HUMANS ARE BORN TO BELIEVE IN GOD......says Sciences of Cognitive Psychology & Neuro-theology ....
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on April 25, 2010



OM Represents God in vED...         God (left) reaching out and almost touching Adam           God symbols in various cultures and
                                                     in painting by Michelangelo.....                                      belief systems...

"Religious beliefs result from poor education and childhood “indoctrination”.

- Dr. Richard Dawkins,  M.A., D.Phil. (Oxford University)  (born 26 March 1941),
British Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, fellow of New College, Oxford,
 ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science,
author of the 2007 book THE GOD DELUSION  sold more than 1.5 million copies and had been translated into 31 other languages....1976 book The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype...
an atheist, secular humanist, skeptic, scientific rationalist, a prominent critic of creationism and intelligent design.

“The picture is more complex than above.....
Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of
reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs
about how the world works....
and children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning
that leads them to all kinds of
supernatural beliefs about how the world works.

Bruce Hood
Dr. Bruce Hood
Award-winning British cognitive scientist, professor of developmental psychology, experimental psychologist,
has taught at Cambridge, Harvard and MIT and currently teaches at Bristol University ...and well known for his ideas on humans being hard-wired for religion...and whose latest research is today's news story....
.........Innate belief in things beyond what’s rational or natural are common to humans.
According to Bruce Hood, this “super sense” is
something we’re born with and essential to the way we learn to understand the world.
We couldn’t live without it!
Therefore it is unlikely that any effort to get rid of supernatural beliefs,
or the superstitious behaviors that accompany them, will be successful.
Moreover, these beliefs are essential in binding us together as a society......


Any fool can count the seeds in an apple.
Only God can count all the apples in one seed.

~Robert H. Schuller (born September 16, 1926) is an American televangelist, pastor, and author
known around the world through his weekly Hour of Power television broadcast.
He is the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, where the Hour of Power program originates

Maybe the atheist cannot find God
for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.

~Author Unknown

When I saw others straining toward God, I did not understand it,
for though I may have had him less than they did,
there was no one blocking the way between him and me,
and I could reach his heart easily.
It is up to him, after all, to have us,
our part consists of almost solely in letting him grasp us.

~Rainer Maria Rilke, (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
 is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th-century poets

If you understand how a very big tree
which prepares itself in fall season
to face a very cold winter of sub-zero temperatures
and weathers winter storms and colds
which humans will die of in a few minutes if unsheltered....
.....and then again sprouts into a green living tree
producing flowers and fruits
without any human help....
.....then you would understand the relationship
between God and all its creations.

- Champaklal Dajibhai Mistry, (born 1945) Professional Engineer (civil), Canada
and evergreen student of vED SCIENCES OF LIFE AND CREATION
to understand and share with humanity to empower humanity in daily living with the vED KNOWLEDGE
which includes the relationship  of God and God's diversity of infinite creations in each of God's  infinite universes ...

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.
~Alexander Pope,
An Essay on Man, 1734
......Conceptions of God itself
vary widely among current diversity of humanity
and diversity of humanity's cultures and beliefs on this planet Earth.....

Theologians and philosophers have studied countless conceptions of God since the dawn of civilization. The
Abrahamic conceptions of God include the trinitarian view of Christians, the Kabbalistic definition of Jewish mysticism, and the Islamic concept of God. The dharmic religions differ in their view of the divine: views of God in Hinduism vary by region, sect, and caste, ranging from monotheistic to polytheistic to atheistic; the view of God in Buddhism is almost non-theist. In modern times, some more abstract concepts have been developed, such as process theology and open theism. Conceptions of God held by individual believers vary so widely that there is no clear consensus on the nature of God.[14] The contemporaneous French philosopher Michel Henry has however proposed a phenomenological approach and definition of God as phenomenological essence of Life.

To study a pretty enlightening but fundamental overview of the CONCEPTIONS OF GOD and GOD in major cultures and belief systems on this planet Earth based on a God/Creator conceived of as the supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.... please click on the preceding two topic name hilites...
Please click on the next line to go to the next web page..... where you would find today's news story about Dr. Bruce Hood's latest research which shows to explain other research in the Go-Man relationship that explains why many people become religious as adults, despite not having been brought up within any faith....and also the take on this subject from the scientific discipline called NEUROTHEOLOGY which is researching scientifically to determine what's happening in the brain during a religious experience.....


