Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God and the Brain

Neuroscientists have long sought to find the 'God spot' in the human brain - after all, a lot is at stake: does the identification of a neurological source for religious experience debunk its other-worldliness or, on the contrary, validate its reality? A recent study points to three specific brain regions activated during spiritual reflection: the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes. Jordan Grafman, a cognitive neuroscientist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland, draws the following conclusion:

'Religion doesn't have a 'God spot' as such, instead it's embedded in a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use every day.'

It is my hope that this 'scientific evidence' will in turn influence contemporary understandings of religion from theological, socio-political and anthropological perspectives. Religion informs, and is informed by, a complex web of beliefs, commitments, relationships and ways of being-in-the-world. To segregate religion as an autonomous sphere of hocus-pocus disingenuously flattens our experience of the divine.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Finding a god spot in the brain reminds me of visiting the creation museum--funky quick fixes that actually ridicule the depth and wonder of the phenomenon they represent....Bandaids to big questions always fall off.