Can We Change? Mystics Say Yes, Science Says No - Or Does It?
by Ian R Thorpe.
CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: science, religion, faith, belief, brain, change, injury, prayer, ritual, superstition, healing, placebo
30 June 2010
by Ian R Thorpe
This is not so much a post on 'losing your religion' as 'finding your belief.' It arose out of a thread on an earlier LYR post in which one contributor of comments, a Buddhist, said her belief system required a daily act of faith that people can change. I did not really understand that as people demonstrably can change themselves; their personality, attitude to work, relationships, the way their brains work and even physically change the brain. Though psychologists believe therapy can change people there still seems to be a widely held view that such notions are unscientific, that we are programmed in our DNA to be what we are.
In my reply I mentioned a number of properly conducted studies recently published in the UK that demonstrate:
Meditation can change the way the brain works.
Nerve pathways can be rewired after brain trauma. (I can vouch for that one)
Brain plasticity can be used to change the way we react
Rituals and Superstitions do actually work.
The placebo effect is a powerful healing force if patients believe a therapy is helping them
Prayer has a beneficial effect in healing for people who believe in a god.
The British Novelist Jeanette Winterson commented in a teleision discussion recently: "Once again we see science finally getting its head round what mystics have been telling us for thousands of years."
Here in the UK we have had a little war going on for a few years; militant athesists, an intolerant group who seem to have dedicated themselves to shouting down any argument from the religious or people tolerant of relifion, and have attacked anybody who even dared to suggest that science cannot exlain everything and has not even understood the great questions of life. They hurl abuse at those who are not religious but take the view that the view humans might be something more than biological computers and life something infinitely more interesting that a mere chemical accident, will deny that people have a prefect right to attend communal worship, pray in private, kiss lucky charms, avoid walking under ladders, say 'white rabbits' three times on waking on the first of any month or anything else they feel somehow helps them so long as they do not try to impose their beliefs on others. These science lovers have in fact started to behave in the manner of followers of the most fanatical religious cults.
Militant Atheists want to put an end to 'superstition' and 'magical thinking' (Richard Dawkins' phrase not mine although unlike many of his less famous supporters Prof. Dawkins, a polie and humane man, is willing to defend peoples' right to believe whatever helps them make sense of the world..)
Fortuitously for those of us who have been trying to oppose this blatant bullying, in the studies mentioned below results show that prayer, superstition, ritual and meditation have a beneficial effect. In fact we can use such practices as tools in changing the way our bodies and minds work. So here specifically to help one Buddhist relieve herself of that daily act of faith required to believe people can change and perhaps many other people who want to change but have been told it is not scientifically possible, or just for your entertainment perhaps, is a reading list of scientific evidence from studies aimed at improving neurologists' understanding of how our minds work, that there is indeed more going on in our minds (whatever our minds are) than current scientific knowledge can explain.
I have not read all the actual articles, linked here, in many cases I have traced an informative article from humourous references in my own blog and others. You should not find any links to self help books or other irrelevant material or blatant scams to part you from your hard earned but I can;t guarantee nothing has changed since I checked. I will not be commenting much (only replying to people I know or who say something funny or interesting )in the thread. For the purposes of this post I do not agree or disagree with what you will find at any of these links. They are for information. Chat among yourselves but I would like to think it is a topic more suited to quiet, personal consideration.Please don't ask me for information or opinions, I'm only the delivery man, I can't help.
There was another study published last year that has been excluded from the list because I feared it might set the wrong tone for discussion. It showed that even among people who think they are logical and rational, emotions play a far bigger part in our choices and decisions than logic and reason.
CHANGING THE BRAIN AND THE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF PRAYER, RITUAL OR SUPERSTITION.
CHANGING THE BRAIN THROUGH MEDITATION AND MENTAL EXERCISE
Science Explores Meditations Effect On The Brain
People who meditate say it induces well-being and emotional balance. ... The neuroscientists hypothesize that regular meditation actually alters the way the brain is wired, and that these changes...
Changing The Way The Brain Works
Nevertheless, it was clear that the brain can change the way it does things, and that important dormant areas of the brain can be turned on.
REWIRING THE BRAIN AFTER TRAUMATIC INJURY
Rewiring The Human Brain
Rewiring the Brain: Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering ... Human beings worked out a few thousand years ago that the brain is where ...
Rewiring A Damaged Brain
The goal is to rewire the brain connectivity and bypass the region damaged by trauma, ... Definitions of Human Brain Components ...
Human Brain Plasticity
"Human brain plasticity: an emerging view of the multiple substrates and mechanisms that cause cortical changes and related sensory dysfunctions after ...
