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How Your Brain Creates God

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posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 03:23 PM

WHILE many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.

This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.

Religious ideas are common to all cultures: like language and music, they seem to be part of what it is to be human. Until recently, science has largely shied away from asking why. "It's not that religion is not important," says Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University, "it's that the taboo nature of the topic has meant there has been little progress."

The origin of religious belief is something of a mystery, but in recent years scientists have started to make suggestions. One leading idea is that religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes people more likely to survive and pass their genes onto the next generation. In this view, shared religious belief helped our ancestors form tightly knit groups that cooperated in hunting, foraging and childcare, enabling these groups to outcompete others. In this way, the theory goes, religion was selected for by evolution, and eventually permeated every human society (New Scientist, 28 January 2006, p 30)

The religion-as-an-adaptation theory doesn't wash with everybody, however. As anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor points out, the benefits of holding such unfounded beliefs are questionable, in terms of evolutionary fitness. "I don't think the idea makes much sense, given the kinds of things you find in religion," he says. A belief in life after death, for example, is hardly compatible with surviving in the here-and-now and propagating your genes. Moreover, if there are adaptive advantages of religion, they do not explain its origin, but simply how it spread.

An alternative being put forward by Atran and others is that religion emerges as a natural by-product of the way the human mind works. That's not to say that the human brain has a "god module" in the same way that it has a language module that evolved specifically for acquiring language. Rather, some of the unique cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a tendency for supernatural thinking. "There's now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired," says Bloom.

Much of that evidence comes from experiments carried out on children, who are seen as revealing a "default state" of the mind that persists, albeit in modified form, into adulthood. "Children the world over have a strong natural receptivity to believing in gods because of the way their minds work, and this early developing receptivity continues to anchor our intuitive thinking throughout life," says anthropologist Justin Barrett of the University of Oxford.

So how does the brain conjure up gods? One of the key factors, says Bloom, is the fact that our brains have separate cognitive systems for dealing with living things - things with minds, or at least volition - and inanimate objects.

This separation happens very early in life. Bloom and colleagues have shown that babies as young as five months make a distinction between inanimate objects and people. Shown a box moving in a stop-start way, babies show surprise. But a person moving in the same way elicits no surprise. To babies, objects ought to obey the laws of physics and move in a predictable way. People, on the other hand, have their own intentions and goals, and move however they choose.
Go to the article to read the rest

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 03:40 PM
the greatest difficulty that you'll encounter with this type of study/essay is that it pre-supposes the non-existence of god.

why do we believe in god is a dumb question in my opinion. you can say, "here, this is how the brain allows us to believe" but the counter argument, with reason, is always going to be "yes, because thats the way god made us".

in that respect, it'll just harden the opinion of both camps and is ultimately just divisive.

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 03:45 PM
Surely its only down to the constant conditioning we get from a young age that makes this the case?

If a child was brought up with no referance whatsoever to god or religion & completely without any langauge refrences then he would have absolutely no knowledge nor comprehension of god or what the concept of religion was.

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 03:55 PM
reply to post by cropmuncher

Well I think the posts point that humans have a natural tendency to believe in God would refute that. It's just why we have that tendency that's the issue right?

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 03:57 PM
First define the God you believe in. Then prove beyond a shadow of a doubt man created himself. Even if the Big Bang happened as the evolutionists say, it begs the question, who created the material that Banged?

When you die all functions in your body cease to function. What are you then? You are pure consciousness. When I died I was one with the presence I stood before yet I still retained my self without feeling seperate. I am not my body but what uses it.

Did I met "God" well first that is not the true name, but only a symbol name to describe an unknown understanding.

Does a god exsist? Jesus came, not to start a religion, but to demonstrate our true reality. Father or Abba, also translated as Source, is within and without. Moses told us the name we could know is I AM. So to take God's name in vein is to speak an untruth such as I am sick, our source can not be sick there fore neither can we.

