RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Chris Lofting (
Wed, 20 Oct 1999 01:00:36 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 01:00:36 +1000
In-Reply-To: <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Gatherer, D. (Derek)
> Sent: Tuesday, 19 October 1999 7:48
> To: ''
> Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
> Chris:
> Fundamentalist behaviour is applicable to Darwin as well
> Derek:
> I've often heard this said, but I don't think it's true. If you
> can find an
> example of 'fundamentalist' Darwinism, please show it to me. I
> don't think
> it's possible to be fundamentalist about science, although of course it is
> possible to have a naive regard for its social benefits.
> Also it's worth mentioning that fundamentalism in religion is quite new.
> The word was first used by conservative Presbyterians in the US in the
> 1920s, and revolved around a statement of faith called "The Fundamentals".
> The target of original fundamentalist displeasure was liberal theology in
> the Presbyterian churches of America. Likewise, Islamic 'fundamentalism'
> evolved around the same time in Saudi Arabia, and only later (in
> the 1950s)
> spread to those parts of the world where it is best known today.

In the context of linking fundamentalism to neurology/psychology, the link
is to object oriented thinking that emphasises a bias in all humans to
processing fundamentals. By this I mean that, for example, when the auditory
system is presented with a sine wave so the left hemisphere (in most) is
better at processing this data than the right. Add more harmonics and the
right reveals itself as the 'better' system for dealing with harmonics.

Other areas of research in neurology support these findings in that the
right hemisphere is more sensitive to responding with refined emotions to
sensory harmonics -- e.g. chords in music and colour in vision. In this
sense to identify an object given only harmonics so it is the summing of the
relationships that leads to 'the point', with visual concepts such as Necker
cubes so the right sees a complex line drawing (general) and it is the left
that oscillates between two known objects, the perceived cubes (local) (note
that these are seen as objects and we 'see' two cubes, first one and then
the other. There is no 'space' in-between, we oscillate from one to the

A well tested distinction is that of the above/below distinction from the
near/far distinction. Above/Below requires the assertion of the location of
a point above/below a line. This requires a correct/incorrect type of answer
and this process is found to be best done by the left hemisphere. The
Near/Far assessment requires more relational analysis and this form of
analysis is done better by the right hemisphere. (Quantitative precision
OTOH is more left)

Harmonics processing deals with relationships and that is more of a right
hemisphere function (in most - I am being too extreme here, necessary to get
the point across).

Object thinking emphasises reductionism, to reduce to a fundamental, a
single context, and this property of our neurology/psychology is manifest at
the abstract levels of fundamentalist faith. In this sense a literal
property is expressed in the form of a metaphor that is taken literally.

Another property is that of the specific/general where object oriented
thinking favours the local, the precise/specific, whereas relational
thinking favours the general and so the approximate/general although there
is a suggestion that the right has precision in the form of asserting
refined emotional responses to things; a qualitative bias rather than

The fundamentalist religious element deals with the reduction of a
qualitative concept, an intangable, to a single context frame of reference,
to a 'one', there is a quantitative assessment attached. This intangable is
then declared as 'absolute'. (note that single context emotions are
child-like in expression. Lack sophistication, lack restraint.)

In this sense the Crusades etc are examples of fundamentalism. The criticism
of Lamarck etc often takes on fundamentalist tones.

Perhaps a more neutral term is totalism. This covers religious/secular
fundementalism and has overtones of 'absolutist' etc. with an emphasis on
encapsulation etc

In this sense there IS a genetic predisposition to totalist/totalism. And it
is 'neutral' in that it can express itself in ANY context (where a
discipline is a context).

Totalism is linked to the concept of establishing a clear, precise, eternal,
Likemindedness can then lead to group formations (Catholic Church, Islam,
The Communist Party, National Socialism etc etc). Note that included in this
is the potential for group delusions.

Relational thinking is more phenotype than genotype in that it deals with
RE-identification -- illusion. Relational thinking covers having a
relationship with 'god' or whom/whatever, whereas totalism gets into areas
such as 'I am God' etc.

The advantages of totalism are obvious but then so are the disadvantages.
The attraction can be to the sense of clarity that goes with totalism, this
attraction will be strong even though the whole idea can be delusional.

Religion is expressed in both left/right and inbetween terms, as are all
disciplines/mapping systems. If you push the 'relationships' angle you are
more right oriented. Shift left and you get into totalist concepts and
included in this are the mental expressions of childmindedness,
psychosismindedness etc



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