Born Religious…!

Augustine Pamplany CST

In domains, such as language or walking, virtually everyone is a natural; we are all born speakers and born walkers. So too, the recent neuroscientific researches show that to some extent humans are born religious. Drawing upon research in developmental psychology, cognitive anthropology and particularly the cognitive science of religion, scholars argue that religion comes nearly as naturally to any other potentials and talents of the human. In the year 1844, long before the establishment of neuroscience as a separate field of investigation and study, Orson Flower wrote, “This science shows … that a large section of the brain is set apart exclusively for the exercise of the moral and religious feeling.” Now with the introduction of the most sophisticated imaging machines and new evolutionary insights into the brain organization, neuroscientists are confident of mapping the ‘God Spot’ in the brain. God spot is not to be understood literally, rather a metaphor which implies that our brain is intrinsically tuned to have an idea of God.

Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, Victor Turner and Colwyn Tevarthen are the main proponents of a neurological theory of religious experience. They argue that the potency to transcend the material existence of this world to the immateriality of the mystical experience is a built-in mechanism of the human brain which has evolved. “After years of scientific study, and careful consideration of our results, Gene and I … saw evidence of a neurological process that has evolved to allow us humans to transcend material existence and acknowledge and connect with a deeper, more spiritual part of ourselves perceived of as an absolute, universal reality that connects us to all that is.” The proponents of this theory further try to show this by demonstrating that there is a biological drive to make myths and rituals, which will lead to transcendental experiences. According to ‘Neuroreligion/Neurotheology’, our spiritual cognition, perceptions, sensation and behaviours are the manifestations of inherited impulses generated from the neural connections. Religious practices act back upon the brain’s frontal lobes to inspire optimism and creativity.

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