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Brain Surgery Linked To Sensation of Spirituality

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the applied-psychology dept.

Medicine 380

the3stars writes "'Removing part of the brain can induce inner peace, according to researchers from Italy. Their study provides the strongest evidence to date that spiritual thinking arises in, or is limited by, specific brain areas. This raises a number of interesting issues about spirituality, among them whether or not people can be born with a strong propensity towards spirituality and also whether it can be acquired through head trauma." One critic's quoted response: "It's important to recognize that the whole study is based on changes in one self-report measure, which is a coarse measure that includes some strange items."

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380 comments

Frist (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105266)

Frist ... where was I? ... my brain has disapno carrier

This is my favourite (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105802)

people can be born with a strong propensity towards spirituality and also whether it can be acquired through head trauma

I need spirituality like I need a hole in my head!

Weeellll... that's one way to get it I guess.

Re:This is my favourite (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106046)

Yep, sounds awesome. Someone needs to manufacture a drug that mixes this effect with that of MDMA [wikipedia.org] and we'll have ourselves a winner!

Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105280)

Yeah, you can make someone a lot happier with a lobotomy too. And stupid people who don't *use* their brains are often amused by the human equivalent of shiny keys (aka "reality television"). And people who drug themselves into a brainless stupor are are often in a complete euphoria (even a rat-infested, filthy trailer becomes paradise with just a little dab of meth).

But the rest of us, stuck with all of our fully-functional brains, are forced to sometimes contemplate serious matters that aren't so happy. Sure, we sometimes get depressed. But humanity probably wouldn't make much scientific, intellectual, or cultural progress if everyone was walking around every day drugged-up and lobotomized, with stupid goddamn grins on their faces.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105366)

It's not quite so simple. Remember that Newton was highly religious. It would be hard to describe him as not having a fully functional brain.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (5, Insightful)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105480)

Why would that be hard to do? Geniuses often have brain abnormalities leading to schitzophrenia, paranoia, depression, or autism. Why would religion be any different?

Also, it would be a mistake to confuse tendancies with hard-fast rules. That a part of the brain affects congnative decisions doesn't remove the role of cognition.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (-1, Troll)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105652)

It's not quite so simple. Remember that Newton was highly religious. It would be hard to describe him as not having a fully functional brain.

Though one may argue a person who reads a study and infers their own biased opinion of others may not have a fully functional brain.

I've seen it on Digg and Reddit. There is a crowd hatred towards those who are spiritual in those places. I profess nothing more than what Jesus did: Love everyone even if they hate you. And I get lots of people raging that I'm the cause of all the world's problems. It is like they fail to read that all I profess for others is love.

I do understand scientists who see some Christians as a threat that argue against evolution, but I don't argue against evolution or an old Earth myself. I say God created the universe and life, but life is evolving, no doubt about that. There is even likely theistic evolution, but since we generally don't see God's hand at work, there is no use worrying about it.

Finally I'd like to conclude that spirituality is not a "feeling". I don't wake up one day and say I feel more spiritual than another day. Spirituality is your relationship with God. Do you dismiss God and go about your way, or do you realize he is there and strive to live differently as a result? God is good and truth, so we should also be good and never lie. There's a lot of times it is tempting to lie, but if we're trying to please God, we're to never lie. So I'm really suspicious of a test that says one person is "feeling" more spiritual than another person since that isn't even how it works.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (5, Funny)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105776)

So I'm really suspicious of a test that says one person is "feeling" more spiritual than another person since that isn't even how it works.

Wow, a religious person having a hard time believing something that can be scientifically proven that contradicts their own personal views that cannot be scientifically proven. There's a first.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105984)

Actually, nothing in the study proves anything that could be construed as invalidating spirituality, that's just your biased interpretation. Personally, I think it's quite plausible that willfulness is the primary source of rejection of spirituality, and that therefore altering the brain could indeed reduce a person's resistance to spirituality. Of course, that doesn't mean we should do it. :)
It's always interesting to see how many "scientifically-minded" people have the same exact "true believer" mentality as some fundamentalists. Personally, I prefer a more balanced approach that relies more on thinking, feeling, and observing and less on blind faith.

--
Posting AC to avoid the hordes of "true believers" in science who would inevitably mod me down for not sharing their fanatical views. :)

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (2, Interesting)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106290)

Yeah, you probably also prefer the more balanced approach of Fox News.

But you're right, in part, in that this does not invalidate spirituality. But it does explain spirituality. It's an attempt to accurately define what spirituality is. And it appears that it's chemicals in your head. It does not invalidate it any more then lightning is invalidated by knowing that it's a transfer of electrons.

