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Tsuyoiko
18-02-06, 12:33
I was arguing on another forum that the fact that the existence of god cannot be proved is a good reason not to believe in it. Someone asked if I needed proof that love exists to believe in it, and if it could be proved that love exists. My answer is that love does not exist in any concrete sense - it is not an entity existing outside of human experience, but an emotion that only exists in human consciousness.

Can we say the same about god? Rather than being an entity with its own independent existence, is god nothing more (or less) than a capacity of the human brain? Neuroscientists (e.g Dr Andrew Newberg) have shown that something special happens in the brain during spiritual experiences. Similarly, certain areas of the brain become active when we experience different emotions.

So, is god an emotion?

Mycernius
18-02-06, 17:25
I wouldn't say an emotion, more a catalyst for other emotions. You see people at mass gatherings of the faithful and invaribly crying with joy or happy or in their own little comfort zone that the idea of God brings to them. The same can be said for the negative emotions. Make fun of Allah and the idea can cause grief, violence and anger. Others will turn their backs on their faith because of the idea of God and how can it let X happen. So it seems to me that the idea can cause people to feel what they need to be closer or further away from God

No-name
18-02-06, 17:52
What is an emotion? A feeling- a reaction? A chemical response? Could God be a programed chemical response in the brain? If so what would be the purpose of such a response... why would it evolve? What about emotions such as awe and wonder and fascination? Hmmmm....

Paintball today with a dozen teenagers and it is raining. (There better be a God.)

kumo
18-02-06, 19:21
Could God be a programed chemical response in the brain? If so what would be the purpose of such a response... why would it evolve?
Related article:
http://www.csicop.org/si/2000-11/beliefs.html

Basically, it seems a belief in God is an attempt to provide reasons and answers we can't otherwise obtain through direct sensory contact to our "reality map", thus serving as a tool to our own survival. I wouldn't call that an "emotion"...

No-name
18-02-06, 19:30
Good article kumo. I absolutely agree with this:
As far as our brain is concerned, there is absolutely no need for data and belief to agree. They have each evolved to augment and supplement one another by contacting different sections of the world. They are designed to be able to disagree. This is why scientists can believe in God and people who are generally quite reasonable and rational can believe in things for which there is no credible data such as flying saucers, telepathy, and psychokinesis.

And this:

First, skeptics must not expect beliefs to change simply as the result of data or assuming that people are stupid because their beliefs don't change. They must avoid becoming critical or demeaning in response to the resilience of beliefs. People are not necessarily idiots just because their beliefs don't yield to new information. Data is always necessary, but it is rarely sufficient.

It supports an observation I have made about the religion and philosophy posts on this forum by a number of atheists: It seems some atheists feel the inherent emotional need to "debunk" the beliefs of others and failing to find or provide any rational reasoning or data to back up their claims, they degenerate into statements that consist mainly of ridicule and demeaning. Furthermore their driving beliefs tend to lend themselves to express certainty with a sense of intellectual superiority, as if all people who would believe in a god are not only inferior, but stupid.

Add: Your post reminded me of another JREF forum: The James Randi Educational Foundation. Magician James Randi (currently hospitalized with bypass surgery) presents a column that is good healthy skepticism at its best. There is also the aforementioned forum. www.randi.org

PRIZMATIC
19-02-06, 00:47
The God is original " movement of force " from "nothing" in " the shown condition "... Emotions is of priorities of "chaos"...

Mars Man
19-02-06, 04:53
Just a quick one here, for now. I wouldn't tend to think of it as just a 'god spot' in the brain being the source of an emotion, and that by extension that emotion would be 'god' as opposed to some external, real entity. I think that 'god spot' thing is not just related to religious emotion, but to others too. I have read some things about that research, but must read up on it again. I do know that some research on how the brain spots work in situations of applying altruism lit up areas that may well overlap with that.

No-name
19-02-06, 05:28
Perhaps there would be a reason for a god shaped hole in our psyche.

On a side note: Paintball for four hours down in Corona...Not a drop of rain until we left. That is proof of God.

