Friday, March 04, 2005

What's Your Malfunction?

I always thought people who were deeply religious were suffering from a brain dysfunction. Now we’ve got evidence:

At the University of California in San Diego, neuroscientist VS Ramachandran noticed that a disproportionate number of patients - around a quarter - with a condition called temporal lobe epilepsy reported having deeply moving religious experiences. "They'd tell me they felt a presence or suddenly felt they got the meaning of the whole cosmos. And these could be life-changing experiences," says Ramachandran. The feelings always came during seizures, even if the seizures were so mild, they could only be detected by sensitive electroencephalograms (EEGs). Between the seizures, some patients became preoccupied with thoughts about God.,13026,1423450,00.html

The conviction that God exists? Speaking in tongues? Visions?

All seizures, folks.

And I’m betting they’ll find a connection between this and why so many ex-drunks, substance abusers, and folks with bulemia end up finding Jesus too: abuse your blood chemistry and your brain long enough, hell yes, you’re going to see Jesus.

If you don’t see Giant Pink Lizards first.

And, as I’ve said before, I truly don’t care if you people want to get together and worship your Giant Pink Lizard, uh, your Lord Jesus.

Just stop trying to inflict him upon my nice civilized country, okay?


Dianna said...

Along that line... while listening on the radio to a renowned doctor speak about headaches/migraine treatment, I heard that often people with severe and persistent headaches have symptoms that are often mistaken by the patients' as "spiritual" in nature... e.g., seeing halos or auras around people and things.

Diane said...

In laboratories, scientists have manipulated people's temporal lobes to determine what is going on, and many--but not all--of the subjects reported the presence of some "other." This experience is thought to perhaps be the same one that is reported in so-called "near death" experiences. However, people who report such presences are not necessarily mentally ill. They are more common than you may think.

Similarly, a less intense, more vague version of experiencing the presence of "other" is reported by people whose temporal lobes are completely intact. My favorite book on this subject is the novelist Doris Grumbach's memoir, The Presence of Absence, about her own early adulthood transcendent experience.

The enthusiastic grasping of religion by drug addicts and alcoholics is either a trade of one compulsion for another, or the addition of a compulsion. I have treated many of these people.

Just as unfortunate as the damage done by the high religiosity of the ignorant is the bad name religion gives to transcendent experiences, which are common to many people of all cultures, and which are deeply meaningful.

Victor said...

You foolish, obnoxious, ignorant atheist scumbags. How dare you insult people the way you are doing? What the hell has been religious got to do with "brain malfunction"? I think it is much more likely that people like you are the ones who are suffering from brain malfunctions. Continue demeaning and insulting other people just because they don't share your philosophy or because they happened to be brought up differently than you. No wonder many people view atheists as contemptible people. You guys are a perfect validation of that view.