Not that any of the grandparents implied that spirituality isn't real. Just your personal view of spirituality as some sort of mystic out-of-body experience.

But you know, I'm with you, fuck blind faith. In any form.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (-1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106038)

Wow, a religious person having a hard time believing something that can be scientifically proven that contradicts their own personal views that cannot be scientifically proven.

I have no problems believing these people experienced "warm fuzzy feelings" more than people with more brain matter. I do have problems when you start defining "warm fuzzy feelings" as spirituality because spirituality is not a feeling.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106270)

I do have problems when you start defining "warm fuzzy feelings" as spirituality because spirituality is not a feeling.

Lol. YOU just defined it as a feeling yourself - "you realize he is there and strive to live differently as a result?"
You can disclaim that as a feeling all you want, but "realizing" something that is intangible is pretty much by definition nothing more than a feeling.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31106300)

You do realize that 'inner peace' in TFS is what was reported, not spirituality?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_peace

Catholics do not seek inner peace as much as say, the Dalai Lama.

This has nothing literally nothing to do with Catholics.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105912)

Apple will be releasing their new iGod soon, so you can finally be religious, gay and fashionable!

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (5, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105948)

or do you realize [God] is there and strive to live differently as a result?

Sometimes living differently isn't better, especially for those around you.

Put another way: don't make me strive to live differently; you wouldn't like me when I live differently.

I profess nothing more than what Jesus did: Love everyone even if they hate you.

Have you tried professing it without name-dropping Jesus?

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105976)

Religion is not exactly about individual spirituality; it's an organisation of many people (if I have to state the obvious...)

The sensible thing to do is not judging religions on the basis of what they (or their vocal speakers specifically) claim to represent, but by their actions - and if some pitiful affairs are a consistant element of given religion, then that is also what this religion represents deep down.

So one might say you, even when doing righteous things, are captured by colaterall damage of dishonorable things behind which your religions does stand. More, by identifying yourself with that particular organisation, you explicitly give those things support.

Also, why do you feel the need to hijack "spirituality" to fit only your purposes? Is that really a righteous thing to do?

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (3, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106050)

Again. No universal definition of "spiritual" exists. An australian abo, a Buddhist, or a Muslim Sufi all see it differently.

I, and probably most of the people on Digg or Reddit, don't hate religious people OR Christians. I suspect that they DO hate it when small groups of "spiritual people" of sect X decide to legislate political matters based on unprovable, mythologically based views of the world. This affects everyone directly and has provably cause great harm to gays, jews, puritans and anabaptists.

Whether the universe was created by an omniscient superbeing(s) or not, does it matter? None of them have shown up this morning offering to help me with anything, any more than I would show up at an anthill 100 miles north and offer to help ant number 3432. Besides, if they DO exist, all bets are off. They can effect your memory and make you believe anything they want.

Spirituality can well be a "feeling." There's no commonly accepted criterion. Many of my spiritual moments have include "feelings."

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (5, Insightful)

mellon85 (1723140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105754)

at the time of newton if you were a declared atheist, you would have gone into serious serious problems, falling apples and math would have been your last concern

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (3, Interesting)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106206)

That's very true however FWIW I read somewhere that Newton had claimed he'd gained many of his initial insights about physics and mathematics while in process of re-translating the bible to English. Only having read a couple recent popular English translations myself, it seems a bit strange as a source for that type of inspiration but I'd also read that he was not the only huge figure in science that claimed this.

I think maybe it is possible that there are times in human history when in certain societies being extremely religious may have actually been an enlightening pursuit... perhaps one of the only few available. Keep in mind there wasn't a lot of funding of public libraries or schools or even literature going on outside the walls of the church back then.

Not quite precise... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105764)

He painted himself into a corner logically when he thought about religion. It wasn't that he was blissfully spiritual. He came to the conclusion that it was better to bet there being a God than there being no God. His reasoning was, if there is no God and he follows the bible, then there is no loss. However, if there is a God and he doesn't follow the bible, then he is doomed to eternity in Hell.

Re:Not quite precise... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31106154)

This assumes that the Bible is the word of God. We have only men's word that it is, and what lowlifes they are. If only God would swing by every couple thousand years to refresh our memories but, of course, that will never happen, will it.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105766)

Well that dualism comes with playing around with mercury and working on the heretical art of alchemy.
(You probably could have chosen a better example of "highly religious" scientists)

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105818)

Newton certainly didn't have your average brain. Abnormalities which, in connection to his enviroment, made him the father of classical mechanics...could as well contribute to his religious state.

