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How God Tickles Our Brain (Part Two)

Posted by spritzophrenia on December 17, 2010

Religious experiences, near death experiences, mystical oneness, spiritual feelings: How are they experienced in our brain? What bearing does this have on the question of God’s existence or our escape from Samsara? Bill continues his guest post from part one:

The lobes in the mind become active from some source of input, and your mind reacts to that stimulation.

For example, there are localized spots in two lobes (the nucleus accumbens and the ventral pallidum) which, when activated, give you a deep sense of pleasure. (Aw, come on, there has to be something in the brain that causes the pleasure sensation). An experiment with Rhesus monkeys (who have similar spots) involved giving them a button, which when pressed, stimulated their pleasure centers. If left to their own devices, those monkeys would have starved themselves to death as they became fixated in a non-stop cycle of pressing their button.

When someone tells you that the purpose of human life is to seek pleasure, it is not impossible for that purpose to be fulfilled by a suitably engineered helmet.

The lobes in the human brain fall into two broad groups: the four lobes that make up your conscious mind, and all the others that make up your subconscious.

brain and skull

A large number of activities in the sub-conscious are reflex conditions that have evolved over time, and exist in us because that reflex in ancient times made our specific ancestors survive in primitive settings.

Being subconscious, we are not aware of the mechanism, but we are aware of the resulting emotion. Public speaking today is often difficult because our successful ancestors fled when surrounded by eyes, and survived. We have a built in reflex to want to flee when surrounded by the eyes of an audience.

Our personality is not inherited – it is a mix of life time experiences reacting with the underlying reflexes. And in acquiring our personality, we acquire our belief system.

There is constant feed back from those we trust as infants (infants who have trust in elders tended to live longer in primitive times, so we also have a built in trust during our infancy). This feedback influences our personality, and as a side effect, our belief system.

Some beliefs rapidly become self-evident through proof: pain is unpleasant and avoiding it is worthwhile.

Some beliefs become self-evident through repetition: if you are bad you will go to hell.

And some through reflexes giving us internal input-response relations. When I stroke a pet cat, it purrs and that gives me a pleasurable sensation. Therefore it is nice to stroke a pet cat.

Now, there was a relevant experiment that used human volunteers. It involved a helmet that stimulates the subject’s temporal lobe.

The temporal lobe’s prime purpose is to give us feelings of empathy with others – it meant that humans could work in packs a long time ago, and as teams nowadays.

When there is no one present, stimulation of the lobe causes the person to emphasize with no-one, and through a process known as agenticity, create some sort of “being” to account for the presence felt.

The device became to be known as “the God helmet”. It was placed on the subject’s head, the button was pressed, and the subject reported a sensation that was consistent with the subject’s core religious attitude.

It was found that the stimulation of a theist’s temporal lobe produced the presence of the relevant god, of a Buddhist led to a heightened oneness with the universe, and atheists reported a warm and fuzzy feeling that they couldn’t quite pin down.

To understand religious belief mechanisms properly, we need to tie to this phenomena those of the Limbic system and the three lobes that carry religious conviction. Then we shall be able to decide if religion is a by-product of stray neurological activity, or the way a God “tickles” lobes to confirm his presence to the believer.

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I was once in the triage ward of a hospital. I was waiting for surgery to deal with an internal burst blood vessel. In the early hours of the morning, my blood pressure caused an alarm to sound, and suddenly my bed was surrounded by several nurses and a doctor, doing all sorts of presumably coordinated activity. One nurse smiled at me, stuck a syringe in my arm and said “You are going to be ok” A few seconds later, I went to sleep, and when I woke up, all had been put good, and I was discharged a couple of days later.

Now – something very strange happened in the period between the needle jab and falling asleep.

I was suddenly aware that I was in the presence of an invisible (to me) entity that had an intellect vastly superior to my own. What is more, I instinctively “knew” that this being was totally aware of every single detail of my entire life.

When I was discharged, you might be curious as to why did I not run to church? Well, there was in my way of thinking a serious fault in what this superior being had done – or rather not done. Why had it arrived at that particular moment, and then simply watched as an idle bystander? Why no communication? And where was he or it all the rest of my life? This did not seem at all rational. And I found no solace in the catch-all “God moves in mysterious ways”.

