Saturday, November 27, 2010

288: The Brain and Religion 3

A lot of people in the world believe that all kinds of revelations and apparitions are proof of the existence of supernatural beings or One supernatural being.

There may be another explanation for these phenomena. According to recent research, religiosity is dislocated and strung out along a neural network comprised of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes of the brain.

Decreased parietal lobe activity, for example, has been linked to some religious experiences, while the decision-making and social aspects of religion seem to interplay in the frontal lobes.

It is the temporal lobes that have been the focus of significant recent interest for their connection between epilepsy and religious visions and conversion.

Epileptic seizures, and the brain chemistry at work between seizures, leads in some patients to a “gradual personality change which disposes them to mystical and religious thinking,” says neurologist Oliver Sacks in an interview with Big Think.

Especially this Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) appears to be even historically documented. In between seizures patients often suffer of the "Geschwind Syndrome" ,

named after Norman Geschwind, who published about a related behavioral complex. Norman Geschwind (1926–1984) can be considered the father of modern behavioral neurology in America.

There are 18 personality traits that define the syndrome: emotionality, euphoria, the idea to have a mission, strong moral feelings, deep religiosity, depression and some other,

but as you see well defined characteristics of the behavior of someone who had just an apparition and now tells us about his mission as a religious zealot.

It is known of Mohammed, that he had epileptic seizures since he was 6 years old, which were accompanied by religious experiences. In 610 Mohammed gets his first apparitions, in which he heard the voice of the archangel Gabriel.

Jeanne d'Arc, born in 1412 as a daughter of a French farmer died at the pyre in 1431 at the age of 19. Her life history, including her epileptic seizures, is meticulously documented by the Inquisition. When she was 13 she heard the voice of God for the first time.

Other names are Vincent van Gogh and Dostojevski, who showed the same epileptic behavior and accompanying religious experiences and hallucinations.

These temporal lobe epileptic seizures (TLE) last only 30 seconds to 2 minutes or so, tho the patient has no sense of time after the seizure. He may have the feeling that it lasted hours, like Mohammed told that he had visited the paradise.

These insights, that the brain generates religiosity, have lead to the belief, that by artificial stimulation of certain brain areas, especially the temporal lobes, you can provoke religiouslike experiences.

Dr. Michael Persinger (born June 26, 1945) is a cognitive neuroscience researcher and university professor. He has worked at Laurentian University, Canada since 1971.

He developed the socalled "God helmet". Inside the helmet are magnetic coils. You sit in a dark and sound-proof room, when the helmet is activated.

People then get all kinds of experiences: feeling a presence, seeing a light, seeing ancestors, even see Jesus, mainly depending on cultural and educational backgrounds.

Todd Murphy, a Behavioral Neuroscientist associated with Dr. Michael Persinger, even made a commercial version of the helmet, tho it is still an area of research with many unanswered questions and serious controversies.

So if you want to experience apparitions or revelations maybe such a device might be a nice present for Christmas.

Because of Thanksgiving Day there will be no class on Thursday. However, this does not mean that you are free. I strongly advise you to watch the interviews of Lionel Tiger and Oliver Sacks and read the article on URL

