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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Was Religion Invented By the Thinking Mind to Try to Make Sense of Gut Feeling and Gut Instinct? An Exploration of the Theory of "God Is In the Gut"!

There are those who have said for some time that "God" speaks through the gut, the most natural part of us that can not be altered by the thinking brain. And now according to an article in Huffington Post on February 8, 2013, Nicolas Baumard of the University of Pennsylvania and Pascal Boyer of Washington University in St. Louis have added something new to the mix in an article to be published soon in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science that theorizes that religious beliefs are a result of the thinking brain trying to explain gut feelings that are expressed in intuitive thought. 

From what Huffington Post's author Wray Herbert has written, it may be that Baumard and Boyer have come across the same thing that we have discovered in our work, that religion has historically been fortified by one of our instinctual needs for a gut feeling experience of “connectedness” or acceptance. But our understanding through over 40 years of counseling experience with people reflecting on their gut feelings, is that religion at present does not completely explain the entire gut feeling experience and often sees gut instinct as disruptive to society.  While it may care about the gut instinctual need for acceptance (connection), religion seems to have left out the gut instinctive need for freedom (a sense of control of one’s own responses to life). As you may have read in our previous blog posts, we found that the gut feeling expresses both of these needs and that we need them in balance—the need for acceptance (connectedness and attention) and the need for freedom (control of one’s own responses). 

Perhaps what Baumard and Boyer are seeing is that humans have historically needed to find a way to feel safe and connected and have undoubtedly been willing to give up our freedom needs and accept religious doctrine in order to experience this feeling of safety, containment, and acceptance. We could say, then, that it was what we needed most at the time, although not completely satisfying but one of the two of our instinctive needs at least met, and perhaps the one most pressing at the time for survival. And this may explain why so many people feel that religion now leaves us empty and scratching our heads. This may be an indication that we need a new image of humanity, a new belief system that encompasses our need for freedom as well as it does our need for acceptance.

Gut feelings are not thoughts, they are purely feelings of emptiness or fullness in the body—specifically in the gut (ENS) or region called the Hara—and are a gauge as to how well our instinctive needs of acceptance (attention) and freedom (control of our own responses to life) are being met or not met, moment to moment. It is the thinking brain (the CNS) that comes up with religious thought. And we can see in a glimpse of history that religious beliefs have often in the past been contrived to control people from having a sense of individuality and to the advantage of someone or group outside of the individual person. These religious thoughts or beliefs are generally external to the understanding of the needs of the individual human being. Gut feelings always reflect the instinctive needs of the human being, while religious thought often will drown out our awareness of our gut feelings and needs in favor of following a doctrine.

An important question here is, did the CNS come up with religious thought and beliefs to explain gut feeling and gut instinct (the ENS) or did it invent religious belief to control instinct? Or perhaps both are true? Is this invention of religious beliefs a natural and common pattern of the CNS, an evolution of mind with further steps ahead? Is this an unnatural turn in human events that has been invented by only a few in history and then followed by billions, or is that also a natural step, with another step ahead that will be comprised of less following and more individual expression? Are we getting to the point in history where we as a humanity are questioning these past “inventions of religious thought” and through somatic reflection on our inner truth are seeing a need for change? Are we now ready to accept a new image of humanity that embraces the entire Human gut instincts, both for our needs of acceptance and freedom, and thus explains and helps us understand our connection to the universe in ways that feel more truly Human and increases benevolent evolution? You will find in reading our book, What's Behind Your Belly Button? that we both think it is time for a new image of humanity, and we have outlined exactly how the Gut Brain figures into the equation of who we are as human beings with a caring nature.

We try in each blog to give a brief excerpt from our book, “What’s Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct”. We thought you might find this excerpt particularly relevant to the discussion of the invention of religion and gut instinct.

“The entire process of human inspired events seems to take place and have a lasting value when there is something seeming to benefit the inner needs of the organism. When there is support from both ‘houses’ then there is furnished energy of motion, confidence of purpose in the intended result, and movement towards the objectives.
“We can intuit the gradual emergence of the power of change of inner human need, control and acceptance, overpowering the external controls of feudal control. The two-brain image established by human nature has, up until now, lay partially hidden from its own understanding, subject to interpretation by external imaginations and external judgments. In the past, the external awareness of the possessor and observer alike accepted the presence of something internal existed but it didn’t fit the ideas of external control. There existed something internal to all human beings that could be externally disruptive yet supportive, good yet evil, indifferent yet loving, dependable yet unreliable, certain yet unsure. It seems clear that this mystery became the prudence of the action of Charlemagne to incorporate the early Christian movement into the Roman Empire and form the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). The sequence of events that followed were understood and projected primarily as progress of intelligent adaptation to the environments, providing major contributions in wide ranging endeavors to existing cultures in Western Europe (printing, literature, art, science, philosophy, religion, etc.).”

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