Also, remember that in his times being highly non-religions still wasn't exactly the safest thing to do...

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106016)

Remember that Newton was highly religious.

He took holy orders because it was a requirement for his job, but he also dabbled in atheism.

And despite being brilliant, he was in many ways flawed.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (2, Insightful)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106034)

You must consider the times in which he lived. Other people have mentioned that not being Christian was rather dangerous, but I think it's even simpler than that.

Newton was on the search for truth. He was also quite interested in the occult. He didn't know where the truth lay, so he searched everywhere until he found it.

Of course, now we can stand on his shoulders and see further than he did but no-one should forget that he was the one laying the foundations for what we take for granted today.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

PigIronBob (885337) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106130)

Christiaan Huygens, a contemporary of Newton and a formidable scientist in his own right had a different view:

"The World is my Fatherland, Science is my Religion"

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105624)

Yeah, you can make someone a lot happier with a lobotomy too.

Not me. I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

VValdo (10446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106022)

Not me. I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Just different ways to kill the pain the same.

W

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105712)

Its all about control of the subject. Society fears people that can't be controlled. Laws work for most of us, but it doesn't for some. Think about it you don't know if the person might spontaneously kill someone. Unlikely almost all of the time. You have no idea how they will react to situations so they are labeled dangerous. They used to dose people with insulin causing convulsions to make them more sedative. That can't be health no matter how you look at it. Most of the treatments are for society's benefit not the subjects.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105850)

Well, a lobotomy reduces the patient's capacity for introspection and self-consciousness. So what you write is true of lobotomies.

That said, it's premature to characterize these results as "blissful ignorance". In fact the researchers pinpoint two areas: the right angular gyrus and left inferior parietal lobe. It's intriguing that both of these areas are related to arithmetic abilities, but that's all the result is -- intriguing. We don't know whether it's the same thing going on in both cases, or whether either case is related it any way to what we think of as "spirituality".

You can look at the things these areas of the brain are supposed to do and make all kinds of interesting conjectures, but it could be something as simple as some of these patients not being able to understand the sense of the questions being put the them, or others not being able to monitor the kinds of emotional sensations they're being asked to report on. One area is believed to be used in the understanding of metaphors, the other in terms of bodily awareness.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

RevoltingX (1421669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105860)

Yet, it is precisely this that these new Psychiatric and Psychological drugs and treatments are trying to eliminate.
However, by labeling it a science it seems the public has been fooled into accepting it.

Re:Yeah, it's called blissful ignorance (1)

5865 (104259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105968)

What difference does scientific, intellectual and cultural progress make if everyone is happy? Isn't happiness the ultimate goal?

I blame our fully functional brains for all the problems in the world.

The church (2, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105290)

Earlier today the Vatican issued a statement recommending this procedure for all individuals who are having independent thought. Claiming this will bring them closer to god.

Re:The church (3, Funny)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105348)

More news from the Vatican, "spreading the word of Christ" now involves a sledge hammer...

Re:The church (5, Insightful)

Vendetta (85883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105434)

Hasn't it always?

Re:The church (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106160)

Yeah, but there was always the question of whether it inspired true spirituality rather than simply aping it just to avoid the hammer.

Now we know there's no worries on that account, so let the hammering continue!

Re:The church (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105404)

But... but... I thought every cell was a full human being!!!

Re:The church (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105786)

How on earth is this modded insightful.

The Vatican, the church that has actually admitted that they were wrong and has openly endorsed scientific teaching and study.

Ho ho ho, those backwards sillies!

Re:The church (4, Informative)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106240)

Some people around here seem to think the Pope is in charge of all of the Christian world. A post like that getting modded insightful shows the audiences ignorance in this regard. The truth of the matter is that the most fervent bible bashing, science hating, ultra-conservatives come from the ranks of American new age evangelicals.

The Catholic Church does not preach creationism. I went to Catholic schools and there was no blurring of the line between religion and science education.

I too am worried when people start giving scientific reasoning and religious dogma equal weight. I hate when people think they can solve their problems just by saying a prayer. Worst of all is when people look to trivial tricks and oddities and claim they are miracles as though the universe around them isn't miraculous enough as it is. I am not however too worried about the Catholic Church trying to take down science and reasoning as it doesn't have a recent history of doing so and even if it did most Catholics would resist that because they haven't been brought up that way.