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: thank you....
[13:20] Ortwin Sveiss: Does this all also mean that people with certain brain disfunctions can´t have any religious feelings at all no matter how hard they try?
[13:20] herman Bergson: and let me answer Ortwins question...
[13:21] herman Bergson: A very important one....
[13:21] herman Bergson: In the first place you must keep in mind that like all human traits they are there or not
[13:21] herman Bergson: I mean...
[13:21] herman Bergson: all persons have length
[13:22] herman Bergson: but some are very short and others very tall and the majority is inbetween
[13:22] herman Bergson: We call that the Gauss distribution or curve...
[13:23] herman Bergson: So ..yes Ortwin..some people might be incapable of religious feelings..
[13:23] herman Bergson: And annecdote in this matter...
[13:23] BALDUR Joubert: i think that's wrong
[13:23] Florencio Flores: ooh man
[13:23] herman Bergson: Persinger tried the God Helmet on Richard Dawkins....
[13:23] herman Bergson: an outspoken atheist...writer of the God Delusion...
[13:24] herman Bergson: It had no effect whatsoever...Dawkins reported...
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: consistant brain wiring
[13:24] herman Bergson: There are sociopates who are absolutely incapable of experiencing moral feelings...
[13:24] herman Bergson: same story....
[13:25] herman Bergson: so they become a serial killer for instance
[13:25] herman Bergson: merciless as it seems
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: i wonder how they would describe a religious experience that is shared at the same time by several like at Fatima
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: don'zt tell us the god helmet is a miracle maker.. its more a toy in the name of science
[13:25] herman Bergson: Group hysteria, Gemma?
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: that is what i was thinking or hypnotism
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:26] herman Bergson: something like that....I guess
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: might be
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: neurology is stiff full of guesses..
[13:26] herman Bergson: the God Helmet isn't a miracle maker at all Baldur...
[13:26] Chi Aho: Has the God Helmet been tried on other atheists?
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: no an experiment in what works in the brain
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes there still is a lot to learn Baldur, but this is already an example of WHAT we have learnt
[13:27] herman Bergson: and this development will go on
[13:27] BALDUR Joubert: so what is experiment nothing more where you can study certain reactions.. but careful with conclusions pleas
[13:27] Chi Aho: a large number, other than Dawkins?
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: yes true
[13:27] herman Bergson: the conclusions are quite clear....we are our brain....
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: i think we know as much about the brain right now as astronomers knew after Copernicus
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: but so much more to learn
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: before Glalilei and Kepler
[13:28] herman Bergson: I cant make that evaluation Baldur...
[13:28] Florencio Flores: that's what i think
[13:28] Florencio Flores: brain is totally all
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: why not herman
[13:28] Florencio Flores: it creates sensations, realities, everythin
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: very interesting but RL is pulling me away.....thanks Professor....good bye everyone :)
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: ari
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well Baldur if you take Copernicus as an example...
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: bye ari
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: bye ari
[13:29] Beertje Beaumont: goodbye Ari
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: cu
[13:29] herman Bergson: His insights changed our worldview completely
[13:29] herman Bergson: and as I said in another lecture...
[13:29] herman Bergson: the neurological insights will be the 5th revolution
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: yes.. so does brain neurology and all connected sciences. but with copernicus there was no knowledge how the system works
[13:30] herman Bergson: and change our worldview too completely
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: just that there is a system different from what one thought
[13:30] herman Bergson: what is your point Baldur?
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: that too many say too many things about brain functioning in a social-psychological context..
[13:31] Simargl Talaj: Is the lecture over? Are we in discussion deliberately or by mistake now?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Dont overlook the fundamental philosophical startingpoint of this project....
[13:32] herman Bergson: the starting point is that of materialism....
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: right.. that's what i want to look at.. but neurologists should not enter the field of philosophy just like that
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: discussion simargi
[13:32] herman Bergson: That can not be avoided anymore Baldur...
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: oh but baldur they had to do that
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: observing and studiying phenomena does not give al the aswers
[13:33] herman Bergson: Philosophy is not just some island
[13:33] herman Bergson: Oh nooooo
[13:33] herman Bergson: absolutely not...
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: they are finding evidence of how we think and what the brain does to effect that
[13:33] herman Bergson: But the evidence they have found on our inclination to believe in supernatural things...
[13:34] herman Bergson: and what consequence that has for Cartesian Dualism...
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: yes.. but if you ask an honest neurologist he will tell you that what we know today is not even the tip of an iceberg
[13:34] herman Bergson: A real philosophical impact...
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: so no hasty conclusions about religion please
[13:34] Simargl Talaj: An atheist, I have what I believe is religious feeling. Much is sacred to me, but not gods.
[13:34] herman Bergson: there are no hasty conclusion on religion here...
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: Herman has always tried to keep to the faith out of the class
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: it intrudes tho
[13:35] herman Bergson: all that we think there is is generated by our brain...
[13:35] Florencio Flores: yes i'm agree
[13:35] Florencio Flores: GOD and DEVIL is just a creation
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: you said one thing cited -correctly.. when referring to culturaln and social basis
[13:35] herman Bergson: I think we have to a clarify distinction here....
[13:36] Florencio Flores: alltought if we want we can create another dimension world
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: that is a basis for religious thought..
[13:36] herman Bergson: religion is a cultural phenomenon....
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: we can't say our ancestors 50000 ago were all epilectics
[13:36] herman Bergson: and several times I have pointed at its function in the durvival process of evolution...
[13:36] Florencio Flores: i like to believe on machines and on future =)!!
[13:37] herman Bergson: a completely different debate is on the metaphysics behind some religious belief...
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:37] herman Bergson: that is for theologians...not for us
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: survival- well might well be-- but certainly first of all of social importance
[13:37] Simargl Talaj: Our *experience* is still philosophical, not biological. We feel, think, as distinct from sensing movement of electrons and sodium ions over neuron membranes of the parietal.
[13:38] Simargl Talaj: So we still have philosophical things to discuss, even as biologists.
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: you believe your thinking has nothing to do with neurons sim?
[13:38] Simargl Talaj: I know that it has everything to do with neurons.
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well simargl..if you mean that the concept of consciousness is a philosophicla problem...yes you are right...
[13:38] Chi Aho: I don't think Sim is saying that; he is cautioning against the pitfall of reductionism
[13:38] Simargl Talaj: But my experience is better described in words than in diagrams of electron potential.
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: of course you are right about the 5th revolution herman..
[13:39] herman Bergson: despite all neurobiology....we are also conscious .....
[13:39] herman Bergson: and that is a hell of a philosophical problem...
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: concious- needs neurons to be that
[13:39] herman Bergson: but we ill get to that much later in this project
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: re Geschwind --Well before Geschwind -- 1873 Religious Sentiment in Epileptics -- Howden
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well..a nice discussion.....
[13:40] Simargl Talaj: Interesting to me -- religious conversion in epileptics
[13:40] herman Bergson: the challenge is on the table....:-)
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: i think already in the middle ages the church was sensible to the problem sim
[13:40] Simargl Talaj: Yes, Hildegarde
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: smile
[13:41] Florencio Flores: o.O
[13:41] Florencio Flores: !!
[13:41] Simargl Talaj: Hildegard was willing to accept scientific contradiction of her interpretation of her own migraine or epileptic visions though
[13:41] herman Bergson: Ah you mean Hildegard von Bingen 1100
[13:41] Simargl Talaj: Yes sorry
[13:41] Simargl Talaj: trying to keep the word count down.
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes she is an example ...she suffered of heavy headaches indeed
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well to get to a conclusion yet....religion is generated by the brain....
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: none of this explains the origins of religion- brain wiring as herman said or cultural learning process
[13:43] Florencio Flores: i try to conquer the world =D!! hihihi
[13:43] Florencio Flores: o.O
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: no it doesnt
[13:43] Simargl Talaj: ah I think it helps explain origins of religion
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: but
[13:43] herman Bergson: and no ..not all ancestors were TLE need only one Mohammed and favorable conditions to get an islam for instance
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: what was needed for the first burial rites
[13:44] herman Bergson: or one St. Paul.... who had epileptic seizures too
[13:44] herman Bergson: or a St. John....his apocalyptic stories are as if he was completely stoned all the time
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: there were brains- physically the same who didn't do that
[13:45] Simargl Talaj: bah, John, Revelations. Bad mushrooms!!!!
[13:45] herman Bergson: that is an impossibility Baldur...
[13:45] herman Bergson: There are no two brains the same in this world...
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: sim.. mushrooms may be.. but they do exist in writing
[13:45] herman Bergson: they show similarities yes...
[13:45] Simargl Talaj: non pathelogical neurobiology ....consciousness....has desires that are elucidated by the extremes in pathology.
[13:45] Florencio Flores: =)
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: physically generally speaking yes herman.. not on the neuron-or below level
[13:46] Simargl Talaj: I think the epilepsy cases are useful, informative here.
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: There were also other hallucigenic herbs in the desert also
[13:46] Simargl Talaj: and "mad honey" but I think John was just an ass. Occam's razor.
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well Baldur...there are not only neurons..there is also the wiring of the brain that is created by education and culture...
[13:46] herman Bergson: to give you an example...
[13:47] BALDUR Joubert: smile.. well occam didn't live at the time
[13:47] herman Bergson: in Asian cultures there are also TLE patients...
[13:47] herman Bergson: they show similar behavior....but never one of them had an apparition of the Virgin Marie or Jesus
[13:47] Florencio Flores: you know Baldur inside the brain exist galaxies and energies of the universe
[13:48] Florencio Flores: you can create anything with the brain
[13:48] Florencio Flores: right proffesor?
[13:48] Simargl Talaj: not nuclear fusion I hope
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: which confirms that religion as such is a cultural element learned by our brain
[13:48] herman Bergson: welll..even more....
[13:48] Simargl Talaj: because that could get messy.
[13:48] herman Bergson: we talk about the brain as if it were one object....
[13:48] herman Bergson: physically it is
[13:48] herman Bergson: but in its functioning it is way more complex....
[13:49] Florencio Flores: yes sensorial is other
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: Flo you can't create everything.. you can't think of something where you have no reference to.. like the huavifhekj
[13:49] herman Bergson: Oh yes you can Baldur
[13:49] Florencio Flores: yes the brain is everythin
[13:49] herman Bergson: the huavifhekj is green....very small and lives under big rocks ^_^
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: ok.. so what are you thinking about myx hua.... hermaqn
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert:
[13:50] Simargl Talaj: and yet Baldur when you write the word huavifhekj I immediately make up a concept for the word. A yellow fish, in fact. Within less than a second.
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: so you are thinking abouit things you have a reference to..
[13:50] herman Bergson: No it lives under big rocks Simargl...I was first ^_^
[13:50] Simargl Talaj: hua is Chinese for yellow
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:51] Simargl Talaj: Ah, Herman, infidel! You are wrong. I must now oppress you.
[13:51] BALDUR Joubert: lol.. greeat
[13:51] herman Bergson: LOL....
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:51] Simargl Talaj: yelow! Heretic!
[13:51] Florencio Flores: yes i believe on brain is everything Baldur i create another reality
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:51] herman Bergson: Thank you all for this great discussion....
[13:51] BALDUR Joubert: all you do is invent -on the basis of what you know
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: NO ITS A RED MONSTER
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:51] Simargl Talaj: Baldur, yes, of course
[13:51] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:51] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: no class Thursday
[13:51] herman Bergson: Will be continued!!!
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: see you next tuesday
[13:51] Guestboook van tipjar stand: Qwark Allen donated L$50. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:51] Simargl Talaj throws Bejito to the lions!!
[13:51] herman Bergson: NO Gemma..but dont forget the homework
[13:51] Florencio Flores: here where i live people don't likes to believe on what i create because this gets you the truth
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: interesting as usual ㋡
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: tnx
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: yep bookmarked it
[13:52] Florencio Flores: true*
[13:52] Beertje Beaumont: Благослови тебя господь!
[13:52] Qwark Allen: ehheeh i try to read it to
[13:52] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation....
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: \o/
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: || Hoooo!
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: / \
[13:52] Qwark Allen: was very interesting as alwyas
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: smile.. thank you for your class herman.. exiting as usual:)
[13:52] herman Bergson: thank you Qwark...:-)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: yeah
[13:52] Beertje Beaumont: До свидания.
[13:53] herman Bergson: Cool Beertje :-)
[13:53] Simargl Talaj: Thank you Herman.
[13:53] Beertje Beaumont: lol
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: communication as another great moment for the brain bee
[13:53] Beertje Beaumont: Увидимся позднее.
[13:53] Beertje Beaumont: ok?
[13:53] Florencio Flores: the brain going to make history
[13:54] herman Bergson: I'll let you know Beertje
[13:54] Beertje Beaumont: :))
[13:54] Beertje Beaumont: goed
[13:54] herman Bergson: Yes it will Florencio
[13:54] Florencio Flores: =)
[13:55] Zinzi Serevi: bedankt Herman
[13:55] Zinzi Serevi: het was leuk er weer eens bij te zijn
[13:55] herman Bergson: was een genoegen Zinzi
[13:56] Ortwin Sveiss: bedankt , het was heel leerzaam
[13:56] Zinzi Serevi: ik ga naar huis
[13:56] Zinzi Serevi: blijf jij nog maar wat nakletsen
[13:56] Ortwin Sveiss: zo leer ik je ook nog eens van een minder scabreuze kant kennen
[13:56] herman Bergson: met wie
[13:56] Ortwin Sveiss: hahahahah
[13:57] Florencio Flores: herman thanks for great class and discussion
[13:57] Ortwin Sveiss: verkeerde vakje
[13:57] Florencio Flores: =)
[13:57] Florencio Flores: bye
[13:57] herman Bergson: glimlacht
[13:57] herman Bergson: Geniet van het SLeven Ortwin ^_^
[13:58] herman Bergson: mooi woord wel.....scabreus.....horje maar weinig

