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Thread: Beliefs, Spirituality, and why we believe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    Some people think of spirituality as meditation and floating off into positive thoughts in order to unite with a kindly universe,
    Yep, according to recent knowledge we all have body map in our brain. Whatever happened to us is immediately transposed to this body map, and obviously connected to feeling self. I can imagine instances when this map and feeling self could be manipulated or maybe broken with brain injuries. For example out of body floating experience manifests itself when your body map is shut down with oxygen deprivation during accidents, electric stimulation of brain, or during meditation. Likewise we have a special map of outside world in our brain, working in relation with self map. Therefore for some people might be possible (genetic predisposition) to feel some emotions outside their body map/the self, in outside world spacial sector in brain. This might be felt as presence of spirits or gods outside our bodies. If somehow feeling of love moves out of "self map", it might give sensation of loving god watching you, or that you love the whole world.

    We can only imagine how difficult it is to convince such person not to believe in supernatural. Logical arguments are not much against feeling of god's presence.


    As with many other things, genetics probably have a great deal to do with it but life experience helps shape what role those genes have in our lives.
    I'm somewhat spiritual person and former believer. In my case my logic analyzing my life experiences and acquired knowledge has lead me to conclusion that the world as we know it can exist and operate without help of supernatural. Other words, my logic don't let me believe, though I certainly could.
    Last edited by LeBrok; 10-02-14 at 02:13.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Likewise we have a special map of outside world in our brain, working in relation with self map. Therefore for some people might be possible (genetic predisposition) to feel some emotions outside their body map/the self, in outside world spacial sector in brain. This might be felt as presence of spirits or gods outside our bodies. If this is feeling of love, it might give sensation of loving god watching you.

    We can only imagine how difficult it is to convince such person not to believe in supernatural. Logical arguments are not much against feeling of god's presence.
    Most of the world's great religions, other perhaps than the ones like Confucianism, which are really just law codes, include a mystical dimension...for example, you have the Sufis in Islam, the adherents of Kabala in Judaism, and, of course, Christian mystical tradition. The response of atheists is that these people are either mad or deluded. On the other hand, what's always struck me is that no matter how far removed in space and time the cultures may be, the experience sounds fundamentally the same, and many of these people give no indication that they're mad. And no, I don't think you could convince them that what they're experiencing isn't real. The problem is that while words may describe it, they can't communicate what it's really like. I imagine it's sort of like trying to describe color to a person who only sees in black and white.

    Other people come to God by a different route. At university, Viktor Frankel's book The Will to Meaning was assigned reading for a course I was taking...only 100 pages, but it made a tremendous impression on me. He formed the central ideas of his philosophy out of his experience in a concentration camp. This is a short clip where he explains how a belief in God fits into his philosophy.



    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    When I listen to what Victor Frankel has to say about religion, what I hear is "we can decide to embrace religion in order to feel that our life has meaning", which doesn't sound to me as if he's trying to argue that there's any evidence of a higher power. Although I suppose one could interpret his comments as meaning "we're placed here in order to find meaning", although that viewpoint isn't what I'd call evidence of anything.

    I've always considered myself to be a Pagan, in that I've worshipped and had meaningful spiritual experiences certain forces of the natural world that I considered to be conscious and aware. For example, I was quite persuaded by the so-called Gaia Hypothesis, which attempts to provide a scientific basis for arguing that the Earth is a conscious and aware entity. However, my beliefs were based mainly on my spiritual experiences, and I've come to accept that there are scientific explanations for what I've experienced, so it could simply be my own consciousness providing me with experiences that seem meaningful because of some evolutionary advantage in believing in some kind of "higher power". And I've never really worried too much about whether the universe was created by some sort of god, because that would require me to wonder who or what created that god. Worrying about that issue too much makes me feel like a dog chasing its tail. So if I was going to go with a belief system about the origins of the universe, I'd rather believe that the universe always existed and needs no creator, rather than believing that some god made the world and that god has always existed and needs no creator. If I believe in an eternal universe rather than an eternal god, I at least have the advantage of believing in something that actually exists. However, I think the correct answer to that ultimate puzzle is "I don't know'." That may be the only answer that's authentic for us humans, IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    When I listen to what Victor Frankel has to say about religion, what I hear is "we can decide to embrace religion in order to feel that our life has meaning", which doesn't sound to me as if he's trying to argue that there's any evidence of a higher power. Although I suppose one could interpret his comments as meaning "we're placed here in order to find meaning", although that viewpoint isn't what I'd call evidence of anything.
    Yep, it might be this short video, but it comes across more as psychology (finding purpose to feel better, fulfill one's needs) than any kind of religion. However it is part of human spirituality. From our egocentric, human-centric (feeling special), point of view we automatically try to find a purpose of life. Otherwise we are not better than pinguins or ladybugs whose only goals in life are: eat, survive, multiply. Our lives wouldn't be worth much, would they? Perhaps, it is some sort of self-defence mechanism.

    I've always considered myself to be a Pagan, in that I've worshipped and had meaningful spiritual experiences certain forces of the natural world that I considered to be conscious and aware. For example, I was quite persuaded by the so-called Gaia Hypothesis, which attempts to provide a scientific basis for arguing that the Earth is a conscious and aware entity. However, my beliefs were based mainly on my spiritual experiences, and I've come to accept that there are scientific explanations for what I've experienced, so it could simply be my own consciousness providing me with experiences that seem meaningful because of some evolutionary advantage in believing in some kind of "higher power". And I've never really worried too much about whether the universe was created by some sort of god, because that would require me to wonder who or what created that god. Worrying about that issue too much makes me feel like a dog chasing its tail. So if I was going to go with a belief system about the origins of the universe, I'd rather believe that the universe always existed and needs no creator, rather than believing that some god made the world and that god has always existed and needs no creator. If I believe in an eternal universe rather than an eternal god, I at least have the advantage of believing in something that actually exists. However, I think the correct answer to that ultimate puzzle is "I don't know'." That may be the only answer that's authentic for us humans, IMO.
    Thanks for sharing.

