Neurotheology - What Does it Prove?

#1
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10914137/What-God-does-to-your-brain.html
This piece purports to reduce mystical experience to the firing of different parts of the brain.
But I read nothing here to persuade me against the concept of the brain demonstrating what it is receiving rather than what it is creating.
I tend to agree with Sciborg in another post that if we look at it that way, it could be called Theoneurology.
 
#2
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10914137/What-God-does-to-your-brain.html
This piece purports to reduce mystical experience to the firing of different parts of the brain.
But I read nothing here to persuade me against the concept of the brain demonstrating what it is receiving rather than what it is creating.
I tend to agree with Sciborg in another post that if we look at it that way, it could be called Theoneurology.
It is clear (to most of us at least) that both God and minds and neurons all exist. So names might be flexible.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#3
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10914137/What-God-does-to-your-brain.html
This piece purports to reduce mystical experience to the firing of different parts of the brain.
But I read nothing here to persuade me against the concept of the brain demonstrating what it is receiving rather than what it is creating.
I tend to agree with Sciborg in another post that if we look at it that way, it could be called Theoneurology.
Raymond Tallis, who has a long list of intellectual credentials that include neuroscience, is pretty dismissive of this sort of stuff despite (AFAIK) being an atheist:

Prof. Raymond Tallis - "Aping Mankind? Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity"

Increasingly, it is assumed that human beings are best understood in biological terms; that, notwithstanding the apparent differences between humans and their nearest animal kin, people are, at bottom, organisms; that individual persons are their brains, and that societies are best understood as collections of brains ("Neuromania"); and that we should look to evolutionary theory to understand what we are now ("Darwinitis"); that our biological 'roots' explain our cultural 'leaves'. I will argue that we are not just our brains; rather we belong to a community of minds that has grown up over the hundreds of thousands of years since we parted company from the other primates. The gap between our nearest animal kin and ourselves is too wide to read across from the one to the other.
eta: Sorry, will have more comments on the article but was currently listening to Tallis when I posted.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
Interesting stuff about two of the people mentioned in the article:

McNamara actually believes the data he's gone over shows precognitive dreams. He also believes there's good evidence for dream telepathy.

Materialist evangelicals like to point out Persinger's God Helmet, but as Volk notes he has also studied Psi as well:

I won’t argue for or against the validity of Persinger’s study. And I will also acknowledge, for the sake of skeptical readers, that where there is a “wow” there is also a “whoa”—a need to slow down and be sure of our findings. But what I want to stress is that this line of research is worth pursuing.

First of all, if one brain really is sending information to a receiving brain, or one brain really is reading another, we have no idea how such a thing would be possible.

The result is a possible paradigm shift.
But an even more intriguing study was just released from the lab of Dr. Michael Persinger, who partnered up with one of the early pioneers in parapsychology research: Dr. William Roll.

The paper, “A Prototypical Experience of ‘Poltergeist’ Activity,” is an adventurous ride across the far frontier of science—and a whole lot more intriguing, I think, then putting all hauntings down to superstition and imagination. In this instance, Roll, Persinger and their co-authors report on a woman they call “Mrs. S.”, a middle-aged woman with no kids, a divorce in her past and a husband in her present. About 17 years before the experiments discussed in the paper began, Mrs. S. suffered a traumatic brain injury so severe she fell into a coma for two days. After she awoke, strange things started to happen.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#6
That sounds dangerously close to ECREE. :)

Pat
Personally I don't necessarily have a problem with ECREE, though I think there's a problem when it's used as a way to dismiss findings rather than note the need for further investigation.

Which is the position Volk takes [that more research is needed].
 
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#7
Personally I don't necessarily have a problem with ECREE, though I think there's a problem when it's used as a way to dismiss findings rather than note the need for further investigation.
In general I agree, but there's a continuum of prior plausibility. To take an extreme example, I don't think there is any need to further investigate the idea that the Sun orbits the Earth (though if someone wants to do that, they're welcome to do so).

Pat
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#8
In general I agree, but there's a continuum of prior plausibility. To take an extreme example, I don't think there is any need to further investigate the idea that the Sun orbits the Earth (though if someone wants to do that, they're welcome to do so).

Pat
Right, but that seems far beyond the circle of contentious claims usually discussed around here.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#9
From Anti-Matter's commentary on The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul:

'By the way, the story was updated by an understated item in Nature News: A research team at Uppsala University in Sweden, headed by Pehr

Grannqvist, mirrored Persinger’s experiment by testing eighty-nine undergraduate students, some of whom were exposed to the magnetic field and some of whom were not. Using Persinger’s equipment, the Swedish researchers could not reproduce his key results. They attributed their findings to the fact that they “ensured that neither the participants nor the experimenters interacting with them had any idea who was being exposed to the
magnetic fields, a ‘double-blind’ protocol.”. . . Of the three subjects who reported strong spiritual experiences, two were members of the control group. Of the twenty-two who reported “subtle” experiences, eleven were members of the control group. (p. 95–96)

The experiments conducted by Persinger’s team, on the other hand, cannot be considered double-blind, inasmuch as participants were frequently given an inkling of what was happening by being asked to fill in questionnaires designed to test their suggestibility to paranormal experiences before
the trials were conducted.'
 
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