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Friday, November 19, 2010

287: The Brain and Religion 2

Last Tuesday I ended my lecture with these words: "With the evolution of modern man there have emerged five characteristic behaviors, which you find in all cultures: language, the making of tools, music, art and religion.

Of all these behaviors we have found predecessors in the animal kingdom, except religion. Yet, mankind survived, so we only can conclude that religion must have had an evolutionary advantage for the homo sapiens."

Did religion help the species Homo sapiens to survive? To get to a clear answer we have to be more specific from an evolutionary point of view.

The brain is wired in such a way that it has the capacity to generate spiritual ideas and concepts. This means that we are willing to believe that there is more than just what we see.

With which spiritual ideas the individual brain comes up with is unpredictable, but we have to take another factor into account. The Homo sapiens is a social animal, so he lives in groups.

We all know about group dynamics, be it chicken, wolves or humans. There always is a dominating individual member or a small group of dominating members. It is obvious that the dominating group members dictate which ideas prevail.

When spiritual, supernatural ideas are institutionalized you get a religion, a set of ideas that is accepted by all members of the group or tribe and thence comes the evolutionary advantage.

In the first place religion keeps a group together. The Jews, for instance, have survived due to their religious beliefs in spite of the diaspora and holocaust.

For leaders religion is a perfect instrument. Like Seneca (ca. 54 BC – ca. 39 AD) said: " Simple minded people regard religion as true, wise people as false and rulers as useful"

And thence come the rules for the group: it is not allowed to marry someone who does not share your religion. Social control by threatening with all kinds of punishments from above.

You have to be recognizable as true believer. So you show this in your clothing, black clothes, a keppel, a burke. And of course you have to make as many children as possible. A common rule in many religions.

Religion brings comfort to people in hard times (even when they are caused by a merciless ruler). And when life is that bad, there always is a better afterlife waiting for the believer.

100.000 years ago homo sapiens already believed in an afterlife. This can be concluded from what was put in the graves of the dead: food, tools, jewelry.

These are all perfect ingredients to protect the group and kill the infidel, that is…..competing groups or tribes, who threaten your resources and survival. Killing in the name of your god is allowed then.

Even today we see these mechanisms at work. Not just in one religion: weird sects, which commit collective suicide, terrorism inspired by the Koran or the Bible, xenophobia, discrimination of certain groups in the collective… and so on.

Would the world be better off without religion? Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris would immediately say : YES! But is this true?

When you look at the Evolution chart on the wall to the left of me, you can see that homo sapiens exists in fact only for a short time compared to other species.

Our evolution has hardly begun. So the right question would be…What will be the role of religion (in a globalized world) in 100.000 years?

Spirituality is hard wired in the brain. There is proof of that even from prehistoric man. Institutionalizing individual spirituality is a next step in culture.

Some of these institutions are already decaying these days…. maybe a sign that a more scientific view on reality is more appealing and appropriate?