Is there a power greater then the human? Yes but the Human must activate it within themselves. How? Read and meditate on what Jesus said, not on any church doctrine, just his words. he told us to make them our own. All power is given unto me in heaven and in Earth, or in Spiritual and physical space.

We aren't supposed to die, but transcend. Your science can never do that.

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 04:07 PM
haha this is one of those 'scientists discover men like sex' stories

Back before we were self aware people we started communicating, working together, keeping important things, etc and so our survival potential was based much more on mental alacrity than biological devices so the evolution of the brain began...

Fairly quickly we started to see that it was a good idea to be clever, we began using our minds more and more, our spoken language become more complex and our lives got devoted more and more to mental tasks.

Some of the most important questions you can ask are WHY and HOW, from these two questions all science flows -surely without answers to these questions it must have seemed quite daunting to try and understand the world. I doubt it took much imagination to come up with the idea of some magic force or all powerful god - then someone realized that if you knew all the answers people would be tricked into doing what you wanted -'god commands you kill your best cow and give the best bits of meat to me -then your crops will grow.'

From then on it's forced down every childs neck for the next million years until we get to now and start to understand enough of the world to throw off its protective blanket and continue our quest to survive and grow.

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 04:18 PM
Oh I have a really cool related source. A few, actually.

Seizures and the Sight of God

Researchers interested in the connection of the brain and religion have examined the experiences of people suffering from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. ...
In 1997 Vilayanur Ramachandran and his colleagues from the University of California at San Diego headed a research study. The team studied patients of temporal lobe epilepsy measuring galvanic skin response on the left hands of the patients (11). ... In addition to two control groups a religious control group and a non-religious control group, each group was shown forty words, including violent words, sexual words, and simple words (like "wheel"), and finally, religious-related words. The results of the study showed a greater arousal in the temporal lobe epilepsy sufferers to religious words in comparison to the non-religious, whom were aroused by sexual words, and religious control groups, whom were aroused by religious and sexual words (10).

Ramachandran and his team concluded that although the patients were not experiencing seizures or experiencing supernatural occurrences at the time of testing, they were highly sensitive to religious words. Thus, the experiences of temporal lobe seizures strengthened the patients interest in religion (11).

The God Spot

A group of neuroscientists at the University of California at San Diego has identified a region of the human brain that appears to be linked to thoughts of spiritual matters and prayer. Their findings tentatively suggest that we as a species are genetically programmed to believe in God.

The researchers came upon these cerebral revelations in the course of studying the brain patterns of certain people with epilepsy. Epileptics who suffer a particular type of seizure are often intensely religious, and are known to report an unusual number of spiritually-oriented visions and obsessions. Measurements of electrical activity in the brains of test subjects indicated a specific neural center in the temporal lobe that flared up at times when the subjects thought about God. This same area was also a common focal point overloaded with electrical discharges during their epileptic seizures.

Religion and the Brain

DR. MICHAEL PERSINGER: I think one of the most exciting challenges in science is to find the basis, the empirical basis, of why people experience the "God phenomenon." Not belief in God -- that is a different process. But the experience of the "God phenomenon." That of course is tied to the brain itself...
SEVERSON: Dr. Persinger is a neuroscientist who has been conducting experiments with a helmet that pulses tiny bursts of electrical activity into the brain. Persinger says the pulses can simulate mystical or spiritual experiences.

And at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Andrew Newberg can show, through a brain scan, the parts of the brain that are activated during meditation, and also during prayer...

I also recommend the book "Lying Awake" by Mark Salzman. It is about a nun who goes through this difficult journey and has to decide whether or not to be treated for epilepsy causing her religious fervor.

Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that all religious people have tumors or seizures or anything like that. Just demonstrating a link.

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 04:25 PM
If one starts with the presumption that we were genetically engineered by those we called "Gods..." It would make sense that we were engineered to "need" the Gods.