I later came across a paper published by Dr R. Joseph. His research material showed that activation of the amygdala, hippocampus, and temporal lobe are responsible for religious, spiritual, and mystical trance-like states, dreaming, astral projection, near death and out-of-body experience, and the “hallucination” of ghosts, demons, angels, and gods.

These lobes are not part of the four bits that make up the conscious part of the brain. When stimulus in the subconscious turns on the images visible to the conscious, the conscious part of the brain has no idea where those images are coming from. And the conscious is absolutely certain that the images are not self induced.

More than one F-84 pilot flying at night, through a cone-of-silence, reported on landing safely that during the scariest part of the flight, they had hallucinated that they were sitting on the wing of their jet fighters, watching themselves fly the airplane. This was originally thought to be a consequence of spatial disorientation, but is now seen to be a result of limbic stimulation caused by the extreme anxiety of flying solo at night in life threatening circumstances.

In short, when the limbic system is activated the subject has strong religious experience, when the temporal lobe is activated when no one is present, the subject has a mild religious experience, and when the conscious part of the mind becomes aware of the subconscious part, the subject invariably reports being in the presence of an invisible all knowing being who has total knowledge of the subject’s life.

These three responses has a causal effect in that three other lobes of the brain may then hold a belief in a deity, either for the first time, or to reinforce an existing belief.

A side effect of the three lobes holding the belief, is that whenever input is heard or seen that challenges that belief, the conscious brain looks for any reason whatsoever in order to be able to discount the input.

The same thing happens with non-believers – they are also constantly looking for any reason possible to discount any input that might disprove their non-belief. We all inherit the same systems.

The limbic system, the temporal lobe and mind expansion can be triggered by stress, drug, illness, random internal neural activity, external electro-magnetic activity, input from any of the five senses and, not proven but included for the sake of completeness, a deity activating these components as part of his divine will.

So – you look at a starry night, a newborn child, a perfect rose, a portrait of Christ – whatever – and the sheer majesty of the emotion evoked from what you see or feel causes the temporal lobe to activate. You could become convinced you are in the presence of god, whose presence now explains the mystery of what you are seeing.

The only thing you have to resolve is whether that temporal stimulation is natural or supernatural.

In my case, I became convinced it was natural.

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How God Tickles Our Brain (Part One)

Posted by spritzophrenia on December 16, 2010

You’re probably aware that in the last decades brain research has revealed a lot about religious experiences, near death experiences and similar. It’s an area I’m interested in but haven’t looked into much. Recently Bill wrote an article on the AgnosticsInternational forum and he’s kindly allowed me to reproduce it here. I think it’s a particularly clear and useful overview:

The Sensation Known As Religious Experience

I want to look at how the human brain works, and how it processes religious ideas: not to attack religion or theism, nor to support them, just so we can add this new dimension into our debates.

I shall take some short cuts and simplifications: if you need fuller and more complex material, I can give you such links. I do not feel that you need to know every nook and cranny of this field of science to gain some benefit from some knowledge of it.

Let us look at the human brain itself – it is made of localized areas called lobes, and these lobes “do” things when electrical activity takes place within them. Communication between the lobes is virtually simultaneous, and most of us would like to think that our brains are a seamless whole.

However, each lobe has its own specialization. One lobe processes your thinking and reasoning, another handles input from the five senses, another deals with speech and yet another is your short term memory. These lobes are the conscious part of your mind – it is where you see, hear, think and react to the world outside. Although these lobes are part of the integrated whole, just for discussion purposes and not as a definition, it is useful to group these lobes together as a single unit, and call it “the little brain”.

The rest of the brain deals with everything else from controlling your heart rate to providing emotional responses to holding long term memory. Again, purely for discussion, it is useful to call this subconscious area of your brain “the big brain”, for it really is very much larger than the conscious brain.

The technology of fMRI allows doctors to study what is wrong with any one lobe, and researchers to examine what each lobe does. Some of the research simply confirms prior theories, and some gives new insight and explanation.