The Discussion

[13:19] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:19] herman Bergson: You have the floor :-)
[13:19] AristotleVon Doobie: brb
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:20] BALDUR Joubert: where can i find scientific basis for your assumption that spirituality is hard wired in the brain
[13:20] herman Bergson: looks around
[13:20] herman Bergson: any questions or remarks?
[13:20] Simargl Talaj: Animals don't pray.
Humanity creates its gods.
So, faith's good for us?
[13:20] Simargl Talaj: Cats eat what they kill.
Only humans torture, gloat.
Torture's good for us?
[13:21] Simargl Talaj: Existence of traits
not proof they are adaptive
stains: didn't wash out.
[13:21] BALDUR Joubert: cat's torture too -in our sense..
[13:21] herman Bergson: those are non sequiturs Siargl...
[13:21] BALDUR Joubert: ever saw a cat play with a mouse?
[13:21] herman Bergson: No logic in that
[13:21] herman Bergson: Oh yes...
[13:22] herman Bergson: a cat can play with a mouse for an hour without killing it...
[13:22] herman Bergson: and afeterwords it even doesnt eat it
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: ▓▒░ ♪♫♩ ॐ ॐ ॐ ((-: QWARK :-)) ॐ ॐ ॐ ♪♫♩ ▓▒░
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: is ill so went to bed
[13:22] herman Bergson: awww...poor felllow...
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: aaaw
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: right that is true
[13:23] AristotleVon Doobie: honing its killing skils, and doent need them mostly today
[13:23] AristotleVon Doobie: the primal brain in action
[13:23] BALDUR Joubert: right wolves who will kill as many sheep as possible in a heard
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: some animals only kill when they need to eat
[13:24] Simargl Talaj: My dog hopes, pleads, thanks
me, my opposible thumbs.
Am I not his god?
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: we are the same, only with rationality to curb the play killing, or ideally
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: you're an alpha for your dog sim
[13:25] herman Bergson: No Simargl....dogs have no supernatural ideas...
[13:25] herman Bergson: you are just the dominant member of the group
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: we teach our children how to, still
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: how to do what ari
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: like religion is taught from the cradle
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: to kill, to survive primally
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: you do ari?
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle..that is the idea of my lecture todya....
[13:26] herman Bergson: and the former one..
[13:26] herman Bergson: Religion is a good tool to control the group...
[13:26] itsme Frederix: So you have a mission Herman?
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: I do not, but I have seen the results of the behavior up close....most just follow the path handed to them from the previous generation
[13:27] herman Bergson: on the other hand...the group loves to believe all in the same ideas
[13:27] Simargl Talaj: God, too tall to see
Mysterious can opener
faith: imagined alphas
[13:27] itsme Frederix: and its a nessecarity!
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: religion is like collective comfort food
[13:27] BALDUR Joubert: how did religion start?
[13:27] Beertje Beaumont: it's safe
[13:28] herman Bergson: Save me your mystic can openers Simargl
[13:28] herman Bergson: In a simple way Baldur...
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: we find safety in being surrounded by like kind
[13:28] herman Bergson: The brain searches for patterns, structures, order...
[13:28] itsme Frederix: you are all to sceptic (is it me that is saying this) religion also has an association with a deeper feeling for sense (supersense), its in us
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: well.. i'm thinking 100000 years ago when a group consisted of a larger family of 4-to 10 memebers
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes Itsme...I dont deny that...
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: it is in us from somewhere, I cant aruge that
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: but where is the question for me
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: hmm that is possible for sure
[13:29] herman Bergson: One half of our brain loves to come up with supernatural ideas to understand the world around us
[13:29] itsme Frederix: then lets be possitive about our selves and what is experience but stay critical to official who miss use the thing
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: language was at the most very primitive
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well...just look at the situation....
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: questions of survival must have been predominant..
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes baldur...
[13:31] herman Bergson: you are in a situation you dont understand and you have to move fast...
[13:31] herman Bergson: The left hemisphere of the brain does intuitive....
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: i do?
[13:31] itsme Frederix: its is heuristic (it worked well several times, so lets do it again)
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes Itsme....
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: doing by learning .....
[13:32] herman Bergson: rational thinking and analysis is slow..takes time....
[13:32] itsme Frederix: procedural behaviour
[13:32] herman Bergson: not the tool to survive when in immediate danger
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: a 100000 years ago it would not only be slow..
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: but limited
[13:33] herman Bergson: No was hardly used...then
[13:33] itsme Frederix: still limitted ;)
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: lol..
[13:33] herman Bergson: tool making is an example of rational thinking...
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: so what was the tool for survival..
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: in immediate danger..
[13:34] herman Bergson: the brain Baldur...
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: of course.. that goes for almost any animal
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: primal instinct are instantly available, rationally we temper those based on the situation
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: may be before we think of rational we should think of reasoning?
[13:35] herman Bergson: The first thing we do is think intuitively...
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: primal instincts are rational.. if the species survives..:)
[13:36] herman Bergson: rationality comes later
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: desire for an attractive, potential mate in the middle of a restaurant is tempered by empirical data we have gathered
[13:36] herman Bergson: that is also what you see in the development of mind
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: coward ari lol
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: but in many other instances also
[13:37] herman Bergson: what kind of restaurant was that Aristotle?
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: :))
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: :)¨
[13:37] herman Bergson: Was she on the menu?
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: may be the empirical data you have is a slap in the face?
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: a family one, who dictate 'n'
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: no
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: lol
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: would dictate a 'no'
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, that is right BAlDUR
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well I notice that nobody has really questions about what I put forward..
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: as you see humans can share experiences:)
[13:38] Simargl Talaj: I promised silence
or haiku; useful thoughts, no --
alas, too many words.
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: my point of course is we control our instincts by rationality
[13:39] herman Bergson: And Simargl has her poetic moments here..^_^
[13:39] herman Bergson: ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle....
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: so what do you think about religion sim..
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: or yield to them, in the same manor
[13:39] herman Bergson: That is the battle between the right and left hemisphere of the brain
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: in prose ..:)
[13:40] herman Bergson: But from an evolutionary point of view, the intuitive thinking may have come first
[13:40] itsme Frederix: well Herman that a simplified drawing you made up
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: yes I agree Herman
[13:40] herman Bergson: yes Itsme..I love to keep it simple ^_^
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:41] itsme Frederix: me too, I stay with the appelpijnboomklier
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: the KISS theory
[13:41] herman Bergson: Descartes Itsme?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Dualism?
[13:41] itsme Frederix: Good guess, yes
[13:42] herman Bergson: Interesting
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: descartes and kisses?
[13:42] herman Bergson: And it wasnt a guess :-)
[13:42] itsme Frederix: Baldur he shove himself (the barber did not)
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: ok...
[13:42] itsme Frederix: shove ? shaved
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: probably cut himself..
[13:43] herman Bergson: But get it hold that dualism is what reality is ?
[13:44] itsme Frederix: well we have only a small interval (80 years) to think about it and feel concerned, then its over and another has the burden
[13:44] herman Bergson: I mean the reality of body and mind?
[13:44] itsme Frederix: Herman, sure not
[13:44] herman Bergson: sorry...I misunderstood I guess
[13:44] itsme Frederix: just kidding and making it more simple, not left not right but just one piece of the body
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: if only the body were one piece .....
[13:45] herman Bergson: But one thing is for sure....
[13:45] itsme Frederix: i go for TAO, it just goes
[13:45] herman Bergson: in relation to evolution...our personal existence is just the blink of an eye
[13:46] herman Bergson: while we have the feeling that we are IT, complete ..all human
[13:46] itsme Frederix: That right Herman, and sometimes that is a burden we all have to deal with
[13:47] herman Bergson: Just nice to know it only takes about 80 years :-)
[13:47] itsme Frederix: yes that helps
[13:47] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:47] herman Bergson: friends
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:47] Simargl Talaj: Just to kiss Descarte
can be done without a word
More takes *two* paragraphs.
[13:47] itsme Frederix: a tiny tiny bit
[13:47] herman Bergson: next lecture will be on religious experiences....
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: ah
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:48] itsme Frederix: More is writing about Utopia
[13:48] herman Bergson: not coming form above but created by magnetism...:-)
[13:48] itsme Frederix: just be
[13:48] herman Bergson: So Thank you all for you r participation
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: interesting
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: omg.. magnetism? messmer?
[13:49] herman Bergson: Class dismisssed :-)
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you, Professor
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe ok
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: interesting as usual ㋡
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: yes very
[13:49] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman!! &Class
[13:49] Simargl Talaj: Thank you. You do great preparation for our benefit. It is a great gift.
[13:49] herman Bergson: No Baldur...a real scientist
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: see you Tuesday
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: oh........the body is a mass of tissue, manipulated by the brain as directed by the mind
[13:49] herman Bergson: no Aristotle....
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: trilogism?
[13:50] herman Bergson: that is the homunculus
[13:50] itsme Frederix: or worse Ari, the other way around, just surviving DNA
[13:50] herman Bergson: do you ever
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: other way round ari--
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:51] BALDUR Joubert: and do'nt forget brain is nothing more than a mass of tissue too:)
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286: The Brain and Religion 1

"The recognition that the brain lies at the center of the human world—as organizer and interpreter of incoming information, as constructor and communicator of outgoing ideas—is revolutionizing the humanities and social sciences.

