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Old 07-17-2009, 06:54 PM   #61
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So we have the power to create our spiritual experiences?
I believe it was Jesus who said the Kingdom of God is within you. I imagine most other religions have a similar theme.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:54 PM   #62
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I'm sure it says it somewhere in the bible that there's some other set of rules for a child who dies in Africa before they can ever even know about Jesus.

Or they'll just guess
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I think it threatens because it would probably mean a lot of people in high places with religion would lose a lot of their controls and power that they currently posses.

It would be very damaging to sit there and constantly tell people "This is the way, the only way" only to be proven completely wrong. Who would listen to them going forward?

Would it really make a difference, as if there was facts towards some divine being, wouldn't it just make life a lot easier to know?

Beal stop making so much sense !

LOL
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:57 PM   #63
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It seems like you're saying the brain is pure, while the mind is a mess. It is the brain's job to clean out the mind of its negativity, anxiety and so forth, yes?
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Probably we are getting into what is the mind and all, but I really doubt the brain and mind are the same. If the mind is where one person could think up negative thoughts, and the unconscious brain then brings up something more rational, then the two are not the same.
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This is what I believe - the mind may be our creation, while something else is more real. The soul? The unconscious brain? Who knows?
I have a few minutes now, so I can try to address these comments.

When it comes to brain vs mind or however you'd like to term it, I pretty much agree with what JiveTurkey has said. I can't really make a distinction between mind and brain. In my view, they're part and parcel of the same process - a cause and effect, if you will. I suppose the main reason I have for believing this is that the mind can only function inasmuch as the brain is physically normal and healthy (as in the example yolland gave of her mother) - when there are problems with brain function, then various aspects of the mind (cognition, emotions, perception, etc) are affected. What you're referring to above as the "unconscious brain" is part of all this, it's not a separate system, it just operates without our awareness, much like much like our autonomic nervous system causes us to breathe and our hearts beat without our awareness (although likewise, at other times, we certainly can be aware of breathing and our hearts beating). There are evolutionary reasons for this, as well. Humans only have a certain amount of attention that they can allot to various things at any one time. As more and more things in our environments demand our attention, we need to be able to shut things out, in order to avoid hyper-stimulation, and mental fatigue.

I think I'm too pragmatic to subscribe to brain and mind as completely separate processes. The brain is just the physical component that causes the mind.


Very interesting topic, y'all.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:01 PM   #64
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Just after creation Sin entered the world, yep the word that most people try to hide from or delete from dictionaries and common language. its what seperates us from God and caused the downfall of mankind, sadness, pain, suffering, you name that is why it happens. All due to Sin.

Sounds like we might need to consult The Manufacturer for the way He made us

It is high time to no longer ScapeGoat man for what God has done

If there indeed be such

There is way to much suffering, misery, torture, rape, murder etc. etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum to believe in a God....well at least a loving one

IMHO of course
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:01 PM   #65
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Since her brain injury 18 months ago, my mother no longer seems to have anything resembling a spiritual life, apprehensions of the existence of God, independent desires to pray, or what have you. I doubt her case would be considered particularly useful or illuminating from a 'neurotheology' standpoint, because she's clearly profoundly lacking in higher cognitive functions, period--she does observe, ponder and comment on her surroundings, but it's largely confabulatory nonsense; she can still read aloud any passage you show her in any of the 6 languages she knows with easy, perfect acuity, but evinces little to no comprehension or feeling for what she's just read; she shows considerable personality change--she's among the 'fortunate' minority of TBI patients who actually become more cheerful, smiley and friendly--but there's no apparent explanation beyond the injury for this; etc. But it's of interest to me as perhaps the most prominent indication that she no longer has what we might call an 'inner life.'
I'm really sorry to hear that. I hope you are doing okay.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:06 PM   #66
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Why did Charles Darwin change from being a follower of God to his greatest human enemy? Well tragically his daughter died and he blamed God... and so all he wanted was revenge on God.. and so he did.
Dawkins? well he's disabled and has many physical problems and obviously wants revenge on God also. He's gone crazy lately with all his theries, evolutionists are even disowning him now he's gone so far down the athiest path, all he wants to do is defy God.
You ASSume alot here StagMan...don't you believe that God holds the "keys" to life & death? Who should have Darwin been angry with the The StayPuff Marshmellow Man LOL
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:10 PM   #67
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God works in mysterious ways....