For example, we now know that the little brain processes about 2,500 bits of data per second, constantly during waking hours, and never varies much from that figure. Big brain processes about 4 billion bits per second, some lobes in constant agitation and others at rest until their functionality is required.

One early discovery explained the experience of deja vu. When a subject loses the short term memory of a sight or sound just after seeing or hearing something, the sound or sight is present in long term memory. That is, the sight or sound entered both short term and long term memory simultaneously, short term dropped it for some reason, and found that long term memory recognized the sight or sound – even though it was being sensed for the very first time. Deja vu really is nothing more than a brain blip.

We now know that the ability to believe in religious ideas is held in three separate lobes, which do other jobs as well. This ability piggy backs on those lobes. That is, there is no special religious belief lobe. (It would have been a very odd god who had the human mind built in such a way that it was impossible to believe in god, and the mechanism neither adds nor subtracts from theology). The first piece is [unfortunately this section is missing. Can anyone help fill in the gap?]

The second piece is the temporal lobe. When this lobe is activated, it gives us the ability to empathise with others. It is normally activated by seeing somebody or something, and we sense whatever it is that the person or thing is experiencing. Sometimes it gets activated when no-one is present, and we then sense the presence of that no-one. One cause of such activity is temporal epilepsy – and such epileptics have so many religious experiences that they are considered to be blessed by some cultures. Another cause of such activity is an experimenter providing the lobe with micro-electronic stimulation, and the subjects consistently report religious experience, consistent with the prior teaching of what a religious experience consists of. Christians report sensing the presence of Christ, jews the presence of God, Muslims the presence of Allah, buddhists a state of nirvarna and so on.

The third piece is the Limbic system – several lobes deep in the lowest reaches of the subconscious that provide, among other things, the ability to get ready to have sex, to fight, to flee in fear and so on. One thing we have learned about this particular area is that it is where all Near Death Experience originates – with its hallucinations, ghosts, and light beckoning from the other side of death’s door. Some brave people have had NDEs invoked upon them in laboratory settings.

However, outside of such experiments, the strength of NDEs produced by the limbic system are so overpowering, that atheists have been known to become theists after such an event.

We need to look at these three pieces in some more detail – but we have gone far enough for an overview.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Before looking at religious belief itself, I’d like to take your time to look at how the belief system works in general.

The events you conscious mind witness pass into your subconscious instantaneously. The subconscious processing of those events causes emotions and memories to be evoked and the results often are passed back to the conscious mind equally instantaneously.

But sometimes the mechanism does not always work properly.

For example, you meet a person and big brain gives you an instant signal that you know this person. May be with some images of shared experience, and so on. Definitely with a signal if this person is friend, foe or an unknown quantity. But the person’s name may escape you. How can that be? Big Brain definitely knows a lot about this person, and must have that name stored somewhere – it is just the ability to get to that memory sometimes stalls. Hypothesis: until modern times, recognizing friend or foe was far more important than remembering names, so our brains are still more geared to the friend/foe recognition than to trivial side issues.

There is a similar effect when you mislay something. Short term memory has no idea where your keys are – someone tells you left them in a particular place – and Big Brain’s instant confirmation makes you slap your head as you say “Doh!” Hypothesis: Big brain sometimes is working to an agenda that does not necessarily match that of little brain. Being at a subconscious level, we have no idea what that agenda is at any one time.

When it comes to what we believe, the sequence is that input to the conscious is processed by the subconscious and the subconscious sends a “true/false/don’t know” sort of signal to the conscious mind.

If I say “Madagascar is a large island in the Indian Ocean” you probably get a “true” signal – even if you have never been to that place in your life. Your subconscious measures the statement, finds it consistent with everything you have been previously been told, and you get the “true” signal.

If I say “Frenchmen live on a large island called France in the middle of the Atlantic” you could get a “false” signal. If the person making the statement is someone you trust, you might get a momentary “don’t know” to see if there is some special meaning, or joke, tied up in a statement clearly at odds with everything you have previously been told about Frenchman and France.