In fundamentally restructuring traditional understandings of human thought and behavior, cognitive science is bringing provocative new insights and methods to traditional areas of specialization, including anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and others."

says Ted Tremlin in the preface of his book "Minds and Gods: The cognitive foundations of Religion (2006) Around the world and throughout history, in cultures as diverse as ancient Mesopotamia and modern America, human beings have been compelled by belief in gods and developed complex religions around them.

But why? What makes belief in supernatural begins so widespread? And why are the gods of so many different people so similar in nature? His book tries to answer these questions, like we make our first attempt here today.

In the US 95% of the Americans believe in God, 90% prays, 82% say that God can do miracles and more than 70% believes in an afterlife. Remarkable however is that less than 50% believes in hell.

Compare this with the fact that among the top scientists of the National Academy of Science of the US only 7% believe in God, that among Nobel-prize winners religiosity is almost nil. Only 3% of the members of the English Fellows of the Royal Society of Science is religious.

These are remarkable figures. It seems that the level of atheism in a populations depends on intelligence, education, scientific achievements and a positive interest in science.

As we already learned in the lectures on supersense, our brain is wired so that we have a natural drive for spirituality. Spirituality is the receptivity to religion.

It is even proven that spirituality is determined genetically for 50%. The environment does the rest. Dean Hamer wrote in 2006 the book "The God Gene".

Small variations in a certain gene determine the degree of spirituality of a person. Probably there are more gens involved, tho this one showed to be significant.

After birth the religious programming of the brain of a child begins. The evolution biologist Richard Dawkins finds it absurd to talk about christian, islamic or jewish children. Children have no religious beliefs at all.

He points out that in society it would be regarded as unacceptable when we also would talk about atheist, humanist or agnostic children.

Dawkins regards indoctrinated religion as a by-product of another feature of the child brains that has a great evolutionary advantage.

Children have to respond immediately to warnings of parents and other authorities without debate and follow their directions, if they don't want to be put in constant jeopardy.

As downside of this property children are gullible. Indoctrination at a young age is then easy. This could be an explanation of the permanent presence of a belief, a religion…..generation after generation.

With the evolution of modern man there have emerged five characteristic behaviors, which you find in all cultures: language, the making of tools, music, art and religion.

Of all these behaviors we have found predecessors in the animal kingdom, except religion. Yet, mankind survived, so we only can conclude that religion must have had an evolutionary advantage for the homo sapiens.

We'll discuss that next lecture….thank you!

