|HUMANS ARE BORN TO BELIEVE IN GOD......says Sciences of Cognitive Psychology & Neuro-theology ....|
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on April 25, 2010
.....WESTERN SCIENCE TODATE AND CURRENT
TRIES TO EXPLAIN...
....HOW MAN KNOWS ABOUT GOD....
|OM Represents God in
vED... God (left)
reaching out and almost touching Adam
God symbols in various cultures and
in painting by Michelangelo.....
"Religious beliefs result from poor
education and childhood “indoctrination”.
- Dr. Richard Dawkins, M.A., D.Phil. (Oxford
University) (born 26 March
British Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, fellow
of New College, Oxford,
ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science,
author of the 2007 book THE GOD DELUSION sold more than
1.5 million copies and had been translated into 31 other
languages....1976 book The
Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype...
an atheist, secular humanist, skeptic, scientific rationalist, a
prominent critic of creationism and intelligent design.
“The picture is more complex than above.....
Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of
that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs
about how the world
....and children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning
them to all kinds of
supernatural beliefs about how the world works.”
Dr. Bruce Hood
Award-winning British cognitive
scientist, professor of
developmental psychology, experimental psychologist,
has taught at Cambridge, Harvard and MIT and currently
teaches at Bristol University ...and well known for his ideas on humans
being hard-wired for religion...and whose latest research is today's news story....
.........Innate belief in things beyond what’s rational or
natural are common to humans.
According to Bruce Hood, this “super sense” is
something we’re born with and essential to the way we learn to
understand the world.
We couldn’t live without it!
Therefore it is unlikely that any effort to get rid of supernatural
or the superstitious behaviors that accompany them, will be successful.
Moreover, these beliefs are essential in binding us together as a
.......SO WHO OR WHAT IS RIGHT AND/OR WRONG???!!!....
.......HERE IS SOME HUMAN THOUGHTS
ON GOD AND MAN.....
Any fool can count the seeds in an apple.
Only God can count all the apples in one seed.
~Robert H. Schuller (born September
16, 1926) is an American televangelist, pastor, and author
known around the world through his weekly Hour of Power television
He is the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California,
where the Hour of Power program originates
Maybe the atheist cannot find God
for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.
When I saw others straining toward God, I did not understand it,
for though I may have had him less than they did,
there was no one blocking the way between him and me,
and I could reach his heart easily.
It is up to him, after all, to have us,
our part consists of almost solely in letting him grasp us.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, (4 December 1875
– 29 December 1926)
is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th-century poets
If you understand how a very big tree
which prepares itself in fall season
to face a very cold winter of sub-zero temperatures
and weathers winter storms and colds
which humans will die of in a few minutes if unsheltered....
.....and then again sprouts into a green living tree
producing flowers and fruits
without any human help....
.....then you would understand the relationship
between God and all its creations.
- Champaklal Dajibhai Mistry, (born
1945) Professional Engineer (civil), Canada
and evergreen student of vED SCIENCES OF LIFE AND CREATION
to understand and share with humanity to empower humanity in daily living with the
which includes the relationship of God and God's diversity of infinite
creations in each of God's infinite universes ...
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.
An Essay on Man, 1734
......Conceptions of God itself
vary widely among
current diversity of humanity
and diversity of humanity's cultures and
beliefs on this planet Earth.....
|Please click on the next line to go to the next web page..... where
you would find today's news story about
Dr. Bruce Hood's latest research
which shows to explain other research in the Go-Man relationship that
explains why many people become religious as adults, despite not having
been brought up within any faith....and also the take on this subject
from the scientific discipline called
NEUROTHEOLOGY which is
researching scientifically to determine
what's happening in the brain during a religious experience.....
.....As is interpreted in the painting below of St. Paul.....
Today's news story started out
as an ordinary day for Saul back in A.D. 36.....
Saul wanted to murder disciples of a
man who claimed to be the Messiah, and he was on his way to Damascus to
do so. Then, on the way to Damascus, a light flashed all around Saul. He
fell to the ground and heard a voice that claimed to be Jesus Christ.
The voice told him to continue to the town, a task likely made no easier
by the blindness Saul experienced when he got up. Saul remained blind
for three days, until a disciple named Ananias laid hands upon him.
Saul's sight was restored, and he immediately became baptized. After his
experience, Saul became a powerful preacher for Jesus; today, he's
better known as St. Paul.....
Time & Life Pictures/Stringer/Getty
The conversion of Saint Paul
to Christianity on the road to Damascus.
HUMANS are born to believe in God....
Says Bruce Hood,
professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University
The Sunday Times,
UK: September 6, 2009: Jonathan Leake and Andrew Sniderman)
|ATHEISM really may be fighting against nature: humans have been
hardwired by evolution to believe in God, scientists have suggested.
