Search results for: the-illusion-of-gods-presence-the-biological-origins-of-spiritual-longing

The Illusion of God s Presence

Author : John C. Wathey
File Size : 46.68 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
Download : 313
Read : 559
Download »
An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion. Starting with a vivid narrative account of the life-threatening hike that triggered his own mystical experience, biologist John Wathey takes the reader on a scientific journey to find the sources of religious feeling and the illusion of God's presence. Hisbook delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond. Dr. Wathey, a veteran neuroscientist, argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy. These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like the popular belief in a god who is judgmental and punishing, yet also unconditionally loving; the extraordinary tenacity of faith; the greater religiosity of women relative to men; religious obsessions with sex; the mysterious compulsion to pray; the seemingly irrepressible feminine attributes of God, even in traditionally patriarchal religions; and the strange allure of cults. Finally, Dr. Wathey considers the hypothesis that religion evolved to foster reproductive success, arguing that, in an age of potentially ruinous overpopulation, magical thinking has become a luxury we can no longer afford, one that distracts us from urgent threats to our planet. Deeply researched yet elegantly written in a jargon-free and accessible style, this book presents a compelling interpretation of the evolutionary origins of spirituality and religion.

The Phantom God

Author : John C. Wathey
File Size : 69.38 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
Download : 481
Read : 412
Download »
Does neuroscience have anything to say about religious belief or the existence of God? Some have tried to answer this question, but, in doing so, most have strayed from the scientific method. In The Phantom God, computational biologist and neuroscientist John C. Wathey, Ph.D., tackles this problem head-on, exploring religious feelings not as the direct perception by the brain of some supernatural realm, nor as the pathological misfiring of neurons, but as a natural consequence of how our brains are wired. Unlike other neurobiological studies of religion and spirituality, The Phantom God treats mysticism not as something uniquely human and possibly supernatural in origin, but as a completely natural phenomenon that has behavioral and evolutionary roots that can be traced far back into our vertebrate ancestry. Grounded in evolutionary and behavioral biology, this highly original and compelling book takes the reader on a journey through the neural circuitry of crying, innate knowledge, reinforcement learning, emotional bonding, embodiment, interpersonal perception, and the ineffable feeling of certainty that characterizes faith. Wathey argues that the feeling of God’s presence is spawned by innate neural circuitry, similar to the mechanism that compels an infant to cry out for its mother. In an adult, this circuitry can be activated under conditions that mimic the extreme desperation and helplessness of infancy, generating the compelling illusion of the presence of a loving, powerful, and all-knowing savior. When seen from this perspective, the illusion also appears remarkably like one that has long been familiar to neurologists: the phantom limb of the amputee, spawned by the expectation of the patient’s brain that the missing limb should still be there. Including a primer on the basic concepts and terminology of neuroscience, The Phantom God details the neural mechanisms behind the illusions and emotions of spiritual experience.

Practicing Safe Sects

Author : F. LeRon Shults
File Size : 75.25 MB
Format : PDF, Kindle
Download : 600
Read : 1001
Download »
In Practicing Safe Sects F. LeRon Shults provides scientific and philosophical resources for having “the talk” about religious reproduction: where do gods come from – and what are the costs of bearing them in our culturally pluralistic, ecologically fragile environment?

The Bible Homer and the Search for Meaning in Ancient Myths

Author : John Heath
File Size : 49.56 MB
Format : PDF, Mobi
Download : 404
Read : 803
Download »
The Bible, Homer, and the Search for Meaning in Ancient Myths explores and compares the most influential sets of divine myths in Western culture: the Homeric pantheon and Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. Heath argues that not only does the God of the Old Testament bear a striking resemblance to the Olympians, but also that the Homeric system rejected by the Judeo-Christian tradition offers a better model for the human condition. The universe depicted by Homer and populated by his gods is one that creates a unique and powerful responsibility – almost directly counter to that evoked by the Bible—for humans to discover ethical norms, accept death as a necessary human limit, develop compassion to mitigate a tragic existence, appreciate frankly both the glory and dangers of sex, and embrace and respond courageously to an indifferent universe that was clearly not designed for human dominion. Heath builds on recent work in biblical and classical studies to examine the contemporary value of mythical deities. Judeo-Christian theologians over the millennia have tried to explain away Yahweh’s Olympian nature while dismissing the Homeric deities for the same reason Greek philosophers abandoned them: they don’t live up to preconceptions of what a deity should be. In particular, the Homeric gods are disappointingly plural, anthropomorphic, and amoral (at best). But Heath argues that Homer’s polytheistic apparatus challenges us to live meaningfully without any help from the divine. In other words, to live well in Homer’s tragic world – an insight gleaned by Achilles, the hero of the Iliad – one must live as if there were no gods at all. The Bible, Homer, and the Search for Meaning in Ancient Myths should change the conversation academics in classics, biblical studies, theology and philosophy have – especially between disciplines – about the gods of early Greek epic, while reframing on a more popular level the discussion of the role of ancient myth in shaping a thoughtful life.

