Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientists Deliver 'God' Via A Helmet

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-forget-the-devil-in-the-details dept.

Communications 1020

prostoalex writes "Scientific American is reporting on scientific work done to map the euphoric religious feelings within the brain. As a result, it's now quite possible to experience 'proximity to God' via a special helmet: 'In a series of studies conducted over the past several decades, Persinger and his team have trained their device on the temporal lobes of hundreds of people. In doing so, the researchers induced in most of them the experience of a sensed presence — a feeling that someone (or a spirit) is in the room when no one, in fact, is — or of a profound state of cosmic bliss that reveals a universal truth. During the three-minute bursts of stimulation, the affected subjects translated this perception of the divine into their own cultural and religious language — terming it God, Buddha, a benevolent presence or the wonder of the universe.""

cancel ×

1020 comments

This is the closest to God you can ever get (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20893881)

First post.

Acid (5, Informative)

56 (527333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893887)

The effect described sounds like the euphoric feeling you sometimes get while on acid. Minus the hallucinations.

Surely this includes the hallucinations (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893903)

Sensing something that is not there.... surely that classifes as hallucination

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (1)

56 (527333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893933)

I meant visual hallucinations, like patterns appearing to move. However, you make a valid point.

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (2, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893947)

like seeing visions of God, Moses, Virgin Mary etc? I think I'd rather go for the acid.

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (0, Offtopic)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894105)

Since Jesus apparently had other siblings, why do people still refer to his mother as virgin?

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (2, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894183)

like I said... I think I'll just stick with the acid!

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (1)

Lobster Quadrille (965591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894199)

Because she was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus.

After that she and Joe got it on.

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (5, Funny)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894245)

Since Jesus apparently had other siblings, why do people still refer to his mother as virgin?
Since Joe Jackson wore shoes, why do people still refer to him as Shoeless Joe Jackson? /sarcasm

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (-1, Troll)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894393)

Since Jesus was apparently not an historical figure why do people keep thinking about such silly questions?

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (4, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894291)

I think I'd rather go for the acid.

Hey, Christianity is the belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie, who was his own father, can make you live forever if you eat his flesh. [pizdaus.com]

What's not to like?

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894103)

Only if you literally see or hear something, otherwise it isn't a hallucination.

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (3, Insightful)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894221)

In other News: Scientists conclude God doesn't exist after scientists give acid to patients who then have a religious experience.

Re:Surely this includes the hallucinations (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894259)

nah, I'm just high on GerinOil.

Re:Acid (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20893917)

The effect described sounds like the euphoric feeling you sometimes get while on acid. Minus the hallucinations.

Some might call this the definition of religion: an addiction to a unique hormonal brew that can be induced by conditioning certain parts of your brain to think a certain way.

Re:Acid (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20893987)

Coming soon to a government near you. Big Brother loves you.

Re:Acid (4, Interesting)

klenwell (960296) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894049)

In his book, Phantoms in the Brain, neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran mentions this device in his discussion of psychological disorders. IIRC, he compares the sensation to those symptoms that are exhibited by individuals with a messiah complex.

He describes it as excessive emotional "kindling" (often associated with epilepsy -- the tact I believe Scorsese adopted in the Last Temptation of Christ) that leads one to invest spiritual significance in events and experiences most people would experience as ordinary or mundane.

Now place your God Helmet on your head and reread this post -- you'll see what I mean.

Re:Acid (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894065)

Actually it reminds me of an empathy box -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_Androids_Dream_of_Electric_Sheep%3F#Mercerism [wikipedia.org]

The really odd thing about Philip K Dick in general and this book in particular is that this seemed to be the most implausible idea - a machine which creates religious experiences, and someone seems to have made one.

neurotheology; God in mushrooms (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894207)

Neuroscientists find God in mushrooms [nzherald.co.nz] :

...

