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Is This Your Brain On God?

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posted on May, 31 2009 @ 12:49 AM
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In a former life i was a substance abuse counselor. I had clients with a whole array of addictions; heroin, coc aine, alcohol, prescription drugs, work, sex, gambling... to name the most common. In refection since then, i have witnessed and researched many aspects of what is coined "spiritual experience"and the reoccurring conclusion i find most fitting for those who consider themselves true believers is that their moments of perceived union with god puts them in a euphoric state that is very similar to the rush addicts feel when in waltz with their chosen source of intoxication.

A parallel that i find most revealing and reconfirming of this fact is the reality of a town experiencing a total economic collapse. The last two businesses to close are bars and churches. And as we can see in every thriving community you will find either a bar/liquor-store, church or coffee shop on at least every other block corner, if not every block corner.

I recently found a series that NPR is reporting on called the "The Science of Spirituality" that i found speaks to this understanding.



More than half of adult Americans report they have had a spiritual experience that changed their lives. Now, scientists from universities like Harvard, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins are using new technologies to analyze the brains of people who claim they have touched the spiritual -- from Christians who speak in tongues to Buddhist monks to people who claim to have had near-death experiences. Hear what they have discovered in this controversial field, as the science of spirituality continues to evolve.

A link to NPR's interactive page Research Into The Science Of Spiritual Encounters that covers the changes that take place in different regions of the brain while having different spiritual experiences.


Articles in The Science of Spirituality series:

Prayer May Reshape Your Brain ... And Your Reality

Decoding The Mystery Of Near-Death Experiences

Bradley Hagerty On Science And God

Can Positive Thoughts Help Heal Another Person?


[edit on 31-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]




posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:02 AM
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It is a bit naive for some people to think that while having a spiritual experience, it wouldn't show up on a computer. But it also should be said it's naive for scientists to think that since it does show up on a brain scan, that it makes the experience meaningless and somehow adds to the case against religion/spirituality. I've heard scientists taking that sort of path of thought and its stupid.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:23 AM
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reply to post by ghaleon12
 


I don't think the scientific community's consensus is that the experience is "meaningless", just that the meaning of the experience is not any different then let's say the meaning a shaman attributes to the experience of being under the influence of peyote. As for this understanding being used to discredit religion, i would say it's more of an act of correcting our perception of what the true value of religion is and/or value of a spiritual experience. How can such an inquiry into the most mysterious corners of our existence be received/taken as "stupid"?

[edit on 31-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:26 AM
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Definitely. My spirtual experences were much more fantastic than any time I MIGHT, heh, have done certain drugs. I can imagine brain scans of me during those spiritual events would have evidenced changes from my usual patterns. duh. What I wish could have been done was to have changes in my brain recorded during that fantastic three weeks in 2000 when I was able to approach a corner in my studio and experience great visions and emotions. Yet, I was able to step back and all this stuff would subside. If I knew this sort of thing was going to happen again, and when it was going to happen, I would gladly invite scientists to examine it all.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:32 AM
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reply to post by The All Seeing I
 


With the meditator, the Shaman or the pray-er, there seems to be a pernicious implication, a subliminal meme, that these experiences are only brain activity stirred up by a chemical cocktail, internal or external, and that any further depth in actuality is merely a figment of the imagination of the experiencer. While the experience may be meaningful, it having greater reality is denounced.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:38 AM
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Yeah except religion gives you hope and inner strength... drugs don't. Drugs make you feel ok for an hour or two, then you feel bad again, like why the heck did I do that? It is so stupid. Do you feel that way after praying? No you pray that you don't use drugs again.

Again these scientists are in the mindset that all they see is all that is real.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:42 AM
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reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


I think we can all agree that dreams are a form of illusion and that the sights and sounds of schizophrenics are forms of hallucinations. Being that many drugs and spiritual activities can produce similar illusions/hallucinations, i think it's fair to say that there is no "greater reality". Now if one adds a belief system into the matter/equation then the "greater reality" is misinterpreted as real... much like those taking a ride on peyote during a vision-quest, they receive their animal spirit guide as a "greater reality"... just like the schizophrenic that sees and talks to little green men... they embrace this "greater reality" as reality itself...
...tin foil hat and all


[edit on 31-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:46 AM
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Originally posted by asmall89
Yeah except religion gives you hope and inner strength... drugs don't. Drugs make you feel ok for an hour or two, then you feel bad again, like why the heck did I do that? It is so stupid. Do you feel that way after praying? No you pray that you don't use drugs again.

Again these scientists are in the mindset that all they see is all that is real.


You would say that the Shamans who incorporate hallucinogens and use them for higher gnosis have no inner strength? That their ways are savage and irrational?

Of course, Shamanistic use is a religious use and not simply an escapist use.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 01:54 AM
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Originally posted by The All Seeing I
reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


I think we can all agree that dreams are a form of illusion...


I don't think we can agree there 100%, especially where they provide valuable insight.


...and that the sights and sounds of schizophrenics are forms of hallucinations?


Same reason as above. Perhaps not.


