Brain's reactions to symbols suggest we're hard-wired for God — or not

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  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Aug. 14, 2014 6:31 a.m.

    Hey I M LDS 2 -

    "Will missionaries soon be equipped with genetic tests so they can identify the hard-wired believers?"

    Nothing in the article says the hard-wiring is genetic.

    As far as I know, the science suggests that the hard-wiring occurs through time. And your software designs at least some of your hardware.

    There are those famous studies on London cab drivers that show how the hypothalmus actually becomes physically larger as cabbies memorized addresses and directions in London.

    And then there are the branding tests that show how the Coca Cola icon, (Coca Cola being the most recognized brand in the world) produces measurable brain responses when that icon is flashed on for a few seconds.

    I'm guessing it all goes back to the evolution that allowed our species to adapt and survive. We recognize good things that help us survive and bad things that don't, and we become hardwired to survive best in whatever niche members of our species may be operating in at the moment.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 13, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    This is just a new modern version of predestination.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 5:29 p.m.

    We're 'hard wired' to create patterns out of things which we don't know, can't know, or just don't want to bother knowing. Voila, Faith!

    Aug. 8, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    I think it's an interesting study with parallels to the idea of "the seed of Abraham" being believers, which also suggests that belief is genetically based.

  • greatbam22 andrews afb, MD
    Aug. 8, 2014 12:13 p.m.


    "I always wonder why the ancient Nephites were so quick to forget their God and constantly needed to be reminded about the spiritual things of this world. Was there a congenital defect with them, to a point?"

    Well also it would have been somewhat harder to remember stuff that you didn't have written down. We know the the Nephites had writing systems but we don't know how much paper and what kind of luxury it was.

    Although greeks were able to remember mass amounts of information from memory techniques that were developed but I would be a little surprised if the Nephites would have had knowledge of them.

    When paper was became more common and cheap it's purpose was somewhat of a tool to refresh your memory.

    Today we are moving away from paper to dump our thoughts to computers to dump our thoughts. I think we are using our brains less and less and instead of having any type of memory in our own brains we are having the computers do it all for us.

  • FanOfTheSith Vernal, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 8:15 a.m.

    What an interesting study.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 6:31 p.m.

    RE: IMLDS 2. The Westminster Confession of Faith: As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected . . . are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

    The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His Sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

    The 5 greatest Christian theologians would agree: Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin Edwards.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 6, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    "....Newberg said the dollar sign elicited the most positive reactions of any symbol, spiritual or secular...."

    Psychology calls that a Pavlovian response. Pseudo-science calls it being hardwired.

  • OneWifeOnly San Diego, CA
    Aug. 6, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    I agree with @Bofus and @OHBU. I don't buy it either. The red flag for me was the discussion about the dollar symbol. What would the results look like for those raised in countries that use currency other than the dollar? Are we hard-wired to worship the almighty dollar?

  • Bofus Olympia, WA
    Aug. 6, 2014 12:52 p.m.

    I don't buy this either. To really determine this you would have to test this on individuals who have never been exposed to religion at any times in their life and see what the response is.

    I think it has more to do with what Craig Clark is saying. If you are born into a religious environment then you are more likely to be so. Likewise in a non-religious environment.

    No one is born with religion. That has to be learned.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Aug. 6, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    So many assumptions based on so few observations, it's really hard to take this seriously. The idea that one's subconscious response to a symbol is hard-wired rather than environmentally derived seems to be the major fault in this study. Non-religious people have a negative response--emotionally and intellectually--to religious symbols, and religious people have a positive response. First of all, this is in no way surprising at all. Second, this does not mean that those who believe do so because their brain is hard-wired to believe. I would contend negative experiences with religion create negative feelings. Those negative feelings permeate both the conscious and subconscious.

    Another major flaw is that the researcher seems to confuse the difference between a symbol of belief and belief itself.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    Aug. 6, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    I always wonder why the ancient Nephites were so quick to forget their God and constantly needed to be reminded about the spiritual things of this world. Was there a congenital defect with them, to a point?

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    Will missionaries soon be equipped with genetic tests so they can identify the hard-wired believers?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 6, 2014 8:09 a.m.

    My instincts tell me that culture and upbringing has more than a little to do with belief.

  • slcdenizen Murray, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 6:54 a.m.

    "suggests people may be hard-wired to choose faith or unbelief"

    Nope, I believe in the religion of my parents because it's the true religion. The other 34,000 are false.