For the Johns Hopkins study, 30 middle-aged volunteers who had religious or spiritual interests attended two eight-hour drug sessions, two months apart, receiving psilocybin in one session and a non-hallucinogenic stimulant - Ritalin - in the other. They were not told which drug was which.

One-third described the experience with psilocybin as the most spiritually significant of their lifetime and two-thirds rated it among their five most meaningful experiences.

In more than 60 per cent of cases the experience qualified as a "full mystical experience" based on established psychological scales, the researchers say. Some likened it to the importance of the birth of their first child or the death of a parent.

The effects lasted for at least two months. Eight out of 10 of the volunteers reported moderately or greatly increased wellbeing or life satisfaction. Relatives, friends and colleagues confirmed the changes.

The study is one of the first in the new discipline of "neurotheology" -the neurology of religious experience. The researchers, who report their findings in the online journal Psychopharmacology, say that, though unorthodox, their aim is to explore the possible benefits of drugs like psilocybin.

Google has more on neurotheology [google.com]

Obligatory (3, Funny)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893891)

I, for one, welcome our new brain-controlling divine overlords.

Angry religious leaders @ 9.

Re:Obligatory (4, Insightful)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894057)

After a few millenia, the term "new" hardly applies.

Newbligatory (3, Funny)

Twisted64 (837490) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894335)

I am somewhat concerned that they may be in charge of Gundam.
And if not, why not?

Re:Newbligatory (1)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894389)

What is Gundam? Besides an anime show... unless it's related?

Interrogation Tool? (2, Interesting)

Xenoflargactian (883930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893921)

Imagine using this as part of an interrogation of a religious extremist terrorist. The interrogators could have God on their side.

oops (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894141)

The interrogators could have God on their side.

They already believe that they do. That's the whole problem.

Re:oops (2, Interesting)

Xenoflargactian (883930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894317)

Indeed your point is correct, but I believe that you missed mine. Because of a device like this, the interrogatees may agree with their interrogators.

...maybe (0, Flamebait)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893923)

Maybe the "born agains" will shut up now we can re-create these experiences.

serious answer. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894037)

I'm one of those born again guys, also in IT and yet skeptical.

I have the ability to sense spirits, demons, other believers and other various spiritual circumstances. I've also been able to fabricate because I want certain things to be true. Spirituality isn't a science (nor can it be).

I believe we are seeing the effects of suggestion. It's the same as being in a group when the group aggrees to a wrong answer. Soon the wrong seems right.

I often use the analogy, flawed that it is, of our current science and understanding to be above the surface of a wading pool. Some of us choose to/can sense, what's going on underwater. Some of us don't care because what we see is good enough. I don't believe science can go beneath the surface simply because the tools are physical and limited to this physical realm. The spiritual realm has different rules.

FYI, the born-agains won't ever shutup. We, they, can't. The same way non-theists, to a degree, don't shutup about not beilieving in god(s).

Re:serious answer. (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894075)

Mayhaps you can go to this spiritual realm and search for some common sense?

Re:serious answer. (2, Insightful)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894089)

funny, i dont feel the need to talk about my non-belief until someone tries to 'educate' me on their belief system. its not exactly a catch-22 when large, well-funded groups have dedicated their resources in an attempt to un-secularize my country.

Re:serious answer. (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894261)

I for one think spirituality is not beyond the realms of psycology or neuroscience. I have long held the idea that its always been a product of the imagination. The human brain is very good at that.

The theists seem to always be the ones (in my own experiences) been the ones that do the insisting and the forcing and the "hell threats" and I for one dont sit down and take that, of course I will retaliate. Then they go on bitching about how I have no respect for their religion. Which is true but not something I should be ashamed of

They honestly expect me to say "I resepct your belifs" when they say "I belive you deserve to burn forever"? Please thats as big as a double standard as you get, and they dont even deny it being a double standard. And people wonder why retaliate.