The idea has emerged from studies of the way children’s brains develop
and of the workings of the brain during religious experiences. They
suggest that during evolution groups of humans with religious tendencies
began to benefit from their beliefs, perhaps because they tended to work
together better and so stood a greater chance of survival.
The findings challenge campaigners against organized religion, such as
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. He has long argued that
religious beliefs result from poor education and childhood
Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University,
believes the picture is more complex. “Our research shows children have
a natural, intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of
supernatural beliefs about how the world works,” he said.
“As they grow up they overlay these beliefs with more rational
approaches but the tendency to illogical supernatural beliefs remains as
Hood, who will present his findings at the British Science Association’s
annual meeting this week, sees organized religion as just part of a
spectrum of supernatural beliefs.
Other researchers have found that even ardent atheists may balk at the
idea of accepting an organ transplant from a murderer, because of a
superstitious belief that an individual’s personality could be stored in
Such work is supported by other researchers who have found evidence
linking religious feelings and experience to particular regions of the
brain. They suggest people are programmed to get a feeling of
spirituality from what is nothing more than electrical activity in these
Andrew Newberg, professor of radiology at the University of
Pennsylvania, has used brain-imaging techniques to show that such
feelings are invoked by activity in “belief networks” operating across
the brain. This supersedes the earlier concept of a “God spot”,
activated during meditation or prayer.
“The temporal lobe interacts with many other parts of the brain to
provide the full range of religious and spiritual experiences,” he said.
This mechanistic view of religious experience is reinforced by separate
research carried out by Michael Persinger of Laurentian University,
Ontario, who has used powerful magnetic fields to induce visions and
spiritual experiences in volunteers.
Barbara Hagerty became one of Persinger’s subjects while researching
Fingertips of God, a book on brain processes underlying religion. “I saw
images and cartoonish figures. It didn’t convince me there was no God,
but it did show me how much the brain is connected to our beliefs and
perceptions,” she said.
Some researchers argue that humans’ innate tendency towards supernatural
beliefs explains why many people become religious as adults, despite not
having been brought up within any faith. Scientists believe that the
durability of religion is in part because it helps people to bond.
Professor Pascal Boyer, an anthropologist at Washington University and
author of Religion Explained, supports Hood’s view that the origins of
religion may lie in common childhood experiences. In a recent article in
Nature, the science journal, he said: “From childhood, humans form
enduring and important social relationships with fictional characters,
imaginary friends, deceased relatives, unseen heroes and fantasized
“It is a small step from this to conceptualizing spirits, dead ancestors
and gods, who are neither visible nor tangible.” Boyer holds out little
hope for atheism. “Religious thinking seems to be the path of least
resistance for our cognitive systems,” he said. “By contrast, disbelief
is generally the work of deliberate, effortful work against our natural
cognitive dispositions — hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.”
The Rev Michael Reiss, who is professor of science education at London
University’s Institute of Education and also an Anglican priest, said he
saw no reason why such research should undermine religious belief.
“I am quite sure there will be a biological basis to religious faith,”
Reiss said. “We are evolved creatures and the whole point about humanity
is that we are rooted in the natural world.”
.........AND NOW CONTINUE TO STUDY......
AT THE START OF TODAY'S NEWS STORY
IN LIGHT OF
EVOLVING KNOWLEDGE OF
a scientific field currently known as
.....which is intersection of science and religion....
......The goal of neurotheology is to determine
what's happening in the brain during a religious experience.....
......Is the brain
hardwired for religion?
(By Molly Edmond...From
|Paul's story is interesting not just to biblical scholars, but to
neuro-scientists as well.
Some scientists claim that the account of this conversion, found in the
book of Acts, contains enough evidence to diagnose Paul with temporal
lobe epilepsy. The flash of light, the voices and the fall to the ground
are the evidence of a seizure, according to these neuroscientists, with
the blindness a result of the postictal state that follows a seizure
[source: Brorson, Brewer]. While most doctors agree that it's impossible
to diagnose epilepsy definitively in someone who lived so long ago, Paul
would join some other religious figures reputed to have brain disorders,
including Moses and St. Teresa of Avila [sources: BBC, Begley].
The link between epilepsy and the Lord doesn't end with that list,
though. In one study, researchers examined how certain words affected
those with epilepsy compared to those without. The words were divided
into three groups: neutral words, like "table," erotic words, such as
"sex," and religious words, such as "God." In those without epilepsy,
erotic words produced the biggest change in body chemistry, but in
people with epilepsy, religious words created the biggest emotional
effect. Sexual words had a much lower response [source: BBC]. Like the
story of Paul, this study seemed to suggest that the temporal lobe has
something to do with religious feelings.
