‘God Spot’ is Found in Brain
by Steve Connor
believe they have discovered a “God module” in the brain, which could be responsible for man’s evolutionary instinct to believe in religion.
A study of epileptics, who are known to have profoundly spiritual experiences, has located a circuit of nerves in the front of the brain, which appears to become electrically active when they think about God.
The scientists said that although the research and its conclusions are preliminary, initial results suggest that the phenomenon of religious belief is “hardwired” into the brain.
Epileptic patients who suffer from seizures of the brain’s frontal lobe said they frequently experience intense mystical episodes and often become obsessed with religious spirituality.
A team of neuroscientists from the University of California at San Diego said the most intriguing explanation is that the seizure causes an over-stimulation of the nerves in a part of the brain dubbed the “God module”.
“There may be dedicated neural machinery in the temporal lobes concerned with religion. This may have evolved to impose order and stability on society,” the team reported at a conference last week.
The results indicate that whether a person believes in a religion or even in GOD may depend on how enhanced this part of the brain’s electrical circuitry is.
Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran, head of the research team, said the study involved comparing epileptic patients with normal people and a group who said they were intensely religious.
Electrical monitors on their skin – a standard test for activity in the brains temporal lobes – showed that the epileptics and the deeply religious displayed a similar response when shown words invoking spiritual belief.
Evolutionary scientists have suggested that belief in God, which is a common trait, found in human societies around the world and throughout history, may be built into the brain’s complex electrical circuitry as a Darwinian adaptation to encourage cooperation between individuals.
If the research is correct and a “God module” exists, then it might suggest that individuals who are atheists could have a differently configured neural circuit.
A spokesman for Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, said whether there is a “God module” is a question for scientists, not theologians. “It would not be surprising if God had created us with a physical facility for belief,” he said.