them “in your head”. Because what should we do – call up NASA every time we have a dream about the Columbia exploding and raining down debris? Yeah, they’d just love that!

    And it’s not like I knew the specifics (the name of the shuttle), or even that it was precognitive, until after the shuttle blew up, a few days later, and I saw an image on the cover of Time Magazine that was like someone took a photo of my dream. Some dreams are just dreams, and the psychic ones are indistinguishable from the others until they’ve come about in waking life. At least for me.

    But maybe I could find some way of certifying the dates in my dream journal… maybe have you stamp them right after I wake up and write them down? Then we wait and see…

  122. Takuan says:

    I knew`you’d say that.

  123. Takuan says:

    Nail: what is your estimation on the existence of sentient life out there?

  124. TroofSeeker says:

    I quite agree, Robulus.

    When I was four we moved near a beach. My older brother and I were walking together in the shallows. I fell into a hole, and I clearly remember it… weightless, floating. I was fascinated, and not frightened. Until I got a mouthful of seawater.

    I have a photo of my first son, six months old, swimming thru a hoop underwater. I think babies should be delivered in warm water, to reduce trauma.

    I don’t think it’s the Freudian womb thing, because we were too tight in the womb for a floating sensation.

  125. robulus says:

    @podedwards

    “All the statements above concerning my posts are false and represent an attack on an imagined me rather than on the questions I posed. It’s very unfortunate.”

    Turning up with your first post, challenging evolution, seeking to promote “radical” alternatives, all big red flags. Its certainly possible I’m misreading your intent, but then these posts have been needlessly vague, so your intent has been hard to fathom.

    “Is it representative of the level of discourse here?”

    Dunno. You’ll have to stick around and try talking about other stuff to find out.

    “If anyone is “pissed off” by these ideas then its proof of the presence of a belief system rather than the presence of scientific understanding which is the whole point.”

    There is an organised campaign by religious fundamentalists to generate debate about evolutionary theory with a non-scientific theory called intelligent design. The purpose of this campaign is to disrupt the course of scientific education. Your arguments, although vague, are perilously similar to those of ID proponents.

    I do get angry with the ID folks. I think their tactics and agenda are underhanded. This has nothing to do with any perceived threat to the scientific status of widely accepted theories like evolution.

    “You you provide us with which independent fields of science have corroborated evolution…”

    Fossil record, biology – embryology and genetics, biogeography.

    “… and the identification of which elements have been corroborated and how, your definition of corroboration and all the sources you used as a basis for the allegation.”

    Get a secretary. For our argument, assume I agree with everything here.

  126. podedwards says:

    Examples of common anthropomorphisms used in science education in primary grades providing children an opportunity to associate scientific concepts with familiar concepts and vocabulary. There are endless examples-here are a few.

    “The Natural World invented” Invent: to produce (as something useful) for the first time through the use of the imagination or of ingenious thinking and experiment. Invention and imagination are human qualities.

    The Natural World/Science/Evolution “reveals” Reveal: to make known through divine inspiration/disclose secret/to open. Revelation is a human capacity or experience.

    “Science teaches us” teach: a human imparting skills or knowledge to another human. Science does not have the capacity to teach. Humans have the capacity to teach scientific concepts.

    Not abandoning these scientific anthropomorphisms after early childhood leads only to the dismissal of the rigors of true critical science as unimportant and as threatening to beliefs based grade school science education.

    Darwin could only draw on the folk psychology, alchemy, and the superstitions of his time. He interpreted the phenomena he observed with simplistic anthropomorphisms. Even ardent supporters of the beginnings of evolutionary theory and Darwin realized that Darwin’s use of anthropomorphisms was antithetical to the scientific method and would diminish the usefulness of his observations in adopting the same use of anthropomorphisms used historically by religion in describing deity by human analogy.

    “…we are incessantly at fault in our tendency to anthropomorphize, a tendency which causes us to interpret ac¬tions according to the analogies of human nature” George Herbert Lewes in a presentation to the Lennean Society (The first Academic society to promote Darwin’s ideas).

    Evolution has devolved into a belief system for many who retain only a grade school understanding of what the scientific method is, how it must be applied to evolutionary theories and who dismiss it unknowingly as unimportant to their beliefs. The childish antagonism between “fundamentalist” religionists and “fundamentalist” believers in evolution” is a battle between two faith based beliefs and benefits neither scientific understand or religion. Irrationality, paranoia and the desire to impose a belief system are characteristic of both.

    However, many are able to easily distinguish the functional and critical differences between science and religion which allows respect for both and fear of neither. For me the intolerance and contention between both groups of fundamentalists is much like observing a fight between two year olds over a toy which belongs to neither.

    In response to “Foetusnail” who wrote, “What we have here is a homeschooled christian fundamentalist. He or she was given the chance to present their opinion and then quickly became very un-christian like, as they are prone to doing.

    No. You apparently can’t find your ass with both hands. Your bigoted, foolish and infantile remarks are incorrect. I am not a Christian but I am an adult. Don’t be concerned with my vocabulary
    you need all your time devoted to finding your own ass. If you do, try to pull your head out of it.

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