The philosophical understanding of mind/brain questions has been examined by
thoughtful people for centuries. While neurobiology affords some fascinating
new glimpses into this unknown country, there are still limits to what the
technology can tell us. There is much we can infer. FMRI is useful for mapping
regions of brain activity, as indicated by metabolic state, but we still cannot
discern much about what that brain is actually doing. There is no magic machine
that can actually read my thoughts and delve into the brain mechanisms that seem
to constitute the mind. There is great value in the understanding of the nature
of human thought.
For Jared Nielson, the LDS: Will he push for a good control group? I hope
there is more to their study than observing young LDS missionary brains. How
about the brain activity during religious experiences of young, focused jihadis?
Or voodoo-trance activity, Santoria adherents, substance-enhanced Yemeni,
peyote-high American Indians, etc?Or, sans chemical influences:
Throw in brain activity of Salafis during dervishes, Holy Rollers,
tongues-speaking Charismatics. The control group should be brain activity of
participants at rock concerts, Super Bowl games, political rallies.I'm betting fighting over the remote will come in a close second to
enhanced "plasticity"- IF you come up the winner. Third: The chocolate
fountain at Golden Corral.Where do I sign up?!
@patriot- I would like to agree with you about peaceful religious tenets vs
those advocating jihad. But unless the peace adherents adhere to peace,
it's just philosophy, right? 1- Sadly, today's LA Times
reported of Christian mobs terrifying/looting Muslim communities and vice-versa
in Bangui, capital of Central African Republic. What was sectarian violence has
turned to full-scale retribution on both sides. Muslim militias attack
Christian villages not even involved in the prior looting. 2- Arab
Christian men are siding with any of the several insurgencies fighting against
al-Assad in Syria because of the governments' destruction of whole civilian
sections of Homs. This, despite the fact that the al-Qaida militias are known
to have targeted young Christian women exclusively for rape and torture.Obviously retribution and war affect human "spirituality". I
just wonder what happens to happy RM brain waves (or any other religious soul)
when exposed to wartime atrocity and trauma. I think the brain goes into a
whole other universe then, which nullifies the ethereal experience on a level we
@happy2bhereI was responding to "patriot" who stated that as
long as the religion was true and based upon Jeses Christ and not a religion
that preaches war, evil, Jihad. To assume that only Christian religion allows
for spiritual experiences is completely ignorant of "patriot". I do
agree with you.
That is an excellent point, cavetroll. What about examining brains of any
religious persons who end up deviating from the peaceful doctrines or ethics of
their belief system? This would necessitate having a large set of samples
beforehand, but would be very informative on the effects of "violence"
on the brain. Be sure to include a non-religious control group for
comparison.I have long wondered what happens to whole societies who
turn to torture and murder. From wartime Germany to Serbia, North Korean to
Somalia, Communist China or Russia, etc. We cannot fathom the Nazis or their
complicit countrymen anymore than we know what turned the Iron County Militia in
1857. But something happens in the human brain to trigger violence of that
magnitude when it overrides formerly civil people.One available
group for this study, sadly, would be military personell, before and after
combat. The high percentage of military suicides are PTSD-diagnosed. I hope the UoU study will go deeper than superficial cataloging and give
useful data for future generations.
cavetrollOK I'll bite. Where are the teachings of Hindu,
Budda, Islam, or Christian hate filled and toxic? That some may interpret and
do evil in the name of such teachings does not make the teachings themselves
hate filled and toxic. For the most part it seems that religion is trying to
teach the basic golden rule to people. And, I have heard that studies of the
brain do show different human reactions to input that is either good of bad.
Images of horror, like in war atrocities does elicit different brain wave
reaction than images of something like babies or puppies, or images of a
religious figure, like Christ. I think the study may yield some interesting
results from the U of U.
@brtherJonathan, perhaps where you are off the track is in the definitions of
absolutes and influences.
I believe that God has constructed this world so that things like this will
never be provable, at least, not in a scientific way. Of course, we all have
our own ways of knowing truth, and there's no doubt that a person can know
things that are unprovable scientifically. The instruments (sensitive though
they may be) may never be capable of picking up changes caused by metaphysical
experiences since they are (in most faiths) independant of the physical world.
