One for the Neuroscientists

Hi Everyone!

Been a while since i last posted here. Im continuing to pray and walk with Jesus and The Father every day. It isn’t always easy but I take joy in persisting.

I came across this article earlier. What can the neuroscientists among here make of it? It would be great to hear thoughts as this an area I have not given much thought to

Be blessed everyone!

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I guess I have yet to see anything that seemed significant to me as arguments about why someone inherently decides to be in toxic relationships. I think we understand epigenetic may play a role, and possibly even inheriting it.

To me though I see a wide range of people who end up in toxic relationships or relationships that makes nonsense. Men stay with women who cheat on them constantly and women stay with men who beat them constantly both in hopes that love will prevail or that they can’t do any better. When you rely on something, like a job, and you think it’s the best you can do, and you find out they do unethical things, you may choose to be silent to continue to be able to pay your bills. We even see it with things like dogs. I’ve seen dogs that went from a happy family and ended up staying with someone in the family after a divorce. Usually men. Who then get drunk and begin to beat their dogs. The dog will still constantly come to the owner despite that. Is it free will or is it just bred enslavement?

I also see people who thinks its utterly disgusting to beat their dog, and I agree it is, but then they completely look past the fact that the burgers they eat come from farms where the cows are treated badly, and all cows raised for slaughter is treated badly no matter how free range they are. You can’t raise something in love knowing its purpose is to be killed and eaten. Or even with vegans, we see vegans who are against animal abuse, against the commercialization of animals to be eaten, but then they , like myself, have cats that eat the remnants of that system. The millions of little male chicks that get disregarded and ground up in blades of death moments after being born are also the same baby chickens that become crude protein in chicken flavored cat food. Their sisters becomes the hens that lays eggs and die young.

So I mention all of this because I think that’s how Christians who believe in a loving god that still allows you to be tortured forever glosses over the issue. Essentially every single one of us already are doing it in some way or another. We gloss over the horror and the hate in some system we believe we benefit from.

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If you don’t mind, what are your beliefs in comparison to this view?

I don’t believe in eternal torment. I think that’s lazy theology. I think conditional immortality is far better teased out of the scriptures and that Theodore there on symbolism and meaning of phrases can equally be used to set up the basics of universalism. As for CI vs U, no opinion on it yet really.

Reading the article, this appeared: “Just as a phantom limb is conjured by the brain’s expectation that the limb exists, so is a mystical presence by the brain’s expectation of a primordial savior.”

Wile the article is thoughtful and perceptive, this comparison seems to be a bridge too far. The phantom limb is related to missing proprioceptors that the brain is accustomed to. Cessation of real inputs is different to the situation with a never-before-realized expectation of a primordial savior. Yes it provides a comfortable analogy, but nothing probative.


I do not know the methodological or other details of the study so I cannot judge how reliable the conclusions are. Anyhow, the study seems to focus on religious thoughts and feelings. I assume that some (large?) part of religious thoughts and feelings are just thoughts and feelings, not experiences of a true contact with the real God. In these cases, this kind of neurological study may reveal something relevant about these experiences.

What happens inside and outside of a person differs. Thoughts and feelings affect how we interpret our observations but do not change the external reality, except by changing the behaviour of the individual. If the religious experiences are nothing else than thoughts and feelings inside the brain, the faith and experiences rests on the person itself.

God affects and alters the external reality in ways that cannot be reduced to mere thoughts and feelings within the brain of a believer. Assuming that the so called ‘religious experiences’ are partly based on a relationship with the real God, imaging the brains of believers cannot capture the essence of such ‘religious experiences’.

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Very true. I’ve had my brain scanned using SPECT while I was in a voluntary state of cataphatic connection with “the other side,” but all the scan could show is the biological reality that my brain is balanced in terms of blood flow and that there are no lesions or anatomical abnormalities.

Nonetheless, the experience of being in relationship with God does depend very heavily on my biological brain and central nervous system. The brain’s various networks have to be able to tell the difference between one’s own thoughts and feelings and the impulses coming in from God. These networks can be gradually built through practice, commitment, and lifestyle choices, and at the macro level, the networks and their operations are partially visible through brain imaging. But at the level of the deepest inner self, where the experience of God’s presence changes you and heals you and embraces you, I doubt there is any brain imaging that can capture the quantum effects.


