>The "keep an open mind" mantra is usually spouted by the
>most closed-minded mystics who refuse to even entertain
>the idea that the mind can do these things. Frankly, I
>find that insulting. Of course the mind can do it--every
>experience you have is processed by that wonderfully
>complex machine of your brain; why should it be any more
>immune to an occasional malfunction than any other machine?
I'm in agreement for the most part, but I'd argue that what you
term "malfunctions" (and many of the experiences you're referring
to are just that) are sometimes extremely functional--though not
from my personal viewpoint. It looks as if religion, for example,
evolved as a social mechanism to enable large groups to retain
solidarity. There is a great Darwinian need for this. We've even
isolated the "religion complex" to a specific site in the brain. So
while a religious epiphany may well be a fortuitous interplay of
neurochemicals and wishful thinking, I wouldn't call it a _malfunction_.
Rather, a "vestigial reflex"...or at least I'd like to think of it as
Looking at culture in general, though, makes me think twice...