This "god box" just helpes me maintain my position for the next time some theist tries to threaten me with a never ending BBQ

Re:...maybe (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894125)

Of course not. Judging by past occurrences of when a rational explanation has explained away something previously seen as divine, there will likely be an extended period of denial and attacks, even personal, on the people investigating this. This will be followed by a schism in the religions, where the mainstream will accept it but say it's irrelevant as [religious manuscript] is symbolic and not to be taken literal, and, anyhow, it doesn't disprove anything. The fundies, on the other hand, will continue to struggle in denial for centuries until eaten by the crocodiles.

What's dangerous is if someone manages to come up with a cure for this, or other religious afflictions. Or, even worse, a vaccine or other preventative measures. Then I predict all hell will break lose.

Regards,
--
*Art

Can of worms... (1)

Lobster Quadrille (965591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894275)

The fact that religious experiences can be induced is not news and will do nothing but piss people off. The intelligent religious people will rightly say that it proves nothing- perhaps this is the API God uses to create those experiences. The nutty religious people will simultaneusly condemn this research and deny that it exists. The "Science trumps god" group will see this as yet another nail in God's coffin.

The funny thing about it is that everybody but the nutjobs can be right.

I'm an atheist, but if you can show me conclusive proof that God, an omnipotent being, does not exist, I'll buy you a drink.

Re:Can of worms... (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894383)

Here... stick this fish [wikipedia.org] in your ear. That should help you out.

Re:...maybe (1)

WCLPeter (202497) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894365)

This is probably off topic, but you might be interested in the "Neanderthal Trilogy" by Robert J. Sawyer http://www.sfwriter.com/exho.htm [sfwriter.com]

In it, he describes a parallel universe where the Neanderthal, not Humans, got the leg up on evolution with the humans dieing off. When a group of Neanderthal scientists accidentally create a dimensional bridge to a reality where Humans flourished, they are puzzled by our beliefs in "god" and the supernatural.

After some investigating they figure out our beliefs are caused by, what they term, the "god gene". Humans have it, Neanderthals don't. It causes all kinds of neat and interesting situations that I don't really want to spoil so I won't go into. Book series is good though, so I would definitely recommend checking it out.

There's even broach the subject of "curing" religion.

I could see it being abused.. (2, Interesting)

jessiej (1019654) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894139)

What if a unit was developed that didn't have to be worn and could affect large groups of people... I think we'd see a mysterious increase in church attendance

Re:...maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894297)

Except, of course, that being able to recreate the experiences doesn't mean the experiences that happen are not genuine. It could be, for instance, that scientists have merely discovered the mechanisms used by God to create these experiences. (Just as evolution could be the method used by God to develop life.) Or, it could be that God is always present, and scientists have merely identified a method to detect his presence.

Pointless speculation? You bet. But that's the point. You can't falsify God. So I wouldn't expect believers to 'shut up now'.

Proof! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20893925)

This is proof that Science is a Tool of the Devil!

Oh, Jebus, curse these rotten, immoral Satanic Scientists to the ever-lasting hell they deserve!

Re:Proof! (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893999)

The sole existence of both scientists and religious fanatics is to spent their time telling you the other one is the devil.

Re:Proof! (3, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894193)

Except of course for the tiny contribution that is of all of human technology and knowledge that scientists have contributed. A small matter I know, but I felt the need to add it.

Re:Proof! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894243)

Science is "Satan" spelled backwards.

Or so they tell me.

"Penfield Mood Organ" (2, Interesting)

J_Omega (709711) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893931)

Ok, so it isn't the quite the same... but it sounds similar to the "Penfield Mood Organ" from "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

If it doesn't harm the brain, sign me up for one. As a born-again atheist (raised in a religious household,) I'd like to have some of those euphoric "divine" feelings that I've never experienced - even if I know its just electrically induced.

(And yes, I've tried recreational chemistry.)

Slashdot.. not just for tech.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20893935)

Geeze... slashdot has degraded and debased itself constantly with Zonk at the wheel... Religion - when you constantly bash it, you show (1) How afraid of it you are and (2) Give it more validation than discredit because of item (1). Get off you anti-religion kick and stick to new that matters....