Yes so mysterious that is appears He is not even there


LOL
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:21 PM   #68
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Since her brain injury 18 months ago, my mother no longer seems to have anything resembling a spiritual life, apprehensions of the existence of God, independent desires to pray, or what have you.
My grandmother was the same way in her end of life stages of Alzheimer's. She was a very pious woman her entire life, to the point where she used to pray 5 rosaries a day, and when she lived close to her Church, going several times a week. But towards the end, it seemed to bring her little joy when a priest would visit her, whereas before she definitely looked forward to those times in the nursing home when they would come around to do confessions and whatever else they do.

I actually had an experience where I had a very clear vision of her a couple of months after her death. It surprised me only because I thought it would be a normal thing to dream of somebody who had passed away recently or to maybe even feel or sense their presence at certain times. For example, my other grandmother had a sister who had died young (in her 20s) and she swore that there were times that she sensed her sister sitting in a certain chair, but that had been her favourite chair so it made sense. But with me, I was actually thinking about someone that my grandmother had never met, and a situation that I'd been going through in life at the time. She was totally unconnected to it, and there is no rational explanation for why she, of all people, would have "appeared" to me so to speak, but she did. I wrote it off as something that happened late at night when I was pretty close to sleep but it's still one of the coolest, most vivid "spiritual" experiences that I've had in life.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:17 PM   #69
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Thanks oscar, I personally am doing fine. It's not much different, I think, from helping care for any person in mental decline; after a certain point you come to terms with the fact that the person you knew has already departed and you're now dealing with a different order of relationship. I'm just grateful for her sake that, from all I can tell, she's fairly happy and (insofar as she can be) still engaged in the world, most of the time. I didn't mean to inject a morose tone into the thread; it just spontaneously occurred to me while reading it that perhaps to a point she's an illustration of these often-mysterious connections between brain and mind, mind and spirituality, etc.



anitram, yeah, since noting this with my mother I've wondered about the 'inner life' (or lack thereof) of end-stage Alzheimer's patients, too. I have to imagine there isn't much left of one. Since the language functions often fall away by that stage, it'd seem likely that competence in contemplating abstractions does too, and at that point why would you derive any real pleasure or comfort from a priest's visit or the like. My mother will still automatically recite prayers and otherwise act appropriately if someone else sits down with her and does it, but I don't get the impression it means anything to her; she appears to be operating by sheer ingrained habit, not with any sense that there's a 'point' to this activity.

That's neat that you had the experience of "seeing" your grandmother. I can remember having a somewhat similar experience maybe a year after my father died when I was a teenager. It was auditory, not visual, but so astoundingly vivid--there was even that faint sensation of the eardrums buzzing, just like when a real voice speaks close by, and I could 'hear' every word he said crystal-clear. And as with your experience, seemingly bolt-out-of-the-blue, with no apparent connection to anything I'd been thinking or feeling right at the time. For me it was maybe more eerie and unnerving than cool and comforting, but still, a pretty amazing experience.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:23 PM   #70
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In my experience my mother lost motor skills first, then speaking, then a lot of her personality was more like that of a baby. She did at least enjoy music almost all the way through her ordeal. Her heart stopped in her sleep so I'm thankful for that. It certainly made me question the idea of a soul. As long as we don't know what the ultimate particle is it will be impossible for us to know for sure the structure of the universe and why we exist. I think the closest thing I worship is ancestors and the knowledge they passed on to us. For sure they DID exist and lived, loved and died and we wouldn't exist without them.
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Old 07-18-2009, 03:24 AM   #71
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I didn't mean to inject a morose tone into the thread; it just spontaneously occurred to me while reading it that perhaps to a point she's an illustration of these often-mysterious connections between brain and mind, mind and spirituality, etc.
No need to apologize. It puts a human perspective on what can otherwise be a very sterile argument. Its kind of you to share with us
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Old 07-19-2009, 06:08 PM   #72
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I did a little reading about temporal lobe epilepsy (what the man mentioned in the OP article has) and religiosity. There don't seem to be many studies, and most of what there is involves very small sample groups; nonetheless, there clearly is some subset of TLE patients where a dramatic connection is apparent. TLE tends over time to adversely affect temporal lobe functions in general, and one of those functions is to determine the emotional significance to us of various visual stimuli--the "felt" "meaning" we attach to certain images, words, colors and so on. In the case of those TLE patients who become intensely preoccupied with spirituality, the hypothesis is that this phenomenon is secondary to broader disturbances in their emotional response to such stimuli. (And some of these patients' spiritual preoccupations sounded pretty far-out--a man who believed that he alone was God, a woman who believed that she was the Virgin Mary and her young child was Jesus, another man who couldn't even comprehend the question 'Do you believe in God?' because, as he bewilderedly put it, 'But what else is there?') Compared to control groups of self-described 'very religious' people with normal brains, these TLE subjects showed dramatically heightened emotional responses to religious words and imagery, as measured by 'lie detector' technology. The effect isn't limited to 'religious' stimuli--many TLE subjects also show dramatically heightened emotional responses to non-religious stimuli, such as colors for example, while conversely they may show dramatically reduced responses to other stimuli, such as sexual imagery for example. Some TLE patients become very artistic, either in visual arts or in creative writing, as well (of possible interest here, Dostoevsky, Van Gogh, Flaubert, Lewis Carroll, Sylvia Plath, and Poe are all known or strongly suspected to have had TLE). And many TLE patients display other kinds of behavioral abnormalities which may cause them considerable difficulties in everyday life--obsessive-compulsive behaviors, exaggerated emotional responses and in particular exaggerated irritability, and preoccupations with the abstract aspects of life, not just religion, to an absurd or disabling degree.

