Neurotheology

Discussion in 'Theology' started by TealLeaf, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    In the mushroom study there was a control group of 6 subjects. These subjects were given methylphenidate, which is not exactly an inert substance.

    A lot of people would not tolerate such a chemical well. (In one study half the sample experienced disruptive side effects.) Given that there were only 6 subjects in the control group, negative reactions to methylphenidate could easily provide a basis for the conclusion that the observed differences between group differences are due to the controls getting sick!

    An an aside, I wonder about the positive effect of psychotherapy on PMS, which has in fact been documented. Also a placebo effect?
     
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    That depends on what is assumed by the term "mystical state." Further, until it can be demonstrated definitively that the state achieved with drugs is identical in every respect to the state achieved without drugs, I don't think it is a valid conclusion to assume the two are synonymous. THAT would require an unscientific leap of faith to presume that the two states *are* identical without proof.

    In short, no. Ascetic practices I do not believe invoke a genuine mystical union with the Divine.

    Back to "post hoc, ergo proctor hoc." Does the sun rise simply because the rooster crows? We also enter another enigma: what distinction is there to be made between the mind, the intellect, and the soul? Are these *all* merely artifacts of the brain / chemistry? Without conclusive proof, I hesitate to presume...

    One can demonstrate certain mental capacities can be altered through disease process or injury, but does this personality damage or psycho-motor damage indicate damage to the mind? intellect? soul?

    Irrelevent. Cart before the horse, that requires the assumption that the two states are identical in *every* respect, that ascetic practices do indeed invoke a mystical union with the Divine, which as of yet cannot be confirmed.
     
  3. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Interesting that you equate mystical experiences with union. In the world religions literature we find lots of "mystical experiences" that do not involve anything like mergence. When prophets receive revelations, isn't that a mystical experience?
     
  4. TealLeaf

    TealLeaf Soul Adventurer

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    Seattle Gal, You are stretching the word "faith" way beyond anything it was ever meant to define. You might as well say that I have faith in the scientific process or that I have faith in reason. Further your use of this characterization is one sided in that you are throwing it at me like a straw dog and not applying it to your side of the argument. You note your experience as supporting your opinion but altogether disregard where I have stated that my experience supports my conclusions. I'm not sure if you are aware of how you are playing this argument but that is what you are doing.

    As for what you said about the placebo effect destroying the basic premise of modern psychology that is "The mind is what the brain does." that doesn't make sense either. The placebo effect is essentially a Pavlovian response to external stimulus. It in no way runs counter to the fact that the mind is a function of the central nervous system.

    Since you appear to be philosophically opposed to this basic premise of modern psychology it seems our discussion is at an impasse. I could try to present sources and convince you but you could just as well read a book on the subject.
     
  5. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Top down versus bottom up.

    Is a prophet a prophet because s/he *says* s/he is? Seems to me there is a lot of real life validation that must accompany the title of prophet.
     
  6. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist Staff Member

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    How so?
    first two definitions from dictionary.com
    faith

    –noun
    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
    2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact. ​
    No, I said you had faith in the testimony of the scientists regarding the rigor that was applied to the test.
    I be pushing your buttons, eh? I'm not the one who said faith is necessarily irrational. You did.
    We have different conclusions from different experiences. How many different ways have you studied the mystic experience? Is it limited only to psilocybin?

    Please present your evidence regarding your calling mind a function of the central nervous system to substantiate your use of the word fact for this premise. Otherwise, it is merely dogma.

    This discussion is only at an impasse as long as you fail to present empirical evidence to support your premise as fact, or admit that it is an unsubstantiated premise.
     
  7. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist Staff Member

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    Good question. An example of mind over matter? Does mind need some sort of empowerment/validation to accomplish this?
     
  8. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Does that mean that the authenticity of the scripture is in question?

    Your standard for a mystical experience is that it involves union with G-d.
    How much real life validation would it take to establish this?

    Probably.
     
  9. TealLeaf

    TealLeaf Soul Adventurer

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    As I said before you could simply educate yourself by reading a book on the subject. If I were to recommend one I would suggest "How the Mind Works" by Steven Pinker.

    PS - To answer your question regarding whether my mystical experience is limited to psilocybin as I have already stated it is not.

    Also psychotherapy is still stimulus and response and its effectiveness in no way runs counter to the fact that the mind is a function of the central nervous system.
     
  10. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist Staff Member

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    If mind is a function of the central nervous system, then the classical identification of a mystical state as being a state of transcendence would not be possible.

