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Author Topic:   Born believers: How your brain creates God
NosyNed
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Posts: 8868
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 1 of 48 (497537)
02-04-2009 3:09 PM


http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126941.700-born-believers-how-your-brain-creates-god.html?page=1

quote:
The origin of religious belief is something of a mystery, but in recent years scientists have started to make suggestions. One leading idea is that religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes people more likely to survive and pass their genes onto the next generation.

quote:
An alternative being put forward by Atran and others is that religion emerges as a natural by-product of the way the human mind works.

That's not to say that the human brain has a "god module" in the same way that it has a language module that evolved specifically for acquiring language. Rather, some of the unique cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a tendency for supernatural thinking. "There's now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired," says Bloom.


quote:
So how does the brain conjure up gods? One of the key factors, says Bloom, is the fact that our brains have separate cognitive systems for dealing with living things - things with minds, or at least volition - and inanimate objects.

quote:
These findings also challenge the idea that religion is an adaptation. "Yes, religion helps create large societies - and once you have large societies you can outcompete groups that don't," Atran says. "But it arises as an artefact of the ability to build fictive worlds. I don't think there's an adaptation for religion any more than there's an adaptation to make airplanes."

quote:
Ultimately, discovering the true origins of something as complex as religion will be difficult. There is one experiment, however, that could go a long way to proving whether Boyer, Bloom and the rest are onto something profound. Ethical issues mean it won't be done any time soon, but that hasn't stopped people speculating about the outcome.

It goes something like this. Left to their own devices, children create their own "creole" languages using hard-wired linguistic brain circuits. A similar experiment would provide our best test of the innate religious inclinations of humans. Would a group of children raised in isolation spontaneously create their own religious beliefs? "I think the answer is yes," says Bloom.


It simply seems very creditable to me that there is something wired in since it is so pervasive and stubborn. :)


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 444 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 2 of 48 (497563)
02-04-2009 5:21 PM


For discussion on some of the cognitive mechanisms that might be involved:

It's a little over an hour long.


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Granny Magda
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Posts: 2381
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 3 of 48 (497599)
02-04-2009 10:04 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Modulous
02-04-2009 5:21 PM


Feral Religion?
I would be very interested to hear any information that may exist on superstitious behaviour in so-called "feral children", who have been raised in isolation or by animals. That might shed some light on the matter.

Mutate and Survive


"The Bible is like a person, and if you torture it long enough, you can get it to say almost anything you'd like it to say." -- Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade

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ICANT
Member
Posts: 6269
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 4 of 48 (497602)
02-04-2009 11:07 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
02-04-2009 3:09 PM


Hi Ned,

NoseyNed writes:

It simply seems very creditable to me that there is something wired in since it is so pervasive and stubborn.

I tend to agree with Bloom, that it is hardwired.

Since I believe in God I believe he inserted a God vaccumn in each person. In this vaccumn God tries to draw all men unto Himself.

Many of the atheist on this site have related how they at one time believed in God. But they got over it.

The study with the children echo as much.

In other words it seems a person has to learn to not believe in God.

God Bless,


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

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caffeine
Member
Posts: 1730
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 6.2


Message 5 of 48 (497625)
02-05-2009 5:42 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by ICANT
02-04-2009 11:07 PM


quote:
Many of the atheist on this site have related how they at one time believed in God. But they got over it.

The study with the children echo as much.

In other words it seems a person has to learn to not believe in God.


I'm not sure this demonstrates anything other than the fact that religion is already widespread in our societies. I used to believe in God because I was told as a child that he existed. This indicates a tendency for children to believe their parents, not to believe in God.


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 6 of 48 (497646)
02-05-2009 10:41 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
02-04-2009 3:09 PM


My take on this has always been that our brain (with the loverly theory of mind) is normally very good a recognising intent in other people (as a by product of recognising that they have intent).

In our prehistory this would have been a wonderful adaptation:

Rustling in the long grass, what's that?

Twig snaps in the darkness, what's that?

If you are prone to concluding that the above sinister sounds were the effects of a purposeful actor (say a stalking leopard or sneaking member of the tribe from across the valley) that has you as the focus of it's attention (it's tryin' to get ya) then you would be more inclined to take evasive action and (hopefully) survive.

If you conclude that the sound is simply the wind and it does not flag any threat awareness reaction you will most likey screen it out.

I remember speaking to a young man with Asperger's syndrome who I used to support and he said that sometimes he would not notice people in the room with him untill they spoke (thus confirming they were worth paying attention to).

I wonder if this is because he did not flag them as intenful actors in his evironment. He would say they were part of the furniture untill they spoke up or moved.

So perhaps seeing the intent of an imaginary actor in the environment is a survival mechanism that went a bit too far.


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 7 of 48 (497647)
02-05-2009 10:43 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by ICANT
02-04-2009 11:07 PM


Many of the atheist on this site have related how they at one time believed in God. But they got over it.

The study with the children echo as much.

In other words it seems a person has to learn to not believe in God.

Yay! Father Christmas is real.


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Nighttrain
Member (Idle past 2333 days)
Posts: 1512
From: brisbane,australia
Joined: 06-08-2004


Message 8 of 48 (497733)
02-05-2009 8:46 PM


Zee brain in Spain--
Probably an adaptation to reality overload, Ned. When you can`t make sense of everyday life, let your imagination roam. When your new approach to reality coincided with a lapse in external pressures, you knew you were on a hot track. Wonder if shamans led the charge?

  
DevilsAdvocate
Member (Idle past 1441 days)
Posts: 1548
Joined: 06-05-2008


Message 9 of 48 (497734)
02-05-2009 8:51 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by ICANT
02-04-2009 11:07 PM


The study with the children echo as much.

