Encounter in Nineveh, A rout to personal enlightenment
What does the book “Encounter in Nineveh” says about the working of the human brain? By the way, the book is a story of revelations made over 7 days to a comatose man after being bombed by the U.S. Air Force in 2003 in biblical Nineveh. What matter here is the level of concepts and ideas revealed in this work and if the pass the rationality test?
How do people get brain washed? Why religions need and use the concept of heaven and hell? Why is it usually difficult to change once faith while you can easily change his other understandings.
The answers to the above questions and much more can be deduced from the following principles mentioned in the book regarding the physiology of the brain.
1) the human brain has an innate driver to avoid pain and maximise pleasure (real or perceived).
2) with all ideas affecting our believe system a pain and pleasure score, appropriately indexed and then stored. Further indexing takes place as the individual sleeps to move dated from temporary files to permanent files. This score get easily hard wired if done at young age and get reinforced with repetition.
3) the brain has a simulator to assist in retrieving and measuring the expected pain and pleasure which will result from the planned action. Only those deeds which will deliver a net positive score higher than the acceptable threshold will pass the test and get the correct actionable priority.
4) the allocation of a score and the associated indexing is influenced by the chemical flowing in the brain at the time of receiving the information or experiencing the action or event.
Based on the above principles you can read the extract from the book and assess the various revelations made:
Extract from chapter 5 Darwin
“Most of Mankind’s problems are the result of his inability to get the correct and balanced value system (moral codes) stored in the brain with the correct ranking or scorecard. Let us consider the important routes of learning in order to get our message conveyed more effectively.’
‘1) People must have an open mind to receive new ideas.
These filters in the brain should not be shut completely due to strong beliefs or any other reasons. Ideas cannot be transmitted to a shut mind nor can it be generated by such people. One should always be inquisitive and ready to accept that the absolute truth of today may not be the case tomorrow. The higher the pain and pleasure score the individual attaches to his belief, the more difficult for the individual to be open-minded when it comes to those beliefs. Such strong faith should not lead to religious intolerance or worse, to action against other faiths. This is why the most important action to follow from our visit is to create religious tolerance. A complete open heart and mind is needed to debate the virtues spelt out by Abraham. There is no such thing as absolute truth when it comes to religions, no matter what most people think.
All Holy Books are regarded by their believers as God’s spoken words. In reality, they are ideas communicated to Prophets expressed in manmade words. It is during this process of converting thoughts to words that inaccuracies start to creep in. By the way, the first step in creating religious harmony is to equate intelligence with open mindedness or readiness to change and to understand others. Since God has created man in his image, that is to have intelligence, then it must be a great sin to kill this attribute by being intolerant and close-minded. Those who are not ready to consider other opinions, openly and reflectively, will end up unable to change anything. Using Darwinian language, human knowledge and cultures are continuously evolving and those who encompass change will flourish and survive. Those who reject change will end up in misery and rejection. Culture, including religious survival comes with adaptation. The brain is like an umbrella, if it is not open, it will not give you protection from ignorance and bigotry.
2) One should learn the art of deep reflection.
The Individual must have the ability to absorb and to assess profoundly the new information against the existing beliefs he holds. The great thinker Confucius once said, “One may learn wisdom by reflection, which is noblest, by imitation, which is easiest or by experience, which is bitterest”.’
‘We have our own saying,’ Plato continued. ‘With an open mind and heart I reflect, therefore I will be.’
Abraham added that all religions have the concept of remorse and repentance that are the result of deep reflection. ‘If someone shows genuine remorse then the likelihood of his repeating the crime is nonexistent and further punishment ceases to be necessary.’
‘3) One should assess the pain and pleasure associated with new ideas.
To allow the new information and experiences to affect future behaviors, a third element is required in addition to being open minded and reflective. It is the assessment that will lead to ranking and placing the thoughts, ideas, and experiences correctly in the mental compartment. The score given differs from person to person.
If one is visiting a country where possession of the smallest quantity of an illicit drug will lead to capital punishment, the reaction of those who take drugs will be either not to visit that country or not to take the drug while there. In assessing the risk, a much higher score is given compared to visiting a more tolerant country. If one thinks that the mere questioning of his faith will cause him great harm, (i.e. high negative score has been given to doubting the existence of God) then that person is unlikely to engage in the debate calmly. Therefore, the correct assessment is important to the ranking we place on the new knowledge or suggestions. It is this ranking that prioritizes the action or inaction that will follow. Correct assessment = Correct prioritization = Desired future reaction. Each person has the right and the duty to assess correctly and realistically what already has been stored to allow change and to transform new scores to new ideas in order to make a more appropriate decision.’
‘By the way, those religions which inform their followers of how immense the pain will be if you do “A” and how fantastic the pleasure will be if you do “B”, are training their followers for blind obedience, just as cult followers are subjected to. It is clear that different societies require different penal codes to achieve the same level of compliance. This is required to counter balance what is already being stored in the mind of the individual. A society where violence is prevalent and widely accepted requires much harsher penal codes than a more civilized society. Advocates of human rights have to consider these facts before they advocate “One Treatment Fits All Approach”. The Religious extremists who advocate violence and isolate the moderate believers are in reality making decent observers to associate that faith with pains and misery. The result will be a mass rejection of the faith in search of better moral codes to provide the society with peace and prosperity.
‘4) Reinforcements and practices are essential to establish the newly acquired knowledge.
To rewire the brain, repetition is required until habits are formed. Without practicing, habits will not be formed. Humans are the slaves of their habits. If they don’t like some of them, they should work persistently and in a structured way to change them. If someone dear to your heart gets into bad habits then it is your duty to work, with their approval, on a road map to help that person change those habits. Reinforcement is the key to achieve lasting change. Humans know well that practice and repetition leads to perfection.’
5) Release of the right hormone or chemical in the brain assist the storage of the data and the level of score given to relevant information being experienced or received.