The signal for true/false comes as early in receiving input as possible, and then affects everything that follows thereafter. (This really is very recent research, and may need further work to get it clarified into a predictive phenomena). But it has been shown that if someone makes an early statement that the recipient holds to be false, all the following statements made are scrutinized purely to see where they also fail to be true.

The mechanism is very powerful: a professor of English found that he could dismiss a 27 page essay showing that William Shakespeare might not have been the “real” author of the plays and poems ascribed to him. The professor had published a paper supporting the opposing view – that Shakespeare was the real author. He dismissed his student’s essay out of hand, without further comment, because the wrong year was given in it for King James’ coronation. It mattered not how trivial the error was, it gave his Big Brain all it needed to satisfy its agenda that the submitted essay was wrong.

The sub-conscious acquires its stock of what is true and what is false over a relatively long period of time. Once something is held to be true or false, the belief mechanism is designed to keep that belief intact. When something is moved from being true to being false, or vice versa, the emotion involved with such a switch is very strong. We call it an epiphany.

Once a belief is established, it is very hard to get it changed to something different.

Which is why we will consider next the Jesuit truism “give me the child before he is 7 years old, and I will give you the man”

Click here for Part Two. You can also

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Will You Take The Pain I Give To You?

Posted by spritzophrenia on October 4, 2010

Yesterday we looked at pain in Genesis, and discussed the Christian idea of the distortion of the world, the breaking-down which theologians call “the Fall”. Remember, I’m agnostic, but I’m wearing my Christian hat today.

Matthew Fox is one modern heretic who focuses on Original Blessing rather than original sin, as do Jewish theologies, but I see this as the other side of the paradox. Humanity, and all of nature are full of good, as well as broken-ness. We can hold this alongside the belief that pain came into the world very early on.

“Fall” has a nice Autumnal feel about it don’t you think? The leaves are no longer green, they retain their structure but are beginning to die.

Literalists claim there was no death before the fall. Conceptually, it’s rather hard to see how Eden could have been anything like the forests of today without leaves dying and rotting to provide mulch and minerals, to give one small example.

leaves

Can theistic evolution cope with the pain inherent in an evolutionary view?

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

~ Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” published in Scientific American (November, 1995) p. 85, via Iain at Phrenic Philosophy)

Does Dawkins paint his story rather too thickly? My suggestion at this point is to hope that perhaps less “conscious” beings than humans don’t truly “suffer”, in the way that we do? A purely materialist universe, as Dawkins says, is pitiless, indifferent and cruel.

The problem of pain and evil is not an easy one for theists either. It’s something I’ve pondered for many years, even as an agnostic. Philosophy is not a static field and I understand, contrary to popular belief, that the weight of argument is in theists’ favour at present. Check out contributions by Swinburne, Plantinga, contributors to God and the Philosophers and others. Ergo the problem of evil is not a proof against God, it’s at best a probability. More on this another time.

However, when considering the horrors of suffering, the recent floods in Pakistan for example, I always keep in mind two approaches: One can cope with suffering via the intellectual path or the emotional path. (Most likely a mixture of the two.) Even if I present a watertight case defeating the argument from evil, this won’t satisfy someone whose friends have recently died of disease, or remain permanently disabled. Knowing the arguments didn’t satisfy me, after all, when I merely experienced betrayal and a broken heart some years ago. It was this which caused me to walk away from God.

If we know the intellectual reasons I believe this may help, in the big picture. However, when in pain, we don’t want sophistry, we want comfort and strength. On that note I recommend Philip Yancey’s modern classic Where Is God When It Hurts?. It’s a profound book and I rate it highly.

Buddhism takes the reality of suffering as one of its foundational starting points. Alternately, I believe if there is some kind of pure Being there, who knows us intimately, then this g0d somehow shares in our suffering, and the suffering in nature.

.

What Do You Think?

How do you think about suffering and spirituality? Does a higher power disgust you, or help you when you think about these things? This is part three of a series, starting with part one.

