Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Are we 'wired' to believe in God?

Popular stories like Belief and the brain's 'God spot' overstate what the evidence actually suggests.

Yes, people have experiences of the ecstatic, the noetic, and the ineffable (I have had these experiences personally) but they are NOT sufficient to induce a belief in a God unless you are already primed through cultural inculcation towards that belief.

We know this because we have a vast history, amongst nearly EVERY native people, they had their shamans (pardon the misnomer) who would induce these experiences in themselves and sometimes in others through ritual, ascetic practices, drumming, dancing, meditation, breath control, fasting but far more frequently through the ingestion of various psychoactive substances such as Iboga, Peyote, Teonanácatl (magic mushrooms), Ska María Pastora (Salvia divinorum), Ayahuasca, Cannabis, Ololiuhqui (Morning Glory seeds), Kykeon (unknown, from the Eleusinian mysteries), Soma (unknown, from the Vedas) and claim to speak with 'spirits' and ancestors. These inventions did not have the properties of 'gods' until later as the concept emerged.

People compete and 'mine is bigger than yours' is a game that goes far back, probably beyond the origin of the homo sapien, and the spirits of the water, the land, the air, the volcano, the earthquake, the thunder, and the rain grew with the telling. Well my volcano spirit and beat your water spirit and I'll prove it by defeating you in war... we win, our god escalates. It's not hard to imagine that someone along the way, like a schoolchild argument, claimed "mine is bigger to infinity".

These things are experiences that people interpret in different ways depending on their culture. Not hardwired for God, but hardwired for fallacious thought, poor inference, false positives, and the misattribution of agency. These are the things that are scientifically confirmed.

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