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    31 Dec '13 16:41
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/30/us-thicker-brain-sections-tied-to-spirit-idUSBRE9BT0LA20131230

    "For people at high risk of depression because of a family history, spirituality may offer some protection for the brain, a new study hints."

    "Parts of the brain's outer layer, the cortex, were thicker in high-risk study participants who said religion or spirituality was "important" to them versus those who cared less about religion."

    "It might hint, however, that religiosity can enhance the brain's resilience against depression in a very physical way, they write."

    Thought this was interesting, because if this study is true, it could be evidence of an evolutionary benefit to religion, where the more religious folks have a survival advantage (being less depressed), and pass that trait along to subsequent generations. The cause/effect is important to this hypothesis. Does religiosity cause thicker brain sections, or do thicker brain sections cause religiosity?
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    31 Dec '13 19:135 edits
    Baring in mind that, just as the link cautioned, this is far from conclusive and a lot more research should be done, his could be at least part of a Darwinian-evolutionary explanation of why so many people have the delusion of believing there is a god or believing in some religion (i.e. it is because it protects them against depression and thus, presumably, suicide as well ) despite the fact that, generally, having a delusion has no obvious practical benefit.

    Of course, curing depression by promoting belief that there is a god would be like curing the depression of a druggy by giving him ever more crack; -it would work but there just has got to be a better less sick way and one that doesn't involve making the person out of his mind and into a pure fantasy world.

    And this is not even to mention all the people killed because of all the religious wars including WW2 where all the leading Nazis without a single exception were theist (nearly all if not all Christian at that. Hitler being a known devout Roman Catholic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler ) and believed that a God guided evolution to create the superior race (themselves ) and they had the God-given (and I mean literally GOD given! ) moral right to kill other races that were not 'pure'. etc.

    -well, that is bound to stir up a hornet's nest of religiously motivated history deniers.
  3. Germany
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    31 Dec '13 19:27
    Originally posted by humy
    Baring in mind that, just as the link cautioned, this is far from conclusive and a lot more research should be done, his could be at least part of a Darwinian-evolutionary explanation of why so many people have the delusion of believing there is a god or believing in some religion (i.e. it is because it protects them against depression and thus, presumably, sui ...[text shortened]... emselves ) and they had the God-given moral right to kill other races that were not 'pure'. etc.
    During the conditions where the bulk of mankind's evolution happened, there were no wars, so there could be no wars related to religion either.
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    31 Dec '13 19:408 edits
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    During the conditions where the bulk of mankind's evolution happened, there were no wars, so there could be no wars related to religion either.
    This may be true although we don't really know for sure how many small-scale wars there were between small stone age tribes throwing rocks at each other or belting each other with clubs or exactly how prevalent religion generally was back then or how religion may have or how often influenced the motivation of such battles. I would not like to hazard a guess on that.

    Anyway, what we do know for sure that religion has played a big part in many wars in the last few thousand years with WW2 being arguably the 'worst' one (so far ) of the whole lot I think.

    I would say though that I would think that none of this (religiously motivated warfare ) would have much if anything to do with the evolution of the human brain which is what the OP is really about.
  5. Standard memberlemon lime
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    02 Jan '14 10:042 edits
    Originally posted by PatNovak
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/30/us-thicker-brain-sections-tied-to-spirit-idUSBRE9BT0LA20131230

    "For people at high risk of depression because of a family history, spirituality may offer some protection for the brain, a new study hints."

    "Parts of the brain's outer layer, the cortex, were thicker in high-risk study participants who said relig ...[text shortened]... . Does religiosity cause thicker brain sections, or do thicker brain sections cause religiosity?
    It's true that physical health (or lack of) can have an affect on our state of mind, but it's also true that mental states have a profound physical effect on the body. It's not just a one way street, where only one has an affect on the other. And although some cases of depression can be attributed to an inborn chemical imbalance or physical anomaly this is actually quite rare, in spite of what you might hear from doctors who are encouraged to medicate psychological problems rather than looking for or dealing with a cause.

    Unfortunately this is what many doctors are now doing in order to fast track patients along (thank you Obamacare), and so as to not take a chance on offending anyone by suggesting it could be anything other than a physical problem.

    What you call "religiosity" some people regard as a way of viewing reality and ways of responding to that reality. Within everyones psyche is an area of the mind that tracks and records reality, and cannot be influenced by self deception or fantasy. It also connects the dots and updates our understanding of reality as it is being perceived, regardless of what we might be consciously paying attention to or choose to believe.