These examples represent the intersection of science and religion, a
field currently known as neurotheology. The goal of neurotheology is to
determine what's happening in the brain during a religious experience.
Obviously, the field can be a bit controversial; those with deeply
spiritual beliefs about the connection between a person and his or her
maker aren't thrilled about reducing religion to something happening in
the brain. But the work of the scientists does seem to show that there's
some connection with our gray matters and our pray matters. So, is
nirvana all in our noggin? Are we simply responding to brain firings
when we drag ourselves out of bed on Sunday morning? Read on to find out
what God might be doing to your brain.
The Brain During Religious Experiences
Andrea Pistolesi/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Because of the work connecting temporal lobe epilepsy
and spiritual experiences, scientists previously believed that the
temporal lobe was the only part of the brain involved in religious
feelings. Recent imaging studies, however, have shown that many parts of
the brain are activated during a religious experience.
At the forefront of these imaging studies is Andrew Newberg, a doctor at
the University of Pennsylvania. Newberg used single photon emission
computed tomography, or SPECT, imaging to take pictures of the brain
during religious activity. SPECT provides a picture of blood flow in the
brain at a given moment, so more blood flow indicates more activity.
One of Newberg's studies examined the brains of Tibetan Buddhist monks
as they meditated. The monks indicated to Newberg that they were
beginning to enter a meditative state by pulling on a piece of string.
At that moment, Newberg injected radioactive dye via an intravenous line
and imaged the brain. Newberg found increased activity in the frontal
lobe, which deals with concentration; the monks obviously were
concentrating on the activity [source: Vedantam].
But Newberg also found an immense decrease of activity in the parietal
lobe. The parietal lobe, among other things, orients a person in a
three-dimensional space. This lobe helps you look around to determine
that you're 15 feet (4.6 meters) away from a bathroom, 6 feet (1.8
meters) away from a door and so on. Newberg hypothesizes that the
decreased activity in the brains of the meditating monks indicates that
they lose their ability to differentiate where they end and something
else begins [source: Paulson]. In other words, they become at one with
the universe, a state often described in a moment of transcendence.
And it seems to matter little to whom or what that religious activity is
directed toward, for Newberg found similar brain activity in the brains
of praying nuns. Though the nuns were praying to God, rather than
meditating like the monks, they showed increased activity in the frontal
lobe as they began focusing their minds. There was also a decrease of
activity in the parietal lobe, seemingly indicating that the nuns lost
their sense of self in relation to the real world and were able to
achieve communion with God [source: Paulson].
There were, however, slight differences in the brain activity of one
religious group: Pentecostal Christians who speak in tongues. The
Pentecostals actually experienced a decrease in frontal lobe activity;
instead of focusing their attention as the nuns and monks did, they paid
less attention to the task at hand [source: Carey]. Even though they
spoke in tongues, the language center of the brain wasn't activated
[source: Paulson]. This brain activity is fairly consistent with
descriptions of what speaking in tongues is like -- you lose control of
yourself as a person, and God speaks through you.
While Newberg's work has been supported by other scientists conducting
imaging studies, some have a problem with the basis of the experiment.
Critics of Newberg's work argue that you can't reduce all religious
behaviors to just meditating or praying [source: PBS]. Religion
encompasses more than that. What, for example, might happen in the brain
of someone doing charity work for the poor? What happens when someone
makes a moral choice based on his or her belief system? Newberg's work
as of yet is focused on individual, private experiences, as opposed to
the relationships and experiences that happen between other people
Others are more concerned with the implications of the study. If
religion is just an activation of certain parts of the brain, does that
mean God or any higher power is just in our heads? That's not
necessarily what scientists are trying to prove or disprove. After all,
if we are wired to believe in God, then it's not a far leap to believe
that God is the one who wired humans that way. But if we have this
structure, is there any way to tinker with it so that we can have
mystical experiences all the time? And is there any benefit to this
brain structure in the first place? Go on to the next page to find out.
Do We Need the God Helmet?
As we learn more about what happens in the brain during a religious
experience, is it possible that we'll ever be able to create them
ourselves? Could we flip a switch and see the face of God? No more
meditation, prayer or fasting? A scientist named Michael Persinger
thinks it's possible.
Persinger has gained attention for his work with the "God Helmet,"
headgear so named because it may induce a person to feel the presence of
God. The God Helmet includes electrodes that Persinger uses to alter the
electromagnetic field at the temporal lobes. Persinger claims he can
create a religious experience for anyone by disrupting the brain with
regular electric pulses. This will cause the left temporal lobe to
explain the activity in the right side of the brain as a sensed
presence. The sensed presence could be anything from God to demons, and
when not told what the experiment involved, about 80 percent of God
Helmet wearers reported sensing something nearby [source: BBC].