I mean, if *I* wanted to have a race of slaves to cater to my whims, I would try to put in place a tendancy to feel a need for me as "God."

And if The Terra Papers are correct (as I believe they are), the ones who programmed our DNA are no longer in control - a renegade faction and other manipulated beings are at the moment. Which has left us with no "Gods" to worship, and thus, in our genetic need, we concoct them in our minds.

Could very well be that way...

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 04:28 PM
reply to post by spiritwomyn

Then prove beyond a shadow of a doubt man created himself. Even if the Big Bang happened as the evolutionists say, it begs the question, who created the material that Banged?

Interesting question, i feel i should point out that evolution and big bang theory aren't the same thing - i know an evolutionist who believes in non-physical existence, i.e. that matter is not really real, it is just our perception of matter which exists.

hehe 'begs the question' really refers to logical fallacy in which the point one is trying to prove is already taken for granted in the question i.e. 'Why am i the leader? because i'm in charge!' being a typical example -but then you crazy americans always use it wrong so i'll let you off.

I only mention it because it's also what you're doing, well a form of the petitio principii anyway

If someone is needed to create the first BOOM, a fairly simple event which has many possible causes, does not a creator not need a creator?

You say that you don't think something as simple as a massive bang could happen which slowly with atrophy and chaos causing a slow coalesce into a rudamentary biped with fairly simplistic mental ability and a fairly inquisitive mind -but an all perfect being (presumably also a biped, 'in his image') with the ability to create everything and already the knower of all things could be created without a creator? sounds kind unlikely...

so who created the creator?

posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 04:58 PM
reply to post by Reddupo

Hey there!

But atheism is also mindcreated. Maybe its caused by some chemical inbalance in ones brain? Whats worst of all in the name of atheism many peoples were killed...french revolution bolsheviks Russia, China...

Pesence of Creation implies that there must be Creator...


posted on Feb, 6 2009 @ 07:41 PM

Originally posted by pieman
the greatest difficulty that you'll encounter with this type of study/essay is that it pre-supposes the non-existence of god.

Oh, well, maybe you forgot that the existence of God was already investigated numerous times. They found nothing... yep... nothing to see here folks. So, it's perfectly reasonable to start with that assumption.

...why do we believe in god is a dumb question in my opinion. you can say, "here, this is how the brain allows us to believe" but the counter argument, with reason, is always going to be "yes, because thats the way god made us".

What's the big deal dude? What if they find some link with the spirit realm or something. Afraid they won't find anything? Even an atheist such as myself would have to concede that if there ever was a spirit realm, then it would have to have some link to the physical world at some level, or else they are not connected in any way, and therefore might as well be two separate universes entirely with no connection between other than empty nothingness... in a void... surrounded by a vacuum.

posted on Feb, 6 2009 @ 08:06 PM
reply to post by spiritwomyn

Hey Spiritwoman, do you know what '___' is? Read "The Spirit Molecule" by Rick Strassman. You should probably get together with some of the volunteers who had NDE-like hallucinations and compare notes.

Also, you should read about Carl Jung's archetypes.

These two subjects answer the God question for me... while also not discounting the realness of the experiences.

I think the difference between the two camps will come together one day when most theists realize that spiritual experiences can be explained biologically and atheists admit that it really doesn't matter - gods are real. Whether gods exist outside of your skull or within it, they're still the same gods that have been spoken about for eons and that have great power to motivate men. They are real in every sense of the word.

[edit on 6-2-2009 by TheSingularity]

posted on Feb, 9 2009 @ 08:00 PM
The human mind is not capable of understanding that when they die, there is nothing. Just like the majority of people in the world are not capable of understanding how the universe was created. It had to be created from something, right? But what was there before the universe?
Therefore 'they' created the illusions of heaven and hell. "The show most go on".
Some people relate death with peace or relaxing. Some people think it'll all just go black.