    However, I think the correct answer to that ultimate puzzle is "I don't know'." That may be the only answer that's authentic for us humans, IMO
    With time I grew to enjoy movies of undefined endings (did he survived or not?) as long as the point is already made. I also like to think in probabilities of an outcomes, the spectrum rather than in black and white. I'm not sure if it could be called "authentic for us humans" but it gives certainly an interesting perspective, understanding and tolerance.
    Last edited by LeBrok; 12-02-14 at 04:00.

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    Viktor Frankel was a psychiatrist and analyst, so he is approaching religion from that perspective. In the way that Freud tried to explain human behavior as a search for pleasure, and Adler as a search for power, Frankel says that human behavior can be explained as a search for meaning. Religion can then be understood as a search for ultimate meaning.

    I personally don't think you can explain all human behavior as stemming from one overwhelming drive; rather, I think it stems from a combination of them, probably in different proportions in different people.

    What I think is relevant to this particular thread is that some people do indeed strive to find meaning in their lives, and when that meaning is gone, they don't thrive either psychologically or physically. In Frankel's case, he was forced to the absolute brink physically and mentally. The only thing that gave him the strength to survive was the memory of his wife and the love he had for her. I think we can see the operation of the same principle in far less extreme situations, as when a long married man loses his wife and within a short time, himself dies. Or, conversely, people who outlive the most optimistic outcomes for their diseases because they need to care for a dependent child. Also, people who have defined themselves in terms of work often don't thrive in retirement.

    As Frankel said, however, for the "religious personality", a personality, as we have been discussing, perhaps formed as much by genetics as by life experience, work and love don't provide enough meaning. For some of these people, perhaps it is part of their need for philosophical answers to the riddle of existence, but perhaps for others it is because they are able to sense something beyond the veil...something other than "actuality".

    All of the great religions, other than perhaps Confucianism, include what could be called a "mystical" dimension...the Sufis of Islam, the Kabbalists of Judaism, and, of course, the Christian mystical tradition, among others. Different paths, but the experience has always struck me, as described, as remarkably similar.

    This is an example of a poem I like that is written out of a mystical experience in the Christian context...

    Gerald Manley Hopkins
    The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell:
    The soil is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    By burial practices, decoration and spiritual objects, we can guess that Neanderthals were less religious people than Home Sapience in general. It could be interesting to see if Scandinavians have more Neanderthal DNA left in their genome than other populations. If indeed it is the case we might suppose that low spirituality of Neanderthals was genetically transferred to Modern Scandinavians.
    First, thank you. This will make for a good discussion. My Neanderthal DNA measures 1.5% and Denisovan at 0.4% - At some point I think they will be able to get very close to deciding the degree of spirituality in these people.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Spirituality, especially when proved genetic, is so ancient and so widespread that, by evolutionary standards, it has to exist for a very good reason. Believing in supernatural may seem silly and not needed in modern age, but it exists because it was very beneficial for our ancestors.
    A good point on widespread spirituality via genetic transfer. Widespread is an interesting word to associate with religion and genetics. M253 sat in isolation and basically undisturbed for 5000 years. One might ask what happens to a group that is undisturbed for that long? What takes place genetically? What deities were worshiped prior to the Norse gods we are familiar with? I read that they were "earth mother" worshipers. With religion, is there always a penalty for not obeying, and if so, what would someone's fate then be? Did this "earth mother" have a dark place for you to go when dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    For example if somebody was atheist in the past, and had seen wife die during birthing, most kids dead too, suffering for nothing, life full of fleas, lice and worms eating you from inside, and hungry all the time too. Why would you suffer for nothing, with no help from gods to pray to, no reward after life for these painful sacrifices? The only logical option is to jump from the tall rock and finish your misery. Spiritual people had much better chance to get through misery, hoping and imagining a better future with help of ancestral spirits, believing in their special status, lucky star, and survive.
    I would ask will this individual be very likely to commit suicide or not? I went through a very similar experience in 2008 (without fleas, lice, etc). My option was to find a new direction to move in. Of course the individual in your example was in the distant past and without the options, staples, and luxuries of today.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I would be surprised if "god gene" could be found on any of sex chromosomes. There might be a geographical correlation between God Gene and M253, but no causation.
    Now, I'm way out of my field of expertise (geographic sciences), but I'll try to decrypt some human biology that I have read. You probably already knew that a scientist at the National Cancer Institute, geneticist Dean Hamer, has identified a protein (VMAT2) that is encoded by the gene SLC18A2. He has designated this as the "god gene." This particular protein transports "neurotransmitters of "feel good" substances (for lack of a better word) dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, and histamine. Some are well known in non-academic circles such as trypotophan, which is associated with eating turkey in the U.S. during Thanksgiving. Of course when dealing with an intangible such as faith in humans, one can only speculate as closely as possible as to the origin of the thoughts on a god. Anyway, Dr. Hamer states that spirituality can be quantified. I cannot agree or disagree, being out of my league here.

    So what happens with spiritual persons in a spiritual overdose? They get a rush of the above substances, the warm fuzzies, an overwhelming sense of feeling good. Those in the more conservative ranks of religion head for restaurants after their buzz at church. There they will eat the "comfort foods"... those high in fats and proteins containing the aforementioned substances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    If you do a bit of reading about Scandinavian history, you'll find that the Scandinavians were traditionally very religious, both as Pagans and later as christians. It was only in the last half of the 20th century that most people in Norway, Denmark and Sweden lost interest in religion, and in fact the Lutheran Church is still quite powerful politically in those countries. The withering away of formal religious belief seems to have more to do with the sense of living a secure life in a social democracy than anything to do with genetics. Economic and social security seem to dull one's sense of need for the religious life. If you don't fear harm from an angry god, you probably won't pray as often.
    I'm unsure how you measure or qualify "very religious." They had several gods for a variety of reasons and explanations. To me, the more gods they had made their spirituality quite different and less overwhelming than the god of Judaism and Christianity. To have one demanding and vengeful god, one that is constantly threatening and judging a person, would be more intense and frightening. The Norse deities were associates and assistants in battle, gods that brought sunshine and darkness, Earth, seasons, feelings, age, happiness, and many more things.