.....As is interpreted in the painting below of St. Paul.....
Today's news story started out
as an ordinary day for Saul back in A.D. 36.....

Saul wanted to murder disciples of a man who claimed to be the Messiah, and he was on his way to Damascus to do so. Then, on the way to Damascus, a light flashed all around Saul. He fell to the ground and heard a voice that claimed to be Jesus Christ. The voice told him to continue to the town, a task likely made no easier by the blindness Saul experienced when he got up. Saul remained blind for three days, until a disciple named Ananias laid hands upon him. Saul's sight was restored, and he immediately became baptized. After his experience, Saul became a powerful preacher for Jesus; today, he's better known as St. Paul.....
The conversion of Saint Paul to Christianity on the road to Damascus.
Time & Life Pictures/Stringer/Getty Images
The conversion of Saint Paul to Christianity on the road to Damascus.

.....We HUMANS are born to believe in God....
Says Bruce Hood,
professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University

(From The Sunday Times, UK: September 6, 2009: Jonathan Leake and Andrew Sniderman)

ATHEISM really may be fighting against nature: humans have been hardwired by evolution to believe in God, scientists have suggested.

The idea has emerged from studies of the way children’s brains develop and of the workings of the brain during religious experiences. They suggest that during evolution groups of humans with religious tendencies began to benefit from their beliefs, perhaps because they tended to work together better and so stood a greater chance of survival.

The findings challenge campaigners against organized religion, such as Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. He has long argued that religious beliefs result from poor education and childhood “indoctrination”.

Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, believes the picture is more complex. “Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs about how the world works,” he said.

“As they grow up they overlay these beliefs with more rational approaches but the tendency to illogical supernatural beliefs remains as religion.”

Hood, who will present his findings at the British Science Association’s annual meeting this week, sees organized religion as just part of a spectrum of supernatural beliefs.

Other researchers have found that even ardent atheists may balk at the idea of accepting an organ transplant from a murderer, because of a superstitious belief that an individual’s personality could be stored in their organs.

Such work is supported by other researchers who have found evidence linking religious feelings and experience to particular regions of the brain. They suggest people are programmed to get a feeling of spirituality from what is nothing more than electrical activity in these regions.

Andrew Newberg, professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, has used brain-imaging techniques to show that such feelings are invoked by activity in “belief networks” operating across the brain. This supersedes the earlier concept of a “God spot”, activated during meditation or prayer.

“The temporal lobe interacts with many other parts of the brain to provide the full range of religious and spiritual experiences,” he said.

This mechanistic view of religious experience is reinforced by separate research carried out by Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Ontario, who has used powerful magnetic fields to induce visions and spiritual experiences in volunteers.

Barbara Hagerty became one of Persinger’s subjects while researching Fingertips of God, a book on brain processes underlying religion. “I saw images and cartoonish figures. It didn’t convince me there was no God, but it did show me how much the brain is connected to our beliefs and perceptions,” she said.

Some researchers argue that humans’ innate tendency towards supernatural beliefs explains why many people become religious as adults, despite not having been brought up within any faith. Scientists believe that the durability of religion is in part because it helps people to bond.

Professor Pascal Boyer, an anthropologist at Washington University and author of Religion Explained, supports Hood’s view that the origins of religion may lie in common childhood experiences. In a recent article in Nature, the science journal, he said: “From childhood, humans form enduring and important social relationships with fictional characters, imaginary friends, deceased relatives, unseen heroes and fantasized mates.

“It is a small step from this to conceptualizing spirits, dead ancestors and gods, who are neither visible nor tangible.” Boyer holds out little hope for atheism. “Religious thinking seems to be the path of least resistance for our cognitive systems,” he said. “By contrast, disbelief is generally the work of deliberate, effortful work against our natural cognitive dispositions — hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.”

The Rev Michael Reiss, who is professor of science education at London University’s Institute of Education and also an Anglican priest, said he saw no reason why such research should undermine religious belief.

“I am quite sure there will be a biological basis to religious faith,” Reiss said. “We are evolved creatures and the whole point about humanity is that we are rooted in the natural world.”


a scientific field currently known as


.....which is intersection of science and religion....
......The goal of neurotheology is to determine
what's happening in the brain during a religious experience.....

