BEEP! BEEP! IT'S ME.

"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pavlov's Religious Conditioning


There are lots of things I don’t believe. I would suggest there are many things that most of us don’t believe. The question is: Why do people disbelieve some claims and accept others?

Belief or disbelief hinges upon what is considered evidence. But it can also affected by information with suits our emotional or psychological needs. What we think we need emotionally or psychologically may create the desire to believe concepts which, if we were not so emotionally or psychologically needy, would be dismissed as wishful thinking.

That is, the desire to believe in improbabilities might be directly correlated to our desire for emotional and psychological gratificiation. Or, we believe things because it makes us feel good. Being told that evidence suggests that the diversity of life is the result of favorable genetic traits being more likely to survive and reproduce than unfavorable traits, doesn’t produce the same level of “feel good chemicals” in the brain as being told that there is a special father-like figure who lives everywhere who has a special plan for each of us individually.

There may be in some people a chemical response preference for that which makes them feel good about themselves. That human beings can elicit a positive emotional response to a concept does not mean that the concept itself is true. What it may mean is that human beings have developed, through cultural, societal and political influences, a favourable reaction and response to certain concepts.

It may be like a favourable word association that is played in our brains. The god meme is planted through cultural and religious immersion and the favourable response to that concept is elicited emotionally and psychologically. Perhaps in a similar way that behaviour modification theorists equated the ringing of a bell with a saliva response in dogs. Now, I know that the Pavlov’s dogs theory as used will be unpopular, but popularity is also no determinant for truth.

I suggest that our brains have been trained by the cultures in which we are immersed in, to find the concept of a god as pleasurable.
Then, in order to elicit a pleasurable response in ourselves and others en masse, all that is required is the trigger. The trigger for this positive emotional response, is the word god or jesus.

If you live in a muslim country where a similar process has occurred, the trigger is allah, or muhammad. And so it applies to other words which eventually just by the thought of them, or the speaking of the word, elicit a positive or a negative emotional response.

Of course words can also elicit emotional responses which trigger a physical response. The obvious example of this is to think of sucking a lemon. For many of us who are familiar with lemons, the physical response is that the mouth produces more saliva. This is deemed pleasant or unpleasant depending on whether or not you like lemons. Therefore, as we have emotional responses to various words depending on our associations with those words, so do we have physical responses as a result of the association.

So, I would suggest that belief in a god depends not upon the type of evidence that a disbeliever would require in order to believe, but that the willingness to believe is related to the positive feelings that can be elicited through belief. It is kind of like a junkie in some ways who shoots up over and over again in order to attain the chemical high he/she is familiar with. So too with god belief, the brain works towards eliciting the “feel good chemicals” over and over again regardless of whether the concept that elicits this “high” is real or not.

The emotional and chemical high that some people attain through belief, may end up being considered “the evidence” for the existence of that which is evoking the pleasurable response.


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"White Rabbit" - Jefferson Airplane

Pavlovian conditioning was a major theme in Aldous Huxley's novel, Brave New World, and also to a large degree in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.

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29 Comments:

Blogger toomanytribbles said...

i was just reading retrospectacle on why addicts become addicts...

http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2006/12/neural_pathway_explains_why_ad.php

do you think this may account for a christian, for instance, needing church services and christian music and bible readings and nightly prayers and going on and on about how jesus loves you all day?

and thanks for the music.. it's one of my all time favorite songs.

1/1/07 1:24 am  
Anonymous remy said...

I think that whatever feel-good chemical exists, it's the reason why so many theists cannot let go of their faith. Alas, my brother is one; he finds the idea of nothing after death too uncomfortable to accept.

1/1/07 3:41 am  
Blogger Simon said...

Love that song....bring on the magic mushrooms ....Happy New Year Beep!!!!!!
Although it's probably the second of January in Australia by now...
May 2007 be your best year ever!!

1/1/07 6:04 am  
Blogger L>T said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, BeepBeep! Love that song. I have the record with that song on it.

Believing...When i was a Christian, I figured out that believing was just a choice. It wasn't the truth, it didn't really have anything to do with logic. When I figured that out, That was the beginning of the end for me & Christianity.