Tokis-Phoenix
19-02-06, 20:25
The reason why "God/s" or higher beings/forces are such a commonly held notion/beliefs in so many countrys and intelligent cultures across the world, i think stems from our community hunter gatherer nature- the notion of a god simply replaces the idea of a leader in society, some one or something that is above everyone else who helps control and bring people together in a civilised mannor and incourage ideas of what is morally right or wrong or help answer big questions about our world like how it was created etc...
Peace/harmony and being united is important in human civilised society for it to work easier, you can always argue with another human but you cannot argue with a god- all you can do is have faith in varying degrees.
I dont believe that the concept or idea of god is an emotion, neither an instinct, but rather notion or necessity that many feel the need to entertain/have for them to full fill somthing in their day to day lives or society. Religeon becomes more important the bigger the society/group of people or the closer the quarters they live in together, as being united in the same beliefs helps us exist together more easily. Having everyone believe in the same concepts when it comes to religeon can be a very powerful thing, its consequences in the long run can somtimes be good, or somtimes bad. Gods and religeon go hand in hand, i do not think you can have one without the other as they help each others existance in the human mind. Human emotion drives the meaning of god and religeon, without human emotion its unlikely that God and Religeon would have much of a place in our societys.

The other question, is how much the notion of god and religeon is actually true, and wether theres an afterlife and all that, but for now im relatively satisfied with a little better understanding of why we have these ideas in the first place, and willing to learn more too- what do you think?

PRIZMATIC
20-02-06, 01:22
The god generally really exists... There is no " a way of his knowledge "...
But I shall agree that presence of knowledge of existence of "God" constrains people to...
" The world dead " too exists.

No-name
20-02-06, 02:09
Perhaps when God created us, he left this "hole" to be filled-- a need only He could answer. Perhaps the ultimate proof of a diety is a makers mark he left on all of us.

kumo
20-02-06, 07:09
Perhaps when God created us, he left this "hole" to be filled-- a need only He could answer. Perhaps the untimate proof of a diety is a makers mark he left on all of us.
That's not how it works, Sabro...
You need to look at the evidence and then reach a conclusion, not the other way around....
Anyway, I wouldn't really call that a "hole". I think this "hole" is more likely just one of our brain's abilities - abstract thinking- which can be used for many things, believing in some sort of God being just one of them. There's no such thing as a specific "God area" in our brain.

No-name
20-02-06, 07:26
Wow, kumo, you are to a degree correct, but I wouldn't be so quick to rush into that... it depends on whether you are using inductive or deductive reasoning. Are we going from the specific to the general or the opposite? As in forensic reconstruction, the best test of a hypothesis is to begin at the end and work backwards. According to my brief and somewhat shoddy research-- we can easily trace backwards the existence of God through the structure meant for that in the brain...(Okay, so it is not easy and not very clear)-- but it is also not irrational. Reverse engineering the functions of the brain to determine a beginning point or principle is not outlandish nor unheard of. In the field of psychology function is often used to determine form- and thusly the conclusion preceeds the evidence.

gThe most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the sower of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger . . . is as good as dead.h --Albert Einstein

Here are some interesting articles on the "God Spot" in the brain:

http://cas.bellarmine.edu/tietjen/images/new_page_2.htm
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro01/web3/Farrenkopf.html
http://flockofangels.org/godandthebrain.htm

If God did create humanity for a purpose, wouldn't one expect to find such a region and function in the brain?

kumo
20-02-06, 07:53
Sabro, for centuries hundreds of philosophers have tried to create a logic system where inductive reasoning was allowed-- they have all failed miserably.
It's pretty much an abandoned idea by now.
And I can't see how reverse engineering is related to inductive reasoning... of course reverse engineering is valid, but then I can't see how it could be applied to the God/Brain research without using inductive reasoning (which would automatically make it invalid, and also turn it into a bizarre circular reasoning fallacy)...