Warner Bros./Getty Images
Not that kind of God Helmet. George Burns in the film "Oh, God! Book II"
Will it work for everyone? Richard Dawkins, famous for his criticism of
religion, reported only slight dizziness and twitching in the legs after
some time in the God Helmet [source: Horgan]. Persinger says that some
people may just be more genetically predisposed to sensing God or
another higher power, and they may not need a God Helmet to do so
[source: Hitt]. According to Persinger, naturally occurring
electromagnetic fields can also cause religious experiences,
particularly in those with this predisposition to sensing God. For
example, powerful meteor showers were occurring when Joseph Smith,
founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, was visited by the angel
Moroni, and when Charles Taze Russell formed the Jehovah's Witnesses
But is there any advantage to being genetically open to God? Scientists
are trying to discern if there's an evolutionary reason for why our
brains are so receptive to religious experiences. Religion might be a
side effect of a developing brain; our brains needed ways to explain the
world around us, so they may have created a belief system that could
serve as kind of default place to turn in the case of questions.
Religion could serve that purpose to early man, with its somewhat
supernatural stories to explain cause-and-effect. But now, religion is
an expensive trait to carry forward; it involves time and sacrifice,
such as fasting. And now, there are scientific methods to explaining the
world. Shouldn't religion have died by now?
Atheists may, of course, say yes, but as one anthropologist points out,
even some atheists cross their fingers when a plane experiences
turbulence. This may indicate that our brain will always seek out some
sort of transcendental hope or otherworldly protection, even if it's not
called God [source: Henig]. And some evolutionary biologists argue that
there are important individual and collective benefits to a mind
hardwired for religion [source: The Economist]. Individually, people who
believe that someone bigger than themselves is watching them may make
better choices in terms of their evolutionary fitness; they may be less
likely to drink or engage in other dangerous behaviors if they feel
something or someone higher than them may disapprove. But the real
benefit may come down to a facet of Darwinism that doesn't get much
attention anymore: survival of entire groups.
One study evaluated the success of various communes in 19th-century
America. The communes with a secular ideology were four times as likely
to disband in any given year [source: The Economist]. But in religious
communes, such as modern-day kibbutzim in Israel, those subject to the
strongest religious rules have been shown to be the most altruistic and
cooperative of the bunch. In tests that examine an individual's
generosity when the entire group is at stake, those living in these
types of communities of faith are more likely to pool resources, which
promotes the survival of the collective [source: The Economist].
Religion in that sense is a way for people to work together, to have an
interest in an entire group's survival due to shared beliefs.
While scientists in the field of neurotheology continue to examine these
types of issues, head on over to the next page for more interesting
articles on the brain.
Lots More Information
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
•Begley, Sharon and Anne Underwood. "Religion and the Brain." Newsweek.
May 7, 2001.
•Britt, Robert Roy. "Monsters, Ghosts and Gods: Why We Believe."
LiveScience. Aug. 18, 2008. (Sept. 9, 2008)
•Brorson, James R. and Kathleen Brewer. "St. Paul and temporal lobe
epilepsy." Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. June 1988.
(Sept. 9, 2008)
•Carey, Benedict. "A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues." New
York Times. Nov. 7, 2006. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•"God on the Brain". Programme Summary and Transcript. BBC. April 17,
2003. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Henig, Robin Marantz. "Darwin's God." New York Times. March 4, 2007.
(Sept. 8, 2008)
•Hitt, Jack. "This Is Your Brain on God." Wired. November 1999. (Sept.
•Horgan, John. "How to wire your brain for religious ecstasy." Slate.
April 26, 2007. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Horgan, John. "The God Experiments. Discover Magazine. Nov. 20, 2006.
(Sept. 8, 2008)
•Meeks, Wayne A. ed. "The HarperCollins Study Bible, New Revised
Standard Version." HarperCollins Publishers. 1993.
•Paulson, Steve. "Divining the brain." Salon. Sept. 20, 2006. (Sept. 8,
•Peters, Karl E. "Neurotheology and Evolutionary Theology: Reflections
on 'The Mystical Mind'." Zygon. September 2001.
•"Religion and the Brain." PBS. Nov. 9, 2001. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Rothstein, Meryl. "Brain Changes While Speaking in Tongues." Seed
Magazine. Nov. 9, 2006. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Than, Ker. "No 'God Spot' in the Human Brain." LiveScience. Aug. 29,
2006. (Sept. 9, 2008)
•Vedantam, Shankar. "Tracing the Synapses of Our Spirituality."
Washington Post. June 17, 2001. (Sept. 9, 2008)
•"Where angels no longer fear to tread." The Economist. March 22, 2008.
(Sept. 9, 2008)
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