Re: Neuroscientists and the "God module"

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Wed Jan 24 2001 - 19:25:41 MST

At 07:03 PM 24/01/01 -0700, Michael LaTorra wrote:

>Some months back, Samantha wrote about her experiences with the "God module"
>in her brain. (Hey, I've got one of those, too!) Now some neuroscientists at
>the U of Penn. believe they have discovered the areas of the brain in which
>this module operates.


I love the way this stuff is unfolding. I used to have these experiences
too, as a pious Catholic kid, but my god module's gone on the blink.
(Actually I crawled under and rewired it right.)

I do think we should be cautious about calling these neurological
short-circuits `god modules'. `God' is a local historically contingent
construct. The article makes it clear that what is experienced is a
delightful loss of self boundaries, so that the usual background sense of
integral identity merges with one's ceaselessly updated construct of the
rest of the world. In monotheistic cultures, people tend to experience this
as a revelation of The One True God; in polytheistic cultures, I'm pretty
sure you'd feel contact with one or another local god or demon; in god-free
sub-cultures, what one would experience might resemble Buddhist satori, or
the awe and wonderment we transhuman types tend to get when we gaze into a
vast clear brilliantly starred sky, or listen to Bach, or hold a new-born
baby (I'm told) for the first time, or read one of my novels. :)

No `god' need apply, unless It's been applied in heavy strokes ahead of time.

Damien Broderick

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