No-name
20-02-06, 08:08
No argument-- only simplicity: Confirmational/perceptional Bias on my end. I see exactly what I would expect to see. Where this bias blind spot exists in science and among atheists is the point that must pre-suppose that there is in fact no god and that all information which could suggest such an impossibility be disgarded.

kumo
20-02-06, 08:16
No argument-- only simplicity: Confirmational/perceptional Bias on my end. I see exactly what I would expect to see. Where this bias blind spot exists in science and among atheists is the point that must pre-suppose that there is in fact no god and that all information which could suggest such an impossibility be disgarded.
Not really. It's more like "since there's no evidence of any God, it's both illogical, because it would require inductive reasoning (and a baseless assumption), and useless, because there's no material to work with, to study it". No assumptions made at all.

No-name
20-02-06, 08:32
It is a question of heuristics: Theists will see plenty of evidence of God and Atheists would have to disregard or redefine it. This would constitute evidence of God to a "believer" but a piece of non evidence to a non-believer. Any evidence of God to a non believer would have to be due to the heuristics reduced or re-examined. It is the filtering system spoken of in the article you cited and parsed above. Certainly confirmational/conceptual bias works both ways and it is not only people of faith who suffer from such human limitations but also people of non-faith.

kumo
20-02-06, 08:55
Of course you could consider both ways of thinking equally valid, but when you compare how many lives were saved by medical science, which is based on "sceptical biased" evidence, and how many people were cured by prayer, based on "faith biased" evidence, it's easy to see which "bias" has a better foundation on reality.
Let's just say that if scientists "admitted" faith evidence we wouldn't be debating right now-- there would be no computers...

Mars Man
20-02-06, 09:01
If I may kind of butt in here; not to de-track the good discussion going on, though.

I have been giving some more thought to the original post, and what that might mean for the theme of this thread. I have to give a little more mental power to that, and then can say something more worthwhile, I hope, at least.

One thing to think of might be that I think we could put our money on the observation's being true that identifications and descriptions of god by the greater majority of peoples today, did not exist 10,000 years ago--whereas we can say with a great deal of certainty that humankind did.

Just a little something to throw around within the boundries of this thread's theme, I think.

No-name
20-02-06, 09:03
I might add on reflection that although induction may not work in philosophy, but it is the major method that our perceptive reality is constructed through our emprical experiences. You don't need to burn your hand in a flame too many times, to throw a ball in the air, or to taste chocolate to construct a heuristic that will determine you permanent perception of these experiences. The question becomes the pertainent determiner: are you asking about belief, experience or proof?

Again, back to the article you cited: The existence of God and the non-existence of God are equally logical, equally useful, and equally based upon a person's heuristic construct. Evidence is everywhere to be seen or nowhere depending on a person's perceptual bias. Certainly from a purely materialistic point of view, God must not exist for he cannot be found or measured and there is no evidence at all, and from the opposite point of view, God must exist because he is constantly found in every moment of life. confirmed constantly by mounting evidence.

No-name
20-02-06, 09:16
Of course science is solidly based on measurement in the physical world. We could construct a model based on mortality from diseases that have been prevented and cured, on procedures that saved or prolonged lives and come up with some idea of the millions now alive due to medical science.

But we can't do that with prayer or faith. We will never know how many suicides were averted by a sudden epiphany, how many survived hopeless situations because of a hidden hope, or how many were saved due to the outreaches of people of faith sending food, and doctors and nurses to places where they would not be. Feeding the poor, caring for the sick, working for decency and humanity... can it be quantified in terms of lives saved? REligion that has been the rescue of addicts and the turning point for criminals-- can you discount those contributions? How many lives were saved by the rigid morals or religious practices of a people? How many hospitals were works of faith? How many doctors and humanitarians "led" to the "calling" of humanity through their own personal faith experiences?

Having just gone through a pair of life threatening medical conditions in my family-- I will trust in western medicine and let the doctors do their work. But I will also pray. In one case the doctor was a "Christian" from Nigeria, the hospital founded and funded by Seventh Day Adventists. I thank God for the facility, for the skill of the surgeon and for what I will believe is a medical miracle. In your chart the life was saved by medicine. In mine I will always know it was faith.

Tsuyoiko
20-02-06, 14:38
Interesting thoughts there guys - I'm enjoying the dialogue between Sabro and Kumo especially.

To give the idea I had a bit more depth, here is what I mean by emotion (from dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=emotion))
A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changesSabro - you have always said that the existence of god is a prerequisite for you - so presumably it can be defined as an idea in your mind that arose without conscious effort (ignoring for now whether any real entity inspired that idea). I can see an objection there - since I'm sure for many, god can only be comprehended by conscious effort.