Re:Slashdot.. not just for tech.. (0, Offtopic)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894025)

Geeze... religious asshats have degraded and debased itself constantly with apologists at the wheel... Athiesm and skepticism - when you constantly bash it, you show (1) How afraid of it you are and (2) Give it more validation than discredit because of item (1). Get off you anti-free-thinking kick and stick to new that matters....

Re:Slashdot.. not just for tech.. (5, Insightful)

EinZweiDrei (955497) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894091)

It sounds as though you're more afraid of this work than its authors are 'afraid of [religion]'. Slashdot has been known for biased summaries in the past, but this one is [miraculously!] almost straight synopsis, as is the article. Neither makes any moral or philosophical assertations. [In fact, the article asserts that the technology could be used to make non-theists happier!]

How is this not news that matters? Isn't this a little more important than articles about the latest nuance in the Linux Task Scheduler? Might it not help us understand that whole religion bit that's been, you know, an integral part of the human experience for all of observable history?

Perhaps a little introspection as to what about this article so upsets you would yield some overall personal benefit.

:Cheers.:

Re:Slashdot.. not just for tech.. (2, Funny)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894129)

Is it bad that I read that and went "Holy crap! New nuance in the Linux task scheduler?" Then i went back to the main page to check, and found you were only joke.

Not funny.

I call BS (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893939)

That was just CowboyNeal thinking out loud.

Already been done... (1)

yamamushi (903955) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893943)

I hate to be the one to say it, but this has already been done in the past.. [thedailyleaf.com] http://thedailyleaf.com/brain_god.txt [thedailyleaf.com] Though I assume this one is done non-invasively..

Maybe it's a God *Magnet*... (3, Interesting)

mad.frog (525085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893945)

...maybe the fields actually force "God" to show up in the room while it's switched on.

(Hey, no less crazy than any other hypothesis out there)

Re:Maybe it's a God *Magnet*... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893989)

Hard to imagine being able to force the Supreme Being to do anything He doesn't want to do ... but it might attract God to a more compliant receptacle.

Hey, no less crazy than your original hypothesis.

Re:Maybe it's a God *Magnet*... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894217)

Yes lets divert the attention from the effect that they KNOW EXACTLY WHAT"S GOING ON!

Both your hypothesis are not needed.

If you can create a device that always attracks God their, then that is the same thing as forcing him there;but as I said, this is a know and repeatable scientific experiment.

Re:Maybe it's a God *Magnet*... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894205)

And yet He still won't answer questions.

Re:Maybe it's a God *Magnet*... (1)

SmokeyTheBalrog (996551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894287)

Why does that sound like a twisted prologue of a more interesting Pokemon show.

"In the early 21st century man discovered how to summon lesser gods, 10 years later they learned how to chain them inside tiny obnoxiously colored spheroids, 5 months later the first successful beer was fetched."

Old News (1, Redundant)

NobleSavage (582615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893949)

This is old news - didn't Newsweek have this guy on the front cover like 8 years ago? I think Wired did a write up as well back in the day.

Re:Old News (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894211)

I would guess its even older than that, based on the summary:

"In a series of studies conducted over the past several decades..."

Three words: (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893951)

I grok helmet.

Star Wars? (2, Interesting)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893953)

It's like the force. I mean, make it seem like something is there that isn't. But unfortunately this is profoundly less useful as it stands, or it can be used to induce a different religion in folks.

Pope's Helmet (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893957)

Hmm, now we know what is inside the Pope's Egyptian style helmet. So those Pharaos really did have advanced technology...

On the wire. (2, Interesting)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20893977)

Sounds like a hop skip and a jump from Niven's wireheads [wikipedia.org] .

