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Bernard White


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What theological implications does the "Psychology" and "Neuroscience" (and possibly biology) of religion (or "God(s)") have?

I'm very interested in people's opinions on this matter.
I would just like to say, as I have said in the past, this debate is not to make mockery of "God". It is just honesty enquiry.
Yet as I have explored with my other debates in the past, it seems we must first define (or describe to the best of our limits) what we mean by "God(s)" and "Existence". Otherwise the debate "Does God exist?" becomes slightly meaningless.
Now that's done.
I was reading much about the psychology of religion, and found that due to articles like :
“Thinking Style and Belief In God” - Art Markman
Link : http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201208/thinking-style-and-belief-in-god
"We are programmed to believe in a god" by Jesse Bering.
"Is God an Accident" by Paul Bloom :
that had many theological implications!
And made me think :
- There is a strong correlation with a "Theory of mind" and belief in God. Animals don't really have a "theory of mind", does this mean other animals can't experience "God(s)"?
- Psychologists can now artificially create a "God experience", Doesn't this make the "Religious experience" argument rather dubious?. Link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y02UlkYjSi0
And there are probably many more Tedsters could think of!
However I do think it is worth mentioning that :
As Justin L. Barret said, that the psychology and neuroscience of religion (God) doesn't (dis)prove that God isn't real. For it wouldn't make much sense if a God who wanted to be in a relationship with us, didn't give us the ability to conceive such a God.
Another great quote by him :
"Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that sh

Topics: Church of God

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    May 19 2013: If there is one thing religion studies and theology has proven in culture sciences, it is one key idea: humans are naturally 'religious.' (keywords: religious naturalism, [cognitive] psychology of religion, AND memetics)

    WE group-orientate (most important factor), have rituals, have patterned rationalities, need others to 'feel' as though we 'know' and vice versa, develop dogmas and taboos, create belief systems from the former factors, and then the practical usage of the above (with or without conscious awareness).

    Besides the question of a 'creator-God' there are other questions religions worry about, which seem to be innately metaphysical concerns of people: the beginning, the end, the purpose, the reason, and where the 'self' comes into play...

    Practicing a religion, and enjoying it, is natural to human beings. With that can come fundamental or non-fundamental images of God and answers to the above questions, but truly it has never been a question of God that plagues religion... It is the question of the morality championed within the religion. What God is, is unique to every individual that describes God... But what is right and wrong can more easily recorded and made into data, than that of what everyone believes 'God' is or is not.

    But, no matter to who, denying truth and morality is always a negative...

    The question of evolution makes the God-question all the more interesting, beautiful and wonderful...Not resolved or in jeopardy. To reject this 'reality' is in a sense, to me, rejecting God in the most basic principle: "We are made in the image of the image-less one." This fundamentalist practice of any religion will show high levels of irrationality in optimism and band-wagon reasoning. If we are designed to grow and develop in the 'image of God' that also takes understanding God and what we use to understand God - ourselves, others and knowledge.

    Whatever theology has done, it hasn't done enough to change the mind sciences for the better, yet.
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      May 23 2013: "... If there is one thing religion studies and theology has proven in culture sciences, it is one key idea: humans are naturally 'religious.' (keywords: religious naturalism, [cognitive] psychology of religion, AND memetics).."

      Doesn't this imply that non-religious people are somehow unnatural human beings? What, in the natural sense, is the difference between a non-religious person and an religious person. Without speaking to either, how could you determine their stance on, religious or non-religious belief.

      In nature, we can look at two different plants and state one is different from the other. We can measure the atom and determine is is made up of electrons, protons and neutrons. This is because they have certain, natural attributes we can measure or discern. We can look at two different people and see they may have different physical characteristics but not what they think about anything.

      By religious preference, if a non-believing and believing human, each do good in their life and responsibly seek the betterment of their fellow humans, what would be the natural difference between them?
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        May 24 2013: John,

        Did you at bare minimal wikipedia the phrases I posted?

        If we are naturally religious, this just ask what is being religious? Well, patternicity, group-orientation, rituals, traditions, metaphysical conquest, dogma, and more (these are qualities of what humans do, that can be seen in groups of humans). Religious behavior is a type of group-thinking which is innate in our developing psyches in order to develop and respond to our predestined conditions. In another sense, what it is to be religious is natural and therefore must be investigated as such - and when such is being investigated, one will realize the dependency an individual has on those that surround the individual - others.

        We are nothing without others - we NEED others in order to have a functional and developed mind - or at least a good enough mind to work in that particular society.

        Now, the question could be "is it not easier to just say we are naturally group-oriented?" Well yes, but that does not give justice to the gravity of the situation. The fact is we are OVERLY group-oriented by nature - like mirror neurons to evolve and grow or self actualization in society to feel accepted.

        It's not simply a matter of rejecting the term 'religious' - and, if someone is non-religious they are still going to conform to other standards in which irreligious/non-religious can be practiced. Hence all my constant non-sense about 'neo-atheist' - it is a new age religion, not organized, no shared rituals, but dogmas, metaphysical conquest, group-orientation, tradition, and patternicity.

        It is HOW you look at something that counts, yes. But we cannot say humans are not GROUP creatures, and to suggest they are non-religious naturally is innately flawed. We are designed to develop within groups, and develop in response to said groups.

        This particular response is not in the mindset of morality, but after this mindset is made - morals are all the more clear. A non-anthropocentric attitude, helps a lot
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          May 24 2013: Well, yes. I would say we are oriented towards grouping together. In fact, from an evolutionary perspective, this is exactly what the first bio-proto-particles did. They grouped together and via, some type of symbiotic process, merged to become a living, metabolizing cell. Perhaps it is ingrained oin our very DNA.

