Beliefs, Spirituality, and why we believe.

I don't know if scientists will ever find the "god gene" that some of them talk about, but there does seem to be something in our DNA that makes us feel the need for spiritual experience. But I think there's a big social component in the difference we currently see between northern and southern Europe in terms of whether or not they still embrace traditional religion, in that the more secure we feel socially and materially, the less need we feel for supernatural assistance. If I was an unemployed person living in Greece or Spain right now, I'd probably be praying for some supernatural being to come rescue me, because there probably wouldn't seem to be any other source of help. And the average Russian probably wants to find a god or a magic genie to help them out right now.
 
I don't know if scientists will ever find the "god gene" that some of them talk about, but there does seem to be something in our DNA that makes us feel the need for spiritual experience.
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 suppose that would explain why there's such a difference in what different people think of as spirituality. Some people think of spirituality as meditation and floating off into positive thoughts in order to unite with a kindly universe, while others think of spirituality in terms of an angry sky god who's going to punish most people, so they want to be one of the "good kids" who don't get beaten by their angry god. I can see a lot of that being rooted in childhood experiences, except that what people have experienced doesn't in fact always seem to determine those different attitudes. So it makes sense that there are probably a multiplicity of genes involved in spirituality, and some people have some gene mutations and not others, and some people have certain genetic switches activated by life experiences while other people have the same genetic switches but they aren't activated because of different life experiences. That kind of gene difference and gene activation/non-activation might explain some of these differences. 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.
 
We will know more when we reach the level the we will be able to understand quantum and entanglement. This is an interseting read: http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/01/di...rts-controversial-theory-of-consciousness.php
I find it possible that our nervous system uses "weird" quantum phenomena. However I doubt that it links us to some cosmic conscience. At our state of knowledge logic is easily explainable based on our artificial intelligence progress in computing, best examples are Deep Blue and Watson beating best people in chess and Jeopardy games. We have much harder times explaining emotions though. Well, we know that they are essential at guiding us, and any creature with neuronal network, through life. We still don't know how it is that we feel something at all, what makes emotions to manifest themselves in a form of feelings/sensation. The sense of touch would be easier to explain, but how you explain pleasure or pain?. It would be impossible to even explain emotions to entities without feelings, like artificial intelligence. Either you feel them therefore you can understand/imagine them, or you don't have them and you'll never get it.
Concept of emotions is so murky for science right now that we can't even create hypothesis how to design an electronic circuit to give machnes any sensation, not mentioning pleasure or pain. Perhaps it is a good thing, last thing we need is to hurt computer's feelings, or even worse, robots demanding equality with men. Without feelings machines don't care and never will, therefore they always will be perfect slaves.
 
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.
 
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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.

 
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.
 
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.
 
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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.
 
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.

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?

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.

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.
 
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.

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.
 
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/...s-genetics-migration-africa-eurasian-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.
 
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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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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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/n...onnecting-consciousness-external-environment/
 
Reaching a higher spiritual state through brain surgery? And interesting possibility.
 

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