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Here is a translation (lengthy) of the interview.
Hello, welcome to “Singulars”
Our guest today, the neuroscientist Francisco Mora explains in his latest book “El dios de cada uno” (“The God of each one”),
that one day, while walking with a 3-year-old child, he explained how flowers grow seeds,
the child asked, “who makes the seed?”
A question that certainly we have all done, and that later we may have to respond as parents.
For Francisco Mora backed by neuroscience, God is an idea; no God exists in the world.
God exists only in the existence of man.
But how is it that a 3-year-old child … Can ask, what person may have made them?
¿Do we inherit the belief when we are born,
in the existence of other beings like us,
but invisible forces capable of creating?
How does the brain create the idea of God,
if God is just an idea?
And if God is just an idea,
an idea is necessary? It’s a necessity?
Francisco Mora will explain this to us,
he is a neuroscientist, MD from the University of Granada,
Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Oxford,
and professor of human physiology at the University Complutense of Madrid.
Author of 15 books and over 400 scientific papers.
I will finish the “Singular” today with the performance of two students from the Liceo Conservatory.
That said, let’s start.
Welcome, Doctor, to “Singular”.
Thanks for returning,
because you have already been here,
when you explained how to age better,
and we put his 12 points here,
but we did not end because we missed on the time,
because we always have a problem with time control.
But today we will have adequate time and necessary, to discuss his latest book.
Doctor, you can talk about everything,
or almost everything, because you are passionate about science, culture,
and I would say that you are also a “neuroculture” activist.
So much as an activist… well yes.
This is your latest book “The God of each one.”
In this book, as we said in the presentation of the program,
you say that God exists is an idea that God created man,
and that, is an idea, or not necessary, you will tell us.
I was … I read, and I was going to start with this question:
Does God exist?
But you already told me, the book does not question this,
considering that, first,it is not timely, and, second, intellectually it is not correct.
So there I am again: What is reality?
Well, first, many thanks for the invitation,
it’s really a pleasure to be in this program,
and I have to congratulate you on how you direct the program.
So, having said that, what is reality?
Well, reality is, if we do it very simply, what we see built by our brain.
This means the brain does not copy reality we see.
What happens is that those powers that exist in the world,
ie, electromagnetic waves, vision,
or pressure waves, which is hearing, which is sound,
or the mechanical deformation of the skin, which is touch,
and molecules that allow us to smell and taste,
are all input information
with which the brain constructs reality largely.
How does it build it?
According to the codes that were brought along with evolution,
and have followed a fundamental law;
a law that I even call a sacred law.
It is survival,
first the person, and the species later.
That’s for me, somehow, reality,
that can lead to further qualify it in short,
with what otherwise Karl Popper noted,
saying: “Certainly what’s out there is
not the reality we see as such,
but if we assume that for men
that which we see is the goal, real,
that is different, of course,
because if we do not accept that, we can not build knowledge. “
And is reality the same for you as for me?
That is, do we both see the same thing?
To some extent yes, and to some extent not.
From the perspective
of the construction of knowledge yes
from the perspective of emotion and feelings, no.
We have what we have come to know as qualia,
that which separates us from each other, in concerns to reality,
they are emotional nuances.
The red you see is not the red I see.
There are nuances, but in terms of knowledge …
whether we have before us
a dog, a tree or a house,
that particular nuance, not much difference between them.
Doctor, what are ideas really?
and how does the brain build them?
Well, the ideas, what we call universal
what we call concepts, what we call many things,
actually an idea is what I abstract,
make an abstraction of reality.
When I see a tree, when I see many types of trees,
somehow my brain is ready
to abstract a construct of a tree
that is what we call an abstract.
That abstract or idea in my brain,
and which I then, apply to
each of the specific tree that I see in the world.
That is, there are large trees, there are small,
with blades of a type with other leaves,
but I maintain, without change in my brain,
it is what is called, or as Plato said,
that idea was the sensitivity,
the intelligent construct , permanent,
we have in the brain and then adapt …
in relation to each of the different types of trees that exist.
The idea, therefore, is an abstraction …
that over the last million and a half years
It has enabled me to communicate with my fellow-man
at lightning speed.
The idea that I do not have to resort to the specific
to say that I have seen a tree.
Simply say, “I saw a tree.”
And I have no idea in my head of particular tree,
it is a construct as an idea, as abstract.
But then I can adapt to any type of tree
and identify it.
Today we know in part: constructs,
or say, the neural structures …
we are building the ideas in the brain.