Spaghedeity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894003)

" -- terming it God, Buddha, a benevolent presence or the wonder of the universe..."
...or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Magic helmet (5, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894015)

Bugs Bunny: [singing] Oh, mighty warrior of great fighting stock! Might I inquire to ask-Eh, [eats a carrot] what's up, Doc?
Elmer Fudd: [singing] I am going to kill the Wabbit!
Bugs Bunny: [singing] Oh, mighty hunter, twil be quite a task. How will you do it? Might I inquire to ask?
Elmer Fudd: [singing] I will do it with my spear and magic helmet!
Bugs Bunny: [singing] Your spear and magic helmet?
Elmer Fudd: [singing] Spear and magic helmet!
Bugs Bunny: [singing] Magic helmet?
Elmer Fudd: [singing] Magic helmet!
Bugs Bunny: Magic helmet.

Re:Magic helmet (1)

AlexPlooy (261454) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894281)

Yes!

Magic Helmet!!

And I'll give you a sample!!!

Right Amydaloidal Masturbation (1)

Blancmange (195140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894023)

It's because of Persinger's work that I regard fervent religious behaviour as "Right Amydaloidal Masturbation" (RAMming for short).

In a similar way that Ren & Stimpy's Happy Helmet directly stimulates the pleasure centres of the brain or Ford Prefect's bit of wire pulls a robot's Happy pin high, RAMming directly stimulates a person's sense of God or 'truth' or whatever.

Re:Right Amydaloidal Masturbation (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894055)

But can you teach my grandmother to suck eggs?

A BSc in Egg-Sucking (1)

Blancmange (195140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894143)

No, my name is not Stinky Wizzleteats.

I guess they came to the wrong conclusion... (5, Funny)

Keyper7 (1160079) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894041)

...after seeing the volunteer scream "Oh, GOD! Oh, GOD!" while being stimulated.

I think they discovered a G-something, but not exactly God.

Re:I guess they came to the wrong conclusion... (1)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894097)

"I think they discovered a G-something, but not exactly God.

being a Slashdotter, I imagine the only "g-something" you know of is a big red x-marks-the-spot on Google maps.

Re:I guess they came to the wrong conclusion... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894099)

"Maybe we could turn this into something.. like a ray-gun" - overheard at a military facility

Re:I guess they came to the wrong conclusion... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894111)

Well, it was right up there between 'Don't stop' and 'Oh, my God'... A religious experience all-right.

Interesting but metaphysically inconclusive (5, Insightful)

eegad (588763) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894109)

Just because you can replicate the sensory experience of something by "poking" at the brain doesn't mean that a real outside stimulus is false. For instance, I think you could probably make the brain experience the sensory perception of color by "poking" at the visual cortex. That doesn't change the fact that there are real world stimuli that evoke this experience as well. In short, showing that the brain is capable of experiencing something because of a different, artificial stimulus does not predict or rule out the primary "natural" source of that experience. Although it does present an interesting question for evolutionary theory - why does this perception ability exist?

Re:Interesting but metaphysically inconclusive (4, Interesting)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894155)

Although it does present an interesting question for evolutionary theory - why does this perception ability exist?
Because it is clearly advantageous for the highly intelligent beings to have faith and believe in God (whether it exists or not). For example, people will be less likely killing each other on the fear of revenge by the God. Evolution creates God.

Re:Interesting but metaphysically inconclusive (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894185)

Awful defensive.

It's not a perception, it's an effect based on chemical reactions in the brain. It's not some new sense....in fact, anerizims cause the feeling associated with a 'religious experience'

It is far more likely that these effects have been a associated with god, or lead to a belief of 'god'/s among humans many, many thousands of year ago, then their actually being a God.

OTOH, people with archaic, mean and pointless beliefs like you will twist this far beyond what anyone is saying.

Re:Interesting but metaphysically inconclusive (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894219)

In other news... scientists demonstrate they can induce a sensation of movement by stimulating part of the brain's temporal lobe. Skeptics use this as evidence that all motion is illusion. :-)

Re:Interesting but metaphysically inconclusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894189)

It also shows that an outside stimulus is unnecessary -- not as if that should surprise anyone.

