The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
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SilentDawning
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The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by SilentDawning » 29 Nov 2016, 14:03

I saw a very interesting article in the Trib about an experiment at the University of Utah in which images of the brain were taken before and after a spiritual experience received by active, returned missionaries. Apparently certain areas of the brain lit up during the period the subjects reported "feeling the Spirit".

There is more to the article, but I share it here for interest.

http://www.sltrib.com/home/4617561-155/ ... s-light-up

Do you think this provides evidence the Spirit is real, and that people do feel the Spirit from God?
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LookingHard
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by LookingHard » 29 Nov 2016, 14:53

You are pushing my "this is ALL made up" button. I am trying to at least salvage my faith to be able to be a Christian, but the more scientific/logical side pushes really hard the other way when I go look at things like this. What if a Muslim was put in the machine and they had the same brain responses as the RM's? Wouldn't that tend to say this is all made up? I have watched documentaries that show an average joe that gets a concussion and after that point they are 100% focused on god and/or nature. This area nudges me towards a slippery slope heading towards atheism.

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Reuben
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by Reuben » 29 Nov 2016, 15:12

Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledore wrote:Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
That said, I'd love to see some follow-up studies, too.
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Reuben
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by Reuben » 29 Nov 2016, 17:45

A good Q&A with one of the researchers:

https://www.researchgate.net/blog/post/the-brain-on-god
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nibbler
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by nibbler » 29 Nov 2016, 17:57

Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledore wrote:Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
I love that quote.
Participants had to be 20- to 30-year-old returned Mormon missionaries who were active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While in the MRI machine, participants were shown clips of spiritually evocative, LDS Church-produced videos and were allowed time to read scriptures and pray.
It sounds like they were measuring emotional responses, like something most Pixar movies would trigger, or is that the spirit? Is it just the label we assign things?
LookingHard wrote:What if a Muslim was put in the machine and they had the same brain responses as the RM's? Wouldn't that tend to say this is all made up?
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law."

Those things aren't unique to the LDS church. In orthodox speak we'd say that a person can feel the spirit before receiving the gift of the holy ghost in order for them to recognize truth. You'd almost expect some type of physiological response, right? Otherwise how could the spirit be felt?

A Muslim might not get much out of watching a video about the first vision but they might have similar scans when shown videos about things that they hold sacred. Like being shown images of your child as a baby vs. being shown some random baby pictures. Maybe the response it triggered in part by preexisting emotional ties.
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Roy
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by Roy » 30 Nov 2016, 10:23

The following link is to a discussion about a Documentary: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4123&hilit=medication

In the documentary a student decides to pose as a spiritual guru to see how people might react to his relatively made up teachings. In the end he reveals himself as just a student conducting an experiment of sorts.
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DarkJedi
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by DarkJedi » 30 Nov 2016, 11:55

I'd really like to see similar studies done on other religions. I bet a devout Catholic who loves the pope might have a very similar reaction to these young men when shown a clip of the pope dispensing some of his wisdom (as opposed to a clip of Pres. Monson). It'd also be very interesting to see reactions of non-members when being shown something we believe induces the Spirit in others, the account of the First Vision for instance.
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hawkgrrrl
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by hawkgrrrl » 30 Nov 2016, 14:36

The idea that only Mormons experience spiritual experiences is ludicrous! Obviously that's not correct. But I also tend to think that this study (and often the church) is conflating emotional experiences with spiritual ones. We are human beings. We are emotional about relationships and love and inspiration and baby porcupines. That's not the same thing as a spiritual experience. But you'd never know it from the schmaltzy commercials we crank out.

ydeve
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by ydeve » 30 Nov 2016, 14:55

Then again, when does an emotional/intellectual experience end and a spiritual experience begin? I find that I can't fully separate the two. In my experience, "spiritual" experiences are more about making sure emotional and intellectual reasons for doing things are correct than about tuning in to some mystical force.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: The Neurology of Feeling the Spirit

Post by hawkgrrrl » 30 Nov 2016, 20:16

ydeve - what you said reminded me of what Charles Taylor describes as living in a "haunted" secular age. We yearn for meaning in our lives and for some that's as simple as yoga class or lunch with friends (personal connection). These things have replaced the search for transcendence that was the hallmark of earlier generations of Christians living in less logical, more magical times. It's an interesting read.

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