And that knowledge is that which leads
to distinguish a tree from a dog, a cat, a closet.
Knowledge is a distinction between ideas, and then relate them.
And why do you say that God is an idea, then?
God is an idea.
Certainly as the tree is an idea.
Or as certainly as the horse is an idea.
But we have seen the tree.
But we have seen the tree.
And the horse too.
God does not exist in the sensory world.
No one has seen God. No one has heard from God.
And you will remember in the book to San Anselmo,
when he said …
“What I can do to find you, how I can get to you?
How can I not see you?
Why are you hiding from the light and leave me in the shadows?
What I can do?
You who are all-powerful,
and you could easily show yourself to me,
Why do you make me suffer?
Why give me life and then give me death?
At that, obviously,
the issue between the idea of tree and the idea of God
is that being an abstract idea of the tree,
but also that of God be so,
the tree is built because there is something concrete where it left off,
and I constantly make a dialogue with my brain
we agree to say:
“That’s a tree” and we call that real.
And the idea of God. The idea of God is ethereal.
The idea of God is not contrasted with the reality.
The idea of God is that, an idea … swollen,
a sense of emotion and feeling warm,
but beyond that,
it is an idea that has been amassed
throughout history and cultures,
which means thousands of years since the human being conceived it.
And that leads us away from that reality.
Therefore we say that God is not real as such,
because our brain can not compare it with reality.
And that, you will say is pure Francisco Mora philosophy.
And I say to you: “Yes.”
when he said that with ideas like God
we could never reach their knowledge,
because for knowledge you need ideas contrasted with reality.
And even more, he says, think that with ideas like God …
we can attain knowledge of God – that Kant said -
It is as if I pick up my checking account, I put some zeros and I’m a millionaire.
The end of God… Is the end of man the end of God?
This is how we see it from the perspective of science,
or from the perspective of neuroscience.
You know this story, in the construction of the book,
has two parts:
those where we talk about God and entertain the idea God,
in a world fraught with that idea,
which becomes real only because
it has been written about,and talked about
and we have parked that reality
we have consistently ratified and said:
“This book is real,” because we agree that it is multisensory,
we can see and touch.
God is not. Not so.
And the idea, then,
remains in the final construct that I call religion,
in the sense that if true
that we can not find the idea of God in the world,
there is always a residue, in every human being,
believe or disbelief in God,
looking to ask,
in some cultures up, and other down,
“What is this?”
I remember the words of Einstein,
when he said,
someone who did not believe in a personal God,
saying: “This is something beyond me,
I do not understand the universe.
What I do understand is that it is not a personal God,
not a god who punishes and gives rewards
not a God who provides,
and to some gives immortality and not to others. “
So I think this idea that we have within
which results in some religion,
and other leads to God
and others are left with this feeling of,
somehow, as Einstein said:
“Let the weak of mind
embrace this other idea,
either because they are afraid,
either because they are extremely selfish. “
But doctor … with what you say,
making is that if we look at the sky, we find only despair.
To some extent it is.
To some extent yes,
because we have changed thousands of years
not to criticize or discuss what was in books.
Because God was born with writing.
And of course the writing has always been something almost sacred.
Something hardly debatable. What are the holy books?
Does the testimony of a god appeared
1.300 years ago,
or a thousand, or a thousand-odd,
or later someone says he has seen God,
when that was not discussed?
That’s what they say the sacred books.
But what are the books?
Books are always testimony of what man has written.
With his knowledge, his imagination, his good will,
or your profound criticism, that is the history of philosophy,
but they are books written by man.
For me there is no book
written as a real testimony of what could have happened
in a magical world, as it was a thousand years ago.
No, the books that are now built …
whether, or at least those who write the scientists,
Because we build them subject to a rule,
a method, which is unquestionable.
In this method we call the scientific method.
The scientific method is to look at something,
set up a hypothesis about what may be what I have seen,
and on that experiment.
and realize that when I return to what I have seen,
I was wrong with my hypothesis,
and as I say the myth of Sisyphus.
When I thought I discovered something with my science,
reality gives me two slaps,
the stone falls, and begun again.
Never reach the truth.
Popper demonstrates that
found a long and respected book,
not reach the truth,
but that and our fate as it was with Moses,
what happens is that Moses was pursuing that end,
science and today we realize
that the end is in your own walk,
in walking forward,
in respect others.
Since we do not have the light of reality,
can become reality in doing good to others,
keep walking, because we do not reach further,
and that is the fate of human beings as I see it.
