Brain Secretion Byproducts

“God” is a secretion of the human brain, says Michael McGuire and Lionel Tiger.

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In their 2010 book “God’s Brain,” McGuire and Tiger strongly suggest and demonstrate that the concept of God, or a God, is a byproduct of human cerebral secretions. Historically the various divine tenets, revelations, traditions, and expressions of social orders around the world are encapsulated from that specific culture’s or civilization’s perceived, geographical, organizational needs not just for survival, but for their perceived perpetuation, then recorded and implemented in a Code of Principles relevant to their time-period. McGuire and Tiger state there is simply no compelling evidence for any type of cosmic, monistic Being manipulating us and Earth’s events.

Now that Homo sapiens are more evolved, at least intellectually and socially no matter the multitude of progressive and digressing methods, historically speaking have our cerebral secretions of Gods and religions been helpful? On a micro scale Tiger has an intriguing perspective on the question:

I found Tiger’s elaboration of the individual and social functionality of ‘optimism’ or hope — that it seems to be a useful tool for survival and perhaps for thriving throughout life — to be of special interest. Why? Because its use requires no patent or jurisdiction other than culturally, in a specific time-period to a specific locale. How is trust defined by those people and their circumstance? One thing is evident, none of this religious human behavior can be adequately or universally traced to one source.

On a macro scale E.O. Wilson of Harvard University (retired) goes in a different direction. Organized religion has a dark side and ugly track-record.

[Intent of religious deities have] “been perverted many times in the past — used, for example, to argue passionately for colonial conquest, slavery, and genocide. Nor was any great war ever fought without each side thinking its cause transcendentally sacred in some manner or other.”

Hence, this could beg the question:  Have we modern humans evolved or should we humans further evolve to a more practical, more progressive new social Code of Principles? What are/would those principles based upon? How many social affiliations should/can a human(s) be involved? Are the affiliations beneficial or detrimental to them and their family? Non-family? Do you already have affiliations and belief-systems that are more highly evolved than others?

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I think whether you agree or disagree with Tiger’s assessments of transcendental beliefs or empirical biological consequences concerning the origin of God and religions, it is paramount to develop and maintain a certain amount of scrutiny, or neutrality, or critical-thinking when considering this source or that source and its mechanisms.

Critical-thinking is not to be confused with agitation, or argumentative, or a personal attack upon someone. Critical-thinking actually helps us acquire more knowledge, expose ignorances, refines our theories, improves collaboration and construction, and strengthens or weakens premises for what they are. I feel one of the most beneficial aspects of applied critical-thinking is that it promotes “thinking outside the box,” a very healthy form of human empowerment and creativity. These two conditions are not achieved to their fullest in a restrictive or constraining closed-system typically preached and protected by religions. They are best achieved in environments of freedom of thought and scrutiny, as well as positive support for a person’s and all person’s natural-born abilities. Agree? Disagree? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below.

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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45 thoughts on “Brain Secretion Byproducts

        • If we were observing human behaviour from another world, we could theorise that humans have organised societies based on genetic value tests. Or at least tests which humans believe demonstrate genetic worth. That’s how the concept of social hierarchy was developed. In the past this was done through gladiators, warriors, aristocracy, land-ownership.
          Racism, for which people have the most extraordinary excuses and rationalisations, is in essence a strategy to ensure the genes of one’s own group are passed forward. All those calculations are happening subconsciously, and when we’re not aware of how defective that mental process is and correct it consciously, it materialises as active racism.

          Liked by 3 people

        • Ahh, yes. And those “extraordinary excuses and rationalisations” you speak about are HIGHLY scientific aren’t they? 🙄

          …and when we’re not aware of how defective that mental process is and correct it consciously, it materialises as active racism.

          Not aware” or intentionally neglecting, even utilizing a blanket ignorance — writing it out of the historical and current record. Hence, active racism is exactly what we in the U.S. and certainly in other areas of the world, now have from too many generations. Any further thoughts Pink on how to correct it… now and for the foreseeable future?

