Saturday, October 9, 2010

Religious Experiences are Manifestations of Brain Activity

For some time I've been of the opinion that religious experiences were the result of physical brain activity, so seeing someone doing research in this area is really great. I think Morgan Freeman is narrating it too (it sounds like him anyway).


  1. Good piece. You know what the goddies would say something like, "Well, the brain is like a TV and God (spirit, or whatever) is the signal. You mess up the TV then the picture/sound is going to go awry. But this is a typical theist argument that has no way of being disproven.

  2. I saw this when it was on the Science channel. I am going to tell my fellow teachers about this, the ones who say to me in lunch, "Rationality is subjective. What you think is rational I think is irrational."

  3. Developments in technology have made it possible to simulate many things nowadays so I am yet to see how this undermines everyone and anyone's religious experiences.

    Dr. Michael Persinger says

    "many of the religious thinkers have an electrical ability in the temporal lobe..."

    What does he mean by this?

    He follows with a singular example being Luther's lightning strike. Now obviously not every religious person has been struck with lightning or experienced "The God Helmet"...

    So my question is:- What is it that is causing these experiences in the synagogues, the temples, the churches?

  4. Self-induced stimuli of the temporal lobe.

  5. So if these stimuli are self-induced at places of worship... Is this experiment (not being in a place of worship) classified as God Helmet-induced stimuli?

  6. I don't think you understand the significance of the experiment. It's not showing that you can replicate spiritual experiences using external stimuli, it's that spiritual experiences are manifestations of brain activity.

    In other words, spiritual experiences are hallucinations.

  7. Might not be the significance of the experiment but it's the obvious thrust of this video - "Look, we now know how to replicate spiritual experience using external stimuli. Spooky...." The cinematography/editing/music/Morgan Freeman narration - standard science doco conventions.

    I think you'll find most religious people will agree that spiritual experiences can be hallucinations, but they will ask - Why couldn't/wouldn't Almighty God use hallucinations (and dreams, visions, etc. etc.) as a way to commune with us?

  8. Because then god would be working in such a way that not only appears to work without him, but in such a way that human experiences of him become evidence that he doesn't exist.......

    Let me ask you this, Why would a god who wanted humans to know him, create a universe that points toward his non-existence?

  9. Maybe it doesn't work at all without him?? Does "ALL THINGS were made through him and by him" ring any rusty old bells? Haha :D

    The assumption in your question is that the universe points toward his non-existence - this viewpoint is obviously not universally shared. Many feeling the universe points toward his existence.

    I really don't know the answer though, maybe God's not a fan of the skeptic intellectual type? And it's a cheeky move on his part? Seems to be a recurring theme for the biblical god at least.

    Genesis 11:5-9
    Matthew 18:3
    Matthew 19:14
    Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17
    1 Peter 2:2

    The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road. - Matthew 7:13-14

  10. You're becoming more fundie! What happened??

    Not a single natural phenomenon has been found so far that requires something beyond the natural world. Everything has a natural explanation, that is what Science has shown us, we may not have found every single explanation yet, but all the ones that we have found have no traces of god in them. I even did an entire post about this, called God is Superfluous.....

    If your god isn't fond of skepticism, then he's a deceitful prick who delights in damning people to hell, by creating a universe that points to his non-existence.

    Thanks for pointing out a glaring inconsistency in Christianity. God is supposed to be omni-benevolent, yet he supposedly creates a universe where scientific investigation shows him to be entirely absent, and then delights at damning people (I'm told hell isn't biblically supported though, so at least he's not roasting them).

    It just goes to show that religion is man-made, incorrect, misguided, and intellectually vacuous.

  11. Hahahaha "more fundie" so good :D

    Nah I just find those verses from the Bible to be both intriguing and hilariously fitting to modern day skepticism and intellectualism.