Tokis-Phoenix
20-02-06, 15:08
If I may kind of butt in here; not to de-track the good discussion going on, though.
I have been giving some more thought to the original post, and what that might mean for the theme of this thread. I have to give a little more mental power to that, and then can say something more worthwhile, I hope, at least.
One thing to think of might be that I think we could put our money on the observation's being true that identifications and descriptions of god by the greater majority of peoples today, did not exist 10,000 years ago--whereas we can say with a great deal of certainty that humankind did.
Just a little something to throw around within the boundries of this thread's theme, I think.

We do not know if people believed in gods or religeons 10,000 or more years ago in our history, but paleontologists and achaeologists have found prehistoric cave art dating back to that time and way before- not all cave artwork was of things or creatures that actually existed in our day to day enviroments back then, people have found artworks of "made-up" beings and animals, plus many ritual/religeous items that are likely to have been used in some sort of religeous purpose like head dresses, statues of made-up or very artistically designed creatures or beings, or graves that have different siginificances to them than the ordinary "lets dig a hole for this body so they dont stink up the cave and upset the children" sort of thing i.e. covering bodys in minerals(like red ocre), leaving offerings in the graves like newly made weapons or tools or treasured possesions of the dead one etc etc...
I believe that the notion of there being somthing more to life, like an afterlife or a higher being like a god or spirit or things that just couldn't be described logically like magic or miracles etc, probably started when we started to dig graves for our dead ones and leaving grave goods with them, and when we started to think creatively like drawing art and when our societys started to grow larger and become more complex.
When it comes down to it, there isn't really any practical purpose to dig a grave for somone other than to help the people to psychologically/mentally get over the dead ones death and for practical reasons like getting the rotting body out of sight etc...But why dump precious and expensive things like stone tools and weapons, even brand new ones, with the body? If they are dead, then surely they are dead and dont need such things? I believe its because people started to think that there was somthing more to life other than just being alive and being dead. You cannot have an afterlife without having a higher being like a god or spirit, and you cant have a higher being without a religeon to go with it.
Art and burying dead people, with or without grave goods, is very closely tied in with when we started to migrate across the world towards europe and live in closely knit societys, and i wouldn't be suprised if religeon also had its roots early on in our civilisation. Of course its imposible to tell what exactly people believed in through the ages, but i do believe theres enough evidence to suggest that they did believe in somthing more than just life and death very early on in the beginnings of our civilisation/societys.

I honestly dont know if theres an afterlife or a god, of course i'd like to believe theres more to life than just being alive or being dead, but im very wary of peoples current "evidence" for such things, so far i dont really even see much, if any, solid evidence or proof for such things existing other than other peoples strong beliefs in such things throughout the ages. At least for me, even if there wasn't and afterlife or God or whatever it wouldn't really change much in the way i live as i believe you should live for this life and the people around you and in this world rather than the next life and its consequences etc...And even if God didn't exist, i still believe religeon has a very important place in society as it always has done as it has many benefets in society for us if most people believe in the same things etc...

My point is, is even if god doesn't exist i do think that its a side effect of our intelligent civilisation and i can see where it technically may have came about in that sense if you look at my previous post and stuff. God isn't an emotion but does have many emotional benefets for us and our civilisation.

No-name
20-02-06, 18:17
I'm having trouble following what I wrote last night- it must have been past my bed time.

Sabro - you have always said that the existence of god is a prerequisite for you - so presumably it can be defined as an idea in your mind that arose without conscious effort (ignoring for now whether any real entity inspired that idea). I can see an objection there - since I'm sure for many, god can only be comprehended by conscious effort. That would be correct Tsuyoiko. And it should confirm to kumo that my thinking in this area is indeed circular and inductive. Proof is not the purpose.
The major point of discussion was not some scientific level of proof, but rather "belief." In our experiences as humans an idea becomes salient not when it is proven valid in a deductive or scientific way but when it become cogent and although conclusive need not have the same degree of certainty. The structures of belief in our brains whether motivated by religious thoughts or not, begin from specific experiences to form general sets of beliefs. These core beliefs become the "heuristics" or "rules of thumb" by which we not only make decisions but also through which we percieve our world.

