Thursday, 2 September 2010

Does brain dysfunction cause spiritual experiences?

Barbara Hagerty investigates the conjecture that spiritual experiences originate from within the brain. She interviews someone who claims to induce spiritual experiences thru magnetic fields.
The helmet is supposed to stimulate my right temporal lobe with weak magnetic fields, and create the illusion of God in my head. Well, not God exactly, but a sensed presence, a feeling that another being is in the room.
There are several problems with religion-is-a-by-product-of-brain-disorders perspective. Not the least that Christianity is based on historical fact. The philosophical arguments for God and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus are proof of the veracity of Christianity. But here I wish to address an error in the brain causation theory.

Interference with the brain may cause thoughts and hallucinations, through magnetic fields or direct electrical stimulation during brain surgery. This fact has absolutely no bearing on the reality of what we think and sense. This should be patently obvious and is alluded to in the article.
Does the fact that we can track spiritual feelings in our temporal lobe mean that there's nothing spiritual going on? ...Think about a man and woman who are in love,
True enough. But forget love as an analogy. Love is abstract. Choose something more concrete. (I am not saying love is not real, but its abstract quality allows people to argue that the feeling of love is real even if love itself does not exist).

Consider a tree blooming, or a dog barking, or a water slide. If we can manipulate parts of the brain so a man visually hallucinates a blossom, or hears a dog, or feels the sensation of wetness and speed; does this mean that flowers and rottweilers and theme parks do not in fact exist? Eyes, and ears, and pressure sensors in the skin produce a combination of  impulses which are transmitted along nerves and modified until they reach the cortex of the brain where we become conscious of them. So, we can bypass the sensing event but stimulate the cortex to mimic random events. How is this remotely relevant to the existence of things we otherwise perceive?

Counterfeit neither disproves the original exists, nor explains the source of the original. It shows we know how to make a copy.

6 comments:

  1. There is a certain neurologist I would like to show this to. I remember distinctly him claiming that the visions of Paul were evidence of temporal lobe epilepsy and therefore this was all he needed to argue that Christianity was an erroneous belief. His error was that his logic implied, to me at least, that all Christians therefore may have temporal lobe epilepsy (particularly those who had vivid spiritual experiences). Something I don't think even he believed. But by claiming this as the cause for Paul'e experiences he was then confident to dismiss all Christian belief!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bethyada:

    OT, Are you and your family, home, etc, unharmed from the earthquake(s)?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Starwind. Some way away from me so no damage.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had the same thought as Starwind was soon as I heard about the earthquake, glad to here you are ok.

    ReplyDelete
  5. hear = here

    Really should preview my comments.

    ReplyDelete

Labels

abortion (8) absurdity (1) abuse (1) accountability (2) accusation (1) adultery (1) advice (1) afterlife (6) aid (3) alcohol (1) alphabet (1) analogy (5) analysis (1) anatomy (1) angels (1) animals (10) apologetics (41) apostasy (4) archaeology (22) architecture (1) Ark (1) Assyriology (11) astronomy (5) atheism (14) audio (1) authority (4) authorship (10) aviation (1) Babel (1) beauty (1) behaviour (4) bias (6) Bible (38) biography (4) biology (5) bitterness (1) blasphemy (2) blogging (12) blood (2) books (2) brain (1) browser (1) bureaucracy (3) business (5) calendar (5) cannibalism (2) capitalism (3) carnivory (2) cartography (1) censorship (1) census (2) character (2) charities (1) children (14) Christmas (4) Christology (8) chronology (46) church (4) civility (2) clarity (5) Classics (2) climate change (39) coercion (1) community (2) conscience (1) contentment (1) context (2) conversion (3) copyright (5) covenant (1) coveting (1) creation (1) creationism (36) criminals (8) critique (2) crucifixion (12) Crusades (1) culture (4) currency (1) death (5) debate (2) deception (2) definition (15) deluge (9) demons (3) depravity (6) design (9) determinism (24) discernment (4) disciple (1) discipline (2) discrepancies (2) divinity (1) divorce (1) doctrine (4) duty (3) Easter (7) ecology (3) economics (28) education (10) efficiency (2) Egyptology (9) elect (2) emotion (2) enemy (1) energy (6) environment (4) epistles (2) eschatology (6) ethics (36) ethnicity (5) Eucharist (1) eulogy (1) evangelism (2) evil (8) evolution (13) examination (1) exegesis (21) Exodus (1) faith (22) faithfulness (1) fame (1) family (4) fatherhood (2) feminism (1) food (3) foreknowledge (4) forgiveness (4) formatting (2) fraud (1) freewill (29) fruitfulness (1) gematria (4) gender (5) genealogy (10) genetics (5) geography (3) geology (2) globalism (2) glory (6) goodness (3) gospel (3) government (18) grace (9) gratitude (2) Greek (4) happiness (2) healing (1) health (7) heaven (1) Hebrew (4) hell (2) hermeneutics (4) history (21) hoax (5) holiday (5) holiness (4) Holy Spirit (3) honour (1) housing (1) humour (34) hypocrisy (1) ice-age (2) idolatry (4) ignorance (1) image (1) inbox (2) inerrancy (16) information (10) infrastructure (2) insight (2) inspiration (1) integrity (1) intelligence (3) interests (1) internet (3) interpretation (74) interview (1) Islam (4) judgment (19) justice (23) karma (1) kingdom of God (12) knowledge (15) language (3) lapsology (6) law (17) leadership (2) libertarianism (12) life (2) linguistics (13) literacy (2) literature (17) logic (27) love (3) lyrics (9) manuscripts (11) marriage (17) martyrdom (2) mathematics (10) matter (4) measurement (1) media (2) medicine (10) memes (1) mercy (3) Messiah (5) miracles (4) mission (1) monotheism (2) moon (1) murder (5) nativity (7) natural disaster (1) naval (1) numeracy (1) oceanography (1) offence (1) orthodoxy (3) orthopraxy (4) paganism (2) palaeontology (4) paleography (1) parable (1) parenting (2) Passover (1) patience (1) peer review (1) peeves (1) perfectionism (2) persecution (2) perseverance (1) pharaohs (5) philanthropy (1) philosophy (32) photography (2) physics (18) physiology (1) plants (3) poetry (2) poison (1) policing (1) politics (30) poverty (9) prayer (2) pride (2) priest (3) priesthood (2) prison (2) privacy (1) productivity (2) progress (1) property (1) prophecy (6) proverb (1) providence (1) quiz (8) quotes (420) rebellion (1) redemption (1) reformation (1) religion (2) repentance (1) requests (1) research (1) resentment (1) resurrection (4) revelation (1) review (4) revival (1) revolution (1) rewards (2) rhetoric (2) sacrifice (4) salt (1) salvation (26) science (43) sermon (1) sexuality (16) sin (15) sincerity (1) slander (1) slavery (5) socialism (4) sodomy (1) software (4) solar (1) song (2) sovereignty (15) space (1) sport (1) standards (6) statistics (13) stewardship (5) sublime (1) submission (5) subsistence (1) suffering (5) sun (1) survey (1) symbolism (1) tax (3) technology (12) temple (1) testimony (5) theft (2) trade (3) traffic (1) tragedy (1) translation (15) transport (1) Trinity (2) truth (25) typing (1) typography (1) vegetarianism (2) vice (1) video (10) warfare (7) water (2) wealth (9) weird (6) willpower (4) wisdom (4) work (10) worldview (3)