God Is In Your Head, Not Your Heart!
Every month we seem to find more evidence of how the mammalian brain works and with that information we find more reasons to doubt or indeed discount anecdotal evidence of transcendent feeling so often associated with ‘experiencing god’.
The latest such information comes in this post from Machines Like Us. The short of it is that researchers have found that no single spot in the brain can cause transcendent feeling, rather it is the case that many parts are involved.
The study, “Right parietal lobe ‘selflessness’ as the neuropsychological basis of spiritual transcendence,” was published in the International Journal of the Psychology of Religion.
In fact, studies with brain damage patients shows interesting results:
“Neuropsychology researchers consistently have shown that impairment on the right side of the brain decreases one’s focus on the self,” Johnstone said. “Since our research shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual, this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self. This is consistent with many religious texts that suggest people should concentrate on the well-being of others rather than on themselves.”
Further, other studies have shown that through meditation and other practices humans can learn to suppress the right parietal lobe activity and thus achieve a greater sense of transcendence.
All of this is within the mind and has been demonstrated to be an effect of brain activity. Any anecdotal evidence for gods will have to prove that this mechanism is not in play. Yes, that means there is near zero chance that anyone will try it. If someone were to pray and get into the spirit of their god only to find out it was because their brains were acting a certain way they would deny it, or try to explain that is how god works his mysteries etc.
And so I feel more confident in my stance that gods and ghosts are simply imagination at work, aided by misinterpretations of fuzzy sensory input and wilful misguided understanding of the evidence.
We won’t even touch on the reasons that we have to believe that many ‘prophets’ were psychotic individuals with a lot of charisma. They would probably have been good used car salesmen. Gods are just ghosts in the machine between our ears.