    Just one god, "Hel"... who controlled a netherworld called "Hel" (where the English Hell originates)... a place for dishonorable and lying Norse. This place had the deceased, dragons, two races, maids, undead friends of the deceased, gods that lived in Hel and had functions in the world above. There were also more peaceful places within Hel and one could die there and go to another place. Just from its description is a better place by far than the Judeo-Christian Hell. Seems more like a carnival house of horror or penalty box.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    The withering away of formal religious belief seems to have more to do with the sense of living a secure life in a social democracy than anything to do with genetics. Economic and social security seem to dull one's sense of need for the religious life. If you don't fear harm from an angry god, you probably won't pray as often.
    Interesting and compelling. The Lutheran Church in Denmark is state-sponsored so "quite powerful" is an unusual thing to then measure. Sweden's Lutheran Church was state-sponsored until 2000. It seems that while many get Christened, it's just some social formality. Not even 20% in Sweden believe there is a god. Roughly 35% say there is no god. The rest believe there is some life force. The same applies for Denmark. Possibly, just possibly education is the reason for the decline in religion. These countries are near the top in education. This seems to be true of Japan and S. Korea also. It's all quite interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by C-in-fl-usa View Post
    First, thank you. This will make for a good discussion. My Neanderthal DNA measures 1.5% and Denisovan at 0.4% - At some point I think they will be able to get very close to deciding the degree of spirituality in these people.
    2.9% of Neanderthal for me. The interesting part is that our Neanderthal genes might not even overlap. New research just came out:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...asian-science/
    I have to admit that this sort of observation about lower Neanderthal spirituality is shot almost in the dark. There might be other factors in place (from my post above)
    It might be the case that Scandinavians are spiritual but not participating in organized religions, after all 75% still marry in churches. The difference between North and South might stem from one group being more socially tolerant or less emotionally engaged in religion, giving impression of lesser spirituality
    If there was one gene all people would have exactly same spirituality, or complete lack of one. Sort of one gene involvement in rare human conditions. If you don't have this one special gene you never going to get it regardless of environmental factors. In case of spirituality I'm expecting conglomeration of few factoring, complementing, contributing genes. Spirituality might manifest itself as predispositions to be awe and amazed by something unusual; fear/hair standing reaction by something unexpected and unexplainable; ability to feel presence of third party (spirits, "out of body feelings");extrapolation of human traits, feelings, and character on non human entities; extrapolation of human control of environment (tools) on natural phenomena (who controls thunder, sun rain?), good vivid imagination, desire to explain things; bad estimating/probability calculation skills (all things have same chance of happening); or even involvement of some enabling genes like strong trust (blindly believing parents and authority figures), or strong mimicking desire (follow the group), how strongly certain emotions are felt. The bigger amount of these complementing genes the stronger the spirituality. Similar to number of genes one needs for whitest skin colour, for example.

    I would ask will this individual be very likely to commit suicide or not? I went through a very similar experience in 2008 (without fleas, lice, etc). My option was to find a new direction to move in. Of course the individual in your example was in the distant past and without the options, staples, and luxuries of today.
    The widespread spirituality is the sign of natural selection in action. The atheists were "weeded out" during 2 million years of rise of human consciousness. And maybe it is why Neanderthals are extinct.


    Now, I'm way out of my field of expertise (geographic sciences), but I'll try to decrypt some human biology that I have read. You probably already knew that a scientist at the National Cancer Institute, geneticist Dean Hamer, has identified a protein (VMAT2) that is encoded by the gene SLC18A2. He has designated this as the "god gene." This particular protein transports "neurotransmitters of "feel good" substances (for lack of a better word) dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, and histamine.
    No, I didn't know that. It would be interesting to know if this gene is expressed in whole brain or only in a sector connected to spirituality?

    So what happens with spiritual persons in a spiritual overdose? They get a rush of the above substances, the warm fuzzies, an overwhelming sense of feeling good. Those in the more conservative ranks of religion head for restaurants after their buzz at church. There they will eat the "comfort foods"... those high in fats and proteins containing the aforementioned substances.
    Spiritual puking? :))
    Who knows we might recognize syndrome of spiritual addiction soon. Person who goes to church twice a day, or prays 5 times a day, or sacrificing best warriors for the rain? The last one might do something with Aztec Empire collapse done with few spanish mercenaries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Viktor Frankel was a psychiatrist and analyst, so he is approaching religion from that perspective. In the way that Freud tried to explain human behavior as a search for pleasure, and Adler as a search for power, Frankel says that human behavior can be explained as a search for meaning.
    I find it all upside down. The human existence with connection to all life on earth, earth's environment, explains human behavior, with our feelings guiding us to make best choices. Usually the right choices our ancestors made.
    I have an interesting example/observation:
    2 million years (or more) as hunter-gatherers, and equal food sharing among the group tradition, can explain our strong dislike of inequality, with interesting aversion to income inequality in recent times. We still want to share equally, even though the poorest these days ( in developed countries) are much better off than ordinary people 200 years ago, not mentioning hunter-gatherers way back. Even though the poorest today don't even need to chip in (paying income tax) they still want to share the spoils equally. Amazing phenomenon, and if I'm right, we should find equality gene controlling certain emotions soon.

    And if I'm to ridiculous with this example we can always fall back on better defined basic feelings: hunger, sex, love, compassion, etc, etc in control of our destiny.

    Religion can then be understood as a search for ultimate meaning.
    I would agree if all of us could find same meaning or same god. Logically it would mean that we are on good track of understanding. I can understand it better thinking about religion being a survival force. This way with exactly same meaning for every spiritual person, it helps them survive/live, regardless of your spiritual format/religion. And if it does that regardless of format it validates itself as a positive force. Kids have wonderful, powerful, and happy experience during Christmas regardless if Santa is real or not. This almost spiritual experience is what counts the most, not the Santa.

    What I think is relevant to this particular thread is that some people do indeed strive to find meaning in their lives, and when that meaning is gone, they don't thrive either psychologically or physically.
    Yes, the human "spirit" needs to be lit and nourished.


