If Not God, Then What? Neuroscience, Aesthetics, and the Origins of the Transcendent

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A complete wiring diagram of neuron connections in neuroscience has been called a connectome. The model is similar to the genome mapping of the DNA sequence. Different research teams have begun making neuron-to-neuron connectomes for specific brain regions, such as the hippocampus which is recognized for memory and learning. There are many varied approaches to understanding the neural basis of cognition--fMRI is one.

Bell Jr. It should be kept in mind that even monozygotic twins do not necessarily have the same brain structures. They do have nontrivial amounts of shared experiences. Maternal hormone levels, alcohol and drug use will have affected both twins similarly, if exposed similarly. If not, they will reflect a different structure due to the environmental influences on their shared genetic makeup. Of course, any research should be conducted in accordance with the Nuremberg Code of ethics, Primum non nocere Latin meaning; First, do no harm.

Adjustments should be made for nuisance regressors. Richard J. Herrnstein formulated the matching law. He noted that choices are distributed according to rates of reinforcement for those choices. Resultant conforming behavior is matching and non conforming behavior is in degrees of not matching the behavioral choice. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus A.

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Philosophy of Religion

In his book eleven of Meditations Ta eis heauton ; means thoughts or writings addressed to himself he posed, "Have I done something for the general interest? Well then I have had my reward. Let this always be present to thy mind, and never stop doing such good. That reward becomes a mappable part of the brain. Operant matching, as defined by Yonathan Loewenstein and H. Sebastian Seung, is a synaptic plasticity based on the covariance between reward and neural activity.

Operant matching has diminishing returns and low probability of reward. Probability matching has fixed schedules of reward, such as in slot machines. A two-armed bandit slot machine would have one of the alternatives yield a reward and the subject is rewarded in a high fraction of trials.

Over time the behavior may become more like operant matching. In multi-armed bandit experiments, subjects will explore to find more information to get higher rewards. These experience parameters could be building blocks in artificial intelligence to create parameters for rewards or simulate empathy, as defined by the designer, using self-analysis of inputted values and a sort of self-sacrificing behavioral priorities in relationships. Delayed or deferred gratification is the choice to wait for a reward. Humans show a preference for similar rewards that arrive the fastest.

The earlier reward discounts the later reward. Hyperbolic discounting of the value of the perceived reward falls sharply with time delays. Whereas, exponential discounting of the value of the perceived reward falls by a constant factor regardless of the time delay.

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Subjects that use hyperbolic discounting tend to make inconsistent choices over time because they value future reward more than exponential discounting subjects--dynamic inconsistency or time inconsistency. A dynamically inconsistent game is subgame imperfect. This is due to the situation in a dynamic game that will not be perceived by a player as optimal when the future period of time arrives.


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Drug abusers enjoy their drug today but plan to quit tomorrow for reasons such as health benefits. When the next day arrives they repeat the choice made the day before and do not quit the unhealthy behavior. Tomorrow never comes and does not exist in moments within finite intellects. Weber's law applied time perception 1 day from now which is easily distinguished from 5 days from now. It is different to distinguish 1, years and 1 day from 1, years and 5 days from now even though both time periods differ by the same number of days.

Time preference looks at how a subject prefers a reward. High time preference prefers a faster reward than the average person and a low time preference delays the reward more than the average person. The two Greek words for time are chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to sequential or chronological time.

Kairos means the perfect moment appointed by God for His purpose Mark Gabriel Marcel indicated that mystery ends with the questioner becoming the object of the mystery. Reward means to watch or guard as a ward. The Bible defines reward as payable services Greek misthos or compensation Hebrew eqeb. It teaches that there is reward for the righteous Ps. It also teaches that there is reward for the unrighteous or wicked II Sam. Rewards are positive awards for behavior that is compliant with NLF and justly given to intellects with freewill.

Hermeticism - Wikipedia

Negative awards are justly given for chosen behavior that is not compliant with NLF. Rewards, then, are for the present time when the knowledge of wisdom is found Prov. Jesus said that if we leave our possessions and our family for Him that we will receive a hundredfold now and in eternity where the first shall be last and the last first Mark Eternal rewards would be from God and would be just.


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  • They would be part of the nature of our intellect with the freewill to expect appropriate tangible rewards that are incorruptible and eternal I Cor. The Bible says that blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him James The crown Greek stephanos and Hebrew atarah means to encircle like a crown used for a victory wreath. Crowns are for the victor's joy I Thes.

    These crowns, positive eternal rewards, will be the only value of the awarded. One has to do with the development of human cognition. However, even sophisticated versions of the hypothesis appear to have been holed below the waterline. Miguel Farias, who runs the Brain, Belief and Behaviour lab at Coventry University in the UK, has tested whether an assumption of spiritual reality leads people to attribute false agency to the world around them.

    In one experiment, he examined whether practices such as going on pilgrimage make people more inclined to adopt supernatural beliefs. So there is a need for a new idea, and coming to the fore now is an old one revisited, revised and rendered more testable.

    Cognitive Neuroscience of Aesthetics

    Effervescence is generated when humans come together to make music or perform rituals, an experience that lingers when the ceremonies are over. The suggestion, therefore, is that collective experiences that are religious or religious-like unify groups and create the energy to sustain them. The explanation is resurfacing in what can be called the trance theory of religious origins, which proposes that our palaeolithic ancestors hit on effervescence upon finding that they could induce altered states of consciousness. Research to test and develop this idea is underway in a multidisciplinary team led by Dunbar at the University of Oxford.

    The approach appeals to him, in part, because it seems to capture a crucial aspect of religious phenomena missing in suggestions about punishing gods or dangerous spirits. So how can the new hypothesis be fleshed out and evidenced? A good place to start is to see how the hypothesis fits with the deep story of human evolution that reaches back to what we share with our evolutionary cousins.

    Celia Deane-Drummond, a professor of theology at Campion Hall in Oxford, is also working on the trance hypothesis. Cameras strapped to the monkeys tracked where they looked. The footage revealed that, on occasion, the macaques would gaze at sunsets and other absorbing scenes. They did so even when usually irresistible distractions were nearby, such as fruiting fig trees. The inference is that they had become lost in awe.

    Dunbar believes that a few hundred thousand years ago, archaic humans took a step that ramped up this capacity. They started deliberately to make music, dance and sing. When the synchronised and collective nature of these practices became sufficiently intense, individuals likely entered trance states in which they experienced not only this-worldly splendour but otherworldly intrigue. They encountered ancestors, spirits and fantastic beasts, now known as therianthropes.

    These immersive journeys were extraordinarily compelling. What you might call religiosity was born.


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    • It stuck partly because it also helped to ease tensions and bond groups, via the endorphin surges produced in trance states. In other words, altered states proved evolutionarily advantageous: the awoken human desire for ecstasy simultaneously prompted a social revolution because it meant that social groups could grow to much larger sizes via the shared intensity of heightened experiences.