          “Hence all my constant non-sense about 'neo-atheist' - it is a new age religion...”

          I can agree with that. I think atheism is consistently moving to organize and standardize their total focus on destroying the religious domain. Not all atheists, but there are some really serious Atheists out there -as serious as some Theists.

          In the beginning of our Universe, it is said that a single proton, became the foundation of all the elements we know to exist. It was able to accomplish this by grouping together with other protons, increasing their total gravity, and become more dense and heavy. Ultimately, they exploded to become suns and the process of Universal creation was on it's way.

          Grouping, in this view, has been the constant motivating force of the entire universe.

          My question is: how does this fit in with multi-deminsional-parted-question that Bernard White posted?

          I imagine that little baby is getting bigger N. L.? I don't remember you posting a comment directly to me. Did I miss something?

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        May 24 2013: " My question is: how does this fit in with multi-deminsional-parted-question that Bernard White posted?"


        We need unitary alliances with academics, not privatization. We understand the universe evolves because of an interconnected system! But we do not design systems and paradigms to be interconnected so easily! It's maddening to think the goal of all scientist, researchers, theologians, theorist, writers, historians, etc are all trying to do the same thing (TO KNOW) but disconnected at the point of WHO KNEW FIRST and WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE KNOWLEDGE!

        Your last sentence is confusing, the baby, my cousin, is doing just fine. I don't think you missed anything John

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          I'm afraid I still don't understand what it is you are trying to say.

          This is the first time I've heard from you in a long while. I remember your comments. You used to have a picture of you and a baby on the couch. That's where I'm coming from with the last sentence. I can edit that out if you like.

          What we need and what we can afford or have the ability to produce is far different from what we have and are capable of producing. I would suggest you form an alliance of your own towards producing these types of productions. You could become a leader.

          Saying the same thing louder or with more veracity will not help get the intended message across if your audience didn't understand it the first time you said it. Perhaps rewording it might help.
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        May 24 2013: I am limited with options of how to alter text: TEXT, 'text', "text", (text) ... maybe even *text*

        CAPS isn't yelling it's making a distinctive point.

        In any research there is a want of an unified theory. This can only happen from looking at the same problem in many different ways, and we see this in cognitive science. Multiple disciplines making solutions to collective problems. This mentality should be done in every aspect of life, not just our in our research sciences.

        So for the couch warmer - basically, when you hear information, look for how others also work with and deal with that information. This anticipation will let someone know the vastness of the applicability of their knowledge.

        The best perspective comes from having many perspectives, not from building off of one.

        I do not know how else to explain this, but maybe examples drawn from research?

        Check out the paradigm of 'evolutionary cognitive neuroscience' - something I am still learning about and proves troublesome because neuroscience's terminology is very rough (to memorize ALL of the parts and their functions, sucks). But in a rough definition - the idea in which the study of the mind/individual should be practiced in light of the evolution of cognitive development - which is something dependent on sociological factors rather than only individual (psychological) factors.
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          May 24 2013: Nicholas, my suggestion to you is that you try to make just one point and offer some supporting evidence to back it up. Check for redundancy in your sentences. Don't use the same word twice in one sentence. Use a thesaurus.

          One point, well made, is more important than a whole paragraph filed with multiple points that only add discussion to the debate. Unless, of course, it is your intention to cause confusion.

          You say, "The best perspective comes from having many perspectives, not from building off of one"

          I would counter that the best perspective is the one that offers the most closure on the issue being discussed or gives greater detail because of the perspective. For instance: a man on a hill ( vertical and broad sweeping perspective) might have a greater view than multiple people on the ground (horizontal, narrow perspective).
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        May 24 2013: Indeed, in my attempt to be simple proves redundant at times, but at this point I do not know what I am breaking down for you?

        What you feel causes confusion, I feel does broaden the debate. Which is more important than being right... To show where boundaries do not exist.

        The best disclosure comes from discussing the greater details (having many perspectives). Closure suggest certainty but while 'certainty' exist, what certainty applies to is not certain... Yes, words are my limitation. Your example is useful, but who interprets the perspective is still many of others not on the hill... A constant battle of communication is where all of this ties together, I guess.
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      May 30 2013: Actually there is still the question of whether a particular religious god or goddess concept is correct, whether the dogma and scriptures are from a god or goddess, whether the interpretations are correct.

      Then there is still the question is there any god.

      If god believers believe in different god concepts they can not all be correct.

      Humans seems to have a hyperactive agency assumption. We not only believe in gods, but nature spirits, faerie, aliens, little people, demons, evil spirits, guardians, kami, hidden worlds etc. The strength of science is it relies on evidence not intuition.
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        May 30 2013: Indeed, a lot of God-concepts were made into deities figures later on but stem from philosophical positions like 'change' 'destruction' 'birth' or 'divinity'

        And yes, today there are different interpretations of the same type of Judea-Christian God that varies from each different Christian Tradition. But, individuals being correct about "God" isn't the concern of neuroscience (or at least shouldn't be), the concern should be what is their state of mind like when they are thinking God? Does that state of mind stack up with the other states of mind on God? How? Where? When? (These questions are being illuminated today)

        All and all these issues do not need to be left solely to the philosophies and theologies, but to the mind sciences. However to dismiss religious studies and experimental philosophy is not in anyway going to resolve these issues... By suggesting "science" is the answer - which just reminds me of the South Park episode of 'Go God Go' - overstatements of "science" is just as bad as overstating words like "God" and "religion" nothing gets done in debate.

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