The Discussion

[13:18] Qwark Allen: very interesting
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: indeed'
[13:19] Qwark Allen: religion can be so different from culture to culture
[13:19] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...feel free...the floor is yours
[13:19] Aphrodite Macbain: why does being religious=believing in god? uddhists dont lieve in an external god.
[13:19] Aphrodite Macbain: Buddhists
[13:20] Aphrodite Macbain: Can the gene make you spiritual but not god-fearing?
[13:20] Daruma Boa: i think its not all the same
[13:20] herman Bergson: In the first place there is spirituality....
[13:20] Aphrodite Macbain: yes
[13:20] herman Bergson: the inclination of the mind to believe that there is more between heaven and earth...
[13:20] Aphrodite Macbain: why is there that leap then?
[13:21] herman Bergson: the next step is to give this belief body...
[13:21] Daruma Boa: there is nothing really more i guess.
[13:21] Aphrodite Macbain: from spirituality to a god
[13:21] AristotleVon Doobie: Mr Dawkins then is of the opinion that the inclination for religion is not innate?
[13:21] Daruma Boa: its all in us
[13:21] herman Bergson: or an other next institutionalize this belief even
[13:21] Daruma Boa: but most humans are too lazy to find that out^^
[13:21] Aphrodite Macbain: that is shaped by society, the culture
[13:21] Daruma Boa: or are afraid of
[13:22] Aphrodite Macbain: different religions for different cultures
[13:22] herman Bergson: No is innate...Dawkins agrees on that
[13:22] Aphrodite Macbain: It is a socializing thing not a genetic thing, surely?
[13:22] herman Bergson: and yes it shaped culture and society...
[13:22] Aphrodite Macbain: yes
[13:23] Aphrodite Macbain: which I suggest is most powerful in order to survive in society
[13:23] herman Bergson: But for the good or the bad..that is questionable...
[13:23] AristotleVon Doobie: one would have to have a laboratory filled will parentless children to ascertain it origins I think
[13:23] herman Bergson: we'll discuss that next lecture
[13:23] herman Bergson: the brain is the origin Aristotle...
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: understand that is the consensus
[13:24] Aphrodite Macbain: Can you tell us any more about the "spiritual gene"?
[13:24] herman Bergson: children develop supernatural ideas by themselves....before culture kicks in
[13:24] Aphrodite Macbain: how was it identified?
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: but where have there been children without adult influence to study?
[13:24] Aphrodite Macbain: who gave it that name?
[13:24] herman Bergson: Piaget did a lot of experiments....
[13:25] Aphrodite Macbain: the wild child
[13:25] herman Bergson: animism is a basic child attitude towards nature
[13:25] Aphrodite Macbain: acts like any other animal
[13:26] Aphrodite Macbain: then society comes along and shapes the child
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes Aphrodite..there have been found totally wild mentally damaged...
[13:26] Aphrodite Macbain: Does that mean all our ideas about religion are learned?
[13:27] herman Bergson: I forgot the name...but there was that american a woman in het 50s...
[13:27] Aphrodite Macbain: In a basment for years
[13:27] herman Bergson: to some extend yes Aphrodite....
[13:28] Beertje Beaumont: i think she was raised by dogs
[13:28] herman Bergson: the capability of spiritual ideas is wired into our brain....
[13:28] Aphrodite Macbain: did the dogs become gods to her?
[13:28] herman Bergson: institutionalized religions shape it ..
[13:28] Aphrodite Macbain: and the parents
[13:28] Aphrodite Macbain: and the schools
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes...what Dawkins calls indoctrination ^_^
[13:29] herman Bergson: But don't underestimate the mind....
[13:29] Aphrodite Macbain: hard to get an original thought in this system
[13:29] herman Bergson: In china ...any religion was forbidden....
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: the only way to really know if there is a 'god gene' is to isolate a large quantity of newborns fro any adult influence and study their behavior until puberty
[13:29] Aphrodite Macbain: and look at their genetic makeup
[13:30] Aphrodite Macbain: at the beginning
[13:30] herman Bergson: I dont think so Aristotle.....that cant be done...
[13:30] Aphrodite Macbain: They would not be happy campers - being isolated from society
[13:30] herman Bergson: The mind of a child believes that her doll gets hurt when you hit it...
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: I know :) but anything else would be conjecture I think
[13:30] Aphrodite Macbain: Really?
[13:30] herman Bergson: Believes that there are fairies...
[13:31] Aphrodite Macbain: I thought kids were cruel to animals because they didn't know it had any effect
[13:31] Aphrodite Macbain: Empathy is learned, no?
[13:31] herman Bergson: I dont think you can undo the basic animistic phase a mind goes through in its development
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: yes
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Aphrodite...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: maybe a computer model someday will reveal it
[13:32] herman Bergson: but empathy with physical pain is easier learned than with eamotional pain...
[13:32] Aphrodite Macbain: yes?
[13:33] Aphrodite Macbain: Only if you have experienced either pain can you truly empathize
[13:33] Aphrodite Macbain: (walk a mile in my moccasins kind of thing)
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes ..seems that the organism easier understands when another is in physical pain, than when he is in emotional toruble...
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: empathy must have the seed of 'right and wrong' instilled by nurturers
[13:33] Aphrodite Macbain: how so aristotle?
[13:34] herman Bergson: I think I understand Aristotle...
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: unless we believe that 'right and wrong' is innate
[13:34] herman Bergson: When you see injustice done to somebody...that is about right and wrong...
[13:34] Aphrodite Macbain: now there's another good question - what is virtuous?
[13:35] Aphrodite Macbain: How do we learn right and wrong? Just or unfair
[13:35] herman Bergson: that is a very nice question Aphrodite...
[13:35] Aphrodite Macbain: Are they innate?
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: I supspect we are instructed
[13:35] Aphrodite Macbain: or taught?
[13:35] herman Bergson: I would
[13:36] herman Bergson: In fact ...altruism isnt innate...selfishness is....
[13:36] herman Bergson: let me give you a remarkable example....
[13:36] Aphrodite Macbain: but a sense of being unfairly wronged is innate- perhaps that' just the ego crying for satisfaction
[13:36] herman Bergson: On the radio I recently heard an interview with somebody about neuromarketing
[13:36] Aphrodite Macbain: yes?
[13:37] Aphrodite Macbain: selling brain cells?
[13:37] herman Bergson: neuromarketing or neuro economics means...
[13:37] herman Bergson: show a consumer a product and scan his brain....
[13:38] herman Bergson: depending on what you see you can see ..good or bad the sense...he is willing to buy it...
[13:38] Aphrodite Macbain: who does this?
[13:38] herman Bergson: That man said something remarkable...
[13:38] herman Bergson: Was about a campain on becoming organ donor...
[13:39] herman Bergson: He said....the mistake these campains make is to emphasize altruism...
[13:39] herman Bergson: that is not innate...not wired in the brain by nature...
[13:39] herman Bergson: so change the slogan and say....would you accept an organ from a donor if it would safe your life?
[13:40] Aphrodite Macbain: How depressing. Don' we have an alturistic gene. Sounds like Hobbes theories
[13:40] Qwark Allen: very nice point of view
[13:40] Aphrodite Macbain: Smart
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ah' yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Aphrodite...we'll look into that indeed....
[13:40] herman Bergson: altruism is a very special feature of human behavior...
[13:40] Aphrodite Macbain: a big discussion -why people do things.
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: but that only supports the fact that we are selfish indeed
[13:41] herman Bergson: Are we samaritans or hobbessian
[13:41] Aphrodite Macbain: Hobbes would say people do what they do to satisfy their needs
[13:41] Aphrodite Macbain: even when they re being generous
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: of course altruism is an idealistic notion
[13:41] Aphrodite Macbain: ? why of course?
[13:41] herman Bergson: We'll keep it on the list of future subjects...
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: fundementally we are all selfish and required by nature to be
[13:42] Aphrodite Macbain: I think it's wrapped up with that spirituality gene!
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes Aphrodite..that could be a good point
[13:43] Aphrodite Macbain: wonder what Freud would say
[13:43] herman Bergson: but...somehow altruism seems to be in our genes too...
[13:43] herman Bergson: there are examples in nature where animals sacrifice their life for the group...
[13:43] Aphrodite Macbain: I'd like to think so. We can't survive well without a society
[13:44] Aphrodite Macbain: we are mutually dependent
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: it is a sweet and romantic thought
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:44] Aphrodite Macbain: Am I being romantic?
[13:44] herman Bergson: The human being is and always will be a social animal Aphrodite...
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: well, we are much better folks if we believe it
[13:45] herman Bergson: He'll never be something else
[13:45] Aphrodite Macbain: are our lives short mean and brutish?
[13:45] Aphrodite Macbain: brutish?
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: our survival requires us to be social at least to one other
[13:45] Aphrodite Macbain: yes. I agree
[13:46] herman Bergson: I wouldnt say that..but related to eternity our lifes are just a flash in the dark ^_^
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: any additional joy in society is created by ourselves
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well...ok....
[13:47] herman Bergson: Next lecture we'll see who religious behavior can be interpreted from an evolutionary point of view...
[13:47] herman Bergson: May I thank you for you participation again...
[13:47] Daruma Boa: thank u herman
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:47] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: another interesting nice time
[13:48] herman Bergson: class dismissed :_)
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: after all Darwin was from a religious family
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: Thanks you, Professor
[13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: THANKS you all! that was very much interssant
[13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: herman
[13:48] Bejiita Imako ♪♥♪APPLAUDS!!!♪♥♪
[13:48] herman Bergson: thank you Bergie ..
[13:48] Beertje Beaumont: *•.¸'*•.¸ ♥ ¸.•*´¸.•*
[13:48] Beertje Beaumont: .•*♥¨`• BRAVO!!!! •¨`♥*•.
[13:48] Beertje Beaumont: ¸.•*`¸.•*´ ♥ `*•.¸`*•.¸
[13:48] Daruma Boa: *+*+*+*+*+*+*
[13:48] Daruma Boa: Holla die Waldfee
[13:48] Daruma Boa: *+*+*+*+*+*+*
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: Bravo!.....Bravo!!!
[13:49] Daruma Boa: so i hope 2 be here again on thursday^^
[13:49] herman Bergson: You are most welcome Daruma...
[13:49] Aphrodite Macbain: That was great. Thanks everyone!
[13:50] Beertje Beaumont: see you all on thursday
[13:50] herman Bergson: My pleasure Aphrodite
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: Good bye everyone.....thanks again Herman :)
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: ok cu
[13:50] bergfrau Apfelbaum: iFAITH in you all! : -))) see u thursday
[13:50] Aphrodite Macbain: Same time on Thursda?
[13:50] herman Bergson: dont collide with particles Bejiita
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: lol
[13:50] herman Bergson: Yes Aphrodite
[13:51] Aphrodite Macbain: Bye!
[13:51] Qwark Allen: was very interesting class hermman
[13:51] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: \o/
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: || Hoooo!
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: / \
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

285: The Brain ... The fifth Revolution

When you engage in the philosophical debate about the mind, it is impossible confine the debate to a philosophical discourse only. Too many other disciplines are involved too, like anthropology, biology, cognitive psychology, neurobiology.

The mind is no longer the private playground of philosophers. In my former lectures I referred to a Dutch publication by Dick Swaab, "We are our Brain". It is a bestseller at the moment. In other words, the brain is a hot issue these days.

The neurologist , Vilyanur Ramachandran, of the University of California in San Diego called it 'the Fifth Revolution". The latest in a series of scientific warp jumps, which toppled world views and caused great spiritual and social changes.

The first one occurred in the 16th century. Copernicus was the great revolutionary then, who proved that the earth was not the center of the universe but just a planet rotating around the sun.

The universe was God's creation and as everybody then believed, the earth was the center of this creation….
No longer and this gave rise to all kinds of fundamental questions.

