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God or supernatural power: Its all about your mind

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Image source: wikkorg.com

While scientists and faithfuls will ensure that the debate on the existence of a universal spirit — call it God or a supernatural force — goes on, a research study has revealed that the conflict between science and religion has its roots in your brain.

According to the researchers, human brain is divided in two parts — one given to analytical or critical think and the other comprising an empathetic network.

When it comes to chosing between faith or science, this is how the brain works.

In order to believe in a supernatural power or a universal spirit, people appear to suppress the brain network used for analytical or critical thinking and engage the empathetic network.

On the other hand, when thinking analytically about the physical and material world, people just appear to do the opposite, say researchers from Ohio-based Case Western Reserve University and Massachusetts-based Babson College in the US.

The brain has a role to play in everything that happens to and by the human body and mind.

“You cannot do anything without the brain. So the faithfuls suppress analytical/critical part of their brain while they are enjoying their faith or praying. It, however, does not mean that they cannot be nerds and analytical at other times,” Richard E Boyatzis, professor of organisational behaviour at Case Western and a co-author of the research study, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

In a series of eight experiments, the researchers found the more empathetic the person is, the more likely he or she is to be religious.

The research is based on the hypothesis that the human brain’s two opposing domains are in constant tension.

“Because of the tension between these two networks, pushing aside a naturalistic world view enables you to delve deeper into the social or emotional side,” says associate professor of philosophy Tony Jack from Case Western in a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

According to Santhosh Babu, celebrity coach and managing director of Organisation Development Alternatives, human brain is capable of understanding that we do not understand everything. Therefore, there is a “rational comfort” in trusting someone or something on issues which are beyond our understanding and capabilities.

“The moment we believe in something, there is a perceptual constraint that stops the analytical or curious part of our brain. Once the brain believes in something strongly, only the data that support that particular belief is allowed to enter our awareness,” Babu told IANS.

The US researchers also examined the relationship between belief in God with measures of analytic thinking and moral concerns, in eight different experiments — each involving 159 to 527 adults.

Consistently through all experiments, the team found that both spiritual belief and empathic concerns were positively associated with frequency of prayer, meditation and other spiritual or religious practices.

Experts feel that for the human mind, the uncertainty that surrounds a state of “not knowing” is a source of anxiety, fear and depression.

“Surrendering to a ‘higher power’ alleviates that state of ‘not knowing’ as it is easier to believe that things are happening as per will of God or destiny rather than not being able to put an explanation for those acts or phenomenon,” emphasises Dr Sunil Mittal, senior psychiatrist from Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences in New Delhi.

Religious beliefs, however, can help cope with difficult events like death of a loved one, loss, disability and calamities.

“The human mind does feel conflicted about believing in something that it has never seen or cannot define. However, the ‘power of belief’ itself is essential to help find answers and cope with difficulties in life, be it belief in God, in destiny or any other higher power,” Dr Mittal told IANS.

But some psychiatrists say the unknown also holds challenges for the mind.

“One can be spiritual without being religious and vice versa. Uncertainty may lead to depression, fear and anxiety, but may also be rewarding as it provides a stimulus for progression on a journey that may lead to the development of the self and personal beliefs in response to the challenges faced in life,” says Dr Shobhana Mittal, a Delhi-based senior psychiatrist.

To question, analyse and think critically is an innate quality of the human mind. But the religion-science conflict can, however, be avoided by remembering simple rules, say others.

“Religion has no place telling us about the physical structure of the world as this is the business of science. Science should inform our ethical reasoning but it cannot determine what is ethical or tell us how we should construct meaning and purpose in our lives,” explains Jack.

For Dr (Brig) S Sudarsanan, senior consultant psychiatrist from BLK Super Specialty Hospital in the capital, while the conflict between belief in God and atheism has gained significant momentum in the recent past, “spirituality is increasingly being thought of as a key function of the brain.”

That may be another debatable point.

Credits: IANS

  • Shriya Katoch

    This really interesting . Finally found a reason for belief .