Articles such as the one quoted in the O.P deeply concern me…especially in this forum where so many struggle with Biblical inerrancy verse secular interpretations of observational science. Individuals here are forced to explain away biblical narratives such that it becomes difficult for the logically minded individual to get beyond the notion that the bible is nothing more than a collection of fables.

Take the following quote from the article…

Just as newborn infants have a language-expectant and a face-expectant cortex in separate parts of the temporal lobe, I suggest they have mother-expectant circuitry in those brain regions that will ultimately support social behavior in adulthood. This innate neural model of a mother gives the neonate an expectation of a primordial savior—a being who knows the infant’s needs, is able to help, wants to help, and will help when she hears crying—priming the infant for attachment and serving as a foundation for adult social behavior. I also suggest that this innate model persists into adulthood and normally lies dormant, much as some innate behaviors of newly hatched birds and sea turtles do. In times of desperation, however, the innate model can be activated in an adult, spawning the illusion of the presence of an unconditionally loving savior.
When seen in this light, the feeling of God’s presence resembles an equally compelling illusion long familiar to neurologists: the phantom limb of the amputee. Both are illusions of embodiment.

We should take extreme care when referencing this kind of study…the aim of it is quite clearly to illustrate a God who is nothing more than a fabrication of our own state of mind. He exists largely because we need him to balance the physical and psychological negative.

I would sincerely urge anyone who struggles with these kinds of studies to consider the historical narrative of the bible from external sources. Read the likes of Justin Martyr, Eusebius…look at the images of uniform tablets and papyri found in museums around the world…realise that the incredible consistency in the message of these historical finds (given there was no telegraph, postal, or internet services thousands of years ago) …the consistency is nothing short of miraculous and a very strong evidence that God really is as the bible says so and that we can be confident that the bible narrative is accurate, inerrant, and inspired by the direct revelation of our Creator.

A bit of trivia for those who may be interested in such things (i have an interest in the historical because it gives life to the story)…

of all of the writings in the bible that we have today, off the top of my head, I can think of only a few occasions where the finger of God recorded His thoughts/wishes. These are:
1. The 10 commandments
2. The condemnation of Belteshazzar just prior to the fall of the Babylonian empire.

For those who are trinitarian, we would also add a third

3. Christ’s writings of the sins of the bystanders in the dirt on the day the prostitute Mary was brought before him to be condemned and stoned.

If anyone has any other examples i have forgotten about, i would love to read them.

When I consider where I’m at now with my faith journey in some ways I’ve never felt more challenged about the subject of God, but not necessarily uncomfortable. I don’t have much of a formal education, but I read a great deal with an eclectic selection of interests. Much of what I read I struggle to understand and am sometimes ecstatic when I can make sense of the topic.
What I would like to respond to is Veganism. It’s true we have a cat and we feed it flesh. It bothers me as I am an ethical Vegan which kind of flies in the face of reason when we say we’re animal rightist and serve our cat animals. So it is and it will be our last cat and I do love her so.

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I’ve been an ethical vegan for over 15 years now and was a vegetarian for several before that. I still have cats as well. I will most likely continue to have cats. Once my house is built, I’ll probably go back to having pet spiders. I will also build an aquarium and many of the fish will eat other fish as well. I wish there was a better way forward, but for me giving up the type of pets I work towards is not the answer. Especially given that they still throw away around 429,240,024lbs of beef alone a year. Same with millions of gallons of milk. There is also the issue of the cost of abandoned cats on wildlife. A cat can get pregnant around on average 3 times a year with 6 kittens. So theoretically a cat can have around 50 kittens in four years. Sure there are loss and so on. But they spread really fast. Those 50 stray cats will kill lots of wildlife over their lifetime. By adopting one, getting it fixed and keeping it inside, you can potentially reduce hundreds or thousands of kittens over your lifetime. The reality is that even if you had 10 cats, or never had another cat, it would not change a single animal’s fate being slaughtered. But it can change the fate of thousands of wild animals. Either way, the choose costs the life and wellbeing of something.

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Im not a vegan, however, I am a vegetarian and have been since i was about 11 years old. Its good to come across others who are also not meat eaters.

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Haven’t known many farmers, have you?

Some of my native American ancestors held that you can only truly hunt if you love the animal you are pursuing, and young men were not allowed to hunt until they regarded the deer or whatever as their brother.


That one drives me batty because milk can be turned into a rich fertilizer for some soils, yet the “excess” just gets dumped into the sewers.


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