[Paleopsych] WebMd: Genes May Help ... (religion, belief, and well being)

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Fri Dec 30 05:40:47 UTC 2005

I looked at Elane Durham's stuff.  Gordon Michael Scallion
sees similar things.

I think these things happen in different places at
different times.  So everyone knows about the
floods that occur and cleanse the Earth.

On balance I don't lose too much sleep over
these visions.  I'm more inclined to live full
speed ahead these days.  If the wave comes
I'd just as soon go fast rather than starve
in a Mad Max scenario, although I do have
my gun :-)

And then I put on my Jungian hat and think about
it in symbolic terms, which I think some of those
people tend not to do.

Imagine a great flood of consciousness inundating
the Earth, transforming our common view of the
world in what would seem like the blink of an eye.
Is the instant global communication of the web
that flood?


  -----Original Message-----
  From: Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. [mailto:ljohnson at solution-consulting.com]
  Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2005 5:50 PM
  To: Steve Hovland
  Subject: Re: [Paleopsych] WebMd: Genes May Help ... (religion, belief, and
well being)

  Interesting. I have never heard that. I took some geology, here is the
real deal. The GSL is the reminant of a huge inland sea called Lake
Bonneville. At some time in the past, there was another catacalysmic breach
on the north-most point, and Lake Bonneville ran out through what is now the
Snake River drainage. The flood was 400 feet high, at least, raging down the
Snake drainage to the Pacific ocean. It had to be a huge event; it
apparently happened about 15,000 years ago. I believe there are indian
legends about it. I found an interesting site:

  One can argue that there have been several Noah-type devastating floods. I
think what we should learn from this is that the past is far more
catastrophic and dramatic than we had ever believed. So it is not unlikely
that the future will mirror that. Maybe you should move to Reno.

  Did you look at the Elane Durham stuff? What did you think of her visions?

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Solutions Consulting Group
166 East 5900 South, Ste. B-108
Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Tel: (801) 261-1412; Fax: (801) 288-2269

Check out our webpage: www.solution-consulting.com

Feeling upset? Order Get On The Peace Train, my new solution-oriented book
on negative emotions.

  Steve Hovland wrote:
    I have heard that the Great Salt Lake is the remains
    of a wave that came in from the Pacific and didn't
    stop until it hit the Rocky Mountains...
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. [mailto:ljohnson at solution-consulting.com]
      Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2005 2:53 PM
      To: shovland at mindspring.com
      Subject: Re: [Paleopsych] WebMd: Genes May Help ... (religion, belief,
and well being)

      Steve, I am sympathetic to your thoughts. There is pretty good
evidence that a monstrous flood destroyed at least one civilization in what
is now the black sea area. They have found buildings on the floor of that
sea, and the notion is that it was probably wiped out when a natural dam
holding back the sea gave way, and within days the whole area was under
water. Orson Scott Card wrote a science fiction piece about a machine called
Pastwatch where historians could watch the past, and they watch that event
which becomes the basis for the Noah story in the bible (that is, a man
figures out the geography and how the natural dam is failing, and builds a
big boat to try to ride out the ensuing flood). He later turned the idea
into his book, Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, which is
in my view one of his most inventive books ever.

      Obviously, a catastrophy would send almost all of us back to
subsistence living, and most of us - me included - don't have many of the
skills needed (farming, hunting/gathering, pottery, food preserving, shelter
building, and so on). I truly feel we live on the edge of a knife, a
civilization balanced on a pyramid that could collapse. An astroid strike or
two would clearly do the trick.

      This is way off the topic, but in my own religious tradition, there is
a lot of catacalysmic prophecy, breakdown of society, Mad Max groups warring
one against another, and so on, so Mormons are often more interested in the
scenarios you suggest.

      See this link for an interesting catastrophy prophecy:


      Elane is a personal friend. I met her when I started a local NDE
support group.  She was not LDS (Mormon) at the time of the vision, but the
idea of a mid-continent center of power is right from LDS prophecies, in
which Jackson County, MO will become the location of a New Jerusalem in the
post-apocalyptic last days. So her vision fits in with our own ideas.

      Happy new year, and let us pray for another year of dodging the
bullet! I am not too interested in being in the middle of catastrophies!

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Solutions Consulting Group
166 East 5900 South, Ste. B-108
Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Tel: (801) 261-1412; Fax: (801) 288-2269

Check out our webpage: www.solution-consulting.com

Feeling upset? Order Get On The Peace Train, my new solution-oriented book
on negative emotions.

      shovland at mindspring.com wrote:
What we call "spiritual" may be memories of ancient
science lost in "the flood."

