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Old 04-06-2008, 09:06 AM   #1
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Biological Predisposition To Faith?

Very interesting article from a few years ago
Quote:
Whether you prefer whirling with the dervishes, participating in liturgical services or meditating with Buddhists may depend on the level of serotonin in your brain, recent research indicates.

Participation in and receptivity to certain religious and spiritual practices may be linked to the density of one of 15 serotonin receptors in the brain, said Dr. Lars Farde, professor of psychiatry at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-author of, "The Serotonin System and Spiritual Experiences," published in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychology.

According to Farde, the receptor neurologists call 5-HT1A "is one of the most important because it serves as a marker for the entire serotonin system." He said the connection furthers the belief that brain function may impact openness to spiritual experiences.

Using a brain imaging technique called positron emission tomography, or PET, Farde and his team have been studying neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin for a number of years. Their past research was the first to demonstrate the correlation between higher brain function and personality.

Recently, the researchers became interested in the serotonin system because of its relationship to depression and anxiety, said Farde. In attempting to confirm the correlation between serotonin levels and anxiety, he said they were surprised to discover a connection between the density of the receptors and spiritual acceptance.

Using the "Temperament and Character Inventory," 15 mentally and physically healthy men ages 20 - 45 self-assessed a number of personality traits, including self-transcendence, which denotes religious behavior and attitudes. The scale includes yes-or-no questions like, "I have had supernatural experiences" and, "I believe in a common, unifying force."

"We looked at how they view the existence of a spiritual realm," said Farde. "You can take the extremes. The person who scores very low might be a technician who says they believe the things they see, the things they can measure, whereas they don't believe anything beyond that. The other extreme might be the new-age type, or the person who believes that nature has a soul and views the spiritual reality as more important than the reality seen by our eyes."

The participants also underwent PET scans to determine their serotonin levels. Analyzing the date from the two tests, the researchers discovered a strong linear correlation: the higher the scores for spiritual acceptance, the lower the density of the serotonin receptors.

"There is more to say that low serotonin is linked with people who are open to spiritual or supernatural experiences," explained Farde. "Whereas the higher levels go more with people who believe what they see with their eyes and are not so open to God or other aspects of religion."

Dr. Andrew B. Newberg, an assistant professor in the departments of radiology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, said this is an integral study in understanding the biology behind spirituality and religion.

"This is a big question that has been raised," said Newberg, who researches the connection between spirituality and the brain, or neurotheology. "We always talk about people that are predisposed to certain experiences, and the question is why."

According to Newberg, this research may be useful in a number of ways, including guiding people to practices that might better suit their disposition by understanding how people are spiritually different.
source

The criteria and evaluations could be a weakness but I find the predisposition of a mind to transcendental experiences possibly linking to the activity of serotonin receptors stimulating to say the least, that the feelings of profound truth and significance in thought shown by the devout, the insane and the drugged can be traced back to a material cause.

Valuable for unraveling the workings of the mind and bringing the subjective personal transcendental experience into an empirical domain.

If there is a significant element of biological determinism in the capacity for faith would that have any significant effect on you? If you could one day find out if your neurology was a bad fit for faith would it justify agnosticism or atheism? (I feel yes, I was lucky enough never to have any compulsion to religion and whatever exposure there was didn't fit and by now I am quite confident never will - I would be interested to know the role of my brain in it versus environment; I think that it has the potential to undercut charges that atheism is simply another belief on par with any other faith - I am not saying it is special, merely that it is an absence of faith, which is a different beast altogether; most people take it to be true that other people think and feel like they do, that they would believe the same thing if given the same chance - showing if that is true or not and why could help understanding).

Lastly if the capacity for faith is a biological character is it heritable and if so why would it exist in human populations.

I suspect that this need some pondering with some targeted 5-HT2A action.
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:10 PM   #2
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I think that "low serotonin" is incidental, frankly. As a measure of balance in biology, lower serotonin seemingly corresponds to higher dopamine (and vice versa). I believe it is the higher dopamine levels and the subsequent serotonin releases that go along with it that triggers higher levels of religiosity.

Thus, it is not coincidental that drug use and religious experiences (as often seen in aboriginal religious practices) often go hand-in-hand. These drugs quite clearly alter the serotonin-dopamine balance.

Frankly, all it takes is alternating supplementation of the amino acids, tryptophan (serotonin-producing) and phenylalanine/tyrosine (dopamine-producing), to trigger this. I've certainly noticed it myself, having taken both before.
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:33 PM   #3
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u guys will contiue to change your mind as wisdom of the world and science progreesess at a snail's pace and eventually be enlightened in next life, look for me there.

in the meantime, i would encorage you to continue to love your fellowmen.

