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Belief and the Brain

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You don’t have to be brain-damaged to feel the presence of God, but it just might help. On Neurophilosophy, Mo analyzes a recent study into feelings of “self-transcendence” among individuals afflicted with brain lesions. Those with tumors in the posterior regions of the brain were more likely to identify as religious, and feelings of “creative self-forgetfulness,” “transpersonal identification” and “spiritual acceptance” increased after surgical removal of “the left inferior parietal lobule and the right angular gyrus.” The posterior regions of the brain are strongly associated with religious feeling, as earlier work has shown that “the mystical experiences of Tibetan Buddhist monks and Carmelite nuns are associated with altered parietal lobe activity.” Razib Khan covers the same study on Gene Expression, writing “drugs, deprivation (e.g., fasting) and traumatic personal events seem to push people toward this state of ‘self-transcendence’ quite often.” And on Pharyngula, PZ Myers offers a glimpse into the head of a true believer.

Links below the fold.