    As Frankel said, however, for the "religious personality", a personality, as we have been discussing, perhaps formed as much by genetics as by life experience, work and love don't provide enough meaning. For some of these people, perhaps it is part of their need for philosophical answers to the riddle of existence, but perhaps for others it is because they are able to sense something beyond the veil...something other than "actuality".
    You can pull me on your side once you can identify the sense (in human body) for sensing supernatural. So far we can only wonder why God hid it so well.

    All of the great religions, other than perhaps Confucianism, include what could be called a "mystical" dimension...the Sufis of Islam, the Kabbalists of Judaism, and, of course, the Christian mystical tradition, among others. Different paths, but the experience has always struck me, as described, as remarkably similar.
    As you know we are almost identical people with almost identical DNA. Why should we think, feel or experience the world in much different way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by C-in-fl-usa View Post
    ..........
    The Lutheran Church in Denmark is state-sponsored so "quite powerful" is an unusual thing to then measure. Sweden's Lutheran Church was state-sponsored until 2000. It seems that while many get Christened, it's just some social formality. Not even 20% in Sweden believe there is a god. Roughly 35% say there is no god. The rest believe there is some life force. The same applies for Denmark. Possibly, just possibly education is the reason for the decline in religion. These countries are near the top in education. This seems to be true of Japan and S. Korea also. It's all quite interesting.
    All of those countries are to some extent social democracies that have prosperous, well educated populations but also a national health care system, some protection for workers, etc. I think it's interesting to compare people in those countries to people in another rich country with a fairly well educated population, the U.S.A., where people are generally much more religious. And, despite the wealth in the U.S., there's a lot more economic insecurity there compared to these other countries, partly because American employers can fire anyone without giving reasons and partly because in the U.S. people can easily be bankrupted by health problems, especially if they lose their job. So the one thing a person of average means in the U.S. doesn't have compared to a person of average means in these other countries is economic security. Perhaps Americans are so religious because they think they may need divine intervention to avoid bad things happening to them, whereas the average person in those other countries never expects to become homeless even if they lose their job. I think people feel that they need gods to protect them from danger. Some people like religion because they feel it gives their life meaning but those who get angry if you question whether their god exists are those who fear, I think. Just a theory.

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    [QUOTE=LeBrok;426515]
    I find it all upside down. The human existence with connection to all life on earth, earth's environment, explains human behavior, with our feelings guiding us to make best choices. Usually the right choices our ancestors made.
    I'm not sure I understand what you mean, so I may be off course here, but here it goes...these psychiatrists were all trying to create a therapeutic regime to help people with their neuroses. Freud thought that these neuroses could be explained by some trauma in connection with sexuality. Adler saw an answer in an examination of power relationships. Frankel's model, logotherapy, is based on the principle that a search for meaning is embodied, innate, if you will, in the human psyche, and that a therapeutic regime can be built on helping people to find meaning in their pain and suffering. I always think of his theory when I see parents who have lost children to violence, for example, or adults who were abused as children, who start organizations, or make speeches, or raise money for those who are similarly afflicted. There's a related principle at work in Catholic teaching, which encourages people to embrace their suffering as Christ did, and to view it as penance for the fallen world. These behaviors don't make up for the suffering, or reverse what has happened, but it allows people to make peace with it. Frankel himself isn't making any pronouncements on whether God exists or whether man created him out of his own need. In that interview he was merely responding to a question about how religion would fit into his philosophy of the human psyche.

    I have an interesting example/observation:
    2 million years (or more) as hunter-gatherers, and equal food sharing among the group tradition, can explain our strong dislike of inequality, with interesting aversion to income inequality in recent times. We still want to share equally, even though the poorest these days ( in developed countries) are much better off than ordinary people 200 years ago, not mentioning hunter-gatherers way back. Even though the poorest today don't even need to chip in (paying income tax) they still want to share the spoils equally. Amazing phenomenon, and if I'm right, we should find equality gene controlling certain emotions soon.
    I do agree that in hunter-gatherer bands there seems to be an emphasis on group ownership of resources, and I can see how that would have helped the group to survive. Perhaps agriculture, which allowed for the accumulation of surplus, led to a desire to claim certain things for oneself. Or, perhaps, survival now also depended on encouraging and rewarding innovation, and imagination, and more than ordinary effort.

    As for the more modern era, any such schemes, in my opinion, fall prey immediately to the selfishness and laziness which also characterize human behavior. Since we're talking about this in relation to religion, I'm reminded of the experiments of the early Christian church with communal living. It didn't last very long. They soon were attracting layabouts who came for handouts, while others worked to bring in resources. This also brings to mind some witty saying I once heard about the Soviet Union, (which I'm sure wasn't at all funny to the people living under that system) where supposedly people said "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us."

    And if I'm to ridiculous with this example we can always fall back on better defined basic feelings: hunger, sex, love, compassion, etc, etc in control of our destiny.
    Here, I think you're in line with what these psychiatrists were trying to explain. Like you, I don't think one drive explains all human beings. Well, perhaps you could say that human beings try to find meaning through sex, and love, and material possessions that bring pleasure and a sense of power. I think most people in the modern western world could be said to be driven by a desire for money, fame, and the pleasure and sense of power those things bring to them.
    I would agree if all of us could find same meaning or same god. Logically it would mean that we are on good track of understanding. I can understand it better thinking about religion being a survival force. This way with exactly same meaning for every spiritual person, it helps them survive/live, regardless of your spiritual format/religion. And if it does that regardless of format it validates itself as a positive force.