The Phantom God

Author : John C. Wathey
File Size : 40.24 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
Download : 933
Read : 1107
Download »
Does neuroscience have anything to say about religious belief or the existence of God? Some have tried to answer this question, but, in doing so, most have strayed from the scientific method. In The Phantom God, computational biologist and neuroscientist John C. Wathey, Ph.D., tackles this problem head-on, exploring religious feelings not as the direct perception by the brain of some supernatural realm, nor as the pathological misfiring of neurons, but as a natural consequence of how our brains are wired. Unlike other neurobiological studies of religion and spirituality, The Phantom God treats mysticism not as something uniquely human and possibly supernatural in origin, but as a completely natural phenomenon that has behavioral and evolutionary roots that can be traced far back into our vertebrate ancestry. Grounded in evolutionary and behavioral biology, this highly original and compelling book takes the reader on a journey through the neural circuitry of crying, innate knowledge, reinforcement learning, emotional bonding, embodiment, interpersonal perception, and the ineffable feeling of certainty that characterizes faith. Wathey argues that the feeling of God's presence is spawned by innate neural circuitry, similar to the mechanism that compels an infant to cry out for its mother. In an adult, this circuitry can be activated under conditions that mimic the extreme desperation and helplessness of infancy, generating the compelling illusion of the presence of a loving, powerful, and all-knowing savior. When seen from this perspective, the illusion also appears remarkably like one that has long been familiar to neurologists: the phantom limb of the amputee, spawned by the expectation of the patient's brain that the missing limb should still be there. Including a primer on the basic concepts and terminology of neuroscience, The Phantom God details the neural mechanisms behind the illusions and emotions of spiritual experience.

Look Around

Author : George R. Sinclair
File Size : 89.16 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
Download : 886
Read : 216
Download »
What do you see when you look around? Where does it lead, and to what end? Is there some purpose to it all? And if so, where do you fit in? And how might we fit in together? Maybe you have a faith but desire greater understanding. Maybe you had a faith and are disillusioned. Or maybe you want a faith but are skeptical. This book invites another look. It begins a conversation. Who is God? What is faith? What does God want from us? Why suffering? Why worship? Why work? Through these and other everyday questions, this book suggests possible answers. Answers don’t arrest thought. Answers provoke thought and action—life. This book invites readers to look around so that they might discover a faith for the twenty-first century, a faith in conversation with science, a faith fit for deep personal questions, a faith ready to engage complex public issues. Like Moses on Mount Pisgah wondering about a land he could see but never enter, when looking around we may be awakened to hope.

From Something to Nothing

Author : Harry Fox
File Size : 54.63 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
Download : 817
Read : 252
Download »
Jewish mysticism approaches God as no-thing or nothing, reflecting Judaism’s traditional identification of God as incorporeal. Whereas technical philosophical language often employed to discuss Jewish mysticism has a tendency to ward off otherwise interested readers, this study sufficiently breaks down the technical language of Jewish mysticism in its various expressions to allow a beginner to benefit from what may otherwise be indescribable and only approached by consideration of what is not rather than what is. Integral to the title, From Something to Nothing, is the concept that God cannot be something, because that would be restricting, so God is simply no-thing. Ironically, the conventional religious expression for the biblical notion of creation is “something from nothing”, whereas the title of this volume is its precise opposite, which may at first seem to be illogical – creation in reverse. However, in a volume dedicated to various deliberations on magic and mysticism, the ultimate reality may receive expression as nothingness, that is, no-thingness, no quality associated with things. What adds to our difficulty today is that nothingness is inextricably linked with silence. Is silence also an element or indication of an ultimate reality or its absence? Or is it merely the reflection of nothing whatsoever? This is at the heart of modern debates between atheists and believers. Believers feel that even this silence speaks to this ultimate reality, whereas atheists claim that if you cannot show it, then you do not know it. In other words, believers are victims of their own wishful thinking. From Something to Nothing memorializes Canadian mystic and scholar Zalman Schachter Shalomi, z”l, engaging in particular aspects that he addressed at some phase of his colourful and erudite life, providing the reader with a broad spectrum of both phenomenological and intellectual topics.

Der Wille zum Sinn

Author : Viktor E. Frankl
File Size : 77.51 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
Download : 811
Read : 1286
Download »

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Author :
File Size : 50.89 MB
Format : PDF, Kindle
Download : 365
Read : 622
Download »
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is the premier public resource on scientific and technological developments that impact global security. Founded by Manhattan Project Scientists, the Bulletin's iconic "Doomsday Clock" stimulates solutions for a safer world.

The Origin of Humanness in the Biology of Love

Author : Humberto R. Maturana
File Size : 35.14 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
Download : 204
Read : 154
Download »
The central concern of this book is us human beings. The authors? basic question is: ?How is it that we can live in mutual care, have ethical concerns, and at the same time deny all that through the rational justification of aggression?? The authors answer this basic question indirectly by providing a look into the fundaments of our biological constitution, concentrating on what they term the emotioning, the preferences of living that guide the flow of the systemic conservation through systemic reproduction of the manner of living conserved. Humberto Maturana is renowned for developing the theory of autopoesis. He was founder-director of the Laboratory for Experimental Epistemology and the Biology of Cognition at the University of Chile in Santiago.