Re:Interesting but metaphysically inconclusive (3, Insightful)

analog_line (465182) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894239)

How does creating a helmet that can induce feelings of "religious experience", which is by definition an outside influence, prove in any way that an outside influence is unnecessary.

Re:Interesting but metaphysically inconclusive (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894201)

Very good point. I wish your post was at the top of the page.

Not inconclusive at all. (2, Insightful)

Blancmange (195140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894359)

The results of the experiments are consistent with the mind-numbingly banality of the reports of God, Satan, Heaven, Hell and astral travelling trips.

There's a good reason people can spend an hour describing what they did on a day out at the beach, whereas people who claim to have experienced Heaven can't bear to describe it for more than a few minutes. Heaven's all 'wonderful,' you see, but nothing in the recount of Heaven is anything to write home about. Quite a lot of recounts of Heaven are pretty tasteless, rather Hellish, even.

In contrast, one who is recalling a day out at the beach will have no trouble identifying what it was about the experience that made them happy.

Therefore it's far more plausible that in a Heaven NDE, the 'Wonderful' button was being directly stimulated so that nothing in the experience need be interesting at all.

It's a wirehead thing.

Just think how much you could sell these for... (1)

Door in Cart (940474) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894147)

...to advertisers. If they can just modify the god helmet to accommodate subjects at a distance of several feet away, then prospective customers will be overwhelmed with feelings of profound euphoria while being introduced to the latest revisions in product design. I'll bet it's significantly more affective than sexually suggestive imagery. And I can't wait!

Re:Just think how much you could sell these for... (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894229)

Sorry, Apple already owns the patent.

Philosophically Uninteresting (4, Insightful)

SourGrapes (1003959) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894149)

First of all, this is an old experiment, I remember reading about it a long time ago. But while it's interesting from a neuroscience point of view to discover the location of these experiences within the brain, it doesn't give us any philosophical insight into the existence or non-existence of God. On the one hand, it could be that the religious experiences that people have had throughout history were caused by random events stimulating this bit of the brain. But from the theistic perspective, it seems obvious that if God exists He would build the brain with some capacity to detect His presence under certain circumstances -- just as we can't say that the fact the experience of seeing colour is caused by certain brain regions being stimulated means that colour doesn't exist except in our heads, we can't say that this experiment proves that God is just in our heads either. So: philosophically uninteresting.

Re:Philosophically Uninteresting (4, Insightful)

pohl (872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894227)

But from the theistic perspective, it seems obvious that if God exists He would build the brain with some capacity to detect His presence under certain circumstances

Interesting spin, but you're stretching it. And I think this is interesting, because every time science learns something about the universe or the mind like this the rhetorical effort required to work God back into the model gets more tortured. And that trend, I would say, constitutes a hint as to where to look for philosophical insight, were one inclined to glean some.

Re:Philosophically Uninteresting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20894255)

Color's not a very good example... Color pretty much *is* made up in our heads. There's no 'redness' in an object itself. The object just reflects a wavelength that our eyes recieve and convert into electrical signals etc and interpret it as color.

Re:Philosophically Uninteresting (1)

Desipis (775282) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894271)

Except that in order to stimulate the brain to create an experience, one must understand how that portion of the brain works and how the external stimuli triggers the feeling. We could stimulate the sensing of a colour because we understand how light works. Similarly they can stimulate this euphoric sensation because they understand the process of how that brain section works. And a god isn't part of that understanding.

Besides, an all powerful being would be able to directly manipulate our brains and not need a special sensory system.

No this doesn't prove that there is no god, however it does provide a scientific explanation for those people who claim to 'feel' god or Jesus or whatever.

Re:Philosophically Uninteresting (0, Troll)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894319)

however it does provide a scientific explanation for those people who claim to 'feel' god or Jesus or whatever.
What was wrong with the old explanation of being a nut case?

Norman Spinrad (1)

NetCow (117556) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894163)

This sounds very similar to the God device described by Norman Spinrad in his political fantasy "Other Americas".