Being that many drugs and spiritual activities can produce similar illusions/hallucinations, i think it's fair to say that there is no "greater reality". Now if one adds a belief system into the matter/equation then the "greater reality" is misinterpreted as real.


It isn't fair and turning and refusing to acknowledge the possibility is also a belief system, one that cannot be supported by the evidence. Scientific thought will have to come to terms with that where consciousness itself is concerned. Until that puzzle is truly cracked, all conclusions are precipitous.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 02:03 AM
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Originally posted by EnlightenUp
Until that puzzle is truly cracked, all conclusions are precipitous.


No just a simple act of deductive reasoning will do. The desire for the "greater reality" is just that... a desire. To be completely objective requires one to put aside their own desires/wishes... otherwise they will skew your interpretation of the facts.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 02:04 AM
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reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


No, I was merely using the typical Christianity v.s. the person who hates himself for using drugs, type guideline. If it's part of said religions beliefs to reach a higher consciousness then yeah it probably helps them achieve inner strength, but they aren't addicted to drugs, or using them to make themselves feel good. They are using them for the purpose of gaining insight and knowledge. As you pointed out.
I find it funny that people think they need to be high to gain insight or knowledge, or to be cool and outgoing. I did a couple, and it really didn't work miracles like that. Actually I feel more connected to the world and have more insight sober.

[edit on 31-5-2009 by asmall89]



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 02:37 AM
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Originally posted by The All Seeing I

Originally posted by EnlightenUp
Until that puzzle is truly cracked, all conclusions are precipitous.


No just a simple act of deductive reasoning will do. The desire for the "greater reality" is just that... a desire. To be completely objective requires one to put aside their own desires/wishes... otherwise they will skew your interpretation of the facts.


Deductive reasoning will not do. Complete objectivity is a delusion. Your longing for objectivity is a wish and/or desire in itself. The connection of and discernment of facts require interpretation for those to have a meaningful context for performing logical operations. What happened to the old chesnut "correlation is not causation". Finding correlations in the brain to subjective reports of experience does not conclusively nail the nature of subjective experience to be the neurological activity in itself.

The only reality I can confirm truely exists is my own first person, subjective one. The one so affectionately referred to as "objective" is the one not necessary for my existence. All impressions may be made without it having much, if any, substance. Of couse, no metaphyical discussion of this sort could procede without an obligatory reference to The Matrix.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 07:47 AM
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reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


The collective reality we all share is known through objectivity. On the other hand, each individual's reality is known through subjectivity. Important to make this fundamental distinction, otherwise you are confusing one for the other, as the same.

For instance, when investigators comb a crime scene and interview suspects... they take into consideration all of the data available and thorough deductive reasoning do they pinpoint the who, what, where and when that occurred in reality... not just one person's reality alone.

In most cases... if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like at duck... it's simply a duck. To go so out of your way explain the contrary show that their is a fallacy to disguise.

[edit on 31-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 10:42 AM
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files.abovetopsecret.com...[/atsimg]]
My question for you is this, can you photograph a delusion? If someone shows you a photograph of a delusion and you don't believe it, which one of you is delusional? If you can in fact document the "delusion" by taking a picture of it......is it still a delusion. This is my all-seeing-eye, i found it in my childhood during a scavenger-hunt in ancient Egypt. It was a mental journey. The point is my allseeingeye physically leaves the socket hence i can see behind my head. Your eye in your avatar is still trapped in its socket has less than 50% vision, you are blind behind. Here is the confusing part, I don't claim to have the all seeing eye in real life even though I do and have photographs to document it. You use a stunted version of the allseeingeye as your avatar even though you don't really have it. Which of us is delusional? I do not think you are delusional and it is just to prove a point that reality is pretty much determined by your point of view. I learned to point a camera at mine and take pictures.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 04:17 PM
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Originally posted by The All Seeing I
reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


The collective reality we all share is known through objectivity. On the other hand, each individual's reality is known through subjectivity. Important to make this fundamental distinction, otherwise you are confusing one for the other, as the same.


The collective reality is known through subjectivity and an apparent consensus. The form the collective reality takes changes with the collective mindset.

Do you accept that I am a conscious being experiencing the world in first-person? If so, how can you justify that in any objective way? Quite simply, to do so is faith, pure and simple. No science can show this objectively. All reports of "I am conscious" are purely anecdotal. All you can do is observe certain phenomena in an individual and suppose that they are indicators that the individual report is accurate. In my experience, acceptance of these reports or even in the absence of them, this first-person, qualia phenomenon is nearly universally accepted, with no objective proof.


For instance, when investigators comb a crime scene and interview suspects... they take into consideration all of the data available and thorough deductive reasoning do they pinpoint the who, what, where and when that occurred in reality... not just one person's reality alone.


Or they could be lead astray if the data are no good. All that is required is that prosecutors convince a jury or the authority empowered that their data support the guilt of the accused.


In most cases... if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like at duck... it's simply a duck. To go so out of your way explain the contrary show that their is a fallacy to disguise.


In most cases we agree on what a duck is, I assume. That's a big assumption. Really what I did was to agree to agree with others that called something a duck and to call that a duck myself. Nothing objective need exist "out there" to do that. A shared delusion will suffice.