    Yes, the human "spirit" needs to be lit and nourished.
    I think we're in agreement here. The need for meaning may be universal, and it helps people survive, and more than survive, it may help them thrive, and I think this has been the case since we developed a "human" consciousness. Depending on the culture or ethnic group, there are varying degrees of emphasis on an ultimate source of meaning, and even when it is present, it will take different forms. For example, I don't find as much evidence of this need for ultimate meaning even philosophically, or for spirituality or "mysticism" in the East Asian cultures, despite the professed belief at least in the past in Buddhism. On the other hand, the greater Near East has spawned three of the great religions of the world, all of which have a large "spiritual" or "mystical" component if you will. India, or South Asia, if you prefer, is the source of two more, Hinduism and Buddhism. In these latter two religions, the connection of human suffering to religion is even more explicit than in the more western religions. The goal is to be released from the wheel of existence, and the suffering which that entails. (The Buddha's revelations came after he first saw human suffering, from which his parents had previously shielded him.) Judaism is more ambivalent, but Christianity derives its meaning from the resurrection, and that in Christ death is defeated. Existence isn't seen as something from which to be rescued; rather, for those who follow the reasoning of people like Teilhard de Chardin, the Christian is called upon to transform human existence and perhaps nature itself.
    You can pull me on your side once you can identify the sense (in human body) for sensing supernatural. So far we can only wonder why God hid it so well.

    As you know we are almost identical people with almost identical DNA. Why should we think, feel or experience the world in much different way?
    Or why he only revealed it to certain people. And, it's not my side, exactly, it's just a very elementary and cursory explanation of the things I learned in all those years of daily theology classes (my high school theology teacher gave me an appreciation of the Christian existentialists, if nothing else), and then in comparative religion and philosophy at university. I make no claims for myself.

    Yes, we are all far more alike than we are different. We are all human. And yet, my husband is totally tone deaf, while my son can hear an extremely complicated piece of classical music and sit down and play it almost mistake free. One never listens to music, and the other finds it an enriching and even essential part of life. It's unfair, but life is unfair. Or take something like the grief process, which all human beings experience. I read a study once where it said that it takes about a year to get over a major loss. If you haven't turned the corner by them you probably never will. For those who feel the immediacy of the grief for years, is it neurosis, or might it be that such people experience more of an "imprint" from other people, or secrete more of certain hormones either while loving or when the loved one is lost? Now, is that a blessing, or a curse? Either way, might the person who can't come to grips with the loss seek help in religious belief?

    These are all really big questions, and I have no real answers, but I do think about them, and enjoy discussing them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean, so I may be off course here, but here it goes...these psychiatrists were all trying to create a therapeutic regime to help people with their neuroses. Freud thought that these neuroses could be explained by some trauma in connection with sexuality. Adler saw an answer in an examination of power relationships. Frankel's model, logotherapy, is based on the principle that a search for meaning is embodied, innate, if you will, in the human psyche, and that a therapeutic regime can be built on helping people to find meaning in their pain and suffering.
    Sorry, in my clumsy way with words, I was making a point of our evolutionary past being responsible of who we are. What we feel or how we feel is a culmination of our ancestors' lives, and what exactly had worked for them was embraced by natural selection and past to new generations. And I mean everything, not only basic feelings of hunger or sexual attraction, but also feelings regarded by many as only human, like love, justice or believing in extra natural.
    Many authors, psychologists, philosophers concentrate on the final product missing all history, our past which shaped our species. They start with existing emotions trying to understand why we behave certain way. Adding temporal dimension, the past of our ancestors, can actually explain existence of each emotion, or even its necessity and benefits. I honestly believe that it is essential for fully understanding who we are, and why we do things; even understanding what behaviour is most likely genetic and what is cultural. (Well, some good guessing at the moment, till we have full genetic knowledge one day).
    Personally, I'm having as much fun trying to figure out ancestral way of life from our current behaviour and emotions.


    As for the more modern era, any such schemes, in my opinion, fall prey immediately to the selfishness and laziness which also characterize human behavior. Since we're talking about this in relation to religion, I'm reminded of the experiments of the early Christian church with communal living. It didn't last very long. They soon were attracting layabouts who came for handouts, while others worked to bring in resources. This also brings to mind some witty saying I once heard about the Soviet Union, (which I'm sure wasn't at all funny to the people living under that system) where supposedly people said "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us."
    Failure of communal systems might be the numbers. What works for a group of 20 might not work for a group of 2,000. In group of 20 everybody knows everyone, all is done together and it doesn't take long to split things evenly, and keep everyone honest. For group of thousands it is impossible to hunt together, gather together, meet together in one place and listen to all speak; the equal splitting will took forever, so won't work, plus many opportunities to cheat and hide things.



    Here, I think you're in line with what these psychiatrists were trying to explain. Like you, I don't think one drive explains all human beings. Well, perhaps you could say that human beings try to find meaning through sex, and love, and material possessions that bring pleasure and a sense of power. I think most people in the modern western world could be said to be driven by a desire for money, fame, and the pleasure and sense of power those things bring to them.
    By upside-down I wasn't trying to say that they are wrong in their conclusions, at least not Frankel, but not addressing deeper causes, which I find essential (personally) for full understanding, knowing The Why. Connecting dots from anthropology and other sciences, I hope my understanding and explanations are more vertical and "organic", though definitely not "sexy", not by any stretch. :)


    Yes, we are all far more alike than we are different. We are all human. And yet, my husband is totally tone deaf, while my son can hear an extremely complicated piece of classical music and sit down and play it almost mistake free. One never listens to music, and the other finds it an enriching and even essential part of life. It's unfair, but life is unfair.
    I was averaging human traits across the board, meaning that all peoples across the world can play music, dance, believe in supernatural, smell, walk, talk, and describe love in similar terms, etc.
    If it comes to individual differences, they come with combination and permutation of parental base plus few mutations. Meaning, we are always a bit different from each other.
    I guess overall we are in agreement. :)


    Or take something like the grief process, which all human beings experience. I read a study once where it said that it takes about a year to get over a major loss. If you haven't turned the corner by them you probably never will. For those who feel the immediacy of the grief for years, is it neurosis, or might it be that such people experience more of an "imprint" from other people, or secrete more of certain hormones either while loving or when the loved one is lost? Now, is that a blessing, or a curse? Either way, might the person who can't come to grips with the loss seek help in religious belief?
    I guess it is similar with good memory. It is easy to learn and do any job, but it is much harder to forgive or go over fears, when a person can recall emotions as strong as the day it happened. A blessing or a curse?
    It might be the case that with every improvement comes the "curse". A smarter brain is more suicidal. Farming brought plenty of food, also new disease, bad teeth and bigger wars. Cars made travel a joy, but for the price of millions killed and injured on roads every year. Genetic engineering will make us smart, beautiful and healthy, but perhaps also boring, board, and no reason to live too long. Also when population is too similar we might be wipe out by one new pathogen. For that reason nature loves variety within same species. No mater how environment changes, there are always few who will survive.
    Nothing comes with only a bright side, only advantages, I guess. As well it might be a biological law.