If this seems strange, why would we think this is the
first time high civilization has arisen on this planet?

Most people live close to the ocean, and last year we
saw what can happen.

What would happen if multiple large meteor strikes caused
tidal waves in both the Atlantic and Pacific, wiping out the
major cities on the coasts?  How long would it be before
the survivors were reduced to a much simpler life style?

-----Original Message-----
  From: "Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D." <ljohnson at solution-consulting.com>
Sent: Dec 29, 2005 11:46 AM
To: "Todd I. Stark" <thrst4knw at aol.com>, The new improved paleopsych list
<paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
Subject: Re: [Paleopsych] WebMd: Genes May Help ... (religion, belief, and
well being)

Todd, I think you might be misunderstanding my argument. Anyway, you are
supposed to send criticisms to another email address, I think <grin>
Comments below

Todd I. Stark wrote:

    Lynn, this is beautiful, in its own gently cynical way.

It shows dramatically the *emotional* level of the misunderstnding
between theists and atheists that I think _also_ drives those misguided
attempts to save our souls from science, and drives even some more or
less educated folks over to loyalist political movements like
intelligent design.

      No, you misread. The key is gratitude, optimism, and so on. Such
emotional states drive a positive hormone environment. BTW, you can get
a lot of that from owning dogs and cats that you pet, since that also
elevates DHEA. I brought in the business about religion because Frank
had recently said to me he couldn't see the value in it. Since he is not
going to become an adherent, I came up with a quasi-mystical hymn he
could sing at random times throughout the year, so as to raise his good

Or maybe he should pet a dog.

    The most interesting thing about it is the compelling intuitive
assumption that the meaning of life must be found somewhere in universal
laws of physics or biology, of all places.  Personally, I find it
absolutely astonishing that anyone could find reassurance in any sense
in the "fine tuning" of constants of the universe.

      Sounds like your right temporal lobe is going to waste, hummm???

    My suspicion is that
there is a fine edged wedge that we all teeter on in our early
development, and we all either fall down on one side or the other as we
mature.  On one side of the wedge are those of us who imagine nature as
having a spiritual presence and finding that reassuring.  I'm guessing
that most people are on that side of the wedge.  On the other side are
those of us who have a lot of trouble imagining nature having a
spiritual presence, and aren't very much reassured by it when we do
imagine it.

      Agreed. Most people are on the believing side, 80% - 90% in the US,
in godless europe, but what the heck, they'll all be muslim within 100
years anyway. Perhaps 40% - 50% of serious scientists are theists.


2.1 billion christians
1.1 moslems
1 secularists
lots of other stuff.

    I think when we look seriously at the theory that religion "reminds" us
to be forgiving and grateful, I agree that it may have some validity in
some abstract sense, but not in the straightforward way we tend to think
of it intuitively.

      Well, if you go to church, you will be very literally reminded of it,
and quite straightforwardly.

    Emotional response patterns are influenced by a
mixture of temperament and cognitive habits, and religious belief by no
means has a consistent effect on cognitive patterns regarding emotional

      Nothing has a consistent and straightforward effect, but generally
is a strong elevating message there. It does have an effect, if I look
at my own life and that of others.

    Think about it.  That would be like saying that Christians
all tend to respond the same way to the same situations because of
certain particular religious beliefs they hold, and that Jews respond to
the same situations systematically differently because their particular
religious beliefs are different.

      No, they are about the same. There is very little difference in core
values, except that christians have a stronger injunction to forgive.
Not absolute, just stronger. See recent essays by Dennis Prager on that,
a professing jew who points out how very similar his values are to
christian values, which he sees as proceeding from the jewish foundation.

He recently wrote about being criticized by his jewish friends for
supporting christians, but he thinks such divisiveness is silly.

    Even in the case of theology this
doesn't hold up.  There are liberal Jews who think more like liberal
Protestants than like conservative Jews on most issues, for example.

      Yes, but they aren't the happy ones (come on, it is a joke!)

can find common patterns whereby beliefs cluster, but I don't think they
cluster around particular items of creed that religions find so
important in distinguishing themselves.  Even the very belief in a deity
doesn't particularly distinguish us morally or ethically.  The
hypothesis that religious beliefs in particular guide cognition in any
global way just doesn't seem very plausible to me.