One problem which reading about this underlined for me is the unhelpful vagueness with which such experiments often treat the category 'religious people.' What, exactly, is the essential, definining characteristic of ideation, social behavior, emotional response, combination thereof, or whatever else which we mean to attribute to some group of subjects by labeling them in this way? And if we don't or can't articulate this characteristic precisely, how are we supposed to go about 'looking for it' in the brain and drawing conclusions about its neuroanatomical bases in normal people? If you are confronted with, say, a person who cannot consciously comprehend others' speech, yet is somehow able to accurately write down their words then comprehend them by reading them off (which actually happens with certain stroke victims), then in order to make some sense of that finding, you need to be able to articulate which particular process(es) seem to be working normally here, which ones seem functional but compromised (and how, and at which stage), and which ones don't seem to be operative at all. You can't just say, "Oh, interesting, this damaged area appears to play a role in speech comprehension." Well no shit, but so do hundreds of other areas, many of whose processes run in parallel and in continuous collaboration as well, in normal brains.

And all of this is quite apart from the broader philosophical question of whether and to what extent an idea, apprehension, emotion or 'experience' which originates in the brain could truly be said to refer to things which don't originate in the brain. I'm just talking here about research design, and the frustrating sloppiness with which these 'God and the Brain' experiments often seem to approach the former part of the equation.
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:41 PM   #73
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It is high time to no longer ScapeGoat man for what God has done
Or vice-versa?

Love this thread so far. Glad to know that posting an article has led to such stimulating conversation.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:57 PM   #74
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finally read this thread

some good discussion
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:56 PM   #75
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Scientific American, March 13
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...In this experiment, published [in 2006] in Developmental Psychology, we invited a group of three- to nine-year-old children into our lab and told them they were about to play a fun guessing game. It was a simple game in which each child was tested individually. The child was asked to go to the corner of the room and to cover his or her eyes before coming back and guessing which of two large boxes contained a hidden ball...A short time was allowed for the decision to be made but, importantly, during that time the children were allowed to change their mind at any time by moving their hand to the other box.

...In reality, the game was a little more complicated than this. There were secretly two balls, one in each box, and we had decided in advance whether the children were going to get it "right" or "wrong" on each of the four guessing trials...Children who had been randomly assigned to the control condition were told that they had been successful on a random two of the four trials. Children assigned to the experimental condition received some additional information before starting the game. These children were told that there was a friendly magic princess in the room, "Princess Alice," who had made herself invisible. We showed them a picture of Princess Alice hanging against the door inside the room (one that looked remarkably like Barbie), and we gave them the following information: "Princess Alice really likes you, and she’s going to help you play this game. She’s going to tell you, somehow, when you pick the wrong box."

...For every child in the study, whether assigned to the standard control condition ("No Princess Alice") or to the experimental condition ("Princess Alice"), we engineered the room such that a spontaneous and unexpected event would occur just as the child placed a hand on one of the boxes. For example, in one case, the picture of Princess Alice came crashing to the floor as soon as the child made a decision, and in another case a table lamp flickered on and off...The predictions were clear: if the children in the experimental condition interpreted the picture falling and the light flashing as a sign from Princess Alice that they had chosen the wrong box, they would move their hand to the other box.

What we found was rather surprising, even to us. Only the oldest children, the seven- to nine-year-olds, from the experimental (Princess Alice) condition, moved their hands to the other box in response to the unexpected events. By contrast, their same-aged peers from the control condition failed to move their hands. This finding told us that the explicit concept of a specific supernatural agent—likely acquired from and reinforced by cultural sources—is needed for people to see communicative messages in natural events.
In other words, children, at least, don’t automatically infer meaning in natural events without first being primed somehow with the idea of an identifiable supernatural agent such as Princess Alice (or God, one’s dead mother, angels, etc.).