Perceptual and Confirmational bias are natural biproducts of this process and it happens equally in atheists, scientists, clerics, philosophers. Looking at an area of the brain that seems to functionally "want God" confirms to the believer (and the believer only) the existence of God. Like the disputed "God spot", conclusions about reality become almost teleologic: the data becomes the "proof" filtered through personal perception.

Does this make any sense at all?

Tsuyoiko
20-02-06, 18:22
Perceptual and Confirmational bias are natural biproducts of this process and it happens equally in atheists, scientists, clerics, philosophers.Perhaps the difference is that, in general, atheists, scientists and philosophers see it as a bad thing - something they wish to be rid of, that they strive against. Well, scientists at least.
Does this make any sense at all?Yup. You are at your most rational and logical best :cool: :p

No-name
20-02-06, 18:34
I would agree that athiests and most scientists (Einstein and Stephen Hawkings being notable exceptions) strive against such human leanings, but philosophers tend to fall into two schools that involve beliefs... and phsychologists are deep into studying not only the structure and function of beliefs, but also the psychobiology of them.

Not only the Einstein quote that you gave on faith, but Hawkings introduction to A Brief History of Time touch on the kind of discussion on beliefs we are faintly echoing here.

kumo
20-02-06, 21:01
Having just gone through a pair of life threatening medical conditions in my family-- I will trust in western medicine and let the doctors do their work. But I will also pray. In one case the doctor was a "Christian" from Nigeria, the hospital founded and funded by Seventh Day Adventists. I thank God for the facility, for the skill of the surgeon and for what I will believe is a medical miracle. In your chart the life was saved by medicine. In mine I will always know it was faith.
You seem to be forgetting one fundamental step of the scientific method-- experimentation. Taking your example, we could set up a experiment having half the patients receive prayers from their families and medical care, while the other half receive only regular medical care. The results will show you that the recovery rates will be absolutely the same.
Evidences might be a bit subjective, but they alone are not enough for reaching a conclusion. This subjectiveness is completely eliminated by performing all the necessary steps of the scientific method.


Looking at an area of the brain that seems to functionally "want God" confirms to the believer (and the believer only) the existence of God. Like the disputed "God spot", conclusions about reality become almost teleologic: the data becomes the "proof" filtered through personal perception
As I said, this "area" you speak of is just the one responsible for abstract thinking. It "wants" God as much as it wants dragons and elves, which by no means is proof of their existance, or lack thereof.
Also, scientist≠atheist. There are many scientists that are very biased towards theology, and would jump at the first opportunity to prove God. Saying scientists would disregard any evidence of God's existence is a hasty generalization.

No-name
20-02-06, 21:21
Kumo if we were talking about scientific standards of proof, you would be absolutely correct. But what we are talking about belief and perception which only requires that the ideas be cogent and not necessarily proven scientifically. As humans we operate not on proven, factual, and measurable-- but on cogent heuristics. If we have a bag of marbles and we pull ten straight red ones (mixing thouroughly before each pull)... we induce that the others are probably red.

Your assumption that prayers with family would not affect recovery rates has actully been studied several time and has been proven false. Some published examples:

"Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population," Randolph C. Byrd, M.D., a San Francisco cardiologist, endeavored to answer these questions: (1) Does intercessory prayer (IP) to the Judeo-Christian God have any effect on a CCU patient's medical condition and recovery? (2) How are these effects manifested, if present?

232 older patients at Dartmouth Medical school...those finding strength and comfort in their religious faith were 14 times less likely to die following heart surgery. (reference: 1995, Psychosomatic Medicine 57 (1):5-15).

The results of the study, as reported by Byrd, employing "multivariant analysis of the data using [these twenty-six] variables ... revealed a significant difference (P less than .0001) between the two groups based on events that occurred after entry into the study. Fewer patients in the prayer group required ventilatory support, antibiotics, or diuretics." (1) In addition, using the "good/intermediate/bad" severity score, "A bad hospital course was observed in 14% of the prayer group vs. 22% of the controls. . . .chi-square analysis of these data gave a P value of less than .01" (that is, a less than 1 percent probability that chance alone could account for the difference).

