Link between religious fundamnetalism and brain damage found.

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by MeAgain, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Okiefreak

    Okiefreak Senior Member

    No harm trying, but for us non-psychic types who live in a world of finite time and resources, I think it makes sense to be skeptical. There's never been a shortage of wild ideas, and if we have to decide what to believe I think we do better building on a foundation of existing empirically grounded, evidence-based theory.
  2. Irminsul

    Irminsul Valkyrie

    Isn't that a contradictory statement? You say you should be skeptical, but since we are only mortal with limited time, we should run with the idea that makes most sense?

    So basically...

    Science: well we can't figure out how he did it, and I'm old and going to die soon so he must have been making it all up and tbh we make more money distributing unnecessary power lines and plants across the world for the people to pay for, with their own time and misery.

    Well, that makes the least sense to me. Lol.
  3. guerillabedlam

    guerillabedlam _|-|=|-|_

    I don't understand why you and others who claim to understand and "like" science keep making these ridiculuous arguments.

    It was already mentioned that Science is peer reviewed, meaning others, including believers can repeat a test/experiement.

    Here are the scenarios in relation to science...

    A) God does not exist, therefore the statement is unintelligible.

    B) God is supernatural, in this scenario, meaning beyond the scope of the laws of physics and therefore is untestable by science. This is practically the same as A.

    C) God intervenes with the natural world and in this scenario, science should be able to test it.

    I'm not sure why you included religion in there. Organized religion is observational and could be fair game for science.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  4. Irminsul

    Irminsul Valkyrie

    I don't claim to understand science. I thought I was pretty clear in always saying I don't understand it. I'm not good with maths. I don't get calculations.

    You don't get me, I don't get you. This just galvanises my belief in the common misconception that people are born as equals, because evidently, they are not and they need to stop trying force people into that belief too when it's clearly not true.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  5. Okiefreak

    Okiefreak Senior Member

    I guess the way I'd put it is that nothing is certain, not even that. Life is ultimately a crap shoot. But I think it makes more sense to place educated bets than take Kierkegaard's "leap of faith"--no matter how intense the adrenaline rush might be. It's a judgment call, but I'm betting on logic and evidence, supplemented by intuition, as the best guides I can come up with. As I've said, I think science is the gold standard for reliable knowledge, even allowing for the fact that scientists are human and some may fall short of professional standards of integrity and objectivity. Science is always tentative, and I wouldn't rely on a single unreplicated study, but I tend to give science the benefit of the doubt. I regard the hard sciences as more trustworthy than the social sciences and want to look closely at the methodology of the study. In the case. believe in evolution, for example, because it's supported by mountains of evidence from a variety of disciplines.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the things I'm really interested in aren't addressed by science, whether for lack of funding, non-recurrence of the phenomena, lack of falsifiability, etc. For example, take he origins of religion. Archeologists have found evidence of prehistoric burials and cave paintings that suggest shamanic religion, and even sculptures of busty women that could be goddesses--or cave man porn. Unfortunately, the cave men aren't still around to tell us exactly what they meant, and left no written records. We have to rely on what anthropologists tell us about the beliefs and practices of present-day hunters and gatherers, who may or may not be like the cave men and make inferences on the basis of judgment. The science involved is helpful, but inconclusive. We have to rely on judgement and inference, which includes an intuitive element. I suspect, though, that without the archaeological and anthropological findings, our picture of the origin of religion would be quite different.

    I recall once, on this forum, debating a Young Earth Creationist who was insisting that the earth was created 6,000 years ago, on the basis of biblical geneology. (Olderwaterbrother, are you still here?) I mentioned that paleontologists, archeologists and historians had found evidence of human existence far older than that. He said they were involved in a grand conspiracy to discredit the Bible. I asked whether it seemed likely that millions of scholars in those disciplines who had devoted their careers to laborious field work and the study of ancient languages over the centuries were all part of such a conspiracy. He said "Yes". I find that hard to believe, mainly on the basis of my own experience with such scholars and the instincts I use to assess used car salesmen. I take particular studies with a grain of salt, especially when there are other studies with conflicting results. For example, in the study that's the OP for this thread, I note that the focus of the thread seems to be on fundamentalism and whether or not it could be the product of malfunctioning brains, while the study itself wasn't designed to answer that question. The study in question used a sample of 100 brain injured vets to test the effects of damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and docsolateral prefrontal cortex on cognitive flexibility in religious beliefs, using a standard fundamentalism measure as the dependent variable. The study's limited value lies in understanding how beliefs, including religious beliefs, are processed by different parts of the brain. To generalize from the results to the mental status of fundamentalists as a whole on the basis of a brain damaged population would be an invalid inference. But I think such studies, as they multiply, could eventually be helpful in understanding religion, and its relationship to brain functioning. We may not be able to enlist God's cooperation in the laboratory, but with more careful studies of believers, we may get a better idea of why people believe in a deity. And that can be useful in making our own judgments about whether or not to believe. Of course, we run the risk that Satan (or the extraterrestrial kid with the science project) is leading us on, and that what seem to be the rational conclusions of our studies are the product of delusion. Place your bets.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  6. Okiefreak

