Author Topic: dopamine and religion  (Read 671 times)

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Offline rickymooston

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dopamine and religion
« on: October 05, 2011, 07:58:23 AM »
People often look at the religious question in terms of a person's ability to do logic.

Thing is, logic is overriden by other considerations. One of these might be in the chemistry of human group intereaction. I'm not a biochemist and don't know all the drugs involved in our brain. Oxytocerin and dopamine are ones of some interest. You may know others.

A book called the Political Brain, described how people, when faced with a critical attack on their political party, seemed to face some kind of internal delimna and then their brains came up with a "escape clause" producing a huge shot of dopamine in the process. That is, the claim was, the term political junkie was real.

Now, humans are a social species and we've evolved to co-operate in cliches and clans. During warfare with other humans, or even other species, this sort of behavior was useful.  Fitting in to the "clan" was essential for effective survival both within the clan and against the opponents of the clan.

Belonging to a religion, may be, from a biochemical, neuropsychology point of view, similar to being part of a clan. A really huge clan. Our need for "meaning" and "belonging" may well just be social grouping instincts.

Anyway, that is my hypothesis but I don't really have enough evidence to go beyond suggesting. I do think evidence exists to support said suggestions but I've not digested them well enough.
For me, the most intriguing line of this whole article was, "Prayer and meditation also increase levels of dopamine, often referred to as the brain’s pleasure hormone."

My interest in this? Other than the obvious, I have ADHD which comes with a natural addiction to dopamine production. I suspect people with ADHD are, unlike autistics, probably more likely to be "religious" or "spirtual". I  don't have papers to prove this tho.

I did a bit of googling but its inclonclusive so far. If religion is a way to increase dopamine production, I would definitely expect people with ADHD to be more likely to be into religious pursuits.

In this thread discuss the psychology of religion. Posts proving/disproving God's existence will be smited. This thread basically assumes God doesn't exist but I suppose if God did  exist, one could argue he "designed us" to be religious using dopamine and other chemicals. Every religious experience is explanable using neurochemistry.
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Offline Alendar

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Re: dopamine and religion
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2011, 12:27:54 PM »
Interesting stuff.  I was watching a documentary on Martin Luther and how he tortured himself worse than any other as a monk, almost killed himself.  And yet he felt constantly that he was unforgiven by God.  He would get absolution in confession, confessing up to 6 hours a day, and immediately felt like he had been false.

I had the same experience as a pre-teen and teenager.  I've been diagnosed with ADHD as well.  My son is further down the autism spectrum but he believes in God and is mildly religious, though he doesn't understand the theology.

I still wrestle with religion and God questions.  I find your links very interesting.