Sunday, October 23, 2005

Neurotheology

Neurotheology is an emerging field. The basis of it is to discover what areas of the brain fire in religious experience. Although I don't agree with the Meridian article I linked, it was one of the few I could find describing simply and clearly what this new science is. (The parts I disagree with are in the second half about their being other types of religious experience. Obedience and several other items do not belong there in my mind.)

I don't doubt that mystical experiences cause certain parts of the brain to fire, but the bit that puzzles me are the arguments surrounding it about whether it's merely a natural process and not supernatural or put there deliberately to experience the divine. Of course, I have my own beliefs, but why suggest that spiritual experiences are merely something inside the brain?

From a purely evolutionary standpoint, I cannot see the point of allowing such things to happen as it does not to me convey any obvious survival advantage that would cause it to be passed on to the next generation. I realize some people may dislike me using Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection in an argument of this sort, but such people need to realize that Evolution and Natural Selection are two different things and even creation scientists typically don't have a problem with Natural Selection as long as you aren't describing how other species evolved with it. I'd go into a brief discussion about it, but that is not the point of this site.

The more interesting part of neurotheology is that we seem to be hardwired for it. It's encoded into our very brains. Is it possible that God or whatever higher power is responsible for us put it there deliberately? I most certainly think it is, although I also freely admit that I am not a scientist.

It suggests to me there are certain things in our minds that do not necessarily have any relevance to our survival as our species. Perhaps the gender centers of the mind are not one of them. (Okay, I do see the logic flaw in this argument. Don't e-mail me about it, please. If homosexuality is a genetic trait, it is likely to be selected against if no children are produced.)

So, if we're hardwired for spirituality, why run away from it? Science is starting to suggest it actually is in your DNA and part of your being. Not only does God want you to connect with him, but it seems your own brain does as well and is conveniently set up for it.

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