More curious, though, was the fact that the slightly younger children in the study, even those who had been told about Princess Alice, apparently failed to see any communicative message in the light-flashing or picture-falling events. These children kept their hands just where they were. When we asked them later why these things happened, these five- and six-year-olds said that Princess Alice had caused them, but they saw her as simply an eccentric, invisible woman running around the room knocking pictures off the wall and causing the lights to flicker. To them, Princess Alice was like a mischievous poltergeist with attention deficit disorder: she did things because she wanted to, and that’s that. One of these children answered that Princess Alice had knocked the picture off the wall because she thought it looked better on the ground. In other words, they completely failed to see her "behavior" as having any meaningful connection with the decision they had just made on the guessing game; they saw no "signs" there.

The youngest children in the study, the three- and four-year-olds in both conditions, only shrugged their shoulders or gave physical explanations for the events, such as the picture not being sticky enough to stay on the wall or the light being broken. Ironically, these youngest children were actually the most scientific of the bunch, perhaps because they interpreted "invisible" to mean simply "not present in the room" rather than "transparent." Contrary to the common assumption that superstitious beliefs represent a childish mode of sloppy and undeveloped thinking, therefore, the ability to be superstitious actually demands some mental sophistication.
At the very least, it’s an acquired cognitive skill.

Still, the real puzzle to our findings was to be found in the reactions of the five- and six-year-olds from the Princess Alice condition. Clearly they possessed the same understanding of invisibility as did the older children, because they also believed Princess Alice caused these spooky things to happen in the lab. Yet although we reminded these children repeatedly that Princess Alice would tell them, somehow, if they chose the wrong box, they failed to put two and two together. So what is the critical change between the ages of about six and seven that allows older children to perceive natural events as being communicative messages about their own behaviors (in this case, their choice of box) rather than simply the capricious, arbitrary actions of some invisible or otherwise supernatural entity?

The answer probably lies in the maturation of children’s theory-of-mind abilities in this critical period of brain development. Research by University of Salzburg psychologist Josef Perner, for instance, has revealed that it’s not until about the age of seven that children are first able to reason about "multiple orders" of mental states. This is the type of everyday, grown-up social cognition whereby theory of mind becomes effortlessly layered in complex, soap opera–style interactions with other people. Not only do we reason about what’s going on inside someone else’s head, but we also reason about what other people are reasoning is happening inside still other people’s heads!
For example, in the everyday (nonsupernatural) social domain, one would need this kind of mature theory of mind to reason in the following manner:
"Jakob thinks that Adrienne doesn’t know I stole the jewels."
Whereas a basic ("first-order") theory of mind allows even a young preschooler to understand the first propositional clause in this statement, "Jakob thinks that...," it takes a somewhat more mature ("second-order") theory of mind to fully comprehend the entire social scenario: "Jakob thinks that [Adrienne doesn’t know]..." Most people can’t go much beyond four orders of mental-state reasoning (consider the Machiavellian complexities of, say, Leo Tolstoy’s novels), but studies show that the absolute maximum in adults hovers around seven orders of mental state. The important thing to note is that, owing to their still-developing theory-of-mind skills, children younger than seven years of age have great difficulty reasoning about multiple orders of mental states. Knowing this then helps us understand the surprising results from the Princess Alice experiment. To pass the test (move their hand) in response to the picture falling or the light flashing, the children essentially had to be reasoning in the following manner:
"Princess Alice knows that [I don’t know] where the ball is hidden."
To interpret the events as communicative messages, as being about their choice on the guessing game, demands a sort of third-person perspective of the self’s actions: "What must this other entity, who is watching my behavior, think is happening inside my head?" The Princess Alice findings are important because they tell us that, before the age of seven, children’s minds aren’t quite cognitively ripe enough to allow them to be superstitious thinkers. The inner lives of slightly older children, by contrast, are drenched in symbolic meaning.

...This sign-reading tendency has a distinct and clear relationship with morality. When it comes to unexpected heartache and tragedy, our appetite for unraveling the meaning of these ambiguous "messages" can become ravenous.
Misfortunes appear cryptic, symbolic; they seem clearly to be about our behaviors. Our minds restlessly gather up bits of the past as if they were important clues to what just happened. And no stone goes unturned. Nothing is too mundane or trivial; anything to settle our peripatetic thoughts from arriving at the unthinkable truth that there is no answer because there is no riddle, that life is life and that is that.
It may be a bit off-course, but what I was immediately reminded of when I read his explanation of the results was the (admittedly somewhat dated) theory of "mindblindness" with regard to autism--that one of that condition's signature features is difficulty formulating a "theory of mind," the attribution of mental states just like one's own (emotions, beliefs, desires, intentions etc.) to others, whose behavior can thus be responded to appropriately and even predicted.
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