Note: For these next few posts I am assuming that evolution by natural selection is true. If you still harbor notions that Mormonism and evolution are incommensurable or that intelligent design has any validity I invite you to revisit some of of the earlier posts on this topic here, here, here, and here. For now we will just stipulate Darwinism’s truth.
This staatement from modern neurobiology sounds unsettling: Spirituality takes place by activating areas in the frontal and temporal lobes and turning down activity in the right parietal lobe. In pioneering work by Andrew Newberg and Eugene d’Aquili the brain’s activity during spiritual experience is being mapped with increasing detail and in fact a cottage-industry in exploring the relationship between brain and spirituality is being conducted by neurologists worldwide. Brain researchers are looking for something that’s been termed the God Module—components and structures in the brain responsible for giving us spiritual feelings. What does this mean for the LDS? Can we give place to such ideas? Should we feel threatened by such research? Should we dismiss it out of hand because we believe that spiritual experiences have their source from something outside ourselves? Let’s explore this. First a note on what they mean by spirituality. Newberg’s work, for example, is based on the spiritual practices of Tibetan monks and Franciscan nuns. Some may argue against this being ‘true’ spirituality because it’s not specifically Mormon. I hope that this kind of dismissal can be put aside. I believe that spirituality is something people of all faiths enjoy.
So let’s go all hypothetical for a moment and do an armchair thought experiment. Suppose we go to the MTC and hook a missionary up to a brain imager. Further (we’ll have to fast-forward to the future to do this—nothing like this really exists yet), let’s say that we have a brain scanning device that fits behind this missionary’s ear so we can do 24/7 surveillance on her brain. We keep notes on when the missionary says she was having a spiritual experience. She tells us that she felt the Spirit during testimony meeting that morning, during scripture study that evening while reading the Book of Mormon, and during a talk by the MTC Mission President that afternoon. So we go back to the brain scans recorded at those times and take a look at what her brain was doing. Sure enough, Sister X’s brain structures are all lite up or toned down according to the model of spirituality worked out by brain researchers. Furthermore they are only lit up in that fashion during those times she was claiming to have had a spiritual experience.
If we actually saw this should we bothered? One interpretation is that these experiences are self generated by the brain. That spirituality is nothing but certain brain states encountered during times when the brain thinks sensual input (scriptures, talks, etc.) warrant spiritual action. Another interpretation is that the brain is responding to real signals from another source, like the Spirit. Certainly, the eye, the ear, and other sensual apparatuses are responding to signals from things outside us: lightwaves, sound waves, etc. Why shouldn’t the brain have structures for processing things from a spiritual source. But how could you test that? It seems that the choice between these two cannot be answered with science. Newburg makes this point in his book, Why God Won’t Go Away. These experiments shed no light on the source of spirituality and cannot be used to bolster or dismiss either theistic or atheistic arguments. Meaning that which scenario is right, can’t be settled with an appeal to this kind of data. (For an exercise see if you can design an experiment that separates out which of these two scenarios is right. I think you’ll find without objective access to spiritual input you can’t answer the question. But try anyway for fun.).
Some members are bothered also by any claims that there is a physiological response when we feel the Spirit. Shouldn’t this be just Spirit to Spirit communication? However, when I feel the Spirit, I find my eyes watering, my heart beating more quickly, I feel in my body responses that make me want to pray or give thanks and other things that find expression in bodily acts. All of these are physiological responses. We should not be surprised by this. We know that one of the reasons we came to Earth was to get a body. We know that getting a body was important and part of the plan. During the resurrection our bodies will be fused permanently with our spirit (although I have no idea what that means exactly). Why should we be surprised that there are detectable physiological changes in our brain and body when we have a spiritual experience? Why should we be surprised that there are brain structures and pathways dedicated to spirituality? A large part of our brain is dedicated to vision. Why not spirituality? Conversely, I have trouble having spiritual experiences when I have a headache or am rushed or anxious. It seems to be a two-way street. I believe that our body, mind, and spirit are intimately linked. I find it interesting and important that scientists are finding that the brain has ways of processing the spiritual aspects of our lives. Rather than being threatened by current brain science, I find it wonderful and exciting.