This is going to be an unpopular opinion (5, Interesting)

treyTTU (931851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894175)

but perhaps, and I am just saying perhaps, this is a communication region in the brain, and stimulating it analogous to stimulating the nerve of the ear, or stimulating the region of the brain interpreting signals from the eye. It would seem if you wanted a religious explanation, this could be the "communication center" for an other state of being than the one we're currently in. Like I said, this will be an unpopular opinion.

No Euphoria Here... (2, Funny)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894179)

We're Catholics here. For us, God is more like the feeling of working for a really, really great supervisor rather than the euphoric high with the helmet thing. For that, I need about 48 oz of cold beer.

This Is Your Brain On God (2, Interesting)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894191)

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and call whatever you hit the target.

They're pretty much saying:

"The God Consciousness is X, and these guys here have found it!"

Well, how do you know?

"Well, because we found it! They, like, 'feel' it. God is X! Kewl, eh? Ipso Facto, we are teh shit!"

The word "feeling" or similar appears about 15 times in that article. Not exactly 'scientific'.

Wake me when someone with a clue has something to say about spirituality, mmmkay?

Re:This Is Your Brain On God (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894247)

Sure it is.

If I am testing to see if you have feeling in your hand, I poke it and see if you feel anything.
Since they are describing a 'feeling' then 'feel' is expected to be used.

How do you describe the love for your significant other without feel?
Sayin 'feel' is not a red flag in this scenario.

Re:This Is Your Brain On God (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894285)

How do you describe the love for your significant other without feel?

Not with science, that's for sure. Poetry maybe.

There is no divine (3, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894215)

This seems like more proof of what I personally believe, that there is nothing mysterious or supernatural in our universe. Everything in human history about religion and spirituality is just our minds and imaginations running around playing tricks. Religion is a Ouija board; and we're all moving our own hands and pretending there's something great and magical out there that's doing it. Our minds are so primitive and easily tricked that we can even induce this feeling artificially. People have been doing it for a long time, long before this device. LSD users report the same kind of experiences as well as hallucinations. I'm not trying to say that having these experiences is a bad thing, but take it for what it's worth. It's an interesting or novel change in your perception, but it's transient, and only "real" insofar that it really happened to you, outside of your own mind everything is chugging along normally and the world is no different, no more mysterious or wondrous than it was before.

There's plenty of wonder in the world to be experienced without using a Ouija board.

Proves nothing (3, Interesting)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894249)

This proves nothing. If I can make a drug that causes you to think that a dog is in the room when there isn't one, it does not prove the non-existence of dogs.

Re:Proves nothing (1)

TheCoelacanth (1069408) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894315)

But if the only evidence for the existence of dogs is the feeling you get while you're on drugs, it kind of casts doubt on it.

I'd like to see this work from a distance (3, Funny)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894265)

Imagine if you could get a machine that could give a whole room full of people the feeling of god at the press of a button. Has amazing potential for abuse. What if it fit in your pocket and worked within a proximity - then everyone around you would feel your presence! hmmm, I wonder if my wife would then show me respect? Probably not :-(

I wonder how it would apply to sales, getting a job, meeting the oppsite sex, a president negotiating with another one. Certainly would add value to face time.

Re:I'd like to see this work from a distance (1)

p0ss (998301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894381)

Beats the hell out of a heat ray! mmmm god ray.. I'd go to a lot more protests if i could get shot by one of those :P

What this proves (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894313)

Well, I know a lot of people will say this proves that God doesn't exist. However, if the scientists were able to successfully create the sensation and sight of eating a jelly donut, without the actual donut being present, would you then conclude that donuts don't exist?

Or, more generally, the successful creation of an effect neither proves nor disproves the existance of other possible causes for the effect.

God will get over it (1)

mr_beanz (677482) | more than 6 years ago | (#20894357)

It's all happened before [biblegateway.com] , even in the days before Slashdot.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...