Why is it that we do not agree? Our "objective" realities should have similar properties. I am not a stranger to pure logic. Am I trapped in a fallacy whereas you are not or could I have data that you do not?



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 09:50 PM
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Originally posted by EnlightenUp
Why is it that we do not agree? Our "objective" realities should have similar properties. I am not a stranger to pure logic. Am I trapped in a fallacy whereas you are not or could I have data that you do not?


As i stated before, the error is in the embrace of subjective reality as a source or confirmation for a "greater reality".

Another example to help illustrate;

The experience of being in-love, which is not a realistic love but more of an infatuation. In-love with the idea of a person, versus the whole package... the good, bad and ugly of a person. This euphoric state of mind is not any different then what we see with jesus-freaks. The idea that there is someone who completely understands you and loves you with all of your flaws and imperfections can be intoxicating. To interpret this high as a "greater reality" only because the subject of the infatuation is a "divine being" doesn't make it any "greater" then the infatuation one has for a "mortal being".

The symptoms for both are the same. Recalling the last come times i encountered someone who was in-love... they rambled on endlessly about their love interest... in some cases this was a celebrity they never even meet, but only imaged/dreamed/fantasied about meeting and having a one on one relationship. This is not any different then the jesus-freak who rambles on endlessly about how wonderful jesus is... and all the wonderful things he has done for them and others.

[edit on 31-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 09:59 PM
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There is another study regarding the "god region" of the brain. It examines non-believers who suffered brain trauma to the god region, and well whadda ya know.. they became rabid evangelicals. In more detail and digging deeper it becomes obvious that religious belief is well, for the most a brain abnormality. Correct the god region and bring the brain in line with a normal brain and poof, religious fervour evaporates. That will be the next phase, correcting the damage, which I tend to think is caused by environmental and genetic predisposition (fluoridated water perhaps?). This is great news because with the right type of widely dispersed gene therapy, future technology may be able to cure these people and allow humanity to progress.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 10:19 PM
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Originally posted by The All Seeing I

Originally posted by EnlightenUp
Until that puzzle is truly cracked, all conclusions are precipitous.


No just a simple act of deductive reasoning will do. The desire for the "greater reality" is just that... a desire. To be completely objective requires one to put aside their own desires/wishes... otherwise they will skew your interpretation of the facts.


Until you become aware that your perception is fact.

Then you are left in a world that is much more uncomfortable than the world you had figured out.

I wouldn't necessarily say I've had "spiritual experiences" - but more of an understanding.

That said, I've experienced things that are rather puzzling and troubling to me. Few things puzzle me - I 'envisioned' quantum field theory out of my middle-school instruction on atomic theory to explain the behavior of light and subatomic particles. I'd never even heard of the concept, but QFT just made sense to me.

Call it a straw-man... but it's often said QFT is one of the most counter-intuitive and difficult concepts to grasp. I'm not easily puzzled.

I've had, on more than a few occasions, an experience similar to deja vu. I say similar, as it's not quite right. Normally, when I experience deja vu, I can sit there and tell you what is going to happen for the next few minutes and creep you out. I know science likes to say it's the brain regurgitating the present as a memory, and I've had that experience - it's different - you can't predict, it just looks/feels familiar.

Anyway - the experience I've had is similar to deja vu... I know something has happened, and recall what is about to happen - only it diverges. Family members are a few minutes later getting home than when I 'remember' them getting home, a power outage doesn't happen that 'should' have....

I'm sure science has a "more plausible" explanation than the idea of one experiencing "deja vu across time-lines" - and I can't prove it's not some other "more plausible" explanation. Unfortunately - it's nothing that I've learned to be able to predict or control, so that makes it even harder to research the phenomena on any level.

As for spiritualism - everyone has a God. Some people believe in God as a guiding and comprehensive force in the universe. Others believe God is a statue with mystical powers, or attribute mystical powers to human concepts (such as certain scientific theories).

Everyone has a God - a higher power they subscribe to, and will turn to in times of crisis and/or confusion. Some people have one God, and others have multiple gods, each with their own powers of influence (Aliens to deliver us from our chaotic political systems, and the influence of marketing to seek help with relationship issues).

Ultimately, if you were to stick a headband on people and monitor their brain activity - you will find everyone has their own "social opiate" they partake of. What it is, and what they do with the experience, is unique to each person.



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 10:28 PM
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reply to post by contemplator
 




Come on now, could you be any more arrogant?



posted on May, 31 2009 @ 11:02 PM
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Originally posted by contemplator
This is great news because with the right type of widely dispersed gene therapy, future technology may be able to cure these people and allow humanity to progress.


Why is it that some people think the world will be better off without certain other people around?

The world becomes a lonely place really fast when you start removing everyone who doesn't think like you do. If someone thinks like you... you've effectively turned society into a Bose-Einstein Condensate. There is no difference between you and someone else.......

Though, I guess if you're like me, and talk to yourself frequently, the idea is not so bad.... but I argue with myself too much - so the world would likely not be a more peaceful/sane place it everyone thought like me.



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