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Having an orgasm leads to an altered state of consciousness. This will probably not come as much as a surprise if you have had sex or masturbated to the point of ejaculation. But, just so you know, your suspicions have been confirmed by new scientific research, according to an article by Kayt Sukel in the New Scientist. What is interesting is what neuroscience tells us about the parts of the brain that are involved in sex and orgasms.
The neuroscientific research shows that it is the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain for “aspects of consciousness such as self-evaluation and considering something from another person’s perspective” that is active at the time of orgasm following self-stimulation masturbation. However, it also showed that a specific part of the prefrontal cortex, the left orbitofrontal cortex, appeared to switch off when orgasm followed partner-stimulated masturbation.
The pre-frontal cortex happens to be the part of the brain responsible for self-control, organisation of thoughts, creation of narrative and ultimately finding a reason or purpose for things. The researchers, Barry Komisaruk (Rutgers University, US) and Janniko Georgiadis (University of Groningen, The Netherlands) surmised that self-stimulation required greater mental effort to create a fantasy or image to take the place of a partner, whose presence would make it easier to let go. If someone else is stimulating us, there’s not that much we need to do. So a part of the prefrontal cortex turns off – the altered state of consciousness. This is perhaps why the ‘Yes, Yes, Oh God, Yes’ moment is more pronounced during sex. But I think that that expression is more than a figure of speech in the throes of passion.
But if the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that creates purpose and organisation, then atheists will say that God is simply notion of the prefrontal cortex. I don’t think this disproves the existence of God. On the contrary, if there is an external God and he does communicate with us directly, He is most likely to communicate with us through the prefrontal cortex. That is how he would relate to us.
I can’t speak for other faiths out of ignorance, but Christianity is meant to be about how God wants to have a relationship with us. In the Bible, this relationship is often described metaphorically as the marriage between a bride and bridegroom. Perhaps this isn’t as metaphorical as we might think. Perhaps the orgasm we get from sex is meant to be God’s way of giving us a temporary experience of what it’s like to be in an (eternal) relationship with Him in Heaven. He’s telling us, ‘If you like sex and orgasm, then you are going to love being with me’.
Obviously the above research is not conclusive but Komisaruk and Georgiadis suggested that there are many valid reasons why we don’t have orgasms during sex but ultimately it’s down to not letting go and giving up control to let someone else pleasure and satisfy us. In the same way, the only way that we can experience this erotic relationship with God is if we completely submit to Him and let Him pleasure and satisfy us. Perhaps in heaven, our left orbitofrontal cortex will be completely turned off and we will be in constant state of sexual orgasm. (Perhaps the experience of the Fall described in Genesis, when we are supposed to have turned our backs on God, is when the left orbitofrontal cortex became switched on. Maybe that’s why the whole of humanity became infected with ‘sin'; there was actually a physiological change in our thinking.) Orgasm following from masturbation, on the other hand, does point to this relationship but is only a shadow because we are still in control.
Apparently, it’s also possible for women and children to have orgasms while being raped or abused. Now, rape and sexual abuse is a horrible act so this understandably creates confusion. I’m not expert so this paragraph should be taken with a pinch of salt. But perhaps the victim, either consciously or subconsciously, gets to the point where they realise that the abuser is going to do it to them whether they resist or not. So they just wait for it be over, essentially giving up.
This blog post does raise an interesting issue about certain controversial narratives about Jesus, such as in The Last Temptation of Christ or the Da Vinci Code. Though this is not in the Bible, Mary Magdalene has historically been portrayed the physical lover of Christ. Christians have traditionally rejected this but in light of the above research I wonder whether, actually, the Mary Magdalene-as-lover narrative is just another way of talking about being in relationship with God. Mary gave herself, submitted herself, completely to Christ (God) and allowed him to satisfy her. (I am not suggesting that she actually did have sex with him. But, when one thinks of the Hegelian dialectic between contradictory ideas, perhaps that’s what we have here.) Theresa of Avila has described a perfect union with God as ‘devotion of ecstasy’.
Indeed, the whole Christian faith is based on a sexual act – the Holy Spirit of God coming into Jesus’ mother Mary. Mary entered that altered state of consciousness, she went to Heaven and back. In John’s gospel, the writer always describes himself the ‘disciple that Jesus loved’. Luke’s gospel and his Acts of the Apostles is written in the form of a letter from the writer to Theophilius, which is Greek for ‘lover of God’. There’s even a whole book in the Bible, The Song of Songs, which is erotic love song between newlyweds and is also taken to be an allegory for the divine relationship between us and God.
Right, I’m off to my room to pray…
In a nutshell, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Right Reverand Graeme Knowles, really does need to question his priorities.
The Dean claims that the Church stands “alongside those seeking equality and financial probity”. He says that “the debate about a more just society is at the heart of much of our work at St Paul’s and indeed we hope to contribute to the wider debate in the very near future through a Report from the St Paul’s Institution”.
And yet, he blames the need to close the Church on the ‘health and safety concerns’ arising from the camp of protestors. He says that it is “simply not possible to fulfil our day to day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims”.
Now, I don’t want to accuse a minister of a big church of forgetting what the Bible actually says. I am no expert either. But I am pretty sure that biblical worship is not something that’s confined to what goes on in church. No, worship takes place 24/7 in all areas of one’s life.
