Insights from neuropsychiatry about the god module in our brain…
Most dictionaries describe religion as “a way of life”. Religious beliefs, practices and experiences of individuals in our society, appear to have a strong cultural basis in their evolution and have been described as part of every ancient civilisation discovered and studied by modern man. On the face of it, therefore, it seems inconceivable that religious experiences may have biological basis in our brains.
Several questions remain unanswered in our quest to understand how religious experiences occur. Why are some people intense in their religious beliefs and practices and others considerably less enthusiastic? Or indeed, why do one's religious attitudes, beliefs and practices change during a life span, progressing sometimes: from atheism to agnosia to intense religiosity (or indeed in the converse direction)? Can socio-cultural factors alone have such influence on our lives, or are there more inherent biological determinants of these experiences and behaviours? Empirical observation suggests that a simple sociocultural explanation may be inadequate. There are for example considerable differences in religious attitudes and practices between siblings born of the same set of parents. The socio-cultural ethos in this situation is a virtual constant. Yet variations in the quality, frequency and intensity of religious experiences are observed and it's not uncommon to witness the entire spectrum, from intense religiosity to a strong atheistic tendency within the same family. While psychological experiences and social factors unique to each individual may have a significant role in determining these variations, they are often conjectures that arise from social and clinical observation.
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