Once your brain stops functioning, there is nothing. Just like before you were born.

posted on Feb, 9 2009 @ 08:03 PM
CONFORMIST! Spirituality has no rules and no laws. Do not try to conform it. Science has no place in the heart.

But I think its pretty simple why people may believe in God. Its human nature to try and understand things, even things that are seemingly unanswerable. Much like this very article. They didnt even come to any conclusion. Theyre just speculating, using their imagination, and throwing out theories. The same exact way people try to understand reality, the universe, life, and self.

Though the secrets arent in your thoughts. We know NOTHING! I found this article to not answer a single thing.

I was brought up in a family of atheists. My parents are atheists and my grand parents are atheists. I happen to believe in God. Though I do not conform to any religion. No book will tell you what God is. We must find out for ourselvs what God is. No one else can tell you. It must be experienced. You can only think for so long intill the void of infinite confusion kreeps up on you. Our minds are inferior without direct emotional contact.

[edit on 9-2-2009 by Wisen Heimer]

posted on Feb, 9 2009 @ 08:14 PM
I do believe one of the main reasons the concept of god was created, is because the human mind simply does not understand, nor is satisfied with the fact that after death there is nothing at all.
Just like the majority in the world does simply not understand how the universe could be created out of nothing.

Certain suicidal people decides to take their life for a bunch of different reasons, but the majority of those people relate death to relaxing/peace.

The idea of there being nothing but an eternal death scares people. Once your brain stops functioning, there is simply nothing. You simply seize to exist, just like before you were born.

posted on Feb, 10 2009 @ 12:15 AM
reply to post by TheSingularity

you should read about Carl Jung's archetypes

Excellent post - well, one I mostly agree with, anyway, which comes to the same thing.

I don't think we need the '___', but the rest is spot on - especially when we remind ourselves that archetypes are defined as the projection or reflection in consciousness of instinctive, unconscious drives at work. Emergent consciousness, still insecure and struggling to get to grips with itself, would perceive these overwhelming, destabilizing drives as other entities controlling its thoughts and actions. This, as you suggest, could well be how the gods were born.

posted on Feb, 10 2009 @ 07:52 PM
reply to post by Astyanax

Astyanax, another great read is King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, also based on Jungian archetypes. A fantastic read without a doubt.

posted on Feb, 10 2009 @ 08:04 PM

Originally posted by Anonymous ATS

Once your brain stops functioning, there is nothing. Just like before you were born.

Hmm... do you talk from experience? Please do tell.

Because from my own experience consciously that may seem to happen.
But on a deeper subconscious level it is a whole different ball game

[edit on 10-2-2009 by Epsillion70]

posted on May, 20 2009 @ 04:15 PM
reply to post by Astyanax

I find it interesting that you can accept Carl jung's theories on archtypes but not someone who actually experienced death. I did not have an hallucination. I was dead, flat lined, brain and body.

If my body and brain are offline, then what I am doing is seeing with my real self, attached to my body through coalesed energy, but not my brain or body in fact.

Carl jung never went where I did, therefore cannot know in fact if it is real.

We are greater then we appear, but we choose only what we physically see as real yet if we are just this physical self then why do we have the ability to think and create beyond what we presently know and have?

We can expand and grow, we see people with Spiritual abilities yet we discount them.

Why do argue about this other option we call 'god'? We can accept aliens, government experiments, conspiracys, but the possible existence of a creative being that is onmiscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, scares the hell out of us and causes us such arguments.

You are the god you fear it is simply a greater access to a higher way of being.

posted on May, 20 2009 @ 04:19 PM
reply to post by Astyanax

Just a final note, I died, I did not take drugs. Drugs are hallucinagenic. Death is not a drug nor anything like it. When you have had a drug experience and have died, not on drugs, then we can communicate at a peer level.

But giving people drugs to prove a non drug and ver dead experience is like comparing apples and brusselsprouts.

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