    These are all really big questions, and I have no real answers, but I do think about them, and enjoy discussing them.
    With every major scientific discovery I find myself musing how much I'm missing in my knowledge, or our knowledge to grasp complexity of life. I find it fascinating and keep digging at it till things start falling in right places of coherent interaction and unity.

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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Sorry, in my clumsy way with words, I was making a point of our evolutionary past being responsible of who we are. What we feel or how we feel is a culmination of our ancestors' lives, and what exactly had worked for them was embraced by natural selection and past to new generations. And I mean everything, not only basic feelings of hunger or sexual attraction, but also feelings regarded by many as only human, like love, justice or believing in extra natural.
    Many authors, psychologists, philosophers concentrate on the final product missing all history, our past which shaped our species. They start with existing emotions trying to understand why we behave certain way. Adding temporal dimension, the past of our ancestors, can actually explain existence of each emotion, or even its necessity and benefits. I honestly believe that it is essential for fully understanding who we are, and why we do things; even understanding what behaviour is most likely genetic and what is cultural. (Well, some good guessing at the moment, till we have full genetic knowledge one day).
    I agree that many behaviors, feelings, beliefs, provide an evolutionary advantage. I suppose I just have a tendency to resist seeing these things as so biologically determined...so "mechanically" induced. Probably a result of early teachings that they are innate, and have an objective existence.

    I guess it is similar with good memory. It is easy to learn and do any job, but it is much harder to forgive or go over fears, when a person can recall emotions as strong as the day it happened. A blessing or a curse?
    It might be the case that with every improvement comes the "curse". A smarter brain is more suicidal
    .


    Yes, exactly. The unexamined life may not be worth living, to use a hackneyed quote, but too much examination can lead to depression. And yes also about the benefits of a bad memory. Would that I had one. :)


    Genetic engineering will make us smart, beautiful and healthy, but perhaps also boring, board, and no reason to live too long. Also when population is too similar we might be wipe out by one new pathogen. For that reason nature loves variety within same species. No mater how environment changes, there are always few who will survive.
    You've just articulated some of my issues with genetic engineering. Are you by any chance a reader of science fiction? I love the original "Dune" series by Frank Herbert. I found it quite prescient...and many of the later books in the series have to do with exactly this topic...the need for variation, the "wild card" mutations that help us survive.

    Oh, and I don't find your posts clumsy at all.

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    Small sector in a brain has been located, at which electric stimulation can shut consciousness, and induce tranquil easy feelings for a month. However interesting it produces more questions than answers. Great read anyway.
    Maybe this is where "Guardian Angel" is located?
    He reported experiencing no rumination and no negative thought for almost a month after the surgery. He described himself in a kind of contemplative state, with a subjective feeling of absolute happiness and timelessness
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ne...l-environment/

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    Reaching a higher spiritual state through brain surgery? And interesting possibility.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Here is something enlightening.
    How John Frum (from) started a new religion, in Papua New Guinea, where raising American flag is a religious custom.
    Time 49:55
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iybo...VnBibh&index=2

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Why do we believe?

    I would conclude that state of believing and trusting is the primal and principal state of our mind. The ability we are born with to experience and learn about the world in fastest possible way.
    The state of doubt and disbelief is the secondary, “unnatural” and learned state of our mind.
    I don't agree with the idea that belief is simply that it is a state of mind.
    A lot of people eg Richard Dawkins, say that belief is without evidence but if you try to believe something that you don't accept as true or existing then you find you can't believe it. The evidence may be second hand, eg someone you trust tells you. A child may believe something a parent has told them is true or a student at school or university may believe something that their teachers has said is true or exists. If we are to accept something as true we usually look for evidence and we may use emotion as a way of assessing the evidence. So we may talk about something "feels right". For emotion to be involved the body's state is also a factor. And this is also true in disbelief or doubt. It may be we can't find evidence but we also might say "it doesn't feel right". Again the body is involved.

    So we could say that we believe when we have some evidence and that evidence is measured up against an emotional response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    Reaching a higher spiritual state through brain surgery? And interesting possibility.
    It may be the precursor to enlightenment only. Just before an enlightenment experience the sense of personal self is extinguished and that brings a profound sense of peace. Personal self can be defined as an identification with the mind's activity (ideas and perceptions) and the corresponding bodily reactivity (mainly emotions) so it is a source therefore of both joy and suffering. Maybe in this guys brain there is some relevant "wiring" that has to do with his /her personal self. It would also be one explanation why repeated attempts caused fear. From a personal self point of view the extinguishing may be frightening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyrani99 View Post
    I don't agree with the idea that belief is simply that it is a state of mind.
    A lot of people eg Richard Dawkins, say that belief is without evidence but if you try to believe something that you don't accept as true or existing then you find you can't believe it.
    I'm not sure if it contradicts that trust and belief is a genetic predisposition, natural state of mind. Why do kids blindly believe and fallow parents? On what grounds you believed you parents telling you about Santa Clause? How shocked were you when it turned not to be true?
    However I might take back the statement that doubt is only taught and unnatural. It comes rather easy for humans to develop it, so there must be some genetic predisposition for this too.

