A nickname for a part of the brain discussed at the 1997 symposium for the Society for Neuroscience. This is a part of the brain that apparently seems very involved in producing religious feelings. While there aren't claims that it's the cause of them yet, there is evidence in that direction. Stronger believers have this part of the brain more active, and subjects who have had this part externally stimulated have reported having religious experiences.

In 1997, neuropsychologist V. S. Ramachandran presented his discovery of the "God module" at the annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience. The "God module" is a cluster of nerve cells located in the temporal lobe of the brain that, when stimulated, appears to trigger a religious experience.

Dr. Ramachandran and his colleagues discovered this spot while studying epileptic patients. Many patients who suffer from temporal lobe seizures also experience intense religious or spiritual encounters during these seizures.

The researchers developed three possible theories to explain the occurrence of these religious experiences.

The first theory was discarded because the experience of a hallucination is not specifically a "religious" experience, and the patients specifically reported religious feelings as a result of their seizures.

The second theory was tested by examining the patients for strong emotional responses to non-religious objects. Since the patients reported elevated emotions only when exposed to religious imagery, the possibility of general elevated emotional response was discarded.

This forced researchers to conclude that the patients were responding to a stimulus to a region of the brain devoted to religious experience. Examination of non-epileptic religious people showed elevated brain activity in the isolated region when the subjects were exposed to religious imagery.

The existence of this brain region does not reduce the validity of spiritual experiences. When told about these findings, Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, said "it would not be surprising if God had created us with a physical facility for belief."

Sources for this summary: The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil and "Searching for God in the Machine", David C. Noelle

There are one of two distinct possibilities for why this region of the brain could exist.

  • The faculty for religious belief was built into us by a creator.
  • Religious belief, or spirituality, was a trait which led to a greater surivival rate of those possessing it, likely in pre-homo sapien man, resulting in it being present in all homo sapiens sapiens.

These two can basically be summed up as such: "God created man, or man created God."

Currently, the vast load of empirical scientific evidence points towards the latter being true, since evolution is currently the only theory which has stood up to decades of scientific scrutinizing.

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