          Liked by 1 person

        • I mentioned it because it’s the same mechanism described in your post. A biological process triggers a rationalisation (which isn’t based on evidence) 😉
          The only way to combat it successfully is to understand that. Mariano Sigman’s neuroscientific work is a good starting point.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Professor, speaking of elephants, as you were. Your great leader was interviewed on British TV the other day (by our odious Piers Morgan), and was asked his views on the hunting of endangered species (in view of son Eric’s proclivity in that regard). The stable genius replied, “Listen, I don’t want elephants killed and stuffed.” I laughed my tits off! No more stuffed elephants adorning the dining halls of Mar-a-Lago, I suppose?

        Liked by 2 people

        • HAH! Yeah, the orange orangutan called our “Leader” does not have the mental capacity or wherewithal to grasp what is coming out of his bigly mouth and what reality is actually showing. There is clearly a cerebral synaptic MISFIRE going on up there in that thick cranium. 🙄😩 Never have I seen and heard SO MANY entertainment platforms or news media have SO MUCH available daily material to parody or report on his non-stop circus. And we’re only into the 2nd year!!! 😵😱

          Liked by 2 people

        • I don’t think there’ll be a 3rd year for him. Actually, I didn’t think there’d be a 2nd, but then I hadn’t calculated he’d fire Comey, and nor did I anticipate the Republicans being so appallingly spineless. They’ve got their tax cuts now, and I’m totally convinced Mueller’s got him, just as Comey had. What do you think, Professor?

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I have always felt that the creation story, the flood, Abraham, and so forth were very localized and the writingsbattesting these events were specific to the viewpoint of a very few localized groups. Although obviously not meant to be a global scale, it seems finding old papyrus is a magnetic lure most people can’t turn away from. I could agree that the Abraham story was for his family to maintain civil hierarchy, or there was a great deluge and they gathered their animals to rescue them and spent some days on the water, or the creation being a small event that was never meant to be a global proof, but a quick answer to the kids as to where we came from. Great post sir! Great points to think on.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I think you are right Jim. The historical record and accumulated evidence from all relevant scientific disciplines bear that out as well, especially considering the sphere of influence the Roman Empire enjoyed and projected for about 500 years! That is the “global scale,” not any divine power or intent. 😮 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Excellent post, Professor. Yes, the brain did create religion and this is obviously not conducive to critical thinking. Is religion good for people? It depends on perceptions of what is “good.” Is it good for people to exchange their fear of reality for a life of fanciful delusion? I would say no, but others might disagree. Reality is often an unhappy experience. Delusion can be blissful. How important is happiness to the human condition?

    A related question would seem relevant. Is religion good for society? Again, I would say no; but, the question is even more complex than that for individual people. Many factors are involved such as population size, the types of social organization, the peculiarities of culture, and the nature of challenges faced by civilization. Your thoughts?

    Liked by 5 people

    • Honestly, there isn’t much more for me to add Robert. You’ve hit all/many of the main points and questions Sir. I will share this though. It is Stephen Fry’s video (one of John Zande’s favorites) about the importance of scrutiny and critical-thinking, or as he states… unbelief. Diversity is absolutely critical in evolution! The bigger, more flexible/adaptive, and more collaborative the biological diversity, the better the hedge against digressing and extinction! I’m thinking that is what Pink (above) was referring to.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. How would this affect my thoughts on free will or no free will. This seems to agree strongly I would think with a Sam Harris position if I’m seeing straight after today. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Re “[Intent of religious deities have] been perverted many times in the past” It is often the case that people soft soap how violent Christianity is by using phrases like “religion has been perverted” when massive perversions are well within the scope of the religion. ISIS has been described as using a perverted version of Islam when it’s behavior is well within the scope of the Quran.

    The purpose of religions is to control the masses. Some of that control involves war or warlike behaviors (in the defense of the tribe). Calling these gods princes of peace or the religion a religion of love/joy is sheer propaganda.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Precisely and compellingly stated Steve.

      The purpose of religions is to control the masses.