Because we will never have scientific access to the spirit side of the spirit/body relation, I am skeptical that we will able to see how this works in completeness from an Earthly perspective. Subjectivity, as such, is only available to first person experience (think of Elder Packer’s famous reply, “Then you tell me what salt tastes like.” in response to a traveling companion’s attempt to dismiss Boyd K. Packer’s reports of personal spiritual experience). My point is not to speculate on how this works, but to remove the threat some people feel when confronted with these studies, which are often presented as if they they do away with spirituality or reduce it to just a brain state and nothing more.
Once again, we can embrace science without being threatened by its findings. We can defended our spiritual views of life without resorting to just casting suspicions on what science reveals.
Next time. Did these spiritual capacities evolve?
10 ways to control your anger - Professional expert’s advice
I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order to understand the anger phenomenon I decided to investigate the nature of anger, reasons of its appearing, key factors and anger management.
What does it mean this anger? Anger is a strong indignation feeling of our emotional sphere that is attended by self-control losing. Anger is a signal of our state. Glands produce an array of hormones that have a great and deep effect on all our body. The main participants of this process are adrenaline and cortisol. They activate cardiovascular system and consequently all organs. Adrenalin causes fast heart beating, rising blood pressure. These rich oxygenated blood streams to the places are responsible for reaction. Thus some extra energy is released.
There are 4 basic ways of anger expressions:
1. Straight and immediately (verbally or nonverbally) to show your anger. It gives an opportunity to free from the negative emotions.
2. To express anger in an indirect way. In this case usually suffer persons that are weaker, not dangerous and those ones who “come to hand”, usually they are our family and close relatives. Thus we hurt our dear ones. One of the best ways is to express your anger to the person who is the source of this very anger. If it is impossible- better find some compromise.
3. Restraining anger you “drive” it deep inside. So, negative emotions store will provoke a big stress sooner or later.
4. You may foresee situation of anger feeling, try not to expand this feeling but get to know the reason, understand and solve it. A Roman philosopher Seneca said: “When you are feeling of ascending “volcano”- stand still, not doing anything- not speaking, not moving.”
Anger is a normal and natural human feeling, especially nowadays as life is really fast and we have a huge amount of information to accumulate (in comparison with our previous generations). The range of anger is rather wide: from a slight annoyance to impetuous fury. Anger can be quick and long, lasting for years in form of bitterness, vengeance or hate. Anger can lead to health issues like depression, high blood pressure, hearth diseases, stresses, alcohol dependence and obesity. If you are anger- express it. If you feel discomfort from these “negative splashes”- then we can give some techniques how to manage your emotional anger:
- 1. Take a deep and continuous breath. Count up to 50 or imagine your aggressor just naked, only in socks. This will help you to calm and smile.
- 2. Have a walk. Look at high sky. Continue to breathe deep and easily. So you appraise the situation and calm down.
- 3. Do some physical exercises. When you are angry- your body is very tensed and tough. If you stretch your muscles it will relax your body, as you will spill out all your negative energy into action. Your brains will get more oxygen and it assists to clear your thoughts.
- 4. Write down all your thoughts. Write down that you are mad and why. Avoid being rational, logical or laconic. Write on paper all you are feeling this moment. Try to write all in details. The function of this technique is to shift all your anger out of your head on paper.
- 5. Be grateful. Find someone to thank. Do you not forget about yourself. Thank that you have woken up today, thank that that the Sun is shining for you, that the sky is blue and the grass is green.
- 6. Prayer. Ask God to be with you during this anger moment and lead you.
- 7. Meditation. Close your eyes, look into solar plexus, and be all your anger, breathing deeply.
- 8. Change of places. Move yourself on your enemy’s place. And look at situation from his point of view. Better look at the situation from the ceiling. Focus on details, especially on funny and absurd ones. Strive to forgive your enemy as well as forgive truly yourself.
- 9. Go back to your childhood memories. Recollect state when you were angry. Hug this child and say: “All is ok. I am here. You are good child. I love you and I will not leave you.”
- 10. Your values. What is the most significant thing in your life? Who are the most important people in your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Think and accept that point that you are living your life, and you are living your values. There is a good man inside you that wants to help you. I wish you good luck!
I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order t...
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