In fact, the biblical definition of true religion is standing up for and looking after the vulnerable in society.
Instead of interfering with worship, the #Occupy London Stock Exchange protestors are closer to what worship is all about. Maybe there are “health and safety issues” but what the Dean should have done is close St Paul’s to show solidarity with the protestors. Or, even better, opened up St Paul’s to the protestors as a very big tent.
Jesus warned that there will be many false preachers. And Harold Camping, the guy who prophesied that the end of the world will be today at 6pm, is one of them.
He claims to have based his prediction purely on what the Bible says and, in particular, the fact that Peter wrote in his letter that “a day is LIKE a thousand years and a thousand years is LIKE a day”. This is what is known in grammar as a simile and the point that Peter was trying to make was that a long period of time for us human beings is like a day to God – which is why the last 2,000 years and counting has been called ‘the last days’.
Has Mr Camping ever looked at Matthew 24? This is Jesus’ prophecy of the end of the world and he clearly states that the only person who knows the timing of the end of the world (and Jesus’ return) is God the Father himself. Not even Jesus knows when it will be.
I’ve spent the last couple of days at a conference for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers working in the area of law, gender and sexuality. I was presenting a paper on the impact of incentives on the relationship between society and state. But the whole conference was fascinating – every speaker had something interesting to say. But I think this is going to be one of those events which could change my life.
One particular speaker spoke on research that she is doing concerning the treatment of children who are born intersex, that is born with genitalia and/or secondary sexual characteristics from two sexes. The parental response, understandably, is to push for ‘corrective’ surgery that makes the child into a ‘normal’ boy or girl. I found this presentation particularly challending because it went to the heart of the most basic label by which I identify myself. Am I male because that’s how I was born or because I brought up that way? What is it that makes me a man?
In Genesis 1:27, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”.
This is often taken by Christians to mean that God created two sexes, male and female, and that, along with other verses, he intended for marriage to be between a man and woman only. Now, with sexual orientation being based on sexual attraction and feelings, I can see how easy it is to argue, rightly or wrongly, that sexual orientation is a choice. But, with intersex, we are talking about an actual physical condition which can be seen and touched. It is difficult to argue that God did not create people as intersex. In other words, there are people who are created male and female. So, I wonder whether Genesis 1 could be reinterpretated to mean than individual human beings comprise attributes that are commonly known as both male and female. If that is the case, then it is difficult to argue that marital relationships can only be heterosexual in nature.
Most Fridays, I attend an academic group at university that discusses the philosophical foundations of law and finance. Yesterday, we looked at why people believe they experience the paranormal or supernatural. One of the things that the lecturer in charge talked about was how, after the second world war, anthropologists went off to remote islands to study the indigenous people and found them worshipping the remains of aircraft (so called ‘cargo cults’). Apparently, the thinking was that these people saw something fall out of the air to the ground and, quite reasonably, concluded that if it has happened once, it can happen again. The whole belief system was premised on the idea that something would happen in the future because it happened in the past. To me, that sounded very much like science – we observe things happening in the past and develop a theory that say that those things will happen in the future.
So, when I stumbled upon this critique of the dominant climate change science narrative by activist teacher Denis G Rancourt, I was already in the frame of mind to read objectively.
via COTO Report
Now, I have always believed in the importance of protecting our environment and I am not ready to given up my membership of the climate change camp. Indeed, to a science worshipper like myself, Rancourt would probably a heretic. But he does highlight a particular problem in the way that science is presented.
Up to 500 years ago, the Bible was published in Latin. Unfortunately, the masses could not understand Latin, so they had to rely on experts (priests) to read the Bible and interpret it for them. Similarly today, scientific papers are published in a their own scientific language – which can be understood by other scientists – but not by the masses. It then requires several levels of interpretation for us to understand. I am not suggesting there is anything sinister in this. (On top of that, much scientific findings cannot be afforded by ordinary people.)
As a result of the translation of the Bible from Latin into the languages of the people in the Reformation, anyone could read and understand God’s Word. Of course, the experts and other people are still needed as quality control, but basically one does not need to have studied theology. Yet, if I wanted to read, for example, a paper on climate science, it would read like gobbledygook (sic), as my scientific education stopped at GCSE. Of course, I read the articles in the newspapers and watch the engaging documentaries on TV but all this is second-, third-, even fourth hand.
Now, I am not suggesting that there is necessarily any hidden agenda on the part of certain interests to hide the truth. But we were clearly meant to understand how the world worked. Yet scientific papers seem to write in their own version of Latin.
The same criticism could be made of academia in general. I could go to Waterstones and pick up a popular book on philosophy, but it is quite difficult to get hold of the original material (or at least English translations of the original material). I had never even heard of Hegel until after I started my PhD, now I think he is the greatest guy in the world. Yes, his work can be difficult to read, but I am slowly getting to grips with his philosophy directly. And it makes a big difference to reading it firsthand. But I daresay that I would even be in this position if I wasn’t at university.
Coming back to climate science, everyone throws around this figure of 2 degrees as some kind of target. And I have no reason to doubt what they say. But I get the feeling that there is all this focus on numbers and data, as if somehow not staying within the limit is the answer to the world’s problems.
Ok, I don’t really what the point of this post is. I don’t have a conclusion. Perhaps someone can provide one for me.