A study of nearly 4000 persons 65 or older showed that those attending religious services at least once per week and doing prayer or Bible study at least daily had a 40% decreased risk of diastolic hypertension. The impact was best in blacks rather than whites and in those less than 76 years old. (reference: International 1998, Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 28 (2): 189-213).

A study at the University of Pittsburgh found that patients with strong religious beliefs and religious participation showed much better physical functioning and better life quality at one year after surgery. (reference: 1999, Journal of Religion and Health 34 (1):17-32).

I have more, and I could look for some internet sources so you could see the whole article. (Although I have to admit that they only in totality suggest a relationship and not a causality.)

I think you misread the articles about the "God spot" I reference above. The area does indeed predispose a belief in God specifically and not dragons or elves. It is actually fairly specific and implies the teleologic connection I referenced. You should check them again. (I would suggest the newsweek article)

kumo
20-02-06, 22:48
Kumo if we were talking about scientific standards of proof, you would be absolutely correct. But what we are talking about belief and perception which only requires that the ideas be cogent and not necessarily proven scientifically.
I know. I'm not saying it's impossible for someone to believe in something unproven scientifically, I'm arguing that this kind of belief is false. Citing Sen. Patrick Moynihan: "You're entitled to your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts". Some people will see evidence for God everywhere, while some won't see any evidence whatsoever. But God can't exist and not exist at the same time; people's opinions are irrelevant to facts. Sabro, your argument is getting dangerously close to becoming a relativist fallacy.

Your assumption that prayers with family would not affect recovery rates has actully been studied several time and has been proven false.
It has also been proven true many times, it all depends on your source, some (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10220027&dopt=Abstract) will even say that faith has had a negative effect on pacients health. All things considered, it seems prayer is simply a non-factor on health issues.

I think you misread the articles about the "God spot" I reference above. The area does indeed predispose a belief in God specifically and not dragons or elves. It is actually fairly specific and implies the teleologic connection I referenced. You should check them again. (I would suggest the newsweek article)
A sense of "detachment from the body" is not the same as "feeling God". The second case needs an external agent to act, while the first is just an internal experience (occurring in the brain). It doesn't seem to be a specific God area; in fact, the idea of "God" would need to come from somewhere else, since it's impossible do deduce an external agent from a purely internal experience. The notion of God, I think, comes from abstract thinking.

No-name
20-02-06, 23:08
The existence of God and the non-existence of God are both scientifically unproven (and unprovable). Proving the non-existence of anything in science is a tricky matter. Some people will see the evidence of the non-existence of God everywhere, and others won't see it at all. The fact in this matter is unclear... the beliefs on the other hand are telling of bias. The point made in the references that I cited is that beliefs are based on small samples of empirical experience.

The study you cited only separated those with "some form of spiritual belief" without looking at the depth or application of this belief and the difference in the outcome was only 1.1 to 5.1. It would suggest a relationship but it has little to do with whether faith had anything to do with healing or non healing or whether faith, prayers or any other spiritual practices played any role.

This article highlights the difficulty of such a study: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2005/07/25/a_prayer_for_health/

In other ways, you cannot discount the role of faith in saving lives through humanitarian acts of charity, religious based good works and through the personal redemption of lives. Although such an effect is not scientifically verifiable and not easily counted... the existence of religion based hospitals, soup kitchens and food banks, outreaches and rehab clinics, is undeniable.

kumo
20-02-06, 23:47
In other ways, you cannot discount the role of faith in saving lives through humanitarian acts of charity, religious based good works and through the personal redemption of lives. Although such an effect is not scientifically verifiable and not easily counted... the existence of religion based hospitals, soup kitchens and food banks, outreaches and rehab clinics, is undeniable.
I never denied it, Sabro. But that is not really in the scope of this discussion, which if I understand correctly is about methods, not motives. The methods used in a religion based hospital and a secular hospital are pretty much the same (and both are based on medical science).