      Agreed. And during the rising era of recording on payprus/scrolls (c. 2555 BCE), the highly gullible, uneducated masses were told in no uncertain terms that writing, Scribes, and their Masters was purely and strictly straight from the Divine Heavens. This way all power in enforcing laws and order was centralized with one and/or a monarchy. Today, how well does this sociopolitical system work? HAH! Why is it still in existence, in ANY form today?

      Excellent comment Steve. Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent post, Professor! Lots of food for thought.

    McGuire and Tiger’s conclusion that “the concept of God, or a God, is a byproduct of human cerebral secretions” is especially intriguing. This observation suggests that we humans have been programmed since our early evolution as a species to believe in gods. If true, the implications would be immense: By whom? For what purpose? Could we be re-programmed?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Religion definitely degrades wisdom and inhibits freedom, in my opinion. To have true freedom you need to think for yourself and to be a creative thinker you can’t have a pre-fabricated belief system pushed on you. By definition, your thoughts and ideas must be your own.

    I believe religion has helped certain individuals, but it loses viability when people use it as a collective belief system. Belief systems simply become tools for some to control others. That’s never a good thing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Good points ashift. All the individual human interactions — emotionally and/or intellectually — are most CERTAINLY elusive, fluid, often indefinable. At various points in humanity’s historical evolution, social evolution in particularly, embracing and respecting each other’s very basic commonalities and needs in kindness and collaboration demonstrate(d) healthy ingenious progress! It is clearly when individuals and/or groups, which seek out divisive, elitist, selfish forms of existence, that most all of humanity’s atrocities first begin. As individuals and as cultural groups (micro-levels), up to macro-levels of civillization, we must continue to recognize, embrace, and actively engage our diversity, NOT inflame it. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Mr Wild …. are you listening? Hello! Mel? Oi …. Pastor. Yes, you! Anyone inside?
    Ah, frak it…. just hold these wires while I get Igor to turn the handle. Igor! Ready when you are!

    ”Yeth, Marthter”

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL. 😄 As is often the case with most radically opposed groups Ark, sometimes or too often both sides struggle(?) to hear and understand what the other side is saying. Why? Perhaps because both sides are always “talking” with their blinders tightly afixed to their heads. 😜 I am certainly guilty of having my own earplugs in — or in this case I rarely visit blogs such as Pastor Mel’s, JB’s, Citizen Tom’s, etc. And honestly, Pastor Mel has NEVER visited my blog, along with all his group-members. Perhaps Mel has his earplugs in and blinders on too.

      I like to think that my reason for my disinterest in their Christian content is simply because the ‘questions and debates’ about the nature of the new-revised God via Christ as narrated in the New Testament were all completely CLOSED between 325 CE and 405 CE. Hence, with my Jewish Tanakh and Greek New Testament, I have all I need and have had all I need since 1988 and there is nothing more or new to be learned about the Christian “God” and “Son of God” that can’t be found (in its purest form) in these two sacred/popular collections.

      That said, I guess “the beat goes on,” eh? (starts whistling the popular Sonny & Cher duet/song) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, you see, Prof, you have to have common sense, fully believe in science while at the same time acknowledge that science doesn’t know everything and accept the fact that God communicates from outside nature.
        In Pastor Mel’s case the communication is via Uncle Fester who continues to warn him that religion is bad, but following Jesus is good, he will go blind and promising to stop once he needs glasses is NOT a compromise, and the money he receives back from the IRS for being part of a Church must not be spent on the buffet breakfast bar of the local strip club two doors down from his Church, as Jesus knows he is not really trying to save those nice young ladies from catching their death of cold. Also, rumour has it here is a pole named after him.
        But you know what happens with oral tradition, don’t you?

        Liked by 1 person

  8. “There are 42,000 religions in the world. Each of them believing that they’re absolutely correct and everyone should follow their views.” – Tiger (comment made starting around 55 second mark in the first video).

    While it’s true that some religions take the position that “they’re absolutely correct and everyone should follow their views.” I think it’s pretty clear looking at history that this isn’t true of ALL religions, and thus is very unlikely to be true for the 42,000 religions he mentions.

