God and the brain
Posted 05 February 2009 - 09:52 AM
If you look at the formation of memory, at the personal level instead of the chemical level, what is important is how one perceives reality. For example, two children can have the same experience in reality, and both can be affected differently based on their subjectivity and their extrapolation of the events. The same input can create two different fixed memory grids, which will be stored perhaps altering the DNA or at least at the level of RNA to make it structural memory.
Here is where god and religion comes in. Whether god is perceived as real or not, if one subjectively adds this to their perception of reality, it have an impact on memory and the changes that will occur in the neural RNA and maybe neural DNA. If one believes in Creationism, this is the memory that will form. The memory is real. One may not agree with the conclusion, but their brain does not care, it just stores the data. This is what is remembered based on neural modifications.
If we go back into history, whatever caused religion to appear, altered the very nature of animal memory. The animal might look at a tree. That is all it will see and what it will stored in memory. With mythology, the tree is now more than a tree. It has a wider range of associations which become part of memory. Mythology will add things to memory the animal will not add. It broadened the human memory in directions that would not have been possible, if humans had maintained a continuity with the purely sensory cause and affect of animal memory. I am not making a value judgement nor am I saying mythology is real. All I am saying it totally changed the nature of memory by adding unprecedented addenda to memory storage.
Animals don't have free will, like humans, because their memory is designed to store specifically in terms of sensory input, maybe with an association of instinct wired right in. With religion, this memory connection was broken. Humans would now perceive the same animal reality in a number of ways to generate a totally new type of memory. The tree can now move, dance, morph, etc. We can chose.
The question becomes, what caused human perception to break away from the more predictable evolution of the rest of the animals, so human memory became more scattered and reality was detached from the memory wiring of animal evolution, opening the possibility of new unprecedented associations to be wired into neural DNA?
The religion and science debate is stuck at philosophy, because each side has wired their brain, via memory, a certain way. It becomes a habit. The brain doesn't care what memory it stores. It stores what we add to it and builds on this foundation. Regardless of philosophical brain wiring and how the memory will build, religion changed the very nature of animal memory.
This is getting long, let us look at the memory called "god" for someone who believes in god. If we personify god, the brain can nail it down into long term neural memory using a specific association like Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, etc. On the other hand, if we leave the god concept open to reflect infinite attributes, how would the brain react as it tries to store an open ended concept into fixed memory? It can't store it in long term memory because it is not fixed. The logical result is it uses mostly short term memory since this stays more open. The result should be an increase in the use of the short term memory which is stronger in humans. More use of short terms memory allows more new or none structured data to be taken in for further processing. This helped human evolution in terms of keeping options open, via fluid memory, instead of turning memory directly into stone or structured memory.
Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:34 AM
The question becomes, how do you agree on an abstraction like god when there is nothing tangible to show? If language was advanced enough one could draw a mental picture using language techniques. A good salesman could sell snowballs to an eskimo. But say language was still very crude with some nouns and verbs, so neither the speaker or the audience has enough command of language to make this possible. How do you create a meeting of the minds with an abstract concept like god?
Try this experiment at home. Imagine something abstract in your hand. Now try to create a meeting of the minds with a group of people without using language. This may be how religion began. God or gods might be easy to conceptualize and/or refute in modern times because we have a basis to make these connections. But if you are starting from scratch and you can't point to historical or contemporary precedent and you don't have language yet to make it easy, it seems impossible.
From a practical point of view, it would be easier if everyone had an experience of sorts so they all understand this experience is what is being labeled. That same experience of uncertainty will then alter memory away from the evolutionary animal-sensory memory affect where a tree is only a tree.
I often present new theories. The average scientist needs tangible proof or else the abstraction will not transfer. Picture this affect before all precedent, with the average pre-human (looks human with human DNA), only seeing what the eyes can see. You can't convince them without proof either. Logically, they must have experienced that proof in some way or form. It could have been an hallucination type experience, or as religion claims, a direct sensory experience. Either way the group mind had to be on the same page, without a lot of language, or the more pragmatic pre-human animal would have retained the upper hand. The animal direct sensory-to-memory should be better for survival, but not necessarily for rapid progress, compared to the rapid short term memory affect of uncertainty, that could see details.
If a tree is not just a tree, the early humans begins to see other things. It is also lumber that can build a house. That is an abstraction. If grain is not just grain, it is also bread. They believe bread was from the gods or the god effect. The more pragmatic pre-human shook his head, and got left behind. Unfortunately, the early religious may have also said, if the pre-human is not just a pre-human, he is also a slave, because he is strong and more memory linear. The perfect work force.
In modern times, science is rebuilding a connection to genetic optimization but within the context of the free will that evolved from religion. This still gets bogged down in personal and collective choice of philosophy. Religion may not provide genetic optimization but that was needed to break humans away from just genetics so they can become a living being with free choice.
Posted 13 February 2009 - 09:08 AM
If you look at language in general and conversation in particular, if one is giving a lecture, long term memory is important since the presentation is planned and written down and the answers to questions based on careful study. But normal conversation is more spontaneous and often goes off on tangents in ways not always planned. This is more short term memory, although it will still have long term support and can create new relationships not already in memory.
It is possible, the religious affect increased random or short term memory based conversation by not only by creating misunderstanding (tree does not equal tree) but also what is being said is not what is being heard. It is actually a useful way to generate a lot of verbal data, even if it was random, with certain things, being absorbed into long term memory, building the language data base.
Posted 14 February 2009 - 10:06 AM
These two affects could be the basis for the symbolism of the two trees in the garden of Eden (they are not long term memory sensory based trees, but trees seen if the light of the short term memory; symbolic). The tree of knowledge of good and evil is closer to linear memory, since it irons out what is what, and carves that into stone. It is learned and repeated. One is not suppose to go lateral. The tree of life is more organic, like life itself, and may be more analogous to the short term religion memory affect. Once you eat of linear memory tree, while also having the religion affect inducing short term memory and the lateral affect, it is only a matter of time before the linear starts to go lateral and the memory dies or changes.
What history show is linear tradition trying to make the short term memory more linear in terms of conformity. One was not allowed to change traditions quickly using the same flux that once changed pre-human nature. But at the same time, organized religion is inducing the lateral short term flux, due to the belief in things not verifiable with the sensory systems, making it harder to blindly conform. We call this human nature. We can learn the linear but we may have doubts. We can repress the doubts, try to resolve them or follow the path of the short term flux.