Re:The church (1)

RevoltingX (1421669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105966)

Earlier today, the national psychiatric association labeled any non-conforming thought as an illness and has made their medication mandatory.
They claim to know how you're supposed to feel.

Flamebait (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105298)

So, this is proof that religious people aren't using their whole brain then?

To be less inflammatory, this doesn't really change anything. For a religious person, they would accept that God created the brain in such a way that makes the spiritual experience possible. Why would there not be a physical substrate for that experience?

Re:Flamebait (2, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105468)

FTFA: "But spirituality does not seem to involve exactly the same regions of the brain as religion."

I'm guessing it's more of a "lighted, windowed room at night" effect. Sit in a lighted room at night, and you can't see out the windows, because the information you're receiving is much more effective. Turn out the lights, and you can begin to see what's outside of your windows (perhaps a whole city). Perhaps our kinetics and structure (the part of the brain they were cutting up) keep us more grounded in immediacy? Perhaps that keeps us more worried and less "transcendant"? It sounds like they're just scratching at the surface, so it'll be interesting if they study this further.

Re:Flamebait (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106120)

If somebody would look up similar effect in animals - that would get fun.

Sometimes I do have the impression that my cat has a form of what we call spiritual life; certainly some occasional behaviours are difficult to explain only by higher specced hearing apparatus.

Re:Flamebait (1)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105502)

It begs the question anyway: which brain is right?

Does the theist have an underactive brain portion, or does the atheist have an overactive one? It's subjective.

Re:Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105576)

"It's important to recognize that the whole study is based on changes in one self-report measure, which is a coarse measure that includes some strange items,"

I would say interesting idea. But take it with a large grain of salt. Like most studies of this kind it could totally change with a different study. Their sample size was 88. Then the questions could be leading, etc, etc, etc...

I wouldnt jump to any conclusions with that study. It is just mearly interesting.

Re:Flamebait (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105634)

It's possible for theists to become atheists and vice-versa. Born-again Christians, after all, are among the most rabid religious fanboys.

It's not a predisposition to religion so much as it is predisposition to zeal.

Re:Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105646)

I have a Jesus freak neighbor. He gets shit on all the time and as far as he's concerned, he's being tested by God.

He's a happy guy. Shit happens; it just a test from God. Move along and deal with it. I try to take that lesson - the move along part.

If I were able to believe, I would. Unfortunately, I can't believe in God anymore than I can believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Plus it would help with the prejudice that religious people have against atheists.

Re:Flamebait (3, Insightful)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105868)

Plus it would help with the prejudice that religious people have against atheists.

Take a look at the comments for this article, keeping in mind that the article points out that its definition of "Spirituality" is neurologically different from "Religious" and let me know what the atheist club looks like.

Re:Flamebait (0, Flamebait)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106192)

It's subjective.

No, it is not. Not any more than any other forms of mental disease.

Obvious (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106344)

There is no "right" or "wrong"...there's just survival. Fact is, a certain level of spirituality was beneficial for most of organisms with complex neural system - oversensitive alertness helps survive. False positives in noticing things end up better than false negatives.

There was always a sweet spot of course - too much "internal stimuli" and the organism also was less succesfull in passing its traits. On human level you have complications with fullblown religions and societal dynamics, but it's still essentially about being convinced there might be something which is not there.

Not that usefull in many places now, sure. But still succesfull when it comes to passing it on.

Re:Flamebait (4, Insightful)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105996)

So, this is proof that religious people aren't using their whole brain then?

You keep using that word.

I do not think it means what you think it means.

Kooky (2, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106200)

>>So, this is proof that religious people aren't using their whole brain then?

Err, no.

If there's a part of our brain devoted to religion/spirituality (and since it's such a large part of human experience, I wouldn't be surprised by it), then it means that *atheists* are not using their whole brain.

In fact, over time, the neural map for this region in strict atheists ought to atrophy, making them incapable of being spiritual. Which may or more may not be a good thing, depending on your perspective. But I'd bet that in most atheists this region would start getting used for religious-ish things that aren't precisely religions, like belief in ghosts or aliens (more atheists believe in alien abductions and ghosts than Christians), or Gaia ("The earthquake in Haiti was Mother Nature's way of punishing us for global warming!" --Danny Glover) or any one of a number of other ideas that are much less likely to be true than Christianity.

"Originally," my atheist friend told me, "there were four elements, earth wind water fire, that since then became self-conscious and then divided into all the elements of the periodic table." Ok, I said, what was water made of before we had hydrogen and oxygen? He couldn't answer that.

