Religion can and does cause literal brain damage, and that that damage can be difficult if not impossible to repair if not addressed early in life Supporting...
so, we're lucky I guess :)
If there is an association, I don't think we can assume causation here. The study merely only reports possible associations. Could it also be that the causes of the hippocampal atrophy lead to increased religiosity and not necessarily the other way around?
As far as the logical thinking and psychological aspects, I agree - but that is a different argument than the brain damage argument as presented here.
I have absolutely no doubt that the emotional fear conditioning of children who have the misfortunate to be born into a U.S. style indoctrinating fundamentalist religion have well-entrneched emotional problems. I have had to deal with the fallout with some of my patients.I am not, however, convinced by the recent paper that suggests that fear-provoking religion causes permanent brain damage, specifically to the hippocampal area. While it is true that post-traumatic stressors cause brain disturbances I am not so sure that this is what is happening to the subjects in that study, The direction of the defect cannot be reliably determined by the study format. Which comes first: the brain deficiency (compared with "neurotypical" people) or the fanatical religious belief? It is conceivable, and has not been ruled out, that innate deficiencies in the brain's memory circuitry is what attracts people to fundamentalist authoritarian beliefs sets or causes them to remain in an indoctrinated religion of this type. People can, and do, think their way out of this cognitively restrictive type of religion. What happens to their hippocampuses during and after the process? Do they grow new brain tissue, do they remain impaired, or were they lucky enough not to have been neurally affected by their upbringing? It is unlikely, but not impossible, that escapees from authoritarian belief systems of any kind grow new brain tissue in the hippocampal area in response to the significant cognitive stimulation and stress caused by the process of thinking and investigating a belief set that has become part of one's belief about who they are. In that case, we should expect to find before and after differences in brain volume in those who become disenchanted with their childhood religious beliefs. No study has done this yet.
Hi Ron V. It seems that we came to similar conclusions within a minute of each other. :-)
After watching this video, reading the article sighted, and reading the Scientific American article, it would seem that a better assumption may be that the emotional breadth requirements of both highly religious people and atheists are not as great as people with a so/so religious affiliation.
In other words, us atheists and the religious zealots have a long term limited emotional roller coaster since we are pretty sure we are correct and have lesser need for that part of the hippocampus which the so/so religious people still need since, over the long run, they must deal with issues such as degree of belief in certain things. And, as we know, the body trends to get rid of those things that it does not use.
Based on this, I would tend not to believe that being a religious zealot causes any brain damage any more than us strong atheists would wind up causing brain damage. I would tend to think it is just the body doing what evolution says it should do, get rid of the unused stuff so it isn't a burden on everything else.
It is also important to note that this study was on people over 58 years of age, and nothing is known about how this progresses.
Join Think Atheist
Welcome toThink Atheist
Get Started Nowor Sign In
Or sign in with:
Sunday School October 19th 2014
Sunday School October 12th 2014
Sunday School October 5th 2014
Started by Davis Goodman in Small Talk. Last reply by Unseen 2 hours ago.
Started by aubrey knows nothing * in Small Talk. Last reply by Davis Goodman 2 hours ago.
Started by Belle Rose in Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Psychology. Last reply by MikeLong 5 hours ago.
Started by Unseen in Law, Trials, and Decisions. Last reply by Ward Cressin 7 hours ago.
Started by Belle Rose in Atheist Parenting. Last reply by Ward Cressin 7 hours ago.
April 13, 2015 all day – Anywhere that one might find a glass of Johnnie Walker Black
Posted by Anna Stein on October 24, 2014 at 7:47pm
Posted by aubrey knows nothing * on October 23, 2014 at 9:25pm
We are in love with our Amazon
Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!
Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com
In need a of a professional web site? Check out the good folks at Clear Space Media
© 2014 Created by umar.
Report an Issue |
Terms of Service
Please check your browser settings or contact your system administrator.