    The evidence may be second hand, eg someone you trust tells you. A child may believe something a parent has told them is true or a student at school or university may believe something that their teachers has said is true or exists. If we are to accept something as true we usually look for evidence and we may use emotion as a way of assessing the evidence.
    Emotion is not much of evidence. It is just a feeling which can influence believing or not. This is the base for believing though. I think with time, when we learn how deceiving people can be or purely wrong, we are trying to find something more to confirm or decision to believe or not.
    How many of us can understand the theory of relativity? Not many, most of us has to take it as a belief only, helped by many independent scientists confirming it experimentally. Yes, time slows down with speed. Satellites using this correction can give us more precise GPS coordinates. Yes, gravity bends light, and confirmed by astronomical observations. Yes, E=MC2 confirmed in atom accelerators and nukes. It is hard not to believe it in face of so many confirmations. This belief in theory of relativity is helped by logic a lot.

    So we may talk about something "feels right". For emotion to be involved the body's state is also a factor. And this is also true in disbelief or doubt. It may be we can't find evidence but we also might say "it doesn't feel right". Again the body is involved.
    Yes, I would say our mind (body) is always involved in process of believing, by feeling and by logic.

    So we could say that we believe when we have some evidence and that evidence is measured up against an emotional response.
    Yes, but mostly as logical adults. Otherwise, when we were children, what evidence we needed to believe in Santa? What evidence we needed to believe in god our parents believed and taught us about? In young age believing is blind and automatic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I'm not sure if it contradicts that trust and belief is a genetic predisposition, natural state of mind. Why do kids blindly believe and fallow parents? On what grounds you believed you parents telling you about Santa Clause? How shocked were you when it turned not to be true?
    However I might take back the statement that doubt is only taught and unnatural. It comes rather easy for humans to develop it, so there must be some genetic predisposition for this too...............................
    Yes, but mostly as logical adults. Otherwise, when we were children, what evidence we needed to believe in Santa? What evidence we needed to believe in god our parents believed and taught us about? In young age believing is blind and automatic.
    You make an interesting point. I held a lot of what my parent said as suspect where as my sisters tended to accept them at their word. I had a poor relationship with my parents whereas they had a good relationship with them. So I didn't trust their word because I held them at a distance. They were hostile towards me.

    From the evidence I see we can't really attribute any of it to genetics. Genes are really only a parts l list/ blueprint. Cells will modify genes to suit. For example if there is hyperglycemia then the cells will modify some of their insulin receptors to help keep the excess glucose out. So even behavior at the cellular level must involve a lot more than genes.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Emotion is not much of evidence. It is just a feeling which can influence believing or not. This is the base for believing though. I think with time, when we learn how deceiving people can be or purely wrong, we are trying to find something more to confirm or decision to believe or not.
    How many of us can understand the theory of relativity? Not many, most of us has to take it as a belief only, helped by many independent scientists confirming it experimentally. Yes, time slows down with speed. Satellites using this correction can give us more precise GPS coordinates. Yes, gravity bends light, and confirmed by astronomical observations. Yes, E=MC2 confirmed in atom accelerators and nukes. It is hard not to believe it in face of so many confirmations. This belief in theory of relativity is helped by logic a lot.
    You might be interested in a short 3-4 min video interviewing Dr Damasio, you can find it if you google Damasio on youtube and emotion and reason. I can't post a link yet. He is a neuroscientist that has specialized on emotions. He says that emotions are critical in assessing reason and thus the decision making process.

    As a lay person I would have believed relativity and gravity etc. But as a scientist I am always aware that these are based on observation and reason and both of them are subject to change. A scientific theory is defined by it being falsifiable. I have seen some youtube videos arguing for a flat disc shaped earth and moon. It has challenged my belief based on what I was taught at university. It has made me suspend my belief until I get more evidence.



    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Yes, I would say our mind (body) is always involved in process of believing, by feeling and by logic.
    Do you see mind as the brain or the brain's activity? I see mind as a non-physical reality that is intimately one with the physical. So an idea is completely immaterial whereas a sub-atomic particle, which continually pops into and out of existence, has some physical nature. Of course physicists get around this by saying that nothingness is physical, LOL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyrani99 View Post
    You make an interesting point. I held a lot of what my parent said as suspect where as my sisters tended to accept them at their word. I had a poor relationship with my parents whereas they had a good relationship with them. So I didn't trust their word because I held them at a distance. They were hostile towards me.
    That's terrible. Anyway I was describing a trust in your parents in very early age, let's say from birth to age of 5. I would have hard time to believe that they gave you hard time at this young age.

    From the evidence I see we can't really attribute any of it to genetics. Genes are really only a parts l list/ blueprint. Cells will modify genes to suit. For example if there is hyperglycemia then the cells will modify some of their insulin receptors to help keep the excess glucose out. So even behavior at the cellular level must involve a lot more than genes.
    Sometimes genes are expressed or shut down by way of epigenetics, environmental factor. Although it happens it is not a very active phenomenon, like overwriting all genes at will, sort to speak. By way of genetics we all have two hands, legs, head, eyes, brain, etc. By way of genetics our brain architecture is done basically same way. There is a compartment for vision, hearing, logical thinking, etc, and in same place in brain in all of us. There is also a compartment for feeling feer, the amygdala. It is interesting to know that there are clinical cases of people who lost amygdala or nerve connection to amygdala. With amygdala they also lost feeling of fear.
    http://www.wired.com/2010/12/fear-brain-amygdala.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0208154645.htm
    By these examples of patients there is a prove that fear is located in our brain, and released to feel it upon certain stimuli, like seeing snakes, spiders, angry person with a knife, a scary movie, etc.

    You might be interested in a short 3-4 min video interviewing Dr Damasio, you can find it if you google Damasio on youtube and emotion and reason. I can't post a link yet. He is a neuroscientist that has specialized on emotions. He says that emotions are critical in assessing reason and thus the decision making process.
    I agree, emotions are primary decision making tool.

    As a lay person I would have believed relativity and gravity etc. But as a scientist I am always aware that these are based on observation and reason and both of them are subject to change. A scientific theory is defined by it being falsifiable. I have seen some youtube videos arguing for a flat disc shaped earth and moon. It has challenged my belief based on what I was taught at university. It has made me suspend my belief until I get more evidence.
    Did I get you right? You believe more in untested hypothesis by way of YouTube video than theory of relativity which is being used in our GPS system, not mentioning positively tested by many independent scientists?


