Mankind (not womankind) has slaughtered more humans in the name of God and Religion than for any other reason. Every time, their beliefs are offended, they lash out as pathological psychopaths. And that’s exactly what the so-called holy warriors are. But does this so-called holy war really occur due to some kind of divine intervention? Is it the will of what humanity so glorious reveres as God? If so, then what does such ruthless instruction tell us about the nature of that God? What if those instructions are not actually from God?
All religions, one way or another talk about Lord Almighty being merciful and compassionate. But before you jump into any conclusion about whether my argument is leading towards a religious climax or an atheistic one, I must clarify that I am neither a believer nor an atheist. In all my works till now, I have made evidence based efforts to build a bridge between the ever separated banks of Science and Religion. So, if you must, you can call me an Agnostic. I am not an atheist. But the religion that I do advocate is not of the Bible, Vedas, Quran or any other scripture. The religion I speak of, is what Christ talked about, it is what Buddha talked about, it is the religion of plain everyday kindness. A Muslim who prays five times a day and yet beats his wife at home, is no religious person. A Christian who goes to Church every Sunday, and yet never talks to his or her neighbor with a smile on the face, is no religious person. On the other hand, an outspoken atheist who most lovingly talks and listens to people of all religions without any bigotry or prejudice is a hundred times more religious than all the theoretical preachers of all religions combined.
Now let’s get back to the matter in hand. All scriptures, have elements that advocate compassion, generosity and peace. However, they also possess elements of violence and monstrosity. That’s an unfortunate and unavoidable fact of most of the religious scriptures, especially Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. Now the question is, if God is merciful then how can it be so ruthless at times?
Despite the complexity of the question, the answer is quite simple. Here we must take not one but two Gods into consideration. One of them is the God of Humanity, which all humans proudly venerate, experience and often perceive as an Omnipresent, either abstract or humanlike Entity. Human mind in general perceives this God as the driving force behind everything in the universe. This God is perceived as the controller of causality in the universe.
The other God is the actual controller of causality, if there is any such Entity. Humanity only thinks that it knows, feels and experiences this Actual Supreme Entity, while in reality, the God of humanity is a fascinating part of the human consciousness. This God is what I have clinically termed as Absolute Unitary Qualia in my book What is Mind?. In most cases, without even knowing, humanity actually worships not an Entity, rather a mental state. This is the state what all the religious founders experienced. And those who actually experience this mental state of Absolute Unitary Qualia, become radically transformed as humans. Their brain circuits get rewired as if some Supreme Divinity Entity has touched their soul. And that’s exactly what they feel. That feeling has nothing to do with Reality, rather it is all about the exclusively private subjective experience of the individual.
I am not going to talk about the other God, that is the actual driver of causality, for we know nothing of it. The only Science that can answer whether there is an Entity controlling causality is Modern Physics. We Biologists are not the right people to investigate that domain. Our purpose is to investigate Life. And as Neuroscientists, our purpose is to investigate the God of Human Life, i.e. Absolute Unitary Qualia. The God that is venerated in different cultures in different ways, is actually an inexplicable state of the human mind. In fact, it is the Event horizon of Human Consciousness. It is not entity, but the person experiencing it may experience it as an entity, because AUQ manifests in different individuals in different ways. The storyline of that manifestation is constructed by the mind, based on one’s urges, intuitions and conjectures. And the end product of such complicated mental process is a true personal transcendental meeting with God or the Universe, within one’s inner cosmos. Such an experience transforms a person radically. It makes him or her, in most cases, the best version of himself or herself. In AUQ a person’s true personality gets amplified to an unimaginable extent. So, a compassionate person becomes even more compassionate, while a narcissistic misogynist becomes the specimen of extreme primeval human urges.
However, you must remember that there is no such thing as a God Spot or God Module in the brain. Just like Consciousness is the product of collective activity of various regions of the brain, the God part of the Consciousness, which is the most blissful and inexplicable of all conscious states of the human mind, is also a product of complex electrical activity in various neural regions. It also involves inactivation of a few parts of the brain. In various cases, during Absolute Unitary Qualia or simply during God experience, the frontal lobes, parts of the limbic system and to some extent the temporal lobes become highly active. This complex neural functioning of the brain leads to an amazing sensation of supreme divinity and euphoria. Along comes the loss of sense of the self, which occurs due to the inactivation of the parietal lobes, which are principle brain region for navigation of the self in three dimensional space.
This whole collective mental process leads to the glorious experience of Absolute Divinity. It is the ultimate form of bliss. Once you attain that bliss through prayer or meditation, the ordinary everyday happiness and sorrow seem pointless. And that’s the beauty of such God experience. And this magnificent experience of transcendental bliss is the God of the Human Species. All religious founders attained this very God. And due to their unique neural circuitries each of them experienced it in vividly different ways. Their human minds constructed the experience of their desired divinity that heralded the advent of modern religions. Thus at the fountain-head of all religions there were the complicated neural processes of Absolute Divinity. And today, that Absolute Divinity is venerated throughout the world as the God/Yahweh/Allah/Brahman and so on.
Now the biggest question of all is, how can this experience of Absolute Divinity lead to violence? And is it actually true that religion causes violence?
Religion doesn’t cause violence, but the negative elements of the religious books do. While experiencing Absolute Unitary Qualia, a person’s own urges, beliefs, intuitions and imaginations bubble to the surface of Consciousness and manifest themselves as the storyline of the intense spiritual experience. Thus, all the messages recorded in the scriptures were constructed by the human mind in the transcendental state. The thing which we call “revelations” of the religious books, were merely an amplification of the human mind’s inner desires, instincts and fantasies.
Hence, almost all the scriptures in the world contain teachings that are philosophically beneficial to the humanity, alongside some primitive instructions that are downright harmful to the entire species. A healthy human mind is neurologically incapable of carrying out the ruthless instructions of the negative elements of the scriptures. The only way the negative elements of the scriptures can harm the society, is through blind followers of the books. These are whom we, not at all proudly, call fundamentalists. These fundamentalists are the real cause of all the violence in the name of religion. They drive angry young men in the path of vengeance and presents the ideology of Jihad to them in such a way that it appears to them as the last resort for absolution. Their rage against the society, for whatever reason, turns into the tool of religious terrorism in the hands of the fundamentalists.
Religious faith as a whole induces various health benefits in the general population through complex biological processes, while on the other hand, Fundamentalism not only acts the biggest threat to humanity, but also, it consistently tends to drag the entire planet back to the Stone Age.
We the Neuroscientists have already proven through rigorous experiments and studies that Religion is Healthy for the Human society, both physiologically and psychologically. But we must act now to get rid of fundamentalism from the society once and forever. Because, if we don’t, the monstrosity of the fundamentalists will soon turn this beautiful planet which we call home, into a barren wasteland.
(This Article was originally published on Goodreads, under the title “What is God?”)
Abhijit Naskar, 2016, Autobiography of God: Biopsy of A Cognitive Reality
Abhijit Naskar, 2016, What is Mind?
Abhijit Naskar, 2016, In Search of Divinity: Journey to The Kingdom of Conscience