    Okiefreak Senior Member of the problems in scientific efforts to study religion is reductionism: reducing the phenomenon to "nothing but". Religion is "nothing but" a brain malfunction, a neurotic illusion to resolve unconscious conflicts (Freud), the opiate of the people (Marx), an expression of the collective unconscious, a set of conditioned behavors (B.F. Skinner), a product of cognitive tendencies to perceive patterns and agency, a pre-scientifc effort to explain (Tyler) and control (Frazier) reality, myths and rituals binding society together (Durkhem), etc. Grafman et al's evidence that religion is a function of brain physiology is yet another perspective which may have some validity but falls short of explaining the whole phenomenon. I see all of them as pieces of the puzzle, waiting for a more wholistic theory to put them together.

    For further discussion of another interesting experiment by Grafman team using MRI technology to map reactions to religious phrases,( mentioned in Post #97) see
    "The statements caused heightened activity in areas of the brain involved in empathy, and in deciphering what other people might be thinking. Scientists often refer to this ability as "theory of mind" or "theory of other minds." Humans are extremely good at it. Some other species, including great apes, appear to have a less advanced theory of mind.
    ...Grafman says the results show that, to the brain, religious belief is a lot like political belief. "If you're very conservative and you have to make a judgment about what looks like a liberal statement and you disagree with that, you might find this very same brain system being activated." Interesting, at least to me.
  7. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Well, as guerillabedlam stated religion is certainly open to study by many branches of sciences, both hard and soft.

    It's the religious, or spiritual, experience and proclamations or claims made by religions that are somewhat harder to study.

    For example If I produce a splinter of wood from the one true cross it would certainly be open to scientific study as to age, composition, pollen residue, is it native to the area, etc. But the statement that God is a trinity is a little harder to prove. Or if I say God spoke to me....hard to prove.
  8. Okiefreak

    Okiefreak Senior Member

    And there's the rub. Claims about the "true cross" are about physical evidence that can be studied scientifically. Claims about isolated encounters with the numinous are like UFO or Bigfoot sitings--outside the scope of science to prove or disprove directly. Science can give us evidence about how things ordinarily work that can help us judge the likelihood of the claims. In the final analysis, we have to use judgement and inference, which are intuitive. And so Ghost Hunters is good for another TV season, and weird hair guy can continue his gigs on the History Channel's ancient aliens series.
    Even where there's physical evidence capable of scientific analysis, True Believers don't give up easily. Take the Shroud of Turin. Bishop Pierre d’Arcis investgated the matter and told the Pope the shroud was a fake. That was back in 1390. Since then, we've gone back and forth. Radiocarbon dating of samples from the Shroud showed a date from to 1260–1390 AD, when the shroud first appeared, which might suggest to the objective observer that it was produced at that time. Forensic blood analysis showed that stains on the shroud were inconsistent with the body being in a single position. Scientists prove Turin Shroud not genuine (again) Yet there are still holdouts who say that a fire, bacteria, etc., contaminated the results; the samples were from patched parts of th shroud; the body could have been moved while it was being transported, etc. Believers counter with their own set of evidence that the shroud is authentic: pollen samples and the fabric used point to Palestine, 3-D imaging shows the image wasn't painted, etc. Turin Shroud: the latest evidence will challenge the sceptics | Catholic Herald How one skeptical scientist came to believe the Shroud of Turin
    And the doubters counter with the possibility that pollen from Palestine was introduced by Max Frei , who also authenticated the fake Hitler diaries. Other ancient pictures of the Shroud of Turin? pollen on the shroud came from almost everwhere in the Old World, and human DNA on the manhandled relic ranged from Africa to China.Is It a Fake? DNA Testing Deepens Mystery of Shroud of Turin

    And the beat goes on!
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  9. Irminsul

    Irminsul Valkyrie

    Ancient Aliens and similar documentaries which are quite abundant now, to me are a way of getting people used to the idea of aliens and to expand on human history.

