Not long ago, Scarlett Johannsen starred in a movie named Lucy,
a sci-fi thriller about a young woman who becomes super-human as the result of
ingesting some drugs that she had been forced to carry inside of her body.
Movienewz summarized the basic plot this way:
Lucy (Johansson), a woman living in Taipei, Taiwan, works as a drug mule. When Lucy accidentally swallows her cargo, the drug changes her into a metahuman. She can absorb knowledge instantaneously, move objects with her mind and can’t feel pain.
The idea behind the movie is the myth that we only use one-tenth of our brain power. Morgan Freeman, who with Samuel L. Jackson seems to be in almost every major motion picture released, plays the wise professor who understands the human brain. During one scene in the movie (as shown on the trailer), the Morgan Freeman character lectures a class about the human mind intoning, “It is estimated most human beings only use 10 percent of the brain’s capacity. Imagine if we could access 100 percent. Interesting things begin to happen.” (Just for the record, it is clear that the idea that we only use 10% of our brain capacity is a myth. A good refutation can be found in the article from Scientific American entitled “Do we really use only 10 percent of our brains?” by Barry L. Beyerstein of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at Simon Fraser University.) Of course, Lucy continues to expand her brain potential, and at the end…well, I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen the movie. But as her brain potential begins to expand, she begins to do remarkable, super-human things.
A bizarre experiment claims to be able to make Christians no longer believe in God and make Britons open their arms to migrants in experiments some may find a threat to their values. Scientists looked at how the brain resolves abstract ideological problems. Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), researchers safely shut down certain groups of neurones in the brains of volunteers.
TMS, which is used to treat depression, involves placing a large electromagnetic coil against the scalp which creates electric currents that stimulate nerve cells in the region of the brain involved in mood control. Researchers found the technique radically altered religious perceptions and prejudice.
Belief in God was reduced almost by a third, while participants became 28.5 per cent less bothered by immigration numbers.
Very interesting. The author of the article continues:
Dr Keise Izuma, from the University of York, said: "People often turn to ideology when they are confronted by problems.
"We wanted to find out whether a brain region that is linked with solving concrete problems, like deciding how to move one's body to overcome an obstacle, is also involved in solving abstract problems addressed by ideology."
The scientists targeted the posterior medial frontal cortex, a brain region a few inches up from the forehead that is associated with detecting and responding to problems.
Volunteers were asked to rate their belief in God, heaven, the devil, and hell after undergoing pre-screening to ensure that they held religious convictions.
Dr Izuma said: "We decided to remind people of death because previous research has shown that people turn to religion for comfort in the face of death.
"As expected, we found that when we experimentally turned down the posterior medial frontal cortex, people were less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas despite having been reminded of death."
So, what’s the conclusion? I am certain that some people will read this study and immediately conclude that belief in God is nothing more than something that happens in the brain. After all, it was only a few years ago that the earlier-mentioned Scientific American also published an article announcing that scientists had discovered a “Godspot” in the brain. According to that article,
A belief in God is deeply embedded in the human brain, which is programmed for religious experiences, according to a study that analyses why religion is a universal human feature that has encompassed all cultures throughout history.
Scientists searching for the neural "God spot", which is supposed to control religious belief, believe that there is not just one but several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief.
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Scientists are divided on whether religious belief has a biological basis. Some evolutionary theorists have suggested that Darwinian natural selection may have put a premium on individuals if they were able to use religious belief to survive hardships that may have overwhelmed those with no religious convictions. Others have suggested that religious belief is a side effect of a wider trait in the human brain to search for coherent beliefs about the outside world. Religion and the belief in God, they argue, are just a manifestation of this intrinsic, biological phenomenon that makes the human brain so intelligent and adaptable.