    IMO depression is a form of cognitive dissonance that has likely gone unchecked for too long... long enough to create a more or less permanent problem in the form of physical as well as behavioral manifestations. Either beneficial or debilitative physical changes can occur as a result of how we use or abuse our minds and bodies, so it is entirely feasible that religion could have some beneficial effect on both the mind and body.
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    02 Jan '14 10:281 edit
    Originally posted by lemon lime
    It's true that physical health (or lack of) can have an affect on our state of mind, but it's also true that mental states have a profound physical effect on the body. It's not just a one way street, where only one has an affect on the other. And although some cases of depression can be attributed to an inborn chemical imbalance or physical anomaly this i ...[text shortened]... is entirely feasible that religion could have some beneficial effect on both the mind and body.
    so it is entirely feasible that religion could have some beneficial effect on both the mind and the body.

    But that is missing the point because it is intrinsically harmful to be deluded even if being deluded gives some side benefit (such as countering depression for example ) .
    It would always be preferable to find and implement OTHER ways of benefiting mind and body that do NOT involve giving people delusional minds.

    For example, take depression; rather that trying to counter it by brainwashing the depressed person into believing a load of religious crap, how about using reason to counter the cause of the depression as well as applying various psychological techniques to encourage the person to develop a stronger mind able to face up and emotionally cope with harsh reality and the real world rather than escape from reality by going into some happy fantasy world?
  7. Standard memberlemon lime
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    02 Jan '14 10:52
    Originally posted by humy
    so it is entirely feasible that religion could have some beneficial effect on both the mind and the body.

    But that is missing the point because it is intrinsically harmful to be deluded even if being deluded gives some side benefit (such as countering depression for example ) .
    It would always be preferable to find and implement O ...[text shortened]... ality and the real world rather than escape from reality by going into some happy fantasy world?
    Are you seriously suggesting that something could be both beneficial and intrinsically harmful, or was that an unintentional boo boo? How is any advocate of evolution able to make that connection? More to the point, why would any evolutionist even try to connect 'beneficial evolution' with 'intrinsically harmful'? That makes no sense.

    I wasn't suggesting anyone could benefit from going into a fantasy world. In fact, I was saying quite the opposite.
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    02 Jan '14 11:003 edits
    Originally posted by lemon lime
    Are you seriously suggesting that something could be both beneficial and intrinsically harmful, or was that an unintentional boo boo? How is any advocate of evolution able to make that connection? More to the point, why would any evolutionist even try to connect 'beneficial evolution' with 'intrinsically harmful'? That makes no sense.

    I wasn't s ...[text shortened]... anyone could benefit from going into a fantasy world. In fact, I was saying quite the opposite.
    Are you seriously suggesting that something could be both beneficial and intrinsically harmful

    Yes. Something can be intrinsically harmful but still beneficial in other ways.
    I have already just explained one example of that. Here is another:

    A doctor lying to a terminally ill patient telling him he is just fine and will live.
    I would say this is intrinsically harmful but still could be beneficial to the patient by making his last days happier by deluding him that he is just fine and will live.

    why would any evolutionist even try to connect 'beneficial evolution' with 'intrinsically harmful'?

    Why not? Why cannot evolution give a benefit but with a harmful side effect? Why exclude that possibility in particular?
    I can give MANY examples of where evolution has done just that which I will be happy to list on your request. But here is just one of them: the evolution of peacock tail feathers: they give the 'benefit' of attracting a mate but with the harmful side effect of also attracting predators.
    I wasn't suggesting anyone could benefit from going into a fantasy world. In fact, I was saying quite the opposite.

    You suggested that religion could give benefits to mind and body. Given your religious beliefs, I presume you would believe that giving someone religion would be worth it for any such benefits? If so, I should point out that doing that would be putting the person in a pure fantasy world for the sake of giving him those benefits.
  9. Standard memberlemon lime
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    02 Jan '14 11:30
    Originally posted by humy
    Are you seriously suggesting that something could be both beneficial and intrinsically harmful

    Yes. Something can be intrinsically harmful but still beneficial in other ways.
    I have already just explained one example of that. Here is another:

    A doctor lying to a terminally ill patient telling him he is just fine and will live. ...[text shortened]... the patient by making his last days happier by deluding him that he is just fine and will live.
    Lying might have some short term benefit, but who would it really benefit... the patient or the doctor? Whatever that benefit may be, it is more than canceled out if or when the truth becomes apparent. If I was terminally ill, I would be very angry with my doctor if I found out he intentionally lied to me. I would be angry for not knowing the truth, and also angry because it's likey he lied to spare himself the agony of having to pass along bad news... it's not likely I would buy into the excuse that someones good intentions were the reason for deceiving me, especially when it comes to something that personal.