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Pleasure constricts us
That is the way
Empty perversion
Crippled by fate
(I believe in pain! In disease, cruelty and infidelity.)
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Evolution, Creation and Christianity

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 24, 2010

I had to laugh at this genuine tweet from today, “The Theory of Evaluation is a lie that is passed off as TRUTH.” A comment on a YouTube video also amused me: “Brian, do you realise how creationist your idea is?” Oh noes – A new insult!

Evolution and God cartoon

Do you groan when the so-called creation versus evolution debate comes up? I do. What pushes my buttons most is the popular impression there is only one Christian perspective on science and the Bible.

This post is a plea for charity, and a plea for awareness that there are multiple views of how God might have generated the world, held by genuine people of faith[1], and by genuine scientists. I’m tired of having the alternatives shouted down. Hopefully it’s only a minority who proclaim that if you’re not with them, you’re not a true believer ™ .

While I often call myself an open agnostic, today I’m wearing my “Let’s assume Christianity is true” hat. If you’re not really interested, just stop reading here and enjoy the music:

La Roux | In For The Kill (Skream remix)

***

I’ve never accepted the earth is young. There is a grandeur to the thought of the Spirit brooding over the eons of Earth, patiently coaxing her into life, exulting in each step and life form. Billions of years for God’s work of art to coalesce. Mainstream science teaches an ancient universe, but there are also many deeply committed Christians who agree.

Evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm wrote of his “conviction that the fundamental problem of Christianity in biology is not really evolution but a philosophy of biology” [2]. I suspect many secular biologists could also do with a good philosophy of biology, an area too easily neglected in the grinding process of long lab hours while earning one’s PhD. While now over fifty years old, Ramm’s “epochal work” is still worth a read as a foundation to thinking in this area.

So what are some Christian views on science and scripture? Years ago, I concluded there are about seven major approaches that are held, depending on how we categorise and name them. Each have theological views about how to interpret Genesis and scientific views about how the natural world came to be.

However, after much wrestling with this post, I decided to abandon any attempt to create the Mother of All Summaries, and concentrate on a few ideas that interest me right now. There’s a useful comparison table here which unfortunately still neglects some views. Here’s another useful summary.

Let’s start with
Old Earth Views
Putting it simply, the evidence from geology and a number of other sources for dating the universe is overwhelming. For the purposes of this post I’m going to take this as a given. One of these Old-Earth creation views is:

Theistic Evolution
There are plenty of Christians who accept biological evolution in some form, and reconcile it with their faith. Even Bible-believing born-again types. See for example, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?, Karl Giberson’s Saving Darwin, many of the eminent scientists in this book and an increasing number of other books. There are some common responses concerned with the outcomes of theistic evolution – for example, Does it destroy belief in a literal Adam and Eve?, and Doesn’t Genesis teach there was no pain and suffering until the fall, and therefore evolution cannot have been the mechanism? I don’t think these need be problems (see here), and I was skeptical about evolution for many years. I’m sure you want to know whether I’m still skeptical now, right? Let me know if you want me to post about this. Keepin’ this short, remember?

Some will immediately demonise anyone who even suggests theistic evolution, and argue for some kind of atheist conspiracy theory. I’m not an atheist, remember? A few of these people are probably in the Intelligent Design movement. I hesitate to mention Intelligent Design as I’m out of touch with it. It may be better categorized as a social-political movement rather than a distinct new interpretation. Broadly speaking, Intelligent Design proponents believe in an old Earth and may not require literal interpretations of Genesis, which is at least a step in the right direction, in my view. Speaking of which, …

Non-Literal Interpretations
I once hosted a talk by a friend who is both a working scientist with a PhD in chemistry and a Pentecostal minister. He proposed that a good look at the literary forms in Genesis reveals interesting things. These approaches can be loosely lumped together as the Literary Framework view.

This view says that Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 give a figurative framework— a topical and non-sequential account of creation—but not necessarily an historical account of the order of the creative process. And so it tells us we have structure— we have order in the account of Genesis Chapter One, but the structure does not correspond to the historical order. We are not to take the structure literally, yet we are not to hear a non-literal or a mythological reading of the text.” from Dr Guy Waters’ Four Prominent Interpretations .

