WE ARE OUR BRAINS - CHAPTERS 15, 16, 17
CHAPTER 15 - NEUROTHEOLOGY: THE BRAIN AND RELIGION
The evolutionary advantages of religion:
1) It binds groups, and is a powerful tool for the leaders of these groups to keep them together. How this is done:
(a) It's sinful to marry an unbeliever or someone of another belief. So it is easier to reject outsiders.
(b) Imposition of numerous social rules on the individual in the name of gods or god, with dire threats to those who do not keep them.
(c) Being recognised as a member of the group with items, dressing, circumcision, prayers, rituals.
(d) Having rules that promote reproduction, such as no contraception.
2) The commandments and prohibitions have advantages for the group. Protection, beneficial effects on health and mental health, mood, happiness. However, those who are religious churchgoers are also more likely to become depressed, have a doubled risk for dementia. Praying is also positively correlated with psychiatric problems.
3) It is a source of comfort and help in difficult times, believing that everything has a purpose and a meaning.
4) You become optimistic in thinking that Gods or God have an answer for everything you don't know or understand. Also you think that things will be better in your second life.
5) Takes away the fear of death by promising life after it.
6) Sanctions killing of other groups in the name of gods or god. Making aggression and tribalism stronger gives a religious group advantage when fighting over limited resources and improving survival chances.
Female circumcision: causes excruciating pain during urination, menstruation, sexual intercourse. 50% of children born to circumcised women die during or shortly after birth.
CHAPTER 16 - THERE ISN'T MORE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH...
The notion of immortality and having a soul stems from mankind's fear of death, the longing to see the dear departed once again, and the misplaced, arrogant idea that we're so important that something must remain of us after death.
Why do people say that they get the characteristics of the donor of their heart after a transplant? They have too much information about their donor, no studies have been done on people who had no information on them. It is a major operation, the surgery itself, the medication after, the guilt on their own do change the recipient.
Near death experiences:
When one's life is in acute danger all of the memories are retrieved at once from our hippocampus in a panoramic memory.
Released opiates or stimulation of the brain's reward system brings tranquility.
Tunnel vision is caused by reduced blood circulation in the eyeball, starting in the periphery of vision.
Placebo-s can also cause their stated side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
CHAPTER 17 - FREE WILL, A PLEASANT ILLUSION
Free will is the ability to chose to act or to refrain from action without extrinsic or intrinsic constraints.
Our brain structures predetermine our sex, sexual orientation, intelligence predisposition for mental problems etc.
An unconscious will is that which makes choices on the basis of events in our surroundings, depending on the way our brains formed in development and what we learned since.
The conscious picture that our brains register when we carry out an action gives us the feeling that we have knowingly performed that action.
When we initiate actions, it takes half a second before our brains consciously register the action.
The illusion of acting out of free will may well be the price we have to pay for our consciousness.