    When one pictures some small isolated tribe with their own specific tribal religion of a few hundred members, it seems unlikely that they have any clandestine desire to spread their religion or even think much about other religions. Certainly most of them aren’t specifically advocating that everyone should follow their views. Likewise, the Ancient Greeks were happy to identify their gods with Egyptian gods as evidenced in Herodotus. These were technically two separate religions. Basically their solution was: Oh, we have different gods. Well, actually they’re the same gods, but each of our respective societies just happens to call them by different names. And each of our cultures has learned different stories about them.” The same is also true in general between cities and city-states. There were different versions of Zeus or Horus from city to city and sometimes different stories or variants. We also know of individuals in the ancient world who adopted multiple gods from a variety of different “belief systems.” None of that really supports a position that all religions advocate that “everyone should follow their views.” Medieval Japan had Shintoism and adopted Buddhism. Sometimes individuals practiced elements of both. Modern Judaism doesn’t proselytize and when its does put forward afterlife beliefs it is NOT exclusive to people who are Jewish. There is no position within Judaism that states EVERYONE should follow their views.

    I think Kwame Anthony Appriah hits the issue perfectly in this video: link. Most people are defining religion in terms of Christianity and ignoring all the incongruous elements of other religious traditions that don’t fit well.

    Are religions beneficial or harmful? I think the correct answer is both. Depends on the religion, depends on the characteristics of that religion, depends on the version adopted, and depends on its functions in that person’s life. Depending on how each of these elements play out they can be harmful or they can be helpful.

    I’d be happy to elaborate on any of these points if anyone has additional questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When one considers the alternatives available, then it can honestly be stated that religion is never truly helpful. And this is primarily because of the baggage it brings with it.
      It’s like a doctor telling you how marvelous a plaster cast is for a broken leg but then he explains how he’ll have to first break your leg to demonstrate just how effective it is.
      Any volunteers?
      No, I didn’t think so.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello again CR. Glad you are back. I like the fuller spectrum and sway toward some equalibrium you offer in your comments and our conversations. Thank you. 🙂

      Just a very minor correction. Tiger stated 4,200 religions in the world, not 42,000. But the point and essence of your comment is still taken.

      There is no position within Judaism that states EVERYONE should follow their views.

      For some clarity on my part CR and perhaps others here, how would you interpret these 3 passages in the Tanakh?

      “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3); “You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you” (Deut. 6:14); and “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8). There are more similar (identical?) to these OT passages, but for the sake of time and space I’m just listing these three.

      I fully understand how and why the Greco-Roman empire, beginning in the 3rd century CE thru Constantine I (post 337 CE) hijacked the new rising religion/sect of Judeo-Christianity called “The Way,” thus turning (heretically?) the Jewish reform-sect into their own Roman Messianic(?) religion and purposefully making it GLOBAL, not just a Jewish nomadic belief-system. That did not fit Rome’s agenda. Hence, should these 3 passages above and those similar only be viewed strictly thru Jewish lenses, their culture, Israel’s God only, and not for anyone else? Is that the sort of ‘jealousy’ Yahweh is referring, not for any Gentiles?

      Regarding your comment on Are religions helpful or harmful, I agree with you in that they should be kept strictly private to each individual brain secretions. 😁 When religious persons and groups aggressively seek to indoctrinate an entire region, continent, or Earth for their own theocracy (the macro level), that’s where religion falls apart and is completely incapable of any macro-management. Ironically, this is exactly why the Founding Fathers of the USA sufficiently and brilliantly wrote up the First Amendment to our Constitution! Even THEY realized/recognized that God, Messiahs, indefinable spirits, Mob-Herd Mentalities, are all elusive and impossible to prove or nail-down on large scales and if allowed can get way out-of-hand! Therefore, the U.S. was founded on sound, fair, SECULAR principles with the individual liberty to ‘worship’ privately, or not! Far too many religious extremists don’t grasp and understand the reasons and functionality for Separation of Church and State.

      These are my initial questions and thoughts CR. Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Before I answer how I understand those passages in particular, I suspect the real question underneath them is: how can I reconcile the claim that “there is no position within Judaism that states EVERYONE should follow their views” and passages from the Tanakh that seem to imply exclusivity?