The second revolution took place in the 19th century, when Charles Darwin showed that all living organisms are descended from basic organisms, which then had evolved in millions of directions by adapting themselves to a constantly changing environment.

The third shock came when Sigmund Freud introduced the mind, the psyche, as an objective entity that could be studied. And even more shocking was, that he showed that a lot of our actions aren't controlled at all by our ratio. There appeared to be something like the subconscious.

Half a century ago the fourth revolution took place. By discovering the structure of heredity James Watson and Francis Crick transformed biology into a science for engineers.

Genetic engineering is a common thing today. In our lectures on supersense we also observed that genetic engineering can get into conflict with our supersense ideas about life. Is it good or bad all this meddling with genes?

Just dig into the subject of "haplogroups". By historic DNA analysis we have discovered how mankind spread over the earth, where its cradle stood and that the Aryan race for instance is only a fiction.

What is the fifth revolution? Look at the picture named "The Brainmap". As we have unraveled the human genome, we would also be able to map the entire human brain.

Just think about this question: What will happen to the human mind if we have mapped every braincell and its function and every connection between them?

How will it affect our idea about being an individual person, a Self, an Identity. When we know and understand the function of every braincell, could we change personality whenever we like for instance.

Everything that makes us human finds its origin in brain tissue. Do we get reduced to chemical processes, electric pulses and processes that blindly follow the laws of nature?

Religion then is called a normal neurological phenomenon, moral choices are no longer the expression of spiritual development and integrity of the soul,

but can partly be explained as the result of automatic processes, which emerged from a blind and amoral evolution.
How are we going to explain consciousness……?

The fifth revolutions seems to lead us to a neurocentrism, a way of thinking which locates the essence of being human in the brain and where the brain tells you who you are.

I made the Evolution map to give you an impression of where we stand from a historical point of view. Evolution used almost 5 million years to toy with the Hominids (humans and great apes) and their brain.

New models emerged and disappeared again. Brain volume increased and again new models on the market…… eventually the Neaderthals and Homo sapiens.

And as you see, we are only a very young group of hominids in this millions of years lasting evolutionary process. We like to think, that we are the final outcome of evolution, but what about the next million years?

No philosopher can ignore these developments. Then, let us go and see what this fifth revolution will mean for our philosophical discourse on the Mind.