I want to mention UK physicist Alan Hayward‘s “Fiat creation” idea because it hasn’t had enough attention in my view [2]. I’d prefer to use another name as “Fiat creation” is also used by other viewpoints. Also, I can’t help thinking about Italian cars.

Fiat car

Maybe we could call it
Spoken Word Creation?
I’m writing this from memory and summarising Hayward’s more elegant prose. As I recall, Hayward notes that the original Hebrew of Genesis doesn’t have punctuation (and certainly not verse numbers) and so scholars infer where to put punctuation as a part of the translation process. This also includes deciding where poetic or liturgic language appears. Modern translations usually lay out poetry in a slightly different format to indicate this – see the Psalms, for example.

Hayward suggests it is conceptually possible to read Genesis 1 as if it includes parentheses. For example:

And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.
(God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. )
And there was evening, and there was morning— the first day.

And God said, Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.
(So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse sky. )
And there was evening, and there was morning— the second day.

And God said, Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear. And it was so.
(God called the dry ground land, and the gathered waters he called seas. And God saw that it was good.)
Then God said, Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. And it was so.
(The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.)
And there was evening, and there was morning— the third day.

The phrases in bold above are what God spoke over the six day period. The passages I’ve put in parentheses are a comment on the fiats, so to speak. There are much more elegant treatments of the poetry in Genesis 1, but hopefully you get the point.

This interpretation focuses on the idea that what God speaks, will inevitably happen. It does not require the outcome to occur immediately. In other words, the Genesis account is focused on God’s speaking (“fiats”), not on how the results of God’s spoken will are worked out through history. Interestingly, this view allows a believer to affirm that God created in a literal six days. It is the six days of God speaking that is the focus, the details of how it actually came to be can be left to science.

In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I got to say about that”.

***

This post is a plea for charity, and a plea for awareness that there are multiple views of how God might have generated the world, held by genuine Christians, and by genuine scientists[4]. I’d like to hear your opinion. Here’s my comment guidelines.

Notes
1. My apologies to Jews, Muslims and other theists, I’m limiting myself to Christian creation views here. Many of the theistic creation views held by Jews and Muslims seem to be comfortable with an old earth and evolution. All three faiths have Genesis in common, although it’s reported many Muslims regard Genesis as a corrupted version of God’s message.
2. Ramm p 179
3.Alan Hayward | Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005) seems to be a reprint of Hayward’s 1995 work which I understand did not receive the attention it deserved in the USA because he heavily criticises young earth creation theories. Though slightly out of date now, I still believe it’s one of the best books written about this topic.
4. You could look at the UK Christians in Science Association and the far-too-short Wikipedia list.

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Scientists Create Artificial Life – Double Yay!

Posted by spritzophrenia on May 21, 2010

Scientists have created the first ‘artificial life’. This is amazing and awesome news. Hopefully there will be many new and useful applications of this achievement over time.

Already there are strong words of caution from various quarters, suggesting we need to think very carefully about the ethics both of creating life and of the potential risks to the environment if an organism was released. Rightly so. This doesn’t mean the discovery can’t be used – but like many others I think our ethics are lagging significantly behind our science. Here’s a conservative christian perspective, but many non-religious ethicists are also cautious, as the BBC and other news articles show. Here’s a slightly snarky atheist point of view. And there’s a small part of me that says, “Life? Some artificial DNA into a cell equals life? Just what counts as ‘life’, anyway, let alone sentience?”

I’m also expecting both sides of the creation-evolution debate to use this discovery as a weapon. “Aha”, the atheist evolutionists might say, “this shows that life isn’t really all that special. A bit of chemistry and hey presto”. I have to say atheist evolutionists because there are in fact a number of theistic evolutionists, as I write about here, even though the young earth nutters are more vocal.

Whereas, the non-evolutionist creationists will say “It took $40 million and a whole lot of science to create life. All this proves is that intelligent design is needed. Besides, this is far from true biogenesis from non-living matter.” I do think they have a point.

So I say this latest achievement is inconclusive for either side, and award science a big “yay!” and ethics a big “yay!”. I look forward to seeing the progress that both make in future.

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