        Judaism (as a system) tends to spend very little time on eschatalogy (what happens when you die, the afterlife, etc.), while Christianity is hyper-focused on eschatalogy. One of the biggest reasons Jews don’t insist that others convert to Judaism is because generally “believing” Jews don’t believe non-Jews automatically end up in hell and only Jews end up in heaven. In the Rabbanic commentary it’s said, “Righteous Gentitles have a share in the world to come.” See link. Now, of course, there is a lot of debate about what constitutes a righteous gentile between denominations, individual rabbis, individual people, etc., but that’s still the mainstream position that crosses all denominations.

        This brings up the next issue I think that needs to be addressed. Judaism is also a religion of debate and questioning through its roots in the Talmud. They view the Torah through the lens of the Talmud. Here is a panel of 27 Rabbis who answered the question, “What is the one lesson Jews need to learn from the Talmud?”

        Their answer is: critical thinking. The importance of debate, questioning, listening to dissenting and disagreeing viewpoints, and not only to hear them, but also to challenge your own ideas. link. This also means that few Jewish denominations, including most forms of Orthodox, can really be called Literalist. Jews would also differentiate “rules”/”teachings” that apply to them only and ones that apply to gentiles.

        The passages in question, then, as I understand them are reflections of the views of my ancient ancestors, not their modern descendants. They are rules that in theory apply to Jews only. They don’t imply anything necessarily about those outside Judaism, only what Jews, in theory, are required to do. However, I also want to emphasize these are ancient passages written by human individuals and should be treated as such.

        “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3)

        “You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you” (Deut. 6:14); and “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8).

        Liked by 1 person

        • [The OT passages in question] are rules that in theory apply to Jews only. They don’t imply anything necessarily about those outside Judaism, only what Jews, in theory, are required to do. However, I also want to emphasize these are ancient passages written by human individuals and should be treated as such.

          Human individuals,” NOT vessels of God’s direct Word/Breath. It is quite unfortunate (devastating) that for the last two centuries (the Puritan-Fundamentalist movements) that has not been correctly taught or recognized outside of Judaism.

          Thank you CR. And my apologies for the long delay here. Have been quite busy then forgot to come back to this. Grrrrrrr. :/

          Liked by 1 person

  9. More progressive new social code of principals, please! That sounds lovely. This is an interesting article. I find myself asking a lot of questions about the benefit of religion, and how it weighs against the detrimental effects of it. I tend to focus on the negative because I’m convinced that the positive can be replaced by community gatherings more Humanist in nature, support of secular charity work, friendship with other open-minded individuals. But the point made about drug use replacing religion to achieve the serotonin level was of particular intrigue. Take inner-city areas, where drugs and crime are rampant, living conditions are poor, and access to resources is limited. While I believe this is the population hit hardest by the financial burden of supporting churches, I also admit there is evidence of the religious affiliation having a veritable effect on outcomes for the youth in the area. In my fictional (but amazing) world where religion is replaced by institutions of reason, progressive thought, and Humanism, these lower-income areas would probably be hardest hit during the “transition,” due to lack of resources. I do a lot of reading on minority groups and religion. The obstacles faced by, say, an inner-city African American who chooses to reject religion are incredibly complex and include, sometimes, lack of access to such fundamental needs (not just community and acceptance, but even food and shelter) that it renders choice almost nil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too thought religion being replaced by drugs: serotonin, dopamine, endorphines; was very intriguing. The music, dancing, etc, all those activities are already accomplished (and have been for many centuries) without any divine worshipping so in some ways and demographics the transition/change would not be great or difficult.

      Agree with you about particular minorities and their transition, but then again, how much of their plights are improved by religion over long-periods for the long-term (enabling apathy, demotivating labor) while a day’s handouts get them 1-2 more additional day(s)? Not a permanent fix, never has been.

      Great comment and feedback Danica! Thank you and please come by again! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: American Atheist Converted at Medjugorje, Bosnia – The Common Atheist

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