No-name
20-02-06, 23:54
It may not be the "method" but faith is often the motive for good works-- you claim that it doesn't save lives, but I say that it undoubtedly does.

kumo
21-02-06, 00:11
It may not be the "method" but faith is often the motive for good works-- you claim that it doesn't save lives, but I say that it undoubtedly does.
Since we were discussing methods I think it was quite clear that I was refering to methods, not motives... I never claimed that faith, as a motive, never saved lives. I'll try to be more specific from now on.

Reiku
21-02-06, 00:59
I was arguing on another forum that the fact that the existence of god cannot be proved is a good reason not to believe in it. Someone asked if I needed proof that love exists to believe in it, and if it could be proved that love exists. My answer is that love does not exist in any concrete sense - it is not an entity existing outside of human experience, but an emotion that only exists in human consciousness.
Can we say the same about god? Rather than being an entity with its own independent existence, is god nothing more (or less) than a capacity of the human brain? Neuroscientists (e.g Dr Andrew Newberg) have shown that something special happens in the brain during spiritual experiences. Similarly, certain areas of the brain become active when we experience different emotions.
So, is god an emotion?

Well, I was all set to just post "no" and leave it at that--but after reading your post I've decided to give a less cheeky response.

It's an interesting concept--what you mentioned about brain activity--but one could argue that what is showing up is the emotion caused by the spiritual experiance, and not the event itself.

Also, I'm a little put off by the recent Orwellian trend of viewing emotions and concepts--such as love--as existing "only in our minds".

It seems to me that the human brain is more reactive than creative, it responds to outside stimulus in various ways, but rarely seems to spontaniously come up with something without some external bassis or trigger--however subtle it might be.

Considering the complexity and subtlety of our senses and our minds, it seems far more likely that an "unsubstantiated thought" is actually a response to something we simply didn't notice on a conscious level. After all, our conscious mind is only aware of a small fraction of the sensory information we take in.

Obviously, the classical definition of the term "god" requires that it be more than just an emotion--as it must possess conciousness and will. There is a tendancy, particularly with the idea of "god", to try and redefine the meaning in order to force an understanding of the thing.

ie: If we can't quite grasp or accept the concept of "god" as a conscious entity, then we'll keep calling it something else until we find a form that is acceptable to us.

While that's perfectly fine from a philosophical standpoint, I think you need a different word for "god as an emotion", because the term "god" contradicts that idea--since it refers to a conscious entity.

In closing...

...I liked that episode of Futurama too, Tsuyoiko. :D

"He speaks out of love for his freind, perhaps that love in his heart is god...?"

"Oh, how convenient, a theory about god that doesn't require looking through a telescope--get back to work!"

Tsuyoiko
21-02-06, 13:19
...I liked that episode of Futurama too, Tsuyoiko. :D
"He speaks out of love for his freind, perhaps that love in his heart is god...?"
"Oh, how convenient, a theory about god that doesn't require looking through a telescope--get back to work!"That's quite freaky. I hadn't consciously connected any of this to Futurama, but I have been watching it a lot lately (it's on the main channel at teatime :blush:), so who knows what strange connections were happening in my subconscious :D

Tsuyoiko
21-02-06, 13:29
But God can't exist and not exist at the same time; people's opinions are irrelevant to facts.That is exactly the thought that led me to create this thread. God can't both exist and not exist as an entity, but god can both exist and not exist if it is an emotion, or some other construct of the brain. For me, god does not exist because I have no experience of god. For Sabro, god exists because he has that experience. Whether the experience is of an external entity is irrelevant to that experience - do we deny that love exists?

No-name
21-02-06, 17:36
Whether God exists as an entity is not subject to logic or reason... nor personal belief as kumo pointed out. But you don't find something or someone from the starting point that they can't exist... You begin a search by martialling your logic and setting about parameters to begin looking.

Perhaps the first place you look is the human psyche. Perhaps there are artifacts left in our psyche by the act of creation... something like a "God spot?"

Tsuyoiko
21-02-06, 18:01
But you don't find something or someone from the starting point that they can't exist... True. But I think it's good practice to start by recognising the possibility that something doesn't exist - i.e. falsifiability.

No-name
21-02-06, 19:23
How would you design an experiment?