As much as atheists like to make fun of Christians believing in kooky notions like the beginning of the universe and universal human rights, it's nice to see that Cog Sci can explain why atheists believe in even kookier stuff.

An Ig Nobel Prize candidate? (2, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105324)

Removing a part of brain makes you sensitive to things that AFAWK aren't there... Hemispherectomy, anyone with guru ambitions?

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105390)

so take away that area of brain and you take away spirituality !!!

Or, in other words, now feelings can be mapped to certain brain areas ? I knew different physical operations could be but feelings and emotions!!

Re:Anonymous Coward (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105662)

diefaggot

Ragu Soul (4, Funny)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105406)

The soul is to the body as "Italian-ness" is to Ragu Spaghetti Sauce: "It's In There!"

Did you mean Prego? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105460)

I'm having trouble understanding your analogy, given that "It's in there" is the strapline for Prego, not Ragu. Is Ragu supposed to have or to lack "Italian-ness"?

Yes, Prego (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105582)

Yes, I meant Prego. I mean, I meant Ragu, but I remembered it was wrong -- it was Prego.

Re:Yes, Prego (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105656)

So when my wife gets pregu, is the soul in there too?

I'm sorry, perhaps I'm confused. Could I have a car analogy?

Car Analogy (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105816)

The soul is to the body as "Excitement" is to a car built by whatever car manufacturer asserts that "We Build Excitement!"

Re:Did you mean Prego? (1)

mellon85 (1723140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105704)

mmm usually "Prego" is used as response when someones says "Grazie", as you would say "Thank you", "You're welcome" so it doesn't make any sens either... Anyway, just ignore research done about religion coming from us (Italy), please...

Does that explain Catholocism? (-1, Troll)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105520)

> Removing part of the brain can induce inner peace

Does that explain Catholocism?

Religion = beeing out of the mind (0, Redundant)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105550)

So is this the chanse we atheists have been waiting for to get to say religious people are literally out of their minds ?

Re:Religion = beeing out of the mind (2, Funny)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105584)

FTFA: "spirituality does not seem to involve exactly the same regions of the brain as religion."

No, but it gives religious people the chance to say that atheists love to jump to conclusions ;)

Re:Religion = beeing out of the mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105972)

That's what she said.

Re:Religion = beeing out of the mind (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106274)

Religious people tend to have more "social karma" and seem to get the last word in a group situation. Atheists tend to think they are more intelligent. However, atheists actually are more intelligent. Actually, as well, the majority is not always correct.

What conflict? (5, Insightful)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105590)

You are a thing. A Marvelous machine. If you are poked and prodded we can illicit love, hunger, fear...why NOT spirituality? It does not make the phenomena any less real, you've just figured out how to manipulate the machine to do it on command.

Re:What conflict? (4, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106070)

Agreed.
Simply because we've found the switch to turn it on doesn't lessen it's meaning. It puts a damper on the whole mind-body-soul trifecta, but that's been a wash for a while now. People are a sub-set of animals, your mind exists as a configuration of your brain, and those warm fuzzies you get from spiritual enlightenment will one day be regulated with a drug. The original purpose and meaning of spiritual enlightenment remains, just without the mysticism. Kind of like sex after it was discovered that it makes babies.

Of course, I'm a little worried about the day that religious nuts can literally over dose on god.

Not a new idea (4, Informative)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105598)

Neuroscientist VC Ramachandran (sp?) a bunch of years ago was dealing with patients that had temporal lobe epilepsy. The temporal lobe is in control of 'meaning', it is the part of your brain that recognizes objects for their significance. He found that after an episode the patients had overwhelming feeling of spirituality. The idea is that they were seeing meaning and importance in everything down to individual blades of grass. One of his patients refused any support since he believed he was a prophet and that it was his link to god. (I since have read that many prophets historically have been epileptics such as Ezekiel and Mohamed).

You can find the guy in NOVA (secrets of the mind). He also gave a talk or two on www.TED.com .

Re:Not a new idea (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31106128)

And then there's the God Helmet [wikipedia.org]...

My hypothesis (1)

frog_strat (852055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105622)

is that a lot of cognitive activity creates noise that frustrates the 'transcendent' receiver. I can say from experience that successful meditation practice (where the mind gets really quiet) produces a vastly different experience of the moment to moment passage of time, than my normal consciousness. Perhaps increased intelligence means increased neuroticism, up to the point where you cognitively learn to turn down the cognition. Hence the athletes, coaches, woodworkers and musicians that strangely bring up Zen while discussing their work.