Speaking of scientists, speaking of scientific methods.
How do you explain that scientists of the importance of Pasteur
and Francis Collins, director of the human genome project,
say they believe in God and that God exists?
Well, that perspective …
We could say many more scientists.
No doubt you found that I have set,
perhaps, indeed, are the opposite, actually.
You see, scientists are part of the human world.
And there are scientists, of course, with deep beliefs,
not necessarily have to be held
by the argument that I do in my book.
Because there’s that other part of which we have not spoken, faith.
What is faith? Faith is a deep feeling.
A feeling that if we divide humanity …
and can be done in two parts,
some people are, say, with a predetermination …
to believe in, as you mentioned at the beginning of the introduction,
about the child said Juan, animism.
That is, it has to be someone,
that somehow gives meaning to all this.
And faith is a feeling like I say, it can be …
the feeling one has towards a child.
Towards a friend.
Or to someone who has done something as enlightening
that I can devote my life as it does many people,
to that idea.
And faith can also take what we call the idea of God.
You can take it, because that is not debatable,
ie you can not argue faith is something that takes you.
I definitely think that with Kant the idea of God as real existence
has no more to discuss.
It’s there, we can not achieve it.
But I leave the door open to what we call agnosticism,
this “true I can not get to prove it”
but there is a window that is possible at the end,
that such a thing happen.
And that’s what faith by many people believe they can go.
Scientists often wonder:
Can knowledge be attained through faith?
And the answer is no.
You stay in sentiment.
You stay with what we said a great Jesuit friend of mine.
It says “Faith is a gamble in life.
True or not, is a gamble,
and that bet may be wrong.
And certainly, I, a Jesuit, I doubt constantly.
Maybe it’s the faith that makes me overcome those doubts I have.
But in any case I can tell you:
what I have clear is that, in this situation,
I think the it is the best bet to do. “
That is what can sustain many scientists.
He said: “Faith is not knowledge.”
In history we can find cases of people
who through faith have been able to deepen their faith.
Yes, but we understand knowledge …
what the brain construct our understanding of reality,
ie the construction of what I see is the horse,
it is the crocodile or the elephant,
Faith does not give that knowledge about God.
Faith is an “I believe”
and deeply, and as so many people,
may retire to a monastery and give their life
through that feeling for that idea.
But no, I repeat,
we have seen that horse that is knowledge,
or the elephant that is knowledge.
That is something that is there.
And that something is there as an idea,
you said at the beginning and what Kant said,
is something that has been enormously helpful
survival of the human species.
The necessary idea.
The idea needed for thousands of years.
And what most people ask is this.
Is it still as necessary as that idea?
And I answer: For many people yes.
To many people, no.
Hence, basically have to build
what we call respect.
Respect for the dignity,
with faith they feel good,
with faith they feel full,
faith gives meaning to their life,
And who does not?
And none of them an inch, a millimeter, further away …
than it is to have no real knowledge of the existence of God.
Speaking of respect, and doing a small jump,
When you think that from the Vatican
the calls to people in the middle Africa
dying of AIDS to not use condoms,
do they respect?
Do they respect them?
Well look, I think not.
They are not respected,
in the sense that you only have to go to America
and see how Americans think,
who are believers in 80% relative to the population,
they are critical of aspects that
science factually shows.
Look, the condom has saved many lives.
Until people are educated
in terms of having real knowledge of what that means,
that is, transmit the virus,
we must use the condom.
Professor, in his book,
you pages devoted strength
to talk about? Abraham and Moses to speak.
But not engaged, if I mistake not, to speak of Jesus.
Of Jesus Christ. Why?
Are you getting me in trouble.
“Jaumes”, eh … Jaume.
Why? Because basically my idea …
was going to the origin of the idea of God.
Therefore, Jesus, or Jesus Christ,
a messiah, a transmitter of the idea of God,
in this context,
I did not think was the figure that I could look for in my book.
Abraham or Moses were the original,
Abraham first, speaking in a polytheistic world,
the idea of one God, it is curious.
But the exegete, who has deep knowledge of the text,
as we say it is an ambiguous figure,
in this area between polytheistic and monotheistic.
And certainly conceived the idea of Him,
the God of Abraham.
That is funny because according to the texts …
God was very different from the God of Moses.
God was the friend, was the God with whom one could talk,
God was the understanding, was the God who, as described,
you could sit with him, just chatting.
Against the God of Moses, so in my book I say:
Is it the same God? And I say no.