1/1/07 12:07 pm  
Anonymous awakenings said...

Hello! Happy New Year!

I have recently changed my domain of my website(awakenings)

Its now http://awakening.66ghz.com
and advert free =)

Thanks for the link!

2/1/07 1:03 am  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

The emotional and chemical high that some people attain through belief, may end up being considered “the evidence” for the existence of that which is evoking the pleasurable response.

Alas, is so, and mighty freakin' hard to shake as well. Regardless of the nature or form of the "existent" thing.

{sighhh} Live and (hopefully) learn, eh.

Happy New Year, Beep! Keep 'em coming.

2/1/07 3:23 am  
Blogger Daniel said...

Beep, it could be argued that atheist folk like you and me are doing a great disservice to the world.

Given that life is a tough journey for everyone, why should we take away that which, though false, brings comfort to so many?

What do we put in its place?

Cheers!

2/1/07 1:07 pm  
Blogger Frank Walton said...

Hey beep!beep!,

It seems like your unwillingness to believe is related to the positive feelings that can be elicited through it. It is kind of like a junkie in some ways who shoots up over and over again in order to attain the chemical high he/she is familiar with. So too with non-god belief, the brain works towards eliciting the “feel good chemicals” over and over again regardless of whether the concept that elicits this “high” is real or not.

Your whole blogpost reeks of a junkie who needs his high away from Christianity. My suggestion is that you seek help for your addiction.

Frank

3/1/07 7:01 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

All you have is a tu quoque fallacy for me frank? Oh well.

3/1/07 9:34 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Daniel, how about reality?

3/1/07 9:35 am  
Blogger Daniel said...

Reality! Too much reality makes Jack a depressed boy, methinks.

Perhaps one can handle reality better while on the right side of fifty. After that it begins to bite and it bites harder and harder.

Thank heavens for red wine! It dulls reality a bit.

3/1/07 2:46 pm  
Blogger Frank Walton said...

Well, all you did was beg the question. And you never seemed to question your own position. All you did was take it for granted. Most junkies do that. I hope you come out clean and sober soon.

4/1/07 4:14 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Tsk Tsk frank -

Just the usual ad hominem and tu quoque fallacy. I expected better than that.

4/1/07 9:17 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Yo, Frankie!
Most junkies do that. I hope you come out clean and sober soon.
Coming from a guy who insists on bashing atheists on a regular basis, no less.
Junkie, rehab thyself.

4/1/07 3:51 pm  
Blogger Frank Walton said...

beepbeep,

LOL! Yeah, and when you say that Christians are like junkies, uh, that isn't ad hominem. Your tu quoque analysis of me is also a tu quoque. Also, you never seem to entertain the thought that an atheist can follow his views as strongly and addictively as a junky Christian. Either way, your post wasn't well thought out, because it's demonstrably false.

krystalline,

The only atheists I bashed are the junky type. I hope by then they'll sober up. What say you, have you sobered up yet?

4/1/07 6:28 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE frank

This is what was said : -

"It is kind of like a junkie in some ways who shoots up over and over again in order to attain the chemical high he/she is familiar with. So too with god belief, the brain works towards eliciting the “feel good chemicals” over and over again regardless of whether the concept that elicits this “high” is real or not."

Is there some sort of chemical enduced high associated with god belief? Certainly it appears so to me. Certainly for anyone who has witnessed the "mass happiness" of thousands of worshippers at an evangelical sermon, this seems a distinct possibility.

People fainting with self induced chemical ecstasy, withing on the floor with weird smiles on their dials etc, all suggest that a strong chemical response is happening in the brain.

Do people want to recreate this "feel good experience?" Well, does a brown bear shit in the woods?

Some of these sermons have the emotional and psychological impact of a nuremberg rally. The chanting in unision, the declaration of love of the leader, the desire to follow, obey and adore the leader all appear to me to be hallmarks of some serious form of psychological compulsion.

Do I think they are experiencing self induced highs? You bet your sweet bippy I do.

4/1/07 7:27 pm  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

The occasional chemical additive can make for a sublime overall experience of any mundane reality.

namaste, don't ya know.