    Person: "How do I get to heaven?"
    God: "Don't try be a smartass, otherwise you'll lose it. I have a preference for the ignorant and faithful type"

    God is most definitely superfluous in science. Methodological naturalism - it's vital for scientific progress. Maybe God likes it that way too.
    God: "Figure it out yourself you lazy pricks. But don't come crying to me when shit happens" Haha I don't know. I crave my depiction of God, even if it isn't very theologically sound.

    Is God superfluous in all other aspects of life though?

    As I said over a year ago - if he's the god of the flipping universe, I really don't care if he comes across as an occasional bastard to some. I just hope that if he does exist, he can see that I'm keen to know the truth, whether I think it sucks or I think it's awesome.

    Hell is HOW BAD biblically supported - I'll just link you to this bro. I gotta hit the sack soon.

    Of course he's omnibenevolent if omnibenevolence = God. God = God. Woohoo. What a non-statement. But if omnibenevolent means "always well meaning" according to what 21st century humans consider to be "well meaning", then no, of course he's not omnibenevolent. Not in the slightest.

    I'm tired and it's definitely showing haha but anyway when's this hangout with Josh and the lads happening? Will be so much better to flesh these intensely deep philosophical questions of life and death out in person :D

    Night champ. Keep on being legit.

  12. A god that prefers ignorance when we have brains isn't worth worshipping.

    A god that is a malevolent prick isn't worth worshipping, those are some of the worst human attributes imaginable.

    As for your claim that hell is biblically supported...

    Sheol, refers to the resting place for all the dead in hebrew, it is the collective grave. That automatically eliminates all of the references to it in the Old Testament.

    In the new testament, the word used is Gehenna, which refers to the Valley of Hinnom, just outside of Jerusalem. This is a place where in the Old Testament pagans are said to have performed human sacrifices. So references to "the fire that will not be quenched" and the maggots that will never go hungry or something.. Refers to the Jewish belief in an honorable burial, if you're not a believer, your body will be cast into Gehenna. It has nothing to do with an afterlife.

    Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite benevolence".

  13. Haha, if he's the god of the universe he is! Imagine what he'll do to you if you don't! haha

    You just defined the biblical hell! That's what it is. That's what that link said. I never said anything about an afterlife.

    The Oxford Dictionary, written by man. Exactly. Of course he's not omnibenevolent.

  14. No, Hell is not biblical. When someone says hell, everyone understands that to mean "the place where god roasts satan and bad people for eternity."

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. YUSSSSS!!!! You understand the point I was trying to make the other day about how when someone hears a word mentioned, they don't automate to the actual definition. Instead they go straight to a presupposition or other assumption they already have about that word.

    So yes obviously mythical hell isn't a biblical doctrine. What hell actually means - is the link I supplied. Sheol, Gehanna, etc.

    Hey what did anonymous say!!

  17. hell
    1.the place or state of punishment of the wicked after death; the abode of evil and condemned spirits; Gehenna or Tartarus.
    2.any place or state of torment or misery: They made their father's life a hell on earth.
    3.something that causes torment or misery: Having that cut stitched without anesthesia was hell.
    4.the powers of evil.

    What hell actually means, is the thing that isn't a biblical doctrine, and that is what everyone understands it to mean.

    Anonymous was Dennis.


  19. Apologies, I meant what BIBLICAL hell actually means is the link I supplied. Sheol, Gehanna, etc.

    Ahhhh Dennis, what a lovely piece of work


  21. To use a term like that is highly misleading. Why don't you just call a spade a spade? Hell doesn't 'exist'.
    If you want to REDEFINE hell to mean non-existence, or 'the grave' by all means, go ahead, but you'll only be making more work for other people, and confusing others. By using a misleading term, you wasted my time refuting something that you didn't even mean to say.

  22. Lol :D Sorry mate, I assumed (ass of u and me) that you knew what I meant when I said Hell. And would know even more when you viewed the BGW page on Sheol, Gehanna, etc.

    I highly anticipate the semantics when we gather with Josh, etc.

    Gonna be hilarious.

    Anyway, peace out. This time it's defo time for bed.

  23. Dear shreddakj,

    You're stupid, atheist burn in hell.