What makes any one religion more valid than another. Of all the cultures that have existed throughout history, all have expressed a belief in something larger than themselves. It has been proven in the scientific community that humans have an innate spirituality. It would better serve mankind to channel this into a Buddhist mentality which views the world  as one in which we are all connected in a spirit within us that we all can feel.I have been an atheist since my mid teens and have only seen religion since then as a detriment to logical thinking, reasoning and just plain questioning. most if not all wars are fought over something as stupid as not being the same sect in the same religion.

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I'm thinking of a device that can pickup on the feelings of another person, like the person you're romantically interested in, we could sell millions of units online.

Just from simply scientific curiosity the knowledge we could gain would be immense. To be able to measure which experiences bring a great sense of awe to most people could teach us a lot about evolutionary-psychology, the standard triggers that lead us to spirituality and the horrors of religion, which forms of art and music inspire the most awe and why. In what specific settings does star gazing give us the deepest sense of mystery...is it when we are alone and feeling confused or is it when you are sharing a starry view with someone you are falling in love with? When we gain world changing knowledge or encounter radically new technology ... is there a correlation between the amount of awe we feel and our propensity to addiction to the new technology. Are we less likely to question the ethics and value of such technology or more likely to fear it and be sceptical.

Pragmatically we might be able to use this knowledge to learn which first moments our children face the greatest amount of awe and be prepared to explore with them these experiences and help them avoid the irrational pitfalls that come with them and even learn the best strategies to harness this awe to instil drive, curiosity, self confidence in them.

Film makers, composers and writers can use these insights to better draw in their audience and perhaps harness the power of awe to give the message of their work or increase the pleasure or entertainment value of it.

We sometimes find it difficult to learn and understand abstract concepts when accompanied by a sense of awe. For instance understanding the extent of the utter emptiness of the universe. Or understanding the immensity of extremely large numbers. Through experiments we might be able to find a way to teach these concepts so that a student learns these things before awe sets in. Perhaps then the awe that they feel will increase the value they took out of learning such information rather then posing a roadblock to learning it and applying it.

As for me...I'm far more interested in simply the knowledge we would gain by understanding awe...especially in terms of evolutionary psychology, what advantage a profound feeling of awe gave us in our early evolution and what other parts of the brain are active during such moments, how awe relatess to developing irrational beliefs and how extreme awe paralyses us and empowers us. Extremely interesting stuff. Far more useful information if we could objectively measure awe. In fact just this year a clinic in Antwerp has shown promise in objectively measuring pain. Why not awe?

Extremely well said. My subjective sense of awe has never translated into a belief in god. I do feel that i am connected to everything in this universe simply in a way that allows me to understand kindness, compassion and love for humanity. If most humans could feel the same way we could have a secular society of people caring about each other without the horrendous baggage of religious intolerance.

Though I suspect such knowledge would most likely be used for things like advertising.

Hasn't Madison Ave. been using "the sense of awe" to sell us stuff for decades? :)

I guess they do to some limited extent, but their bread and butter has always been appealing to our Id impulses; "sex sells", for example. They barrage and bludgeon us with that stuff. I think they would love to perfect their ability to push other buttons in our psyche.

I can just see the pastors, ministers, priests, etc. lining up to see who can induce the most MegaWows in their audiences. Of course, on the flip side, science would be able to quantifiably tell people how they are being fooled. I mean look at how science has totally destroyed the creationist viewpoint! ;-)

Lets change the thread a little. I feel that most religious people are simply afraid to die and as such  prefer to believe in system that guarantees  life after death. I know that we are all animals, like the dog, the bear, etc. and simply die and thats that.

I think it's the other way around, they are worried about dying because of their religious indoctrination. Jim Jefferies said it best, 'Religious people worry because they believe in heaven. If there's a heaven, there has to be a hell, and everyone that's read that book knows you've done enough shit to go to hell'.

Jim Jefferies on religion (NSFW)

Well that would exclude those religions that don't ultimately offer life after death. In the original Buddhism, for example, the buddhism propounded by Siddhartha Gautama, the promise is an end to rebirth and a merging with The One, a process meaning the extinction of the individual soul.

It's similar in classical Hinduism, where the goal is an end to the cycle of birth and death, the result being neither. Complete and total extinction. The end of personal, individual existence.

Confucianism, strangely, seems to have a heaven for one's ancestors but contradictorily has nothing to say about attaining the afterlife. Apparently, one just goes to heaven. It is really more of an ethical system based on respect for elders and betters rather than a true religion.

Taoism throws the word Heaven around and talks about being true and righteous but, like Confucianism, it is extremely short on theology. 

It has been said that India has too much religion and China too little. 

Some Rastafari believe that you get to live forever in Ethiopia and speak  Amharic (አማርኛ).

It seems like those religions with the goal of the end of personal existence also have the goal of making personal peace with it.


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