Neuroscience: What is Brain Plasticity? | SciSeek Science Blog
3 Apr 2008 ... The study of brain plasticity has profound implications in human learning and behavior, and as such, for mental health. ...
PRAYER, RITUAL AND SUPERSTITION
Athletes: Rituals and Superstitions
Why Do So Many Athletes, Have Superstitions and Rituals. Do Superstitions Give Athletes a Performance Edge? By Elizabeth Quinn, About.com Guide ...
NeuroLogica Blog » Superstitions – Not All Bad?
7 Jun 2010 ... Researchers looked at task performance and the carrying out ritual superstitions, like crossing one's fingers. They found: ...
The Healing Power Of Prayer
from Science Daily: 18 Jun 2009 ... Health and religion have always been intertwined, most obviously through prayer on behalf of the sick. Does intercessory prayer for sick ...
The Power Of Prayer In Healing
from BBC News: A massive study finds that patients admitted to hospital with heart trouble fare better if someone is praying for them.
Researcher Look At Prayer And Healing
24 Mar 2006 ... In churches, mosques, ashrams, "healing rooms," prayer groups and ... tools of modern science to test the power of prayer to cure others. ...
THE PLACEBO EFFECT
Placebos Are Getting More Effective
24 Aug 2009 ... It's as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger. .... the role of the placebo effect in clinical trials and healing in general. ...
The Placebo Effect Is The Healing Force
From The Cancer Journal: Placebo effect is the healing force of nature. Firstly, we ought to note that the placebo does not cause anything in the body, it triggers its natural ...
And just to lower the tone :-)
The Science Of Sexual Attraction
According to scientists, our powers of seduction are at the mercy of our genetic makeup. But there are certain little tricks you can do to give science a helping hand to attract member of the opposite sex ...
The First humans From Australia Not Africa?
Quantum Soul: Is Each Of Us A Part Of The Universe
Weez Allz From Africa? Sorry But Weez Isn't - another discovery throws doubt on the established narrative of human history. It would be no surprise to find the version of history told by academics and schoolteacher is wrong, but in fact we simply can't say. Given the movements of the eath's crust over millions of years, the first humans could easily be at the bottom of the ocean. All we know for certain is nothing can be proved for certain. here's the case for Australia.
Religious and secular philopsophers have argued for centuries about life beyond death, the nature of the human soul and our relationshi[p with God, the universe or whatever. Modern militant secularists have tried to claim we are nothing more than machines, others say life is a chemical accident but experience tells most people there is much more to our existence than that ...
Mathematics and RealityIn all of our blogs and web sites the Greenteeth team have been critical of those science fans who are turning science into a religion. Scientists deny this of course even in the face of the evidence. Here Ian R Thorpe shows you that the idea of mathematics as God is nothing new, it has been around longer than Christianity in fact.
Vilified' Christians 'fear arrest' as Neo Nazi Secularist Persecution Increases Says Former ArchbishopFormer Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Carey has again defended the richts and freedoms of Chistians against what he feels is persecution by militant secularists. In a submission to thre EWuropean Court Of Human Rights Dr. Carey has spoken of fears that political activist jusdges and lawyers are showing anti - Christian bias in their judgements.
Is War Inevitable? Unfortunately YesHippy thinkers often pose questions like this and then accuse realists of relishing war and slaughteing r. But it is the hippy attitude, "Let's all join hands and sing Kumbaya," that is more likely to lead to war as the signal it sends to enemies is a sign of weakness.
There Is A War Going On Between Religion And Science. Is A Truce Possible
The war, let's be honest, is between religious fundamentalists and science fanatics. Each is straying into the other's territory. But both are out of order and should leave the unanswetrable questions to philosophy. Can there be a truce, can the two coexist?
Dr. Pangloss Said All Is For The BestEver been irritated all those exhortations to "look on the bright side"and "be positive" Felt let down by hopey-changey stuff and people who say "lets join hands and sing kumbiya to create utopia" but fail to deliver. This article might be just what you need to readIf you liked this, please give it a boost
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A memoir of recoveryThe author's own story of how he recovered intellect and learned to walk again after a massive brain haemorrhage.
Are The Cultural Poles FlippingReligion and Science (which some people have turned into their religion) have failed to provide the certainties, the sense of security, that many people seek. First religious convicion was eroded by science and then faith in science collapsed when it's certainties dod not stand up to the logical tests of the real world. Can existentialims offer a third way or is its acceptance of uncertainty to challenging?
Flight From FreedomFleeing from freedom seems like a contradiction, after all we usually asdsiciate flight with escaping from captivity. In this first part of Existentialism for Beginners however the author identifies a human instinct that predisposes us to seek illusory safety by conforming and being part of the crowd rather than embarking on the lonely life of the free thinker, the person who truly makes their own decisions and follows their own path.
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