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Also, a lot of atheists I’ve encountered don’t like the idea of doing the very things he said trigger that secretion, like singing together, hearing a message of hoped, just being together in a place that is full of colorful light and inspiring images. Instead, even in this Big Think, he goes to; getting a massage, or talking some pills. Those are really poor alternatives to the “religious experience”. Instead, why not recreate that experience, but remove the belief in irrational, unsubstantiated entities?
Religious people are not exempt from taking hallucinogenic in the practice of their religion, so that’s not marker.
I believe that atheists rely on the effects of the mirror neural system, that allows a person to share “the same reality”. It commonly referred as “empathy”.
This experience can be as wonderful and exciting as any religious experience which is the same experience but falsely attributed to some supernatural agency.
This can be a very powerful emotion, such as 50,000 people experiencing a shared emotion in support of the “home team”.
It is already present in many animals and the mental phenomenon was discovered during experiments with macaque monkeys.
# Mirror neuron system
Mirror neuron system is a group of specialized neurons that “mirrors” the actions and behaviour of others. The involvement of mirror neuron system (MNS) is implicated in neurocognitive functions (social cognition, language, empathy, theory of mind) and neuropsychiatric disorders. MNS discovery is considered to be the most important landmark in neuroscience research during the last decade.
The mirror neurons were discovered serendipitously by Giacomo Rizzolatti and colleagues while working on the grasp response of macaques. They observed that a group of neurons in the area F5 of the premotor cortex that fires when a macaque performs an action; also discharges when it observes the same action being performed by another animal. Subsequent research has elucidated the diverse regions involved in the MNS of monkeys. Recently different cortical structures have been described as part of the MNS in humans.
This may be one of the common denominators in humans and most likely in all herd animals and is IMO an important associative marker of brain neurology. It is notable that people with autism seem to lack that ability. Hence their inability to socialize.