I did not think that it would convince anybody either. I do think that proving the biochemical and electromagnetic basis of faith and belief would be a good preliminary step to an exorcism of the gods. Being able to duplicate or prevent these sensations will be even better. I do think that such an exorcism will be required before humans can take the next step in their growth away from brutism. I think that we can quite safely assume that we will have the power to create or prevent "faith experiences" in the near future. I know that very few people are currently aware of this and that the neurobiologists actively discourage discussion of this topic outside of the field, as it only leads to embarrassment and sensationalist reporting along with protest action. I think that this should be discussed at least as a possibility amongst young people whose ability to absorb new ideas is not absolutely petrified. Like so many developments, I do think that it is more than likely that we will have the capability before we decide what to do with it. Once a genii is out of the bottle, it is not possible to force it back in again. Instead of springing it on an unprepared and unsuspecting public, it might be more sensible to prepare the field by initiating discussion.
Seeing as most of the world is anti-drug, the "god modulator" gadget might make for an interesting and possibly more powerful substitute. After all, if the "best" religious experiences - conversations with god even, with whichever gods a supplicant favors, are available from a faith neutral box, what is the "believer" to do? Put their faith in boxes? I wonder if we could figure out a "god module" interference system - which could be applied to an area and would make people in that area completely unable to experience these effects. If the faithful were told that such a device existed and was being deployed, what would the effect on them be? If there were such a field? If such a field did not exist? Or if it did exist but was not being used? Could we remove the desire to believe from that poster behind Fox Mulder's desk from the faithful? Should we want to?
As for deja vu, you predicted my response correctly. We need to stop relying on magic and the hope that we can change things by "wishing them so", and start taking a more pragmatic and planned approach to life. Our systems are becoming way too complex and intertwined to continue running them on "hope" as we are now. We should leave "magic" to "magicians" and satisfy our sense of wonder that way. Not attempt to base a civilization on it.
For example, I would suggest that even now, under the principle of "Lex Talionis", it is almost certainly "legally justifiable" for one country to destroy another country's ability to pollute (destroy the people, the systems or the civilization), if that country refuses to implement pollution controls, on the principle that what one country does in terms of pollution affects the inhabitants of others. Would this be acceptable to anyone here? Having faith that a problem will be solved or wishing pollution into the future is not a useful response. Faith needs to be examined realistically on the same basis. Faith has probably caused more damage to humans than pollution (so far). The response here seems to be to have phaith that the problems with faith will eventually go away. Why should they?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David McFadzean [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Sunday, April 04, 1999 1:30 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: virus: God Module
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: KMO <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Thursday, April 01, 1999 1:29 PM
> TheHermit wrote:
> > > So what can we do to counter this argument for the
> existence of gods
> > > avoiding a belligerent backlash from baffled believers
> > > artful aid again!]? An alternative explanation which
> shows that these
> > > sensations, or to use the word of the week, noŽtic
> experiences, are
> > > generated internally, are explicable using purely
> physical processes and
> > > not require any "god like action" would be a good
> preliminary step.
> KMO replied:
> > Who's that going to convince? If you can identify a
> > consistent pattern of
> > neurological activity in mothers who feel love for their
> > children and present an
> > argument to the effect that this pattern of neuro activity
> > arose by natural
> > selection because it increased the likelihood that young
> > humans would survive to
> > reach sexual maturity, do you expect that a significant
> > portion of the
> > population would place any less value on a mother's love for
> > her children. Do
> > you think more than a tiny handful of people would consider
> > a mother's sacrifice
> > for the benefit of her children as being any less
> > praiseworthy
> I agree with KMO in that explaining the neurobiological basis of
> noetic experiences isn't going to cause any religious people to
> renounce their faith. The first thing that came to my mind is
> that poster behind Fox Mulder's desk, the one with a blown up
> photo of a UFO and the bold-lettered words, "I Want To Believe".
> The information about the correlation between temporal lobe
> epilepsy and religious experiences reminded me of some
> explanations I have read about the experience of deja vu.
> Though it seems (often compellingly) that we have lived or
> dreamed this moment before, what actually happens is that
> something is going wrong in the associated neuronal activity
> such that the sensations of the current experience are being
> mistakenly rerouted through channels usually associated with
> recalling memories. It makes sense when you think about it.
> However a lot of people would rather believe that deja vu
> is a mystical experience, that they are actually experiencing
> something previously predicted. That proves that they are
> psychic which is much nicer to believe than that they have
> aberrant brain activity. A scientific explanation will have
> little or no effect on these people (I suggest).
> The question I have for KMO and TheHermit is what should
> people believe? I think I can predict TheHermit's answer:
> that they would be better off believing the truth about
> deja vu, namely that it is an illusion, nothing more.
> What says KMO (or anyone else that has an opinion)?