The Mystery Of God & The Brain

As science has steadily undermined the long-held beliefs of religion, almost all that remains for people of faith is to say that God is and will forever be a mystery. Insofar as Einstein was religious, he possessed a feeling of awe and wonder at the mystery of the universe. But science hasn’t stopped chipping away at mystery, promising to reduce spiritual experience to measurable brain activity. It’s doubtful that belief in God, the soul, heaven and hell, and other tenets of faith will be drastically affected – polls continue to show that these things remain articles of belief for around 80-90% of responders.

Will neuroscience eventually be able to locate God in our neurons, and if so, should that tiny area of the brain be excised or boosted? No doubt there are arguments on both sides, depending on whether you hold that God has been good for the human race in the long run or bad. Setting aside such judgments, it turns out that the possibility of finding God in the brain creates a baffling mystery that neither religion nor science can tackle alone.

Now that advanced brain scanning can map the way our brains light up with each thought, word, or action, it’s clear that no experience escapes the brain. For a mystic to see God or feel his presence, for St. Paul to be suddenly converted on the road to Damascus, or for St. Teresa of Avila to have her heart pierced by an angelic arrow, such experiences would have to register in their brains. However, this indisputable fact (so far as present knowledge extends) doesn’t give science the advantage over religion. For it turns out that the brain has definite limitations on what it can experience.

The work of the late Polish-American mathematician Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950) is relevant here, because Korzybski worked out the layered processing that goes into the way we perceive everyday reality. Billions of bits of data bombard our sense organs, of which only a fraction enter the nervous system. Of that fraction, more of the raw input is filtered out by the brain, which uses built-in models of reality to discard what doesn’t fit. When people say “You’re not hearing me” or “You only see what you want to see,” they are expressing a truth that Korzybski tried to quantify mathematically.

Sometimes the things a person doesn’t see are simply outside the range of human experience, like our inability to see ultraviolet light. But a great deal more depends on expectations, memories, biases, fears, and simple close-mindedness. If you go to a party, and someone tells you that you are about to meet a Nobel Prize winner, you will see a different person than if you are told he is a reformed Mafia hit man. When all the filtering and processing is complete, there is no doubt that the brain doesn’t actually experience reality but only a confirmation of its model of reality.

Two interesting points follow:

  1. All models are equal as viewed from the level of the brain.
  2. Reality transcends any model we can possibly make of it.

These two points allow God, the soul, and all other spiritual experiences back into the picture. The first point demolishes the notion that science is superior to religion because it gathers facts while religion deals in beliefs. In truth, science filters out and discards a huge portion of human experience – almost everything one would classify as subjective – so its model is just as selective, if not more so, than religion’s. As far as the brain is concerned, neural filtering is taking place in all models, whether they are scientific, spiritual, artistic, or psychotic. The brain is a processor of inputs, not a mirror to realty.

 

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http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/12/26/the-mystery-of-god-the-brain/

Religion and Extraterrestrial Life

There are two very popular topics that strike a sensitive cord in thoughts and emotions of human beings. These two topics bring up more questions than answers at times. These popular topics seem to be about extraterrestrial life and religion, if they are real and how they relate to one another. Put them together and you really have one hell of a debate.
Extraterrestrial life, as opposed to what we believe as a race, takes on a whole new dimension. If there is life on other planets, then what does that mean for those who believe in God, gods or even atheists? How is extraterrestrial life and spirituality connected? Well, it’s simple, really.
What we really want to know is, “How would discovering life on other planets affect religion?” If we believe in God, who created earth and started with two people, Adam and Eve, then what do we think about beings on other planets? Since Adam and Eve sinned and their lives changed forever, does this mean that beings on other planets have similar fates? It’s interesting to fathom that we could be connected by the same covenant explained by Christianity.
If you use logic, then you begin to think that other beings, on other planets did not have to abide by God’s law. These other beings may even be free from sin, since they did not commit the famous crime of passion, brought upon by eating a strange fruit. From the Books David Weintraub, author of “Religions and Extraterrestrial Life” and astronomer at Vanderbuilt University, examines the reaction of several different faiths to the idea of life on other planets. The polls show various readings, and some may surprise you.

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9 Things You Realize After You Die

Annie Kagan – OmTimes | Three weeks after he died, my brother Billy woke me at sunrise and began describing what was happening to him in the afterlife. At first I thought that grief was causing me to imagine his voice. But as my brother began sharing cosmic secrets with me, secrets I couldn’t ignore, I became his student.

Billy taught me that when you’re born, that big pop gives you a kind of amnesia. One of the main things we’re doing on planet earth is trying to remember the things we forgot. But after you die, you realize a bunch of things you didn’t know when you were alive, like:

1. Life on earth isn’t a punishment for your past transgressions.  You aren’t acting out some type of I-did-something-wrong-to-you-in-another-life-and-I’m-paying-for-it-now kind of thing. It doesn’t really work like that. That concept of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth karmic equalizing of the score isn’t the real deal.

2. You chose your life circumstances before you were born for soul-type reasons that are almost impossible to understand while you’re on earth. If you understood these reasons, life would lose some of its punch, and that losing of punch is a little bit of what enlightenment is all about.

3. Everything changes. When you die, you realize how much. You also realize there are immortal things, things you take with you, and they change too. The Eastern concept of Maya, or illusion, what does that really mean? It means temporary.

4. Life is great, even the hard parts. And we all do things that we call mistakes. But so-called mistakes are ok. They’re just part of the earth deal.

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Peyote – The God Cactus

Ever since the arrival of the first Europeans in the New World, Peyote has provoked controversy, suppression, and persecution. Condemned by the Spanish conquerors for its “satanic trickery”, and attacked more recently by local governments and religious groups, the plant has nevertheless continued to play a major sacramental role among the Indians of Mexico, while its use has spread to the North American tribes in the last hundred years. The persistence and growth of the Peyote cult constitute a fascinating chapter in the history of the New World – and a challenge to the anthropologists and psychologists, botanists and pharmacologists who continue to study the plant and its constituents in connection with human affairs.


We might logically call this Mexican cactus the prototype of the New World hallucinogens. It was one of the first to be discovered by Europeans and was unquestionably the most spectacular vision-inducing plant encountered by the Spanish conquerors. They found Peyote firmly established in native religions, and their efforts to stamp out this practice drove it into hiding in the hills, where its sacramental use has persisted to the present time.

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Peyote is employed as a religious sacrament among more than forty American Indian tribes in many parts of the United States and western Canada. Because of its wide use, Peyote early attracted the attention of scientists and legislators and engendered heated and, unfortunately, often irresponsible opposition to its free use in American Indian ceremonies.

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Peyote eaten in ceremony has assumed the role of a sacrament in part because of its biological activity: the sense of well-being that it induces and the psychological effects (the chief of which is the kaleidoscopic play of richly colored visions) often experienced by those who indulge in its use. Peyote is considered sacred by native Americans, a divine “messenger” enabling the individual to communicate with God without the medium of a priest. It is an earthly representative of God to many peyotists.

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