Void
21-02-06, 20:03
So, is god an emotion?

maybe, "emotion" would not be a correct way to put it. Since what we see today is not simplistic "stimulus-reaction".
The concept of a "mem" seems quite appealing, but to my taste it also lacks smth. Perhaps, at early stages idea of god could be a "mem", but now days it looks more as part of human psyche (and denial of god by atheist serves only as a prove that their brain also has such "structure" :D)


Perhaps there are artifacts left in our psyche by the act of creation... something like a "God spot?"

I can argue that this as well may be the result of evolution but not the
creation. As already was mentioned in this thread god of today is not a god
of 10000 years ago. The idea (mem) evolved altogether with society. I dare
say this concept also evolves (or degrades) with growth of single individual
God of adult is different from one of a child (even when it is always a
monoteist case - for kid and grown-up).
I am a baobab-tree in brain studies. But AFAIK as organ itself brain didn`t
change (no new layers or parts), but i bet it has much more different neural
clasters than a brain of neolit man. Why not to assume that some clusters
can be inherited?
I am currently reading(actually coming back and forth) S.Pinker`s The Language Instinct, where he proposes that grammar of a language is a part of our brain, there are some structures of it which result in language structures (well, i am simplifying the idea of a book of 400 pages, but think English speakers can easily find it)
Why wouldn`t it be possible for ideas like God to be a part of a brain now.
At the beginning it could be an attempt to explain the unknown. But it
grew over the simple explanation, attained new functionality and evolved
with man and his society, becoming a part of a brain. But this part will not
function without society (kids brought up by animals may not have language (in our terms) and don`t need concept of god)


It seems to me that the human brain is more reactive than creative, it responds to outside stimulus in various ways, but rarely seems to spontaniously come up with something without some external bassis
or trigger--however subtle it might be

i tend to disagree. My friend dedicated a lot of time to studing physiology, neuroscience and selforganizing systems, I just like to see him exclaim: "the result (product) of complex system can`t be reduced to its parts, emergent live by different rules of its own!"
Our conscious is filled from inside as well from outside

kumo
21-02-06, 20:13
and denial of god by atheist serves only as a prove that their brain also has such "structure"
As much as the denial of the Easter Bunny by adults serves as a proof that their brains have a Easter Bunny "structure".
http://www.embellishments.us/images/easter/easter-bunny-with-basket.jpg

Void
21-02-06, 20:21
nice bunny... but hit the outer... try again i believe in you :D

Mars Man
16-03-06, 08:21
A fast addition here. Having read further, I have found one article that deals with this matter, and a study which points in the direction of a genetical cause. In other words, the area of the brain under inspection is directed by a certain gene which seems to tie in with the degree of this area's functioning. I'll post the details in time, although the article itself, is not so detailed and had been written in a cast of doubt on the conclusion from the results.

PsychoticNess
18-03-06, 00:37
I don't think it is God that is the emotion, I think that would be more closely related to the holy spirit. That feeling that I feel when I hink of God is the holy spirit inside me, It isn't God, but it is at the same time...

Not much validity in my statement I know, but everything that comes from God, is Godly. Trinity = Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Mars Man
18-03-06, 15:23
I do understand your postition PsychotiNess san, and I feel that as far as emotions go, that is a good description of it.

I would only argue, of course, that the emotion would surely have come from an understanding which had come from a logical response to data.

I appreciate your post !! Thank you.

Mars Man
30-03-06, 16:52
In the Journal of Biblical Literature that had been waiting for me when I got home today, there was one paper on the theory of how ritual procedures may have well given rise to textual authority in a number of cases in the old world, including that of the Torah. There were a number of examples given from extant pieces of historical reports and from evidence in Ezra's writings, and so on. It was a good presentation and a well-developed theory.

It made me think of this thread too, because it could be a model of how the emotional state of the human mind lead to the development of the 'mover' (god) idea. It could be something to think about.

Mitsuo
19-04-06, 00:58
I would say that God isn't an emotion. But the thought of God can give a multitude of emotions to a single person. It really depends on the person.

Some think of God as a Negative aspect in the world, and some Positive. So the emotions will either have a negative characteristic or positive characteristic.