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Researchers Find Hints to a ‘Ghost’ Species of Ancient Human in Africa

In a new analysis of a protein found in saliva, researchers discovered evidence of archaic admixture in modern people living in sub-Saharan Africa, indicating that another species had contributed to the genetic material of their ancestors.

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Ghost Species
Evolution of homosapien. Pixabay

July 23, 2017: Researchers revealed ancient Africans may have involved in a ‘sexual rendezvous’ with a ‘ghost’ species of archaic humans. The new research is among more recent genetic studies showing that ancient Africans also had rendezvous with other early hominins.

The research summed to a growing body of evidence implying that sexual rendezvous between different archaic human species may not have been unusual.

In saliva, University at Buffalo scientists detected hints that a “ghost” species of archaic humans contributed genetic material to ancestors of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa today.

Also Read: Ancient Human Ancestor was Tallest known member of Prehuman Species, best known for Fossil Skeleton nicknamed “Lucy” 

“It seems that interbreeding between different early hominin species is not the exception – it’s the norm,” said lead researcher Omer Gokcumen to Business Standard.

“Our research traced the evolution of an important mucin protein called MUC7 that is found in saliva,” he remarked. “When we looked at the history of the gene that codes for the protein, we see the signature of archaic admixture in modern day Sub-Saharan African populations.”

The researchers came upon their discoveries while exploring the reason and origins of the MUC7 protein, which helps give spit its slimy consistency and ties to organisms, possibly freeing the assortment of sickness causing microscopic organisms.

The examination inferred that MUC7 seems to impact the structure of the oral microbiome, the accumulation of microorganisms inside the mouth. The proof for this originated from an examination of organic specimens from 130 individuals, which found that diverse forms of the MUC7 quality were connected with various oral microbiome compositions.

“From what we know of MUC7, it makes sense that people with different versions of the MUC7 gene could have different oral microbiomes,” lead researcher Stefan Ruhl said. “The MUC7 protein is thought to enhance the ability of saliva to bind to microbes, an important task that may help prevent disease by clearing unwanted bacteria or other pathogens from the mouth.”

-By Staff writer at Newsgram

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Photographer Moaz Bowman Captures Faces to show human spirit persevering against all odds in War-torn Syria

The photographers took the pictures from different regions of the country, which aims to reach behind the statistics, combat pictures, and global maneuvering to show the real Syria.

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After aerial bombardment by the Syrian government of rebel-held areas of Azaz in Aleppo governorate. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • A team of Syrian volunteer photographers part of the “The Humans Of Syria” project, showcased their work at an exhibition at the Capitol hill in the US
  • The photographs are arranged in two circles at the rotunda of the US Senate office building. The photographers also spoke at the opening of the exhibit via video message
  • Republican Senator, Bob Corker, spoke at the opening of the exhibit, saying that it was the greatest humanitarian disasters of modern time and we stood by and let this happen

Sept 09, 2016: His dark eyes glare at the camera as if it caught him doing something forbidden. The nine-year-old boy doesn’t attend school because of the civil war in the country, is shown holding a pen. The caption says he misses school but, “I carry a pen with me wherever I go and write on anything I can.”

The photograph of Moaz from Eastern Ghouta, Syria, is part of an exhibition in the rotunda of a U.S. Senate office building. It captures the human spirit persevering against all odds, despite living in the midst of a five-year-long conflict that has killed about 400,000 people.

A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)
A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)

“The Syrian people, if you talk to them, they feel like they’ve been left alone,” says Dr. Lina Murad of the Syrian American Medical Society. Murad left Syria years ago to escape the Assad government. She says the lack of international monetary assistance has meant a complete collapse of humanitarian support.

‘Nation of heroes’

A team of Syrian volunteers took the photos in different regions of the country to show what they call “a nation of heroes who are doing everything they can to live, to love and to dream.”

ALSO WATCH:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGy5L98EwYY

The Humans of Syria project aims to reach behind the statistics, combat pictures, and global maneuvering to show the real Syria. The photographers spoke at the opening of the exhibit via video message.

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Their photographs are arranged in two circles below the high dome of the U.S. Capitol building, in a barren, yet stately space that echoes with footsteps from offices above. The faces look outward from the center of the area as if begging to speak and tell their stories. The captions do it for them.

