Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life as Delusion: The Neuropsychology of Religion

I borrowed the photo at right from Chuck O'Connor's blog, Battling Confusion. I would also quote from his most recent post, To the Brain, Faith is Fact. O'Connor cites a study conducted by UCLA titled, The Neural Correlates of Religious and Nonreligious Belief. The study process was MRI imaging:

We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure signal changes in the brains of thirty subjects—fifteen committed Christians and fifteen nonbelievers—as they evaluated the truth and falsity of religious and nonreligious propositions

Questions such as these were given to each participant: 'Santa Claus is a myth; God is a myth. Jesus Christ performed miracles. Alexander the Great was a famous military leader.'

The MRI brain data clearly delineates the 'believer' from the 'non-believer.' The 'discussion' section of the article is most interesting and there is a plethora of linkable articles on the topic for those who care to read further.

Why do I bring this article to your attention? The simple answer is that it is a fascinating study of the human brain. Additionally, I have become interested in the brain-functioning of Fundamentalist Christians since the inception of this blog. As with head lice, I am infested with evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians and I wonder: exactly what is their 'draw' to my blog? This blog is like raw hamburger sitting out on a warm summer day. Or cooties!

Perhaps it is a bit of narcissism, but I rather gloat at the knowledge that so many of 'them' are attracted here. Even when I tell some of them- do not post comments on this blog, they do so anyway. Do you think that they are missionaries attempting to convert the pagan? Do they receive more 'heavenly points' if they convert someone? A higher place in heaven?

Or is it OCD? The OCD characteristic of 'checking' comes to mind- the need to check on things to suppress the uneasy feelings of disorder and disarray. My Sitemeter® indicates that this blog is 'checked-on' regularly. If it is not checked, I suppose, there could be angst, hand-wringing, diarrhea and other physical expressions of worry. It's a sad state of affairs, to be sure. Of course, a simple Rx taken daily could help manage this OCD condition.

Perhaps it is my laissez-faire attitude or my tongue-in-cheek humor toward those living in religious delusion that is an irritant, and like a mad hornet, a 'sting' is required to mollify the situation. Spitefulness and nastiness are often the 'sting' given for my wanton, irreligious postings. Curiously, un-Christlike.

How is life as delusion, anyway? I've often wondered about that. Of course, many Americans regularly take drugs or drink to enter that ethereal state of delusion where fantasy trumps reality. The schizophrenic, sadly, lives that state. Do do the severely autistic. Life as fantasy- spirits moving through time and space, visions of colorful bright lights, heavenly choirs of angels singing... LSD, I've been told, creates a similar notional state of mind.

Must be interesting. Escapism. Like lying on one's back in the grass looking at the clouds on a warm summer day. Or, just above the clouds, looking at the heavenly realm and wishing that you were there. Dreaming of 'eternal life,' marshmallow sundaes, wings to fly, and radiant white robes. Chocolate rivers, caramel apple trees, and sirloin steaks grilling on celestial fires!

I wonder though, would these 'saved,' these Jesus sheep be saddened to look down at those goats burning in the fires of eternal hell? Or would that vision be blocked, like the parental controls on a TV set? Curious stuff to ponder. But, what the hell, that 's the price they pay for their sinful time on earth! It's a damned shame that 'they' didn't come to the Lord and profess their sinfulness. They had the opportunity to get right with the Lord, but chose to turn their backs on him! They deserve to burn for eternity in the fire and brimstone!

Zot! Sorry about that last tirade- I got caught up in fantasy and delusion. Apparently it's easier than I 'believed.' Well, here I am on a cold, rainy Thursday in Toledo, wet snow on the way for tomorrow. Reality check. Bills to pay, furnace filter to change, car in for a tune-up, letters to write, project to complete, flu shot, rake the yard, take the screens down...

Oh, to live in delusion, but I haven't the time just now.

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