    Think about it, on discovery and the history channel, they don't just make up documentaries for the sake of it, that's not what those channel express, they're informative and documentative. To sit there and nitpick ancient aliens as a false documentary signifies that we then should not take any of their documentaries seriously, including science.

    Slowly but surely they've been planting the ideas and seeds in our mind, from star trek to now ancient aliens and other UFO series. In a hundred years, maybe 200 years, when the aliens make themselves known and the government can no longer cover it up, people will just be somewhat immune? Numb? Used to the idea already.

    I remember even when I was a kid interested UFOs to tell someone you believed in aliens was laughable and now while the evidence starts to stack up, it's not uncommon to walk into a pub and strike up a valid conversation with people about the subject.

    So over 50 years+ we've gone from laughing at the idea to really considering it. Who knows how susceptible we'll be in a further 50 years.
  10. Okiefreak

    Okiefreak Senior Member

    The History Channel does ancient aliens for the same reason that other channels do ghosts and the tabloids do present-day aliens. It sells.The reason I don't like any of them is that I value real history and objective scholarship. Not that we should rule out ancient aliens, but notice we don't get the other side: why most professional historians and archaeologists don't buy it. One gets the impression that they're just a bunch of fuddy duddy eggheads who can't think outside the box. I don't think it's nitpicking to bring out the reasons why no reputable historian or archaeologist buys into the ancient aliens theory.
    What Archaeologists Really Think About Ancient Aliens, Lost Colonies, And Fingerprints Of The Gods
    Review of Ancient Aliens S05E01: Secrets of the Pyramids
    An Archaeologist Watches the History Channel and Questions the Part About the Aliens
    The Idiocy, Fabrications and Lies of Ancient Aliens | Science | Smithsonian
    "Ancient Aliens" Is Everything That's Wrong With America
    debunking ancient aliens - Yahoo Video Search Results
    The late, great Carl Sagan covered the subject of ghosts, demons, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, encounters with aliens, etc., nicley in Demon Haunted World, but True Believers could point out that nowhere does he disprove any of these things--not even Bigfoot. Science insists that the believers present the proof, and then nitpicks. Science is no fun.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
  11. Irminsul

    Irminsul Valkyrie

    Oh I already know why mainstream archaeologists and science doesn't buy it, because it goes against everything they've been taught, pretty much what we are arguing about in the first place. They just simply dismiss the possibility because it doesn't make sense to them, things can't be any older than 6 thousand years because that's the timeline they've been taught.

    Like the 100,000 Stone structures in south Africa, apparently, small Hunter gather tribes built these colossal stones walls from multiple billions of rocks and historians and archaeologists will still say well there was nobody in southern Africa so it must have been migrants from the north, even though the evidence suggests there must have been a population of several million people to carry out that work and for what purpose?

    The actual number of stone ruins is more than one million in south Africa alone, but the number is reduced because archaeologists will not buy into the concept or fathom that that many could possibly exist. Slowly but surely, more archaeologists are turning the tides though and actually having a look at these places, with some damning evidence.

    Debunking shows only serve the purpose to keep the general population misinformed, because they can't tell us yet that our history is flawed because too many people will become upset, so the shows give us a glimpse on the possibility of our reality, it opens up our minds to the concepts, while the debunking keeps us programmed into believing what we've been taught.

    In 100 years it'll be Different, More people will have a sense of what's going on, and be able to form their own philosophy etc. I won't be here, but I have no doubt something significant will happen in that time, whether the government spills the beans or science spills the beans on certain things. All of this, is just the beginning of getting a population used to the idea.

    The way I see it, the whole world is on a knife edge of what to believe now, more and more people are turning away from religion, more and more people are turning away from political regimes. It is becoming exactly like the bibles says, that the gods have completely interfered and confused us, not just from a language standpoint, but now nobody trusts anything and nobody believes what the person across the road does and the rulers know they're losing out and they know that this earth needs a drastic change to survive in the future, and that's why it has to be a slow process of leaked information, because people will lose their minds if it's just dumped on them atm, we are in too much of a fragile state.

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