The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:25] herman Bergson: What was your remark Qwark?
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: it is amazing how it has changed from the first man
[13:25] Qwark Allen: the bone that is making the direction, you ask
[13:25] Simargl Talaj: herman Bergson: Everything that makes us human finds its origin in brain tissue. Do we get reduced to chemical processes, electric pulses and processes that blindly follow the laws of nature? My answer:We can mourn: alas, there is nothing sublime, we are just chemicals. Or we can affirm: marvelous, chemistry does these things!
[13:25] Qwark Allen: it`s the sphenoid
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: what has exhanged?
[13:25] Qwark Allen:
[13:25] Simargl Talaj: Consciousness is an activity. Mind is what brain does. Brain and mind are dancer and the dance.
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: the brain even the size and shape
[13:26] Qwark Allen: you can see where evolution is getting us, by understanding the evolution of sphenoid
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:26] Abraxas Nagy: mmmm I am no Darwinist
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: you have a link?? q?
[13:26] Qwark Allen:
[13:26] Qwark Allen: i saw several documents about it
[13:26] Simargl Talaj: The dance survives, even when we know the choreogrpaher.
[13:27] Simargl Talaj: Every human experience that led us to belief in god etcetera still exists. Whatever was valuable is still valuable. Whatever is sacred is still sacred, if natural.
[13:27] herman Bergson: I'll check it out Qwark..
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: I will read that later
[13:27] Qwark Allen: ok
[13:27] Qwark Allen: you`ll find it very interesting
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: aa have to check it out then
[13:27] herman Bergson: Great!
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: my brain and me: the ultimate master/slave? Frightening
[13:28] herman Bergson: That is the fundamental problem Aristotle….
[13:28] Simargl Talaj: Qwark there's research suggesting genes for weaker jaw muslce relieved pressure on sagital crest that suppresses skull expansion.
[13:28] herman Bergson: my brain and me, while me is the brain....
[13:28] herman Bergson: that is what philosophers fight about ^_^
[13:28] Simargl Talaj: Master, slave? If you own yourself there is neither.
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: master-slave- these are terms used in social relationships..
[13:29] herman Bergson: It is a metaphore yes
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: I am not convinced of course....I am master of my brain to the extent of my operative skills
[13:29] Simargl Talaj: What do you mean, Ari, please?
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: well.. aren't we slaves of your body' ? ask Dawkins
[13:30] herman Bergson: But a fundamental problem is that I can think about myself....where myself is semantically not identical with the "I" who is thinking
[13:30] Simargl Talaj: Who is this "I" of which you speak? That is not itself a brain?
[13:30] herman Bergson: we'll get to that problem sooner or later
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: I suspect we are much more than cells
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes is the homunculus problem...
[13:31] herman Bergson: There is a little man in my head that controls me, that is the "I"
[13:31] Simargl Talaj: I wish I could read more than two lines of Ari at once :)
[13:31] herman Bergson: but the problem is that the homunculus has a head with a brain in it too and so on
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: does the brain project itself into our self awareness?
[13:32] herman Bergson: the brain generates the self awareness
[13:32] Simargl Talaj: little fleas have lesser fleas/ upon their backs, that bite 'em/ and lesser fleas have lesser fleas/ and so, ad infinitum.
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: no more free will then
[13:32] herman Bergson: Here you already touch on a major issue...
[13:33] Simargl Talaj: I see it as entirely a semantic problem, not one of real operation.
[13:33] herman Bergson: we can do all kinds of physiological statements about the brain....
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: th locatioin of self awareness has been discovered?
[13:34] herman Bergson: and indeed simargl ..some philosophers regard words like mind, self , self awareness as a semantical problem
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: and we can do all kinds of supernatural statements too
[13:34] herman Bergson: In a way yes, Aristotle...
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: where is the you that is looking out of you eyes right now?
[13:35] Simargl Talaj: Aristotle much consciousness is the sum effect of different centers working together. A stream of reports from different offices in the building.
[13:35] herman Bergson: I think I'll go into that issue soon, but a person can change into a complete different Self because of brain damage
[13:35] Simargl Talaj: Herman --- yes.
[13:35] Simargl Talaj: we are organic.
[13:35] herman Bergson: In fact Alzheimer is an example of that....
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: and self determination originates where?
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: ari.. by looking at the other
[13:36] herman Bergson: Because of such observations we will encounter great difficulties with concepts as the Self , personal Identity and consciousness
[13:36] herman Bergson: As I told you in the very beginning....
[13:37] herman Bergson: Different from a project on 100 philosophers, which is known ground for me, this project is a quest for me...
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: it is a mysterious journey for sure
[13:37] Simargl Talaj: Herman, then why is it a philosophical quest at all, since the answers lie in studies of the organic?
[13:38] herman Bergson: I have no idea (well global ideas yes) what lies ahead of us...where we will arrive at
[13:38] Simargl Talaj: No epistemology anymore -- just cognitive neurobiology, education psychology.
[13:39] herman Bergson: The philosophical part is in the fact that we can talk about ourselves, describe ourselves
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: Why look for a ball in center field after you've seen it fly out toward first base?
[13:39] Qwark Allen: according to the sphenoid, we`ll be anatomically similar to the "grey aliens", with expanded minds
[13:39] herman Bergson: and in the fact that neurobiology answers certain questions but certainly not all
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: What is left for philosophers , then?
[13:39] Qwark Allen: witch is very curios thing
[13:40] herman Bergson: That is our question Simargl....
[13:40] herman Bergson: to give a "simple: example......
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: as long as thought exists, there will be philosophers
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: plenty simargl.. just as there was plenty left after kopernicus
[13:40] herman Bergson: Do we have a free will.......?
[13:40] Simargl Talaj: or as long as endowed chairs exist anyhow :)
[13:41] abraxa Qork: wb gemma ㋡
[13:41] herman Bergson: If everything is just chemical processes, etc...then all is deterministic…according to the rules of nature
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: wb gemma
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:41] herman Bergson: But we still believe that we are not automatons....that we decide ourselves
[13:42] herman Bergson: That the decision in not the outcome of pre-programmed chemical brain processes
[13:42] Simargl Talaj: So you can create paradigms to describe it, metaphors, models, that are not merely descriptions of organic and chemical processes.
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: culture has any role in that?
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: what we decide'
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: ?¨
[13:43] herman Bergson: One of the questions amy be whether our descriptions of the mind are just metaphors or not
[13:43] Simargl Talaj: Herman why is it so hard to accept that we are both the product of natural causes, and also the creators of more causes? I don't see the conflict.
[13:43] Simargl Talaj: Looks just like a cascade reaction in chemistry.
[13:43] herman Bergson: There you go.....
[13:44] herman Bergson: We are the result of natural causes....AND CREATOR of causes...
[13:44] herman Bergson: that creator is transcending the natural causes in this statement
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: aah
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: like a volcano in indonesia
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: I believe that I, my mind, issues direction to my brain, and it responds within the realm of natural law as to success or failure or those commands
[13:44] herman Bergson: someone/something else than the result of natural causes
[13:45] Simargl Talaj: " herman Bergson: But we still believe that we are not automatons....that we decide ourselves" ....stated as if the two were opposed, mutually exclusive. They do not seem so to me. Nature works like that all the time.
[13:45] herman Bergson: But Aristotle....were does your mind come from????
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, where is it?
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: culture'
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: ?
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: I can not hold it to show
[13:46] Simargl Talaj: CUlture is also a product of minds:)
[13:46] Simargl Talaj: The fact that culture is a product of minds and minds are a product of culture are not opposites. No paradox.
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: culture is a product of the minds.. in history
[13:46] herman Bergson: My statements are no definite answers or observations Simargl, they are considerations, thoughts, attempts
[13:47] BALDUR Joubert: no paradox.. but a basis..
[13:47] herman Bergson: As you see, in no time things are getting pretty complex here
[13:47] BALDUR Joubert: we can't talk about the mind without talking about the "programming"
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: is it that we are sop grounded in our physical perceptions that we are blinded to the truth?
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: as usual the complex part lol'
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: brain-yes.. chemical.physical..
[13:48] herman Bergson: Ok.....
[13:48] Simargl Talaj: I do not agree that being a creator of causes is to transcend natural causes. It is one set of causes and effects generationg another set of causes and effects, as an outcome of the previous set, not in contradiction of it.
[13:49] herman Bergson: the trend of today is that neurobiology is gonna answer a lot , maybe all, questions that puzzled philosophers
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: if the mind truly is separate fromthe brain, it would be in the natural order
[13:50] herman Bergson: if you allow me to say so...simplified but we have books on the shelves now that say WE ARE OUR BRAIN
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: well..we have a brain.. just like arms and legs..
[13:51] BALDUR Joubert: doesn't answer the philosophical question what we are
[13:51] herman Bergson: I think our project is to answer the question if the statement WE ARE OUR BRAIN really answers all our philosophical questions about ourself, about human existence, about ethics and so on
[13:52] herman Bergson: Yes Baldus….We have a brain or we are a brain........
[13:52] herman Bergson: just that simple linguistic difference contains a lot of questions and implications
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: I need some of those imbedded electrodes so I could behave better, just stir it up a bit
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: we have.. like many other living species
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:53] Simargl Talaj: We experience responsibility and agency. The source of these in phyysics does not alter the fact that we experience them
[13:53] Simargl Talaj: and must respond to them.
[13:53] herman Bergson: No Simargl…so what is the relation between what happens physicaly and what we experience....
[13:54] Simargl Talaj: I cannot solve a moral problem by rearranging some electrons with tweezers. I use the means available to me. They are, incidentally, rearranging electrons.
[13:54] herman Bergson: that will be the subject of the next lectures as we will dig into neurobliological issues then
[13:54] BALDUR Joubert: we cannot take the brain as something apart from everything else.. its devellopment is unthinkable without the social component..
[13:54] Simargl Talaj: social component = other brains.
[13:55] herman Bergson: that has already been showing the lectures on the supersense Baldur
[13:55] BALDUR Joubert: smile . rigt
[13:55] BALDUR Joubert: suoeersense?
[13:55] herman Bergson: I think you now have a good idea of what lies ahead of us....:-)
[13:55] BALDUR Joubert: that i can see ghosts ?
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: aah
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: :))
[13:56] Qwark Allen: heheeh baldur ---> you`ll come for sure to next class
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: deja vu
[13:56] herman Bergson: So, may I thank you all for you participation
[13:56] BALDUR Joubert: or are you talking about bats sonar system.. suoersens e for us?
[13:56] herman Bergson: Oh one sad message....
[13:56] Qwark Allen: check at blog previous class, you`ll understand better what we are talking about ^^
[13:56] Simargl Talaj: Thank you Herman. Thanks for preparing the visual aids too.
[13:56] herman Bergson: Next thursday I wont be able to be here....
[13:56] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: ah we get a vacation
[13:57] Qwark Allen: ehhehe
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: ╔╗╔═╦╗
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: ║╚╣║║╚╗
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: ╚═╩═╩═╝
[13:57] herman Bergson: I have to burry a dear friend in RL who passed away at the age of 57....
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: you mean the 11??
[13:57] Qwark Allen: ohh
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: on gosh
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: aaaw
[13:57] Simargl Talaj: I am very sorry to hear it Herman.
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: o no :((
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: hmmmm, condolences Herman
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: my condolences herman
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: ys
[13:57] Rodney Handrick: condolences
[13:57] Simargl Talaj: Very hard.
[13:57] herman Bergson: caused a shock to all of us
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: thats to bad
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: :(
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: I am sure
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: i can imagine
[13:57] herman Bergson: SO I hope to see you all next Tuesday
[13:57] Qwark Allen: terrible
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[[13:58] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: ok i will be
[13:58] Simargl Talaj: Thank you Herman.
[13:58] herman Bergson: Class dismissed and thank you all
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:58] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:58] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: thanks herman
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: was interesting as always
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:58] abraxa Qork: me too if abra drags me hehee
[13:58] Qwark Allen: indeed
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, take care and Thanks for the wonderful lecture, Professor
[13:58] Beertje Beaumont: my condolences Herman
[13:58] BALDUR Joubert: take care..:)
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: sure I will
[13:58] abraxa Qork: wooohooo
[13:58] herman Bergson: thanks Beertje
[13:59] herman Bergson: RL still exists....

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