<>
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by diamond
u guys will contiue to change your mind as wisdom of the world and science progreesess at a snail's pace and eventually be enlightened in next life, look for me there.

in the meantime, i would encorage you to continue to love your fellowmen.

<>
This is completely irrelevant, frankly. There is a chemical component to feelings of religiosity that are completely separate from the existence or nonexistence of God. This could help describe, for instance, why there are those who prefer dry, intellectual faiths versus titillating, charismatic faiths.

Since these neurotransmitters help determine whether we are happy or sad, it stands to reason that they could contribute far more to our personality, as well.
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:46 PM   #5
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Are neurotransmitters the part of our organic system that cause
"warm and fuzzies" or "goose bumps"?

Serious question here.

<>
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by diamond
Are neurotransmitters the part of our organic system that cause
"warm and fuzzies" or "goose bumps"?

Serious question here.

<>
They involve everything that allows our nervous system to function. Without them, we are dead.

It stands to reason, as such, since they are involved with everything in our nervous system, that, yes, those two things would be included.
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


They involve everything that allows our nervous system to function. Without them, we are dead.

It stands to reason, as such, since they are involved with everything in our nervous system, that, yes, those two things would be included.
Seriously speaking, I get warm and fuzzy goose bumps when I see or hear truth where ever it may come from. It's like an "inner teacher" inside of me going off, lgoing ching ching ching and pulsating through out my system.

It happens frequently in meditation and prayer.

This is a barometer on how I measure a lot of my decisions in life.

I have this phenomonen happen when listening to polictical speechs by either a Republican or Democrat-as long as the words are heartfelt, sincere and are in tune with light or goodness.

Winston Churchill's "Never Surrender" speech comes to mind.

It happens while listening to a sermon regardless of which church it hails from.

If I listen to music, good music-from the good side: it feels like I'm being joyfully electrocuted, somtimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

This happens at good movies, I can go on and on here, but I won't.

Do any of you guys have this?

Ok lock me up.



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Old 04-06-2008, 10:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by diamond


Seriously speaking, I get warm and fuzzy goose bumps when I see or hear truth where ever it may come from. It's like an "inner teacher" inside of me going off, lgoing ching ching ching and pulsating through out my system.
But your "truth" may not be everyone's "truth" therefore is not really true at all, but just your opinion or belief.
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:28 PM   #9
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BVS-

Has anybody told you that they loved you today?

If not may I be the first?

I love you mr bvs.

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Old 04-06-2008, 10:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by diamond
BVS-

Has anybody told you that they loved you today?

If not may I be the first?

I love you mr bvs.

<>
Many people have today, some friends at church, my fam, but now I can add you to the list thank you and I love you too.

But I hope you realize what I was getting at, I wasn't trying to attack you, just clarify...
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


But your "truth" may not be everyone's "truth" therefore is not really true at all, but just your opinion or belief.
Perhaps that is the case but goosebumps are a relic of our rather hirsute past.
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:58 PM   #12
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Argeed.

I believe God's children, us ppl on earth are at various different levels of spiritual growth; so what may ring true and give one person warm goose bumps won't give another.

I feel my sweet wife get goose bumps at the encore of an opera show applause and is almost frigid while Bono is screaming Miss Sarajevo.

What gives?

That said maybe we wage some intervention and watch her melt at an unplugged BVS musical set, what do you say?



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Old 04-06-2008, 11:06 PM   #13
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Sweet...
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Old 04-07-2008, 12:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Perhaps that is the case but goosebumps are a relic of our rather hirsute past.
I always thought it was odd that the emotion of awe would cause a fight-or-flight response. Not that that's really relevant but...

I agree with what melon seems to be saying, though; the author of the study appears to be suggesting connections more to particular worship styles (as the article puts it, "certain religious and spiritual practices") than to the more baseline yes-or-no supposition as to whether there's any'thing' beyond material reality or not. Plenty of people who'd say 'yes' to that have zero interest in following any kind of "spiritual practice," and plenty of people who'd say 'no' are still interested in trying meditation for example.

Also 15 is a very small sample.
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Old 04-07-2008, 12:38 AM   #15
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Yolland-

Do you too sometimes get the warm fuzzy goosebumps, or is this relegated to those that occupy the diamond sphere, just a stone's throw a way from and- east of Shoel?

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