    Do you see mind as the brain or the brain's activity? I see mind as a non-physical reality that is intimately one with the physical. So an idea is completely immaterial whereas a sub-atomic particle, which continually pops into and out of existence, has some physical nature. Of course physicists get around this by saying that nothingness is physical, LOL.
    Can you say the same about logical processes in computer CPU?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    That's terrible. Anyway I was describing a trust in your parents in very early age, let's say from birth to age of 5. I would have hard time to believe that they gave you hard time at this young age.
    I have recollections from about 3yo when my grandfather spent a lot of time with me and he was very good to me. At about 5yo or so my mother forced my father to take his old age pension off him to stop him from buying things for me and my sisters, eg paints and toys. My mother, who later said she hated me from the first moment she saw me, was hostile and caused my father to be hostile. But I had spiritual experiences at that early age and I was aware from that time of my spiritual allies. I also have strong recollections of earlier lifetimes. All of these played a far bigger role in developing my belief systems than my parents.

    It is hard for most people to believe that some people are hurt or harmed and some very badly from a very young age, even from birth, but that is because most people don't see the evidence. It is what helps abusers get to abuse and as far as earthly law goes, many get away with it. But if you read legal cases you will find that there are also many that become convicted felons.

    The point though that this discussion makes is that belief may be influenced by a child's relationship with a parent or caregiver.

    It also gave me a lot of confidence in myself because I survived those times and now working as an activist I am confronted by a huge army of toxic people, some in government positions or professional positions, who are working hard to destroy me and thus shut me up and I can confidently stand against them because I believe in myself and in Justice, "the law above the law".

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Sometimes genes are expressed or shut down by way of epigenetics, environmental factor. Although it happens it is not a very active phenomenon, like overwriting all genes at will, sort to speak.
    Epigenetics plays a big role but this becomes more obvious when we are stressed or confronted by harsh environmental conditions. Cancer is one area that I see epigenetics involved. The idea that we get cancer cells all the time and the immune system kills them is garbage IMO. The big evidence is that in metastasis, where a number of cancer and associated stromal cells leave one site and go to a new site, they cannot do this without the immune cells involvement. The epithelial tissues of the blood vessels need to become permeable for the cancer and other cells to pass through and enter the blood stream. This means mast cells release histamines in the local area to cause vessel dilation and tissue permeability.

    On the other end the cells have to exit. The blood is screaming through the vessels at 70mph or more so the cells need to become "sticky" at the right spot to enable them to be stationary enough to pass through. This is again achieved by the help of immune system cells releasing interleukins and again mast cells to get tissue permeability. So the reality is that cancer cells come into being from stem cells and there are typically 30,000 to 50,000 genetic changes most of which are epigenetic. And I found those changes are fully reversible. And the most incredible thing is that one can deliberately effect cancer remission, NOT by doing anything but by knowing why the cancer developed, why did the epigenetic changes come about! The ability to discard manufactured beliefs and walk away free. I can say this because of my own experiences with cancer. Cancer is a paper tiger!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    There is also a compartment for feeling feer, the amygdala. It is interesting to know that there are clinical cases of people who lost amygdala or nerve connection to amygdala. With amygdala they also lost feeling of fear. By these examples of patients there is a prove that fear is located in our brain, and released to feel it upon certain stimuli, like seeing snakes, spiders, angry person with a knife, a scary movie, etc.
    These the patient cases are nothing more than anecdotal evidence AND the scientists' own prejudices. I laugh when I read them say "the woman was not fazed by the poisonous snakes" as if fear is some sort of weakness. Even trained snake handlers, who have little fear, still treat the situation with care. The reality is that fear is the mobilization of the body for rapid and strenuous action. And it also includes maintaining that mobilization as long as the danger persists. It is a natural, normal response to danger. The problem here is that all this smacks of "purpose-driven" and the scientists in this article want to believe the "body is a machine" paradigm or are paid to believe it.

    I have listened to many neuroscientists and they all have a different slant on things. However I think that Dr Damasio has the best explanations. The amygdala are involved in many interactions with about 10 or 12 different areas of the brain. And they are also involved in emotion based memories. But I don't think they are "emotional centers". The emotions are complex processes that take place in the body. The amygdala help trigger the autonomic nervous system to accelerate the heart rate and in the sweating mechanism etc. We are born with the ability to abruptly raise our metabolism so mobilize our body for action almost in an instant. Then we learn about dangers and we use this mechanism.

    After the emotional reactivity in the body the person will appraise their bodily reactivity. This, according to Dr Damasio, is feeling. IMO when we think about emotion, we tend to think about the entire experience, some of which is initially in the brain (the perception of danger), some of which is in the body (the emotional reactivity) and some of which is again in the brain (the appraisal or feeling). So we tend to think about the experience as a whole but it is not all in the brain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Did I get you right? You believe more in untested hypothesis by way of YouTube video than theory of relativity which is being used in our GPS system, not mentioning positively tested by many independent scientists?
    I didn't say I believe more but that some evidence cited causes me to question what I have believed. For instance there are flight paths that are straight lines or almost straight lines but on a globe would be a triangular path. For example Johannesburg to Dubai to Perth. Also Sydney to East coast of USA to Chile. How to explain this?
    Also no one has ever succeeded in flying around the globe over both poles. Plenty have flown over the north pole and there have been expeditions to the north pole but none in the south. There are impenetrable walls of ice and extreme weather conditions. This doesn't say that antartica is not an island continent of ice but it also doesn't dispute that it might be the edge around a disc.

    On the other hand there is the evidence of satellites. The ones that orbit the earth I can see can be indistinguishable from circular paths above a disc. But the geostationary orbits are not explained by a disc but would be explained by a globe. So where is the reality? (BTW The space pics and the "man on the moon" IMO is a poorly made movie by NASA scientists so I discard it as trash.)

    Scientific theories are put forward after observation and evidence and they can stand for many years but can still can be replaced when new evidence arises. Newton's laws work as far as the mathematics is concerned but Einstein put forth that the curvature of spacetime caused objects to fall in a particular manner so gave the appearance of a force we call gravity.

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