Four toddlers stand outside ruins in Idlib province. The arched stone cave door leads to their home after their father was killed in the war and their mother left to remarry.

A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)
A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)

A 12-year-old from Aleppo attaches lug nuts onto a tire. He started working two years ago after his school was bombed.

“What we don’t understand here is that half the population of Syria is displaced, internally or externally,” said Murad, who is quick to add that government policies, not other humans, are failing her people.

‘Scar on our country’

Senator Bob Corker, a Republican who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee spoke at the opening of the exhibit.

“This will go down as one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of modern time and we stood by and let this happen,” he said.

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Corker has long criticized the Obama administration for not putting the U.S. military on the ground in Syria early in the conflict. “This is a scar on our country,” he said.

The groups represented support House Resolution 5732 — The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act — which promises accountability for Syrian human rights abusers and an analysis of possible no-fly and safe zones. Critics call it a “pro-war bill” that will lead to further U.S. intervention in Syria. The resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives in July.

A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)
A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)

In the meantime, a photo stands out. It shows an artist who is wearing a surgical mask to avoid breathing the dust of a bombed building. He has drawn a picture of a little girl in a dress, standing on a pile of skulls.

The little girl is stretching above her head to write the word “Hope.” (VOA)

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Human Bones Found near Former Nazi Research Site in Berlin where dead camp victim’s body parts were sent by SS doctor Josef Mengele

The site is about 100 meters (yards) away from what was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Human Heredity and Eugenics in the Nazi era

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FILE - Federal police agent holds two photos and the identity card June 7, 1985 found in the house in which the man believed to be Nazi War Criminal Josef Mengele lived. Photo on left shows Mengele eating. Image source: VOA

Archaeologists in Berlin have unearthed a large number of human bones from a site close to where Nazi scientists carried out research on body parts of death camp victims sent to them by sadistic SS doctor Josef Mengele, officials said Thursday.

Experts have been examining the site in Berlin’s upscale Dahlem neighborhood since a small number of bones were found there in 2014 during road work on a property belonging to Berlin’s Free University.

In the dig they uncovered “numerous fractured skulls, teeth, vertebrae” and other bones, including those of children, Susan Pollock, a professor of archaeology at the university who was one of the leaders of the team, said in a statement.

The bones found in 2014 were never identified, and the new discovery provides researchers “a new possibility to illuminate the unusual find and the circumstances under which they were buried,” said Joerg Haspel, the leader of Berlin’s office that oversees memorial sites.

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Several of the vertebrae found had traces of glue on them, indicating they may have been parts of skeletons on display.

German police shooting women and children from the Mizocz Ghetto, 14 October 1942. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
German police shooting women and children from the Mizocz Ghetto, 14 October 1942. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The site is about 100 meters (yards) away from what was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Human Heredity and Eugenics in the Nazi era.

The world-famous Kaiser Wilhelm Society predated the Nazi era and once counted famous scientists like Albert Einstein among its directors.

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During the Nazi dictatorship, however, the Dahlem institute was closely associated with pseudoscientific race research, and notorious Auschwitz physician Mengele as well as others are known to have sent many body parts there for study. It was also known to have a collection of bones from Germany’s colonial era, among others.

Experts now plan to use osteological identification methods to try to learn more about the newly discovered bones, and should at least be able to determine the general age of the person, their sex and how many different people’s bones were found, Pollock said. Results are expected at the earliest at the end of the year.

A working group of the university, the city, and the Max Planck Society, which the Kaiser Wilhelm Society was renamed after the war, has been keeping in close contact with Germany’s Central Council of Jews and Central Council of Sinti and Roma on the archaeological work.

Earlier this year, the Max Planck Society ordered a complete review of its specimens collection after discovering human brain sections in its archive that were from victims of Nazi Germany’s so-called euthanasia program in which psychiatric patients and people with mental deficiencies were killed.

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“The Max Planck Society has accepted a difficult legacy of its predecessor organization, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society,” said society president Martin Stratmann of his organization’s participation in the ongoing archaeological investigation. “We are well aware of the special responsibility that it entails.” (VOA)