Evolution, Neuroscience, and Spirit

I’ve had some time to myself lately, which usually leads to me listening to talks like this, so I subject all of you to them.

This is something I was looking for about 25 years ago and took me this long to find. A bunch of scientists discussing religion. They hit all the good points, early humans, community, memes, plus some I didn’t expect, like the guy at around 37 minutes talking about consciousness and awareness.

One sort of aside to recent discussion, at 56, one of them has gone on for a bit about the value of religion in reducing the “stress of uncertainty”, something she explains with technical precision. Greene asks, “is there data for that”. Note, she doesn’t flip out and claim that science is suppressing her. That’s how I would like to have discussions go around here.

One more highlight, near the end, 1:11, there is something said about “investigating the disadvantages” of religion. That’s about as nice as one could put it. Personally, I find people are very willing to discuss their spirituality, but if you hint at something that might not be entirely healthy, they start acting like witch burners.

Thanks for sharing @Lausten.

That was excellent, enjoyed Lisa Barrett and loved how she protected her ground, I pitty the fool who ever threatens her kids. Barbara J. King was the real hit. Thank you for that introduction, shows how narrow my bandwidth is. But it was beautiful hearing the same thing I keep trying to spit out said with such eloquence and real expertise.

Pinkert didn’t surprise, his answers sounded like he never heard a word she said. At least he sure didn’t let any of it soak in. Zoran Josipovic didn’t have much of a chance to get a word in edgewise and there’s only so much time. I’m going to have to see if he has any talks on YouTube and hear him out.

Very best part of talk was when Barbara King spoke and you can bet I’ve got her talks cue’d up and ready to go for the rest of the afternoon.

Well Barbara King wasn’t quite what I was pining for, still fascinating and I’m glad to have listen to her story. She explores the emotions of animals

BARBARA J. KING is emerita professor of anthropology at William & Mary and a freelance science writer and public speaker. The author of seven books, including the new Animals’ Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and in the Wild , Barbara focuses on animal emotion and cognition, the ethics of our relationships with animals, and the evolutionary history of language, culture, and religion. Her book How Animals Grieve has been translated into 7 languages and her TED talk on animal love and grief has now received over 3 million views.

Since 2011, King has written weekly for the National Public Radio blog Cosmos and Culture, [2] which explores humans’ relationships to each other, their environment, and the planet. Specifically, King focused often on the “inner lives” of intelligent animals like primates, the octopus, squid, pigs, and dolphins, arguing that humanity should consider how best to communicate and accommodate these species’ lives without anthropomorphization or exploitation.

Good stuff that appreciates the depth and influence of evolution in all of us ( as in living creatures), excellent things to know and be aware of. But, you know me, that Earth Centrist thing, I want to know more about the biology and evolutionary pathways, change over time and those deep time sort of details. While she’s focused on here and now.

Interesting tidbit.

Scientists and Theists have “getting high” in common.

Many scientists like Carl Sagan used marijuana to expand their perspective on certain complicated issues.
OTOH, Frankincense is very popular in churches to expand the believers perspective on certain complicated issues.

Incense May Act As a Psychoactive Drug during Religious Ceremony
An ingredient in frankincense eases anxiety and elevates mood

Burning incense has accompanied religious ceremonies since ancient times. Its fragrant presence may be more than symbolic, however—a May 20 study in the FASEB journal suggests that a chemical commonly found in incense may elevate mood.**

Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his colleagues injected mice with incensole acetate, a component of the resin of the Boswellia plant. This resin, better known as frankincense, is an ingredient in Middle Eastern incense. The chemical reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms in the mice. In the anxiety test, for example, injected animals were less fearful of open spaces as compared with mice that were given a placebo.

Incensole acetate is a mild drug: the chemical proved to be 10 times less potent than Valium in its reduction of anxiety, Mechoulam says. During religious ceremonies, the people inhaling the most smoke—the officiants burning the incense—are probably the only ones who feel its effects, he adds. Incensole acetate may lead to new treatments for anxiety and depression if more potent forms can be synthesized and if it successfully lifts moods in human trials.

I’m not surprised. The Church is notorious for using a variety of neuro stimulating things- lights, actions/rituals, music, preaching… so this doesn’t come as a surprise.