Try LSD (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105632)

It does the same thing.

Should we change that old saw to "Happiness is... (1)

notjustchalk (1743368) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105676)

...a state of mindlessness?"
...a stateless mind?"
...a mindless state?"

On a different note, when did "inner peace" = "spirituality"?

Evolution (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105690)

I've always held the opinion that religion is a result of evolution, religious groups with the same beliefs tend to do their best to oppress smaller groups & groups with other beliefs, individuals will even kill themselves for those religions if they think that it'll further their 'god's cause'.

Well, if that were to be true, it'd be quite ironic that the very reason why creationists oppose the acceptance of evolution would be evolution itself.

Enough of the faith bashing (-1, Troll)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105728)

While I do not look for opportunities to attack people who do not believe in God, I have had enough of this shit. Just because people believe in God(sorry, but he does exist and only a fool would attempt to "prove" otherwise), it does not mean they have an "altered mental status". This sounds like someone's attempt to demean a group of people. What if I decided to go out and prove that homosexuality was from brain trauma? I will guarantee that people would ask for my head on a plate.

Since a majority of humans believe a creator, or some entity/force outside of humanity(essentially, the spirituality this study links to), then I would tend to believe that the minority is missing something.

Re:Enough of the faith bashing (1, Informative)

notjustchalk (1743368) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105872)

...Just because people believe in God(sorry, but he does not exist and only a fool would attempt to "prove" otherwise)

There, fixed that for you. Seriously though, shouldn't the burden of proof be on those that seek to change others and not the ones to be changed?

Since a majority of humans believe a creator, or some entity/force outside of humanity(essentially, the spirituality this study links to), then I would tend to believe that the minority is missing something.

Belief != truth. If it was, we would still be flat-earthers (just one example).

I will agree with one thing though, belief or non-belief does not give anyone the moral high-ground from which to denigrate others.

Re:Enough of the faith bashing (1, Insightful)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106126)

I can see you're frustrated, I also agree that this thread is a bit more bold than usual, but do you realize you just sunk to their level?

+1 Mod-bomb (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106212)

Prepare to be modded up--perhaps you can be the next Slashdot approver. Anything pro-religion gets modded way up on Slashdot.

Re:Enough of the faith bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31106226)

While I do not look for opportunities to attack people who do not believe in God,

(sorry, but he does exist and only a fool would attempt to "prove" otherwise),

Hypocrite

TED Talk Covers Similar Case with Stroke (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105740)

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

In other news, Rocket Surgery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105770)

Linked to Sensation of AWESOMENESS!

please define spirituality (1)

RockyPersaud (937868) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105778)

Spirituality is one of those non-words that doesn't actually mean anything because you cannot define it without a circular reference to itself.

Backward... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105782)

Removing part of the brain can induce inner peace, according to researchers from Italy.

That sounds a lot more interesting when you say it like this:

Spirituality can induce inner peace without drugs or surgery.

Re:Backward... (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106042)

It causes me to wonder if the "transcendental meditation" that Ralph Waldo Emerson was always raving about was functionally disabling this portion of the brain through meditation -- which would raise a greater question like: how/why that's possible.

If there was a definition of spirituality .... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31105822)

One that everyone could agree on, I might take this study seriously.

But the quote in the article "It's important to recognize that the whole study is based on changes in one self-report measure" is quite telling. We see a change in a trait, commonly associated in some religions traditions as "spiritual." Interesting, certainly. Meaningful? Probably not.

Less brains equal religion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31105920)

Sounds like reality. Ever wonder about religious kooks?

Just another emotion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31106100)

Interesting. I know that in Buddhism, spiritual highs are often considered to be just another illusion -- another thing to become attached to.

I Knew It! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31106146)

Less brains = more spirituality? I knew religious people were inferior! And the stronger they believe (read fundies) the less intelligent they appear!

(The troll is out from under the bridge)

Tinfoil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31106166)

I'm just going to make sure my tinfoil hat is on nice and snug.

"Spiritual" (2, Interesting)

mqduck (232646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31106314)

They use the term "spirituality" like its a defined psychological term. They just chose some arbitrary ideas and declared them to be a measurement of spirituality. Perhaps the worst is "belief in a higher power". If "spiritual" is a basic mental state, then whether or not one agrees with the proposition that X exists is hardly a measure of that state. It would make more sense, but still be utterly bogus, to take belief in angels and an invisible man in the sky as a measure of psychosis.

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