Show me a child that has an inate notion of the Christian God without someone teaching it to them at an early age. I know not one. Religious faith is preceded by indoctrination.

Edited by DevilsAdvocate, : No reason given.

Edited by DevilsAdvocate, : No reason given.


For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Dr. Carl Sagan

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Replies to this message:
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ICANT
Member
Posts: 6269
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 10 of 48 (497736)
02-05-2009 10:02 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by DevilsAdvocate
02-05-2009 8:51 PM


Hi DA,

DevilsAdvocate writes:

Show me a child that has an inate notion of the Christian God without someone teaching it to them at an early age. I know not one. Religious faith is preceded by indoctrination.

I are one.

My mom and dad never took me to church. The Bible was never read by my parents. A prayer was never said.

I did read the Bible.

I was drawn to it.

I believed it.

I accepted God's offer.

I was born again when I was 9 years and 11 months laying on my bed in my bedroom by myself. Just me and the Holy Spirit.

You welcome to visit anytime.

My dad was saved when I was 23 years old. My mom is in the lake of fire as far as I know.

God Bless,

Edited by ICANT, : spelling


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

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uco:nin
Junior Member (Idle past 3869 days)
Posts: 2
From: Plymouth, UK
Joined: 01-28-2009


Message 11 of 48 (497738)
02-05-2009 10:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
02-04-2009 3:09 PM


Hi,
This is my first post at EVC but I have read (lurked you might say) for quite a couple of years. Hopefully I will be more active from now on.

As for the OP: the concept of 'wired in' in neuro/psycho/cogni-science is such a fought over issue in-itself that pairing it with religion it a almost a guarantee of a no-hoper topic. However ...

If religion is wired into the brain then everyone would be religeous. This , of course, devolves into a an arguement about what is reglion and what is belief. Or why encode a predetemination for religion and not specifically for Christainity , or Judaism, etc.

I feel that there is a lot to discuss on this thread, however, the reason i decided to finally contribute is History.

I am an atheist. I am also a scientist. But I dont believe that deliberate confrontation between science and religion is the best way to convince believers that they are wrong. Science requires effort to understand and is, it seems, easy to misinterpret. Weapons that require the victim (as it were) to put in effort before they become effective are pretty much useless, in my opinion. (OK a pretty s**t metaphor, i know, but its late).

So, the point. Read the history of religion and philosophy. Look at the circumtances that led to the creation of each religion. This provides ample evidence that religion is a human trait and that like any other myth, legend or story it adapts from generation to generation. The 'The History of Western Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell is what I see as the best cure for religion I have encountered. Any special treatment of religion in psychology or neuroscience essentially dissovles into study of belief, intention or motivation. It is a creation of humans as much as any other human behaviour is.

There really is nothing in science that can disprove the existance of one god or another but once you understand the origins of relgion the whole thing becomes a lot more mundane. For this approach to be effective people do not need to be able to comprehend novel ideas, solve equations or even thing laterally, all they need to do is understand human nature.

sorry, I have tried to compress all the pent-up sentiment garnered from a couple of years reading this forum into a single post. I would like to expand more in subsequent posts. when sober, of course.


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uco:nin
Junior Member (Idle past 3869 days)
Posts: 2
From: Plymouth, UK
Joined: 01-28-2009


Message 12 of 48 (497743)
02-05-2009 11:04 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Modulous
02-04-2009 5:21 PM


I've watched the first 30 mins and I have to say that this is a very poor presentation. while I don't necessarily disagree with everything said, for anyone with strong religious conviction this isnt going to provide anything they cant argue away into nothing. If fact some of the points are rather weak. I guess my point is that, on a forum with a thread containing a hundred-odd posts dedicated to every specific issue, how is a video that covers topics in 30 sec segments every going to make any headway.

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Nighttrain
Member (Idle past 2333 days)
Posts: 1512
From: brisbane,australia
Joined: 06-08-2004


Message 13 of 48 (497746)
02-05-2009 11:38 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by uco:nin
02-05-2009 10:14 PM


Weapons
Welcome to posting at EVC, UCO.

Weapons that require the victim (as it were) to put in effort before they become effective are pretty much useless, in my opinion. (OK a pretty s**t metaphor, i know, but its late).

You mean like martial arts? :-p

Btw, it`s early here.


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 14 of 48 (497765)
02-06-2009 4:53 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by ICANT
02-05-2009 10:02 PM


I did read the Bible.

The fact that you had access to a bible blows your argument out of the water.

If the bible was not there to give you information about Jesus and Yawah you would not have the fogiest idea about xianity.

Unless. of course you became aware of xianty by the normal route of cultural transmission. Which you did: or we would not be having this discussion.

I was drawn to 'The Rats' by James Herbat as a kid because the grown ups were reading it.


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DevilsAdvocate
Member (Idle past 1441 days)
Posts: 1548
Joined: 06-05-2008


Message 15 of 48 (497770)
02-06-2009 5:20 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by ICANT
02-05-2009 10:02 PM


I did read the Bible.

That is self-indoctrination. I am saying that if one is never exposed to God either through religious training by one's friends or family and/or reading the Bible (or any other religious scripture) than one will never believe in a Christian God or any other God for that matter.

One is not born with an innate understanding of religion one must either learn it through some source on their own or be taught it to them or both. 9/10 it is the third option, children learn it early in life though some adults become Christians (replace Christian with any other religion) later in life through there own reading of the Bible (or any other religious scripture). It is not innate though. One is not born believing in God or religion. Babies are born atheists (not believing in God), it must be taught to them or learned through self study later in life as you have demonstrated.

Edited by DevilsAdvocate, : No reason given.


For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Dr. Carl Sagan

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