Like trying to discover where in the body the mind is located (rather than just
where is the brain,) I see this exercise as futile. But maybe they will get
lucky and discover something useful along the way, regardless of their
There is no scientific consensus as to what a "religious" or
"spiritual event" is. Is kissing snake at a pulpit to prove your immune
to venom a religious or spiritual event? Does claiming you had a vision from a
heavenly messenger qualify? I worked at a mental hospital for a decade and a
half, and these kinds of experiences or not uncommon to some. On the other
hand, though having been raised by an atheist father (an atheist at least while
living), I am an active temple going "Mormon" (and am quite comfortable
being in evolution). I don't claim to have had a divine visitation, but
I've had everything short of that. The reality is there is no standard
measure for these kinds of experiences. Everyone has faith in something, just
pick you're poison and live with the consequence of you're decision.
"Seek and ye shall find", or alternatively no seek, no find.
And why is a state run school being given money for this. Were are all the
agnostics screaming about church and state.
@Apocalypse please "Reducing people to either antichrists or
believers is a pretty narrow world view. I wonder if the study is powered to
find a relationship between religion and persecution complexes."Since it was you who used the anti-Christ label; who exactly has the
Apocalypse please:For a recent example of how individuals can view
the same scientific data differently, did you see the Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate
the other day? If you have the time, the 2 hour and 45 minute long recording is
available on YouTube. Do a search for "Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate." I
personally don't agree with everything Bill Nye or Ken Ham said, but it was
a fascinating debate nonetheless!
The article makes no mention of the religious backgrounds of the three
researchers doing the study, not that I’m insinuating that they must be
intending to predetermine an outcome. But since they are seeking returned
missionaries under 30 who are still active members to be their study specimens,
I’d like to know about their own backgrounds.
@1.96 Standard DeviationsI agree that it's pretty amazing that people
can look at the same evidence and draw entirely different conclusions.
Confirmation bias undoubtedly plays a huge role as we filter information. I do
admit that I don't follow the conclusion that because Mormons have a longer
life expectancy therefore the LDS church is Gods one true church. But I
wouldn't go so far and say that no amount of evidence is going to change a
believer or skeptics mind. The formation of beliefs is pretty interesting
stuff. Anyway I'm way off topic.
There is an open and closed door to this.1. the closed door : And
now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many
to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command
that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he
doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which
they give unto him.(Alma 12)2. the open door : in Abraham it
says about the Facsimile 2/11...Also.If the world can find out these numbers, so
let it be. AmenMy 2 cents : ...and the Spirit of the Gods was
brooding upon the face of the waters (Abr.4)Such spiritual activity
may calm down our neural functions, but to test the Spirit by any measure will
be quite impossible.You cannot pray for fun or a medical exam.,Impossible.You cannot receive revelations to prove faith, nor can you digg up the
Golden Plates to find evidence for men. And you cannot receive revelations
twice.MR. MD you are either no member of the church, or you are
trying to go where no man has gone before ?
@patriot"It all depends on the kind of religion. True religion based
on Jesus Christ enriches and nourishes the brain while false religion based on
murder, hate and Jihad is toxic to the brain and personality as a whole"Or true religion based upon the teachings of the Buddha. Or Hinduism. Or
even Islam. Even some Christians are hate filled and are toxic.
Sounds like a witch hunt. As was pointed out above, spiritual experiences are
rare, but they are also unpredictable and cannot be constructed. Reading
scripture, watching LDS videos, and praying may produce some nice feelings, but
producing a genuine spiritual experience is a one-in-a-million chance, akin to
closing your eyes and hitting a sparrow at a hundred yards with a BB-gun. Good
Religion gives faith based logic. LET ME HELP ALL OF YOU WITH SOME LOGIC.
This is for all who believe: God Created all life.____ 1. If God created
all things: he created instinct for all life to know what to do for survival,
without learning. 2. God created instinct which includes sex drive and
other non-learned survival mechanisms. 3. Satan has power over the flesh:
Christian, Muslim, Judaism all believe this truth. 4. Knowing 1, 2, and 3
are true: Instinct and Satan are the same entity. God created Instinct/Satan. "Intelligent Logic W/ use of the facts" Our Faith in God
declares that Satan is Instinct: It is bodiless, powerful intelligence with
power over the flesh, given that power by God. Because God has power over all
things, we do not have power over the flesh, that authority was given to Satan
by necessity. By Elder Jonathan L. Peterson, servant of our Lord Jesus
Christ Maybe they should have a look and see if my brain is
different than everyone else's? Understanding human behavior is controlled
by an Artificial Intelligence program and not being able to share this info is
very stressful. Ask Prof.Cynthia Berg,UoU
Apocalypse please:Keep in mind who is being studied. As indicated in
the article: "They are currently in the process of recruiting study
participants. Specifically, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints who served missions, are between 20 and 30 years old and are currently
active in the faith."Is this sample of individuals what you call
a fair representation of the entire world and all its religions? No, of course
not. This study is purposely taking a narrow view. Have you also
seen scientific research about the LDS church that does not get polarized
opinions?Case in point: Science indicates LDS members tend to have
longer life-spans than the general population. This is faith-affirming for those
who believe in the Word of Wisdom and the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.