The conception of the God of Moses
is a wrathful God, a God with aggression,
is a god that is something that today would be deeply criticized;
that decision to say: “You, in front of the rest of humanity,
are my children, you are the chosen,
and wherever you go,
Destroy what you see.
Destroy the rocks, destroy the idols,
Destroy a people, destroy everything that moves.
For I am with you always. “
A God …
was conceived as genuinely universal.
But all benevolent and omniscient,
Could he say “you are my son, and you are not,
and you can be destroyed by my son “?
From the critical perspective now its very difficult to understand that God.
And we believe that God was
which was becoming the God of Christianity.
Did Moses exist?
It is a difficult question,
obviously I’m no expert,
beyond reading the literature.
Azmel, one of the most knowledgeable in the field,
comes to actually say that there is nothing …
that somehow we trace the true existence of God.
And if the character Moses existed somehow in origin,
what does seem clear, again for the exegete of this figure,
is that it has been built with Jewish history.
That is, has been put on flesh,
has been built as a true leader
and you can still go further,
when at the end, when we talk about this Moses,
in Deuteronomy we painted, indeed,
as he who dies at 120 years, the biblical age of death,
full of force and vigor.
And God says: “To here.”
And according to some writings of Roman exegetes, very interesting,
turned to God and said, “Why did you make me die so young?”
And He says, “For I have said it
that man will die,
since it is not part of my spirit and made of flesh. “
And what it really says
is that he really died, yes.
Not because God decided for him to die,
but because a rebellion,
as with any dictator,
killed him before entering Jerusalem.
And that is read in many authors,
that somehow are highly respected.
Obviously there is no finding that,
but is taken by many authors from reading texts.
Whoever believes that Jesus was? A leader?
Well I think that Jesus,
as we paint, was a messiah.
And indeed as such is respected by the Jewish people.
A messiah, that is, someone who passed once more,
the idea of … of a universal god.
But in the times of Jesus Christ,
indeed, except that we discuss …
who understand this well,
came into the world saying “The world is coming to an end!
And so, somehow,
we have to redeem our sins
if we meet him. “
That was Jesus, and somehow,
Jesus, or Jesus Christ,
model in its construction was also
if we believe in almost everything we have been
the … going to say the churches,
build it with flesh, hence the resurrection.
Today science can not admit that there is no resurrection,
because there is no supernatural.
It’s all part of this world.
Everything is a built piece
with physics, chemistry,
and what are the codes in place in our brain.
And there you have Stephen Hawking when he says …
that the universe is itself unique,
and there is no need of a God to explain the origin.
And there you have Charles Darwin,
when we said he was a believer and ended up not believing.
Realizing that biological evolution
is a product of chance,
the mutation of our genes randomly,
and determining the environment
which directs how evolution goes.
So Francisco Ayala, ex-dominico said:
“You do not need any God to explain the appearance of man.”
In this context we arrive at neuroscience,
where we believe that the constructs of religion
codes are in our brains,
not dedicated to building a god or religion,
but part of the systems
distributed throughout the cerebral cortex,
engaged in many things.
Listening with great interest, Francisco Mora you know,
many things come to mind, and one of them is:
What about the Gospels, and the ten commandments
and the Bible, and miracles, and the saints?
Is it all made up, like a play,
a script for a magnificent film?
You see, I always say … that words hurt.
That words, somehow,
implemented in dry dock
can hurt as deeply as a bite.
If we say that the Bible is like a script for a movie,
can hurt many people, Jaume.
And what is true that the Bible is the construct of a people.
A people who has allowed, with this idea and this construct
survive, and are still with that idea.
I believe the Bible is the product of a people
who has distinguished himself with their god from the rest of the world.
And indeed it still is.
Therefore, as such, has the enormous respect we deserve.
But obviously in this context
has no vision, we’ve said before,
found to build reality.
But that is what you’re saying …
that what is written is not based on reality.
Therefore said it was a script.
Ah, I understand.
But a Script …
You say: The Bible is an invention. Its invented.
Is exaggerated, is … It is built …
No, on the basis that we have discussed, no doubt,
I mean it has no foundation in reality,
not, has the authority that every book ever written has,
and above all a book of 1.300 years ago.
Obviously, that has an authority,
but it is substance in the magical world in which it was built,
not in the scientific and critical world.
Today no god appears ,
or God, no Moses, in the scientific world.
In the critical world.
And we all know.
Why did God appear at the time, and not these?
Again I retake San Anselmo:
“Where are you?”
If there is a reality that is not what builds my brain.