{-;

4/1/07 10:54 pm  
Blogger Frank Walton said...

Hi beepbeep,

Is there some sort of chemical enduced high associated with god belief? Certainly it appears so to me. Certainly for anyone who has witnessed the "mass happiness" of thousands of worshippers at an evangelical sermon, this seems a distinct possibility.

That's a poor inference then. If you read the Bible not ONE disciple has not faced persecution. They weren't exactly happy with what they were going through. The Apostle Paul was beaten, put in jail, shipwrecked, nearly drowned, got bit by a snake, then finally had his head chopped off. You can't say that he was living a happy Christian life. Christians have joy but not exactly happiness all the time.

But what do you expect in sermons, Beepbeep? You seem to think that Christians ought to be preached a sad and depressing message to not be some kind of junky then. If that's the case then you ought to say that Chrsitians are masochistic. However, Christians are preached the truth in sermons. That should make anybody happy. Surely a non-junkie would be happy with the truth.

People fainting with self induced chemical ecstasy, withing on the floor with weird smiles on their dials etc, all suggest that a strong chemical response is happening in the brain.

Then by that logic, if an atheist is happy for not believing in God due to his brain response then he must have an induced chemical ecstasy. You see, your argument would fit perfectly for atheists. By not seeing that then all you are is a self-induced chemically dependent junky atheist.

Thanks again,

Frank

5/1/07 11:12 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

There is pleasure associated with persecution. It is the ultimate sacrifice. Afterall, there's a fine line between pleasure and pain.

Atheists don't build a concept of happiness around the notion of invisible friends.

5/1/07 2:08 pm  
Blogger Frank Walton said...

*SHRUGS* But they do build a concept of happiness without one. Therefore, by your logic, they must be chemically dependent like junkies. There's just no way of getting around that problem, beepbeep. Sorry.

5/1/07 6:17 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Well, we are probably all chemically dependent jumkies according to biological chemistry - the difference is that atheists don't illicit a self induced high by dreaming of a daddy in the sky.

5/1/07 8:18 pm  
Blogger Mike said...

If I have to choose my form of soma, I'm gone go with some sort of smokable or imbibable version.

A bearded dude on a cloud doesn't really do it for me.

But I'm funny that way.

6/1/07 12:31 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE mike

Everyone probably has a way to tap into their store of "feel good chemicals."

Sometimes they help it along with a couple of drinkiepoos, or some other culturally "approved drug" - sometimes they access their store of feel good chemicals through meditation, physical exercise or maybe yoga.

And then, some members of the population tap into their "feel good chemicals" by practising and believing in invisible, benevolent father figures.

Whichever route is used, the person then may become emotionally and psychologically addicted to the positive feeling that may be elicited.

Just my ideas on the topic - makes sense to me anyway.

8/1/07 10:56 am  
Blogger under_the_mercy said...

On the flip side, many people find the idea of responsibility for their actions also uncomfortable to accept.

8/1/07 2:10 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE under

What is responsbile about believing that if you kiss "invisible supernatural arse" often, long enough and in the prescribed manner, that any bad deeds you may have done, will be forgiven?

Religious believers rely on a "get out of sin card" - which involves a lot of ass kissing, but not necessarily a lot of personal responsibility.

8/1/07 3:25 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

1 has to wonder, if Walton is predisposed by presuppositionalism to bash atheists? Is it obligatory? Can he perhaps take a week off? A month? Can he walk away? Or does he slobber at each opportunity? Ding-Ding! Oh, atheist! Goody (drooling noises).

10/1/07 8:10 am  
Blogger under_the_mercy said...

Do you really not get it, or are you just pretending? I'm talking about Hell.

11/1/07 5:24 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

under:
I'm talking about Hell.
Which 1? Sheol in the OT, the 'darkness & gnashing of teeth' in the NT, or Dante's Malabolgia?

11/1/07 6:36 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I always thought that hell was in Israel -

The word translated "hell" in english is the Greek word Gehenna. "Gehenna" is the Greek form of the Hebrew "Genhinnom", an actual place in Israel which we would call "the valley of Ben Hinnom".

12/1/07 1:01 pm  

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