    You put a lot of stock in defining yourself as a realist and those who don't agree with you as being deluded. What would you think of someone you don't agree with making the same claim?
  10. Standard memberlemon lime
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    02 Jan '14 11:531 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    Are you seriously suggesting that something could be both beneficial and intrinsically harmful

    Yes. Something can be intrinsically harmful but still beneficial in other ways.
    I have already just explained one example of that. Here is another:

    A doctor lying to a terminally ill patient telling him he is just fine and will live. ...[text shortened]... t would be putting the person in a pure fantasy world for the sake of giving him those benefits.
    You suggested that religion could give benefits to mind and body.

    No. I was responding to the idea of some possible benefit of religion, as was clearly stated (did you read it?) in the OP. I did not start this thread. I was responding to the person who did start this thread.

    Given your religious beliefs, I presume you would believe that giving someone religion would be worth it for any such benefits?

    And I presume you will continue going off the reservation and taking side trips to avoid responding to anything actually being said. Reality, good... fantasy, bad.

    If so, I should point out that doing that would be putting the person in a pure fantasy world for the sake of giving him those benefits.

    So don't do it. There, problem solved.
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    02 Jan '14 16:431 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    But that is missing the point because it is intrinsically harmful to be deluded even if being deluded gives some side benefit (such as countering depression for example ) .
    Is this actually true? I'd like for it to be true, because knowing the truth, whatever it may be, is important to me. But I think I could imagine a scenario where it is not intrinsically harmful to be deluded. And in any event, humans are here, have been mostly religious throughout recorded history, and continue to be mostly religious. So this is perhaps evidence that religiosity has some evolutionary advantage. I always assumed it was a social advantage (groups had a higher survival rate if individuals believed they were always being watched, because then those individuals would act more altruistically toward the group), but this study is the first time I ever heard that religiosity might be a physical advantage.
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    02 Jan '14 16:53
    Originally posted by lemon lime
    Within everyones psyche is an area of the mind that tracks and records reality, and cannot be influenced by self deception or fantasy. It also connects the dots and updates our understanding of reality as it is being perceived, regardless of what we might be consciously paying attention to or choose to believe.
    I would like for this to be true, but is there any evidence that that this is actually true? I'm highly skeptical that any part of the mind is completely immune from self-deception, or that our unconscious mind is better at discerning and understand reality than our conscience mind.
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    02 Jan '14 17:521 edit
    Originally posted by lemon lime
    Lying might have some short term benefit, but who would it really benefit... the patient or the doctor? Whatever that benefit may be, it is more than canceled out if or when the truth becomes apparent. If I was terminally ill, I would be very angry with my doctor if I found out he intentionally lied to me. I would be angry for not knowing the truth ...[text shortened]... ou as being deluded. What would you think of someone you don't agree with making the same claim?
    So are you trying to say there is no thing that could possibly be beneficial in one way but harmful in another? If not, then I have made my point.
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    02 Jan '14 18:071 edit
    Originally posted by PatNovak
    Is this actually true? I'd like for it to be true, because knowing the truth, whatever it may be, is important to me. But I think I could imagine a scenario where it is not intrinsically harmful to be deluded. And in any event, humans are here, have been mostly religious throughout recorded history, and continue to be mostly religious. So this is perhaps ev ...[text shortened]... ), but this study is the first time I ever heard that religiosity might be a physical advantage.
    But I think I could imagine a scenario where it is not intrinsically harmful to be deluded.

    Then you must define “harmful” differently from the way I do because I cannot. I am OK with that because I guess there is no universally agreement of exactly what “harmful” means that we can all agree with in every single situation without exception.
    And in any event, humans are here, have been mostly religious throughout recorded history, and continue to be mostly religious. So this is perhaps evidence that religiosity has some evolutionary advantage

    I think this might well be correct (but might not be ) and, if and only if that is correct, it would be an example out of many of how evolution can result in a beneficial characteristic but with a harmful side effect -a bit like how peacock tail feathers evolving the benefit of attracting a mate but with the harmful side effect of it also attracting predators.
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    02 Jan '14 18:121 edit
    Originally posted by PatNovak
    I would like for this to be true, but is there any evidence that that this is actually true? I'm highly skeptical that any part of the mind is completely immune from self-deception, or that our unconscious mind is better at discerning and understand reality than our conscience mind.
    but is there any evidence that that this is actually true?

    it might be true for some people but it couldn't possibly be true for all or nearly all people else we would all be in general agreement of what the objective truth is -and yet we all argue and disagree.
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