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From the world of weird concerns: Are the brains of atheists different from those of religious people?

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Apparently, claims of that sort are not working out:

One brain imaging study conducted at Oxford University compared an image of the Virgin Mary with that of a regular woman, both painted in the same period. Researchers found that when Roman Catholics concentrated on the Virgin Mary while being subjected to electric shocks, this alleviated their perception of pain compared to looking at the other woman. This decrease in pain was associated with an engagement of the right ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex, a region known to drive pain inhibitory circuits.

No similar effect was found for the unbelievers, although they rated the secular image as more pleasant than the religious one. But what if the unbelievers being tested were members of the Positivist Temple and were instead shown an image of their goddess of humanity — would this have alleviated pain in a similar way to that experienced by the religious individuals?

The future cognitive science of atheism will have to think hard about how to move forward. It needs to develop models that account for cultural variations as well as consider the implications of atheists engaging with rituals that celebrate humanity.

Miguel Farias, “Are the brains of atheists different to those of religious people? Scientists are trying to find out” at Conversation

Well, could these people try common sense before they go over a cliff?

First, Catholics’ love for the mother of Jesus is very simple to understand if you keep in mind that she was the first Christian. And when all Jesus’s disciples had run away, his mother was standing at the foot of the cross. But John soon returned and Jesus, soon to die, asked John to look after her. And John did. Catholics think of themselves as John.

There. It has been made simple for you.

It’s amazing what counts for science studies of religion these days.

5 Replies to “From the world of weird concerns: Are the brains of atheists different from those of religious people?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Every human taste, talent, and tendency is partly innate and partly learned. Atheism is a human tendency, just as preferring fried eggs over poached eggs is a human tendency. Both are partly innate.

    Seriously, we don’t need any more “studies” that try to claim zero influence or 100% influence for every single tendency. We also don’t need “studies” to determine whether gravity has more effect on an alloy of 54% copper and 46% iron, vs an alloy of 53% copper and 47% iron, vs an alloy of 52% copper, ad infinitum. Galileo settled those questions. All materials are affected the same way by gravity. Human tendencies are in the same TOTALLY SETTLED category as gravity.

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    By odd coincidence, I am closing in on the end of “Primitive Mentality” written by Lucien Levy-Bruhl in French in 1922 or some such. Most of examples of thought processes amongst the Primitives (Africans, Pacific Islanders, North American Indians, Eskimos…) come from Christian missionaries or European government administrators who lived with the Primitives about which they commented. So the accounts consistently describe the “logic” of the Primitives as direct quotes. Needless to say, NOTHING about the Primitive explanation of problems and their resolution make sense to Western-educated folks.
    The section I just finished described the WIDESPREAD practice of “correcting” the survival of Primitives AFTER a disaster of some sort. (ALL disasters are, and in fact ALL events, are the direct work of one supernatural being or another.) So, for example, shipwreck victims who SURVIVE the sinking of a canoe are of course DROWNED by their friends and relatives on shore. The SHIPWRECK was ordained by the gods. Individual survivals are the MISTAKE. Similarly, travelers who survive a poorly planned trek through the jungle (or the arctic) are executed for the same reason: the gods WANTED them ALL to die. Babies who survive a difficult labor are STRANGLED as soon as they’re outside Mom.
    Etc., etc. You want “God in your life”? These people have a god, or several (it takes a pro to properly count them all), in THEIR lives. And Westerners who lived with them concluded it was a version of Hell. (Oh, the Primitives don’t have a Hell. Every single one of their gods is as mean and nasty at the next.)

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Mahuna, I’m trying to understand exactly what you meant in what you wrote,,,You rightly are morally appalled by the acts committed by ‘primitives’ in the name of their false gods, I’m sure the Christian missionaries that you are quoting from were also equally appalled, if not more so.

    But then you say, “You want “God in your life”? These people have a god, or several (it takes a pro to properly count them all), in THEIR lives.”,,,

    ,,, HUH??? You do realize that Christianity does not condone any of the morally reprehensible acts that you referenced do you not?

    Moreover, if you reject the living God, who created heaven and earth, and all that is in them, because of these false pagan gods, that leaves you without any moral basis in which to condemn their acts as being morally reprehensible. As Dawkins stated, the atheist lives in a world of ‘pitiless indifference’.

    And I hope I do not need to bring up the unimaginably horrid atrocities committed under atheistic regimes of the 20th century do I?

    So this leaves you in quite the quandary. You want to condemn all gods, including the living God who created everything, as being morally reprehensible, Yet without God almighty you simply have no moral basis in which to make any moral judgements. PERIOD!

    Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
    The Moral Argument – drcraigvideos – video

    Since you are rightly offended that the ‘primitives’ could commit such morally reprehensible acts, might I suggest that you are far more Christian in your morality than you are apparently predisposed to believe?

    As the following ancient historian commented, “In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.”

    Tom Holland: Why I was wrong about Christianity – 2016
    It took me a long time to realise my morals are not Greek or Roman, but thoroughly, and proudly, Christian.
    Excerpt: The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.
    “Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and ­oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.
    “We preach Christ crucified,” St Paul declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” He was right. Nothing could have run more counter to the most profoundly held assumptions of Paul’s contemporaries – Jews, or Greeks, or Romans. The notion that a god might have suffered torture and death on a cross was so shocking as to appear repulsive. Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the Crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. In the ancient world, it was the role of gods who laid claim to ruling the universe to uphold its order by inflicting punishment – not to suffer it themselves.
    Today, even as belief in God fades across the West, the countries that were once collectively known as Christendom continue to bear the stamp of the two-millennia-old revolution that Christianity represents. It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value. In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.

  4. 4
    EDTA says:

    >”atheists engaging with rituals that celebrate humanity.”

    Um, what is there to celebrate?

  5. 5
    Belfast says:

    @Mahuna. What an odd coincidence – you were just reading Levy-Bruhl. Well, fancy.
    He just happens to be a Positivist philosopher and armchair anthropologist, who ‘knew’ how ‘natives’ think. He and his mates wanted to get rid of ancient morality as he called it, together with all the baggage that morality brings, and substitute the branch or version of materialism called empiricism, derivable from Darwin’s ideas of evolution.
    I rather think that he is on your reading list of Great Writers who Trash Religion.

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