      Hum . . . evidence? Surveys?

So how to explain the pro-social benefits of religious adherence? That
was my topic, I thought. Maslow found spiritually committed people
survived concentration camps better than secular and non-believing. That
has been recently supported in various meta analyses
cf., http://archfami.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/7/2/118

Do an APA lit search on _religion_ and _benefits_. I am too lazy to get
to it right now.

    Religion and its embedded culture do have all sorts of aspects that
affect social conditions and how we develop.  Our temptation is to
overemphasize the "belief" or "creed" aspect of religion, and attribute
everything to that, when in reality, I think it is one of the less
important aspects of religon in terms of its effects on our well being.

      Not what Maslow found. Belief had a very positive effect. Belief is
amazingly robust as a driving force in our behavior. See Seligman's work
on learned depression, learned optimism, and the attitudinal
(belief-oriented) components of resistence to depression.

    I strongly suspect that our temptation to focus on "belief" is driven by
an instinct to segregate ourselves based on different ways of thinking,
we try to discern each others' "beliefs" in order to help predict their
behavior.  So when we think about each other, we tend to think of them
in terms of what we imagine people to believe, and we want to attribute
their goodness or well-being to what they believe as well.

      NOt a bad arugment, but too limiting. It could be one factor, but
are more powerful benefits of a robust belief system.

    To put it another, perhaps melodramatic way, there are an awful lot more
forgiving, humble, grateful, ethical atheists and a whole lot more
unforgiving, arrogant, dishonest theists than we should expect as a
prediction of the theory that religion particularly reminds us to be
good or reminds us to be humble.

      Citations? Surveys?

Some of the evidence you may offer would be rather suspect, such as
Adorno et al., the F-scale which I think turns out to have no real
validity. Adorno was a True Believer, and knew what he wanted before
starting his research (see Robert Rosenthal).

    We truly need to look farther than people's religious beliefs to find
the real source of human goodness and the relationship between culture
and well-being, in my opinion.

      Have you read the stuff on vertical and horizontal religion by Alport?

    It appears to me that the world's religions are collectively like a huge
canvas which we all look at in our own selective way for the pieces we
need to reassure ourselves of what we already believe.

Thanks again for the beautiful prose.  Now if you can come up with a
cool humanist holiday to rival Christmas, I'll be really impressed!

warm regards,


Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. wrote on 12/29/2005, 1:57 AM:

      Somewhere (I need to look it up) I have some research reports about
optimism and gratitude affecting gene expression - people who are very
optimistic, happy, and grateful will live longer and healthier lives.

Frank Forman and I were discussing the value (or lack of it, as Frank
see it) of a religious life, and Steve's gene expression emphasis
suggests one of the values. Since both Christianity and Buddhism
strongly emphasize gratitude as a vital virtue (and I believe Islam, not
as sure), that may account for religious people tending to live longer.
Religions remind one to feel forgiving and grateful. Grateful people are
low in cortisol, high in dhea, stronger immune systems, and so on. So
religion may help healthy gene expression. Of course, Frank, you can
always also be grateful to the big bang et seq. but somehow it doesn't
seem as soul-satisfying. So here is my effort at a hymn for materialists.

A hymn for Frank and Sarah

"We thank thee, dear Darwin, down under our feet,
For all life's developing complexity.
We thank thee for frontal lobes mighty and full,
And right temporal lobes where we feel mystery's pull.

Oh, dear father Hubble, as stars rush away,
We're glad they have given us an earth where we stay.
And for a world tilted just twenty-one degrees,
That makes life adjust to the changes we need.

The Anthropic Principle fills hearts with delight,
As we ponder the chances that life would arrive
>From strong and weak forces ideally aligned
To tickle our minds with the presence divine.

Now let's nurture gratitude deep in our hearts,
So good gene expression will sure do its part
To lengthen out full lives for you and for me
To create our very own divinity!

copyright (c) 2005 lynn johnson - distribution is encouraged and will be
gratefully appreciated. Direct criticism to whocares at deadletter.com

Useful graphic: http://universe-review.ca/I02-21-multiverse3.jpg

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Solutions Consulting Group
166 East 5900 South, Ste. B-108
Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Tel: (801) 261-1412; Fax: (801) 288-2269

Check out our webpage: www.solution-consulting.com

Feeling upset? Order Get On The Peace Train, my new solution-oriented
book on negative emotions.

paleopsych mailing list
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