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God on the Brain

Science|06 Oct, 2012|29 Comments |
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Rudi Affolter and Gwen Tighe have both experienced strong religious visions. He is an atheist than a Christian. He thought he had died, she thought she had given birth to Jesus. Both have temporal lobe epilepsy.

Like other forms of epilepsy, the disease assembly, but is also associated with religious hallucinations. Research on why people like Rudi and Gwen saw what they did has opened up a whole field of brain science: neurotheology.

The connection between the temporal lobes of the brain and religious feeling has led one Canadian scientist to try to stimulate them. (They are close to their ears.) 80% of Dr. Michael Persinger experimental subjects report that an artificial magnetic field concentrated in the areas of the brain that gives them a feeling of not being alone. Some describe it as a religious feeling.
His work raises the prospect that we are programmed to believe in God, that faith is a human mental ability have been developed or given. And temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) could help unravel the mystery.

God on the Brain, 4.0 out of 5 based on 7 ratings
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  1. Antek B says:


  2. ANTEKBT says:


  3. PrimeM92 says:

    It seems quite absurd that we would evolve a neurological propensity towards religious belief when it would run counter to the likelihood of there being no God. Personally, I am an agnostic but I can see both sides of the argument here. All individual experience is valid regardless of whether or not it is actually true. However, to me it would seem logical that a mind with a tendency to fool itself into believing a fallacy cannot be an advantage; unless of course God actually does exist.

  4. 1alasmai says:

    After that, at length ye will die. Again, on the Day of Judgment, will ye be raised up.And We have made, above you, seven tracts; and We are never unmindful of (Our) Creation. )) Quran 23 ( 12,13,14,15,16,17) 630 AD

  5. 1alasmai says:

    ((Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed;Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the Best to create!

  6. JoolsCaesar says:

    Brains are wired to avoid anxiety. If a species evolved the intelligence to realise it’s own mortality, in an still immature mind this would be a great source of anxiety. It is hardly surprising that a brain would develop a tendency to believe in the infinite and the eternal to help deal with this anxiety.

  7. If you want to experience what a high level of medication is like, find a local isolations tank, also known as a floatations tank. your physical senses are quickly stripped away and you can experience your mind like you never have. it is beyond any religious experience. as an atheist, i find iso-tanks to be one the most important ways i can explore mind. try it. i was skeptical at first, but now i go into iso-tanks as often as possible. it’s like nothing else. and there’s science behind it!

  8. TheGuruAxle says:

    see its not your fault its your inferior brain chemistry

  9. AestusL4 says:

    As a former theist who has had religious experiences. I find this bang on!All these experiences sound very similar to those I thought were being washed in the holy spirit.

  10. musekiteer says:

    Want a spiritual experience? Try LSD. Want a religious experience that does not require taking drugs? Try dreaming. Meditation, music, aesthetic ecstasy, etc. Our circuits permit a variety of experiences. This does not mean that we should embrace the bigotries and control-freakery that so many who use “feeling” words instead of “thinking” words attempt to impose on the lives of others. The baseline rate of religiosity seems to be ~10%. The rest is brainwashed conformity.

  11. Very informative ; )Thanks for the upload!

  12. mrx0066600 says:

    receptive??? to god????…… lame

  13. @SchnebollOr the brain is programmed to solve problems, and get answers because solving problems promotes survival. When we have a question we can’t answer we’ll accept any answer rather than allowing the question to remain unanswered.

  14. ScottJanssen says:

    I thought the Catholics just searched for money.

  15. atheer2002 says:

    fascinating series…

  16. Religion as fundamental to us is hard for me to take, I feel no need for religion, period.

  17. The idea of epilepsy being the cause of religious experience is not a new idea/question, the show isn’t accurate when they say it is.

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