Word ‘belief’ is misquoted almost everywhere: Dictionary defines belief as ‘accepting reliability of something without proof of evidence’. That means, anything that has no material presence in the physical plane or anything that has no proof of evidence for its existence needs belief to hold it as true.
Despite the dictionary meaning being as it is, even while referring to facts and reality, almost everyone uses the word ‘belief’ out of context. A proven fact needs no belief for acceptance. Should one have to say, “I believe, we breathe air”? No, certainly not necessary: If the word ‘belief’ is eliminated, the answer would look more attractive and more impressive: Remove ‘belief’ and say boldly, “We breathe air.”
In the absence of proof of evidence, concept of super natural powers, concept of the creator of the universe, concept of the spirits and the soul become object of beliefs. The concept of god and the concept of the creator of the universe stand atop of all the beliefs. Since god is of belief, all the attributes of god are also beliefs. God is believed as formless, all pervading, omnipotent, omniscient and all knowing creator of the world. These beliefs are sustained only in human mind. It is therefore, interesting to trace the brain activity that forms belief in human mind.
Cognition is the prominent Brain-activity in living organism: It begins with Sensation. Brian does not interact directly with the objects of cognition. It acts through receptors which are called sense organs. Sensation is the primary mental activity of cognition. Sensation is elementary in nature. Sensation does not portray the object as a whole but it reflects only individual qualities of the object like white, soft, black, smooth, rough and so on. Sensation is extremely unspecific. The process of reflection of the object of cognition does not stop at this initial stage. The next stage in the process of cognitive activity is Perception. Everything people see, hear or feel is reflected through the process of perception. Perception leaves behind traces of images and when the encounter is over, one can reproduce these images. The face of a person one has met, or a melody one has heard may be reproduced even after the encounters are over.
Use of language by humans is one of the highest forms of brain activity. This ability belongs to the complexity of brain development. Take the case of a human child: As the child grows, its mental development also starts growing. In the early days of growth, the images cast in its brain are poor and unclear. Slowly it develops skill for use of language. As a result, the child’s perception of the world around gets gradually enriched. In adulthood perceptions become clear and finally, the adult becomes capable of generalization and segregation of concrete images. Similar objects and phenomena are then given common names corresponding to their qualities. This process of forming separate and abstract ideas is Conception.
Sensations, Perceptions and Conceptions are the core processes behind the cognitive function of human brain. These processes undergo judgment which establishes the relation of objects and phenomena. This is the final stage of cognition. The activities involved in the processes of sensations, perceptions, conceptions and judgment are the speediest of all brain functions.
A close examination of beliefs in god and various supernatural powers shows that these entities had undergone all the cognitive steps and reached the stage of memory. But the entire processes took place in subjective imaginations, devoid of material presence of objects.
Several independent studies are available on this subject. The studies were not meant to evaluate whether belief in god and other supernatural entities is good or bad but to find out how the belief in god and other supernatural powers came into being. First it was confirmed that animals and other living organisms have no ability to believe anything. Their brain cells are not capable of believing anything. They have therefore no belief in god and supernatural powers. However, some advanced animals like elephants, monkeys and cows can be trained to bow and to prostrate before deities. What is working in an elephant or monkey or cow to bow and prostrate before deities is the work of a conditioned reflex action generated in the brain cells of the animal by repetition of the act of bowing or prostrating forced upon the animal by animal trainers. The act of the animal bowing or prostrating before the deity cannot be taken for granted that animals do believe in god.
As for humans, long before the Homo sapiens advanced to the stage of civil society, what the wandering prehistoric humans, wandering for food and shelter in the dangerous terrain on the surface of earth, feared the most was wild animals, thunder, lightning, rains and floods. They started believing that these calamitous agents are the creation of some unknown supernatural powers and that pleasing of the supernatural powers would help them survive the odds of the nature. Thus was the beginning of belief; the belief that was born out of fear.
It took thousands of years for the humans to reach the stage of societal advancement and civility. During the course of the advancement, refinement took place in the concept of the supernatural power; refining it to the glory of god and all the attributes of god. The root cause of belief remains the same: Fear of the odds that retard survival; fear of the odds that retard growth; fear of the odds that curtail progress in every area of survival; fear of odds that prevent entry to heaven after death.
What really enables humans to think, formulate and create stories of subjectivism? Two powerful ingredients of human existence are involved in the process. They are the ‘body language’ that is confined to gesticulations: The other one is ‘words’ that are spoken or written down.
In the long journey of evolution, there was a specific stage when certain categories of the developing species reached the level of Homo erectus. All the species including Homo erectus were able to express, receive and convey their feelings and emotions by signs and symbols. The means of communication by signs and symbols is nick named as the First Signal System. In the continuing process of evolution, a sect of Homo erectus developed unparalleled complexities in their nervous interactions with the environs. As a result, these species could communicate and receive information through words though in the beginning the words of communication were unrefined rubles. This stage added to the modalities of development of Homo-sapiens.
As millions of years passed by, the Homo sapiens reached the era of modern human beings. The refinements that followed resulted in the formation and development of language. The means of communication through language is called the Second Signal System. Second Signal System is considered as the signal of all signals.
It is the capability of second signal system in human brain that enabled the reach of stimuli from material plane as also of spheres woven out of imaginations. The creation of soul, spirits, heaven, hell, extrasensory entities including the concept of god are the products of imaginations enticed by and through the Second Signal System. Thus became belief as the sole propriety of humans.