    Again, what is your definition of "mystical state?"
     
  11. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    The research findings reported in the Johns Hopkins study derive from comparisons between volunteers who were given mushrooms and and a control group who received methylphenidate.

    What are the merits of that kind of control groups instead of one with subjects who had some mushrooms that are not psychoactive but look a lot like the magic mushrooms?

    In human subjects research, unless researchers specifically control for experimental set, the way an experiment is presented will affect the results in unpredictable ways. Unless you have a way of avoiding the confound, you can't very well say the findings totally reflect the effects of the experimental manipulation. Confounds could wipe out an experimental effect.

    Before subjects proceed with the experimental task, they're usually given a cover story. In fact, they may be given information about the study before they even sign up. If the story doesn't have all the relevant information, quite often the nature of the experiment itself will provide some clues. For example, if somebody gives you a puzzle to do, you're might think you are running a study dealing with a cognitive skill of some kind.

    So let's look at the mushroom study. What information do we have on how the experiment was presented to participating? And should we suspect demand characteristics as a result of that information?
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Depending who you ask, there are always those who will question *others'* scriptures.

    Union with the *Divine*, I thought I had said. "Divine" is intended to be an expression of G-d, which is not necessarily G-d "himself." For example, a telephone call by you to your mom would be an expression of you. An agent acting on your behalf would be an expression of you. Your child can be an expression of you. There are many possible forms you can be expressed. Union with the expression of G-d is not quite the same as union with G-d. Point being, I don't know how it works, but by experience I know it works. I am far from being in union with G-d, but "He" has certainly tapped me upside the head a time or two.
     
  13. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Wil,

    I got it.

    I'd say the Indwelling Spirit is an aspect of G-d. Also, as suggested in Judaic theology, we can see the soul as being G-d within the world of forms. From that perspective, discovering one's soul is discovering G-d.

    I know what you mean.
     
  14. TealLeaf

    TealLeaf Soul Adventurer

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    That's not true. A feeling of transcendence is a lot different than actual physical transcendence. Besides I am not sure that transcendence would be a universal characteristic of the mystical state.

    That being said how can you define actual transcendence as opposed to just the feeling of it?

    I've already said as much. Honestly if you are not even going to read what I write ...

    They didn't use mushrooms but rather synthesized psilocybin which is the main active ingredient in Psilocybe mushrooms.

    I'm not sure why they used methylphenidate as the control. I'll try to get a hold of the original journal article about the study when I get the chance.
     
  15. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist Staff Member

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    The usual procedure is to go through your experiences, examining each detail, and ask yourself whether or not this detail could possibly be a product of your own mind. What cannot possibly be a product of your own mind would be considered a product of transcendence.

    I think the problem I'm having is with the rigid premise of the mind being merely a function of our nervous system. With such a rigid premise, any possibility of transcendence is ruled out, and by definition, you must throw the baby (products of transcendence) out with the bathwater. {Even if you must dissect the baby while still in the bathwater before throwing it out, so to speak.} :eek:

    I hope you can understand my objections to what I consider to be a spiritually abortive procedure, metaphorically speaking.
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Color me confused seems apropo in a discussion about hallucinegens. oh them memories are flowin...
     
  17. TealLeaf

    TealLeaf Soul Adventurer

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    I think you need to elaborate more here perhaps with an example of an instance of you actually transcending something. The general definition that you have given could apply to any concrete or testable reality.

    I disagree that the products of transcendence are necessarily thrown out. For clarity what are the products to which you are referring?
     
  18. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist Staff Member

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    I'll give you a more general answer: Spiritual gifts such as those listed in 1 Corinthians 12-13, for an example from the Christian tradition. There are other descriptions from just about every Spiritual tradition.
    Hence the need for questioning/investigation, or "testing the spirits," as mentioned in scriptures.

    Example/illustration/elaboration, please?
    See link above.
     
  19. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    A famous theologian by the name of David Bowie once said that hallucinogens' only value is to get you in touch with your own imagery. I would think that would include religious imagery...
     
  20. TealLeaf

    TealLeaf Soul Adventurer

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    Seattle Gal, You know that by referring to lengthy passages from the Bible to answer a simple question you are essentially copping out of answering it.

    As I have pointed out earlier you're not playing fair in this discussion.
    Most recently you've asked me for examples of how the products of transcendence are not thrown out by the modern scientific understanding of the relationship between the mind and brain yet you won't even define what you consider these products to be.
     

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