And that story, again, is the first part of our book,
related to a world saturated with God
actually charged on the basis that it was written in the books,
and all talk about it.
Today when we say a book is no more – not less -
that what man has written,
because man is this, man is the mirror constant
of everything you see, what you learn and what they memorized.
And the book has been observed as sacred,
but you do not go far,
to realize what has meaning for people,
it is written in a book,
as saying: “That is truly really extraordinary.”
Today we know that criticism …
is allowing us to go for,
and I told you before,
not to find the truth,
because, as Popper said the truth is falsifiable;
is something we are constantly building, without reaching a result,
but it is the way that dignifies us as human beings.
And with that criticism, to the truth,
books have what they have as sacred,
that we have already spoken about.
Mr Francisco Mora, you also, in his book,
speaks of some saints,
and says he must have suffered an illness.
For example, Paul.
Epilepsy, others speak of schizophrenia …
Right. Right. And here is again the same.
I mean, there are key characters,
as Paul, Paul of Tarsus
that, on that trip that we know, to Damascus
had a seizure, if this was so.
Why talk like this?
Because we have no inference that what has been written
Certainly there are many serious studies, deep,
trying to see and analyze through written,
through letters to the Corinthians,
actually suffered, all as described
an epileptic seizure.
We now know that this type of epilepsy,
the so-called psychogenic epilepsy,
produces a profound, inexorable, belief in God,
constant talk of God,
and everything revolves around that belief.
Today we know that Paul was part of a builder,
or was a solid builder
of what we call, of that great religion which is Christianity.
And in that context, someone who says “I came down from heaven …
and I saw something that I can not describe,
and actually has an absorbent personality
in that of religion,
that 50% of the world I would say,
having the predisposition to belief,
it is something so real,
as he who is skeptical about it.
Professor,why are we here?
Give meaning to our life in the walk.
That is, find the meaning in others,
with respect for those who find it in the idea of God.
and for those who do not have the idea of God,
or at least we have realized that through science
that is an idea and it is difficult for us to hold on to it,
especially when through history we have seen
that this idea has been manipulated,
that this idea has been a weapon of power,
that through this idea
so many thousands and thousands and thousands of human beings have died,
which has been manipulated,
then, at that, what remains, what is?
realize that what has sacred value
is life itself.
You, me, my son with me, the other with me,
that is, walk together,
I repeat what I said before,
as Moses did hoping for the promised land.
In our case this walk has to be very patient,
and find meaning in our children,
and the respect we owe each other.
Francisco Mora, now, we will,
talk … two questions if you will,
a great little book about her,
called “El bosque de los pensmientos.”
Thank you, very much.
I’ve made some questions
I have marked them with colored papers,
because it seemed right,
as you, for some time,
spoke of in your books,
announced you would make a book
devoted to discuss whether or not God exists.
And one of those I’ve mentioned,
“Every human being makes a dream when he dies.
A dream that develops and works throughout his life.
with which it has created the world he has never seen. “
The dream of the imagination,
the dream that there is something that overwhelms us and we do not understand.
a dream in a few other things
I said, “Yes, I will die, and that is indisputable.
But I would like leave for others, written
what I’ve seen, what I thought,
and that somehow has flooded in the rest,
this world is still worth living it.
Another thought: Can one imagine a society …
in which there is no individuality
or privacy of its members?
Very difficult but I put it there, right?
Is it possible to read the feelings?
Neuroscience is beginning to look at the brain
in the sense of having tool capable and
able at least I can say,
without asking you,
and hit, 90%,
If you are thinking of faces,
If you are thinking of people,
If you are thinking of houses, or if you …
That and we reach it.
And indeed to some extent there are instruments
that the justice system is following very carefully,
because it would be an extraordinary gain
to diagnose a psychopath murderer.
And in this dimension that is where we’re moving into,
but will we come to a world where there is no privacy?
I do not conceive it.
Because we hardly ever know
how that could be built,
when almost all the limits, we are locked
in having built a society
based on that I do not know what’s behind your forehead,
and you don’t know what’s behind me.
Perhaps you, like neurologists who see far beyond
know how we will end this program, I’ve already announced,
and we will do something to feel, to get excited.
Doctor, we come to the end to the program today …
We have a very unique and good presentation,
a fragment of “Duet de les flors”…
from the opera “Lakmé” by Leo Delibes
interpreted by Carmen Mateo, soprano,
and Cristina Segura, mezzo-soprano
accompanied by Ana Creixells on the piano.