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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The God Spot

Here is a fantastic little webessay on God and the Brain. "The research raises the question, is God a delusion created by brain chemistry, or is brain chemistry a necessary conduit for people to reach God?" Indeed. The most provocative bits I listened to came in Part II. One guy says ending our delusion of a god existing independent of humans is the final frontier in our understanding of the universe. And he thinks this research moves in that direction. But then in the same part another doctor points out that if two people who loved each other were in a room interacting with each other there would be unique brain activity associated with that interaction, but does that mean love is not real?

Really pretty cool I think.

Also, watch out for the biology of belief section. There is a blending & mixing of two very distinct ideas. One, invoking the power of God to heal another and Two biological benefits from spirituality. The latter only requires meditative practices to have an impact on our bodies, which is not really a challenge to a materialist. The former, on the other hand, is a big challenge to a materialist--and frankly doesn't seem as supported as the latter.

I'd love to hear reactions.

2 comments:

shadowfax said...

This kind of pseudo-reductionist stuff always annoys the hell out of me -- not your fault, Jim. It's like every time they find a spot on an MRI or a gene that's differentially expressed in gays or fatties or lawyers the lay press will breathlessly report that "scientists have found the gene that turns good people into lawyers!" Gah! It doesn't work that way, people!

The question itself is also fallacious: "is God a delusion created by brain chemistry, or is brain chemistry a necessary conduit for people to reach God?" It is internally inconsistent. "Did George Bush torture detainees, or was torture necessary to protect our freedoms?" The two lemmas are not apposite.

But either way it oversimplifies. the God delusion, if such it is, arose from a complex mileau of evolutionary, social, and neurologic inputs, not from brain chemistry alone.

Even if it could be proved somehow that our brains were hardwired to require a belief in a deity, that would not be a shred of evidence for the the nonexistence of God.

JimII said...

What about the stuff about meditation affecting one's brain? That seemed interesting to me and seemed to confirm some "real" impact in spiritual practice.