However, church antagonists downplay this and twist it into something else. In
short, doesn't matter what the data say. LDS church believers and LDS
church antagnostics will continue to see with completely different lenses on
that same data.
Of all the important things in the world to learn and improve they come up with
this this? I'm sure that the result of this study will help cure cancer and
lower the health care cost
Reducing people to either antichrists or believers is a pretty narrow world
view. I wonder if the study is powered to find a relationship between religion
and persecution complexes.
True religion, pure and undefiled changes the "heart" not the
Here is how the data from the study will be interpreted:1) The
Korihor's of the world are going to say, like in Alma 30:16, "Ye look
forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the
effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of
the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things
which are not so."2) The Believers will say, like in Alma 32:24,
"[...] for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know
that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened,
and your mind doth begin to expand."
@ riverofsunThe amygdala and hypothalamus are collectively
responsible for pretty much everything you listed.
"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."- Proverbs 15: 1______________________________A gem of
wisdom from the Bible having to do with the effect of behavior on the brain.
Religion itself is another matter. Its moral and ethical base gets obligatory
lip service that always seems to come second behind theologies and creeds that
cause unending bitter contention.
To suggest that I am somehow less of a caring person because I am not religious
is wrong. Remember, similar research has found that damage from even minor head
injuries often results in fanitical religious followings in an individual.
Fact.To research what makes the brain of a person more kind and
caring would be more useful.
How about a study, FIRST, searching a brain for love, kindness, hate, violence,
etc. This really gives scientists and researchers something to work with
that can change the human race!Isn't that more important?
re: Vic SteblinThere is an area of the brain responsible for
addiction. Apparently, it can't differentiate whether you get high on
drugs/sex or religion. It makes sense when you consider Jimmy
Swaggart and other religious figures temporarily turning to the dark side and
celebrities who give up their wicked ways to embrace Allah or Jesus.
I do not think that this is an important research because our brain is such a
huge mystery for us. It is said that we only use 10% of our brain. If that is
so, I do not think that religion will play a role when using the brain. The
right side of the brain is used for creativity and imagination. I believe this
is another feeble attempt at trying to control people's mind with religion.
Religion can be taught. If someone comes to you and tell you that there is no
religion, your brain is going to automatically try to find out why because of
what we have been taught by our parents, teachers, clergyman/women, and
psychology. That is why it is so important to guard your brain from the
It all depends on the kind of religion. True religion based on Jesus Christ
enriches and nourishes the brain while false religion based on murder, hate and
Jihad is toxic to the brain and personality as a whole.
Very dangerous,brain tumors will be the result!
How to keep this study unbiased and purely scientific will be a challenge. If
the findings are inconclusive could it be conceivable that spiritual emotions
are interpreted and or stored elsewhere in the body--say the heart for example?
The brain is easily adjusted by repeated electrical activity, called plasticity.
That is why we remember our name, career, language, culture and religion. Also
explains God, and spirituality.
Heard a fascinating interview on NPR with guest John Geiger, CEO of the Royal
Canadian Geographical Society on this subject. He said neuro
scientists had verified no brain area or function that could account for the
experiences of random people in desperate situations chronicled in his two
OK for that study, but how about looking into the effect of no religion on the
brain. Could really be an eye-opener.
Why don't they do a study on the really influential moments associated with
religion? Moments dealing with all the fear, guilt, and shame associated with
the traditional failures and shortcomings encountered when trying to measure up
to unreasonable standards---"Be ye therefore perfect...," "I cannot
look upon sin with the least degree of allowance..."---that sort of thing.
Far more productive investigation; because it is more applicable, almost
universal with people dealing with religion. Profound spiritual moments, even
aha moments in social interactions are so few and far between that it's
almost as if they are aberrations, worth academic study, but of only limited
interest to ordinary folks like me.
Can't say that i trust anything that comes out of the U of U when it comes
to religion, however I'll keep an open prospective on the findings.