......Is the brain hardwired for religion?

(By Molly Edmond...From
How Stuff Works website)

Paul's story is interesting not just to biblical scholars, but to neuro-scientists as well.

Some scientists claim that the account of this conversion, found in the book of Acts, contains enough evidence to diagnose Paul with temporal lobe epilepsy. The flash of light, the voices and the fall to the ground are the evidence of a seizure, according to these neuroscientists, with the blindness a result of the postictal state that follows a seizure [source: Brorson, Brewer]. While most doctors agree that it's impossible to diagnose epilepsy definitively in someone who lived so long ago, Paul would join some other religious figures reputed to have brain disorders, including Moses and St. Teresa of Avila [sources: BBC, Begley].

The link between epilepsy and the Lord doesn't end with that list, though. In one study, researchers examined how certain words affected those with epilepsy compared to those without. The words were divided into three groups: neutral words, like "table," erotic words, such as "sex," and religious words, such as "God." In those without epilepsy, erotic words produced the biggest change in body chemistry, but in people with epilepsy, religious words created the biggest emotional effect. Sexual words had a much lower response [source: BBC]. Like the story of Paul, this study seemed to suggest that the temporal lobe has something to do with religious feelings.

These examples represent the intersection of science and religion, a field currently known as neurotheology. The goal of neurotheology is to determine what's happening in the brain during a religious experience. Obviously, the field can be a bit controversial; those with deeply spiritual beliefs about the connection between a person and his or her maker aren't thrilled about reducing religion to something happening in the brain. But the work of the scientists does seem to show that there's some connection with our gray matters and our pray matters. So, is nirvana all in our noggin? Are we simply responding to brain firings when we drag ourselves out of bed on Sunday morning? Read on to find out what God might be doing to your brain.

The Brain During Religious Experiences

Meditating monks
Andrea Pistolesi/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Meditating monks

Because of the work connecting temporal lobe epilepsy and spiritual experiences, scientists previously believed that the temporal lobe was the only part of the brain involved in religious feelings. Recent imaging studies, however, have shown that many parts of the brain are activated during a religious experience.

At the forefront of these imaging studies is Andrew Newberg, a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania. Newberg used single photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, imaging to take pictures of the brain during religious activity. SPECT provides a picture of blood flow in the brain at a given moment, so more blood flow indicates more activity.

One of Newberg's studies examined the brains of Tibetan Buddhist monks as they meditated. The monks indicated to Newberg that they were beginning to enter a meditative state by pulling on a piece of string. At that moment, Newberg injected radioactive dye via an intravenous line and imaged the brain. Newberg found increased activity in the frontal lobe, which deals with concentration; the monks obviously were concentrating on the activity [source: Vedantam].

But Newberg also found an immense decrease of activity in the parietal lobe. The parietal lobe, among other things, orients a person in a three-dimensional space. This lobe helps you look around to determine that you're 15 feet (4.6 meters) away from a bathroom, 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from a door and so on. Newberg hypothesizes that the decreased activity in the brains of the meditating monks indicates that they lose their ability to differentiate where they end and something else begins [source: Paulson]. In other words, they become at one with the universe, a state often described in a moment of transcendence.

And it seems to matter little to whom or what that religious activity is directed toward, for Newberg found similar brain activity in the brains of praying nuns. Though the nuns were praying to God, rather than meditating like the monks, they showed increased activity in the frontal lobe as they began focusing their minds. There was also a decrease of activity in the parietal lobe, seemingly indicating that the nuns lost their sense of self in relation to the real world and were able to achieve communion with God [source: Paulson].

There were, however, slight differences in the brain activity of one religious group: Pentecostal Christians who speak in tongues. The Pentecostals actually experienced a decrease in frontal lobe activity; instead of focusing their attention as the nuns and monks did, they paid less attention to the task at hand [source: Carey]. Even though they spoke in tongues, the language center of the brain wasn't activated [source: Paulson]. This brain activity is fairly consistent with descriptions of what speaking in tongues is like -- you lose control of yourself as a person, and God speaks through you.

While Newberg's work has been supported by other scientists conducting imaging studies, some have a problem with the basis of the experiment. Critics of Newberg's work argue that you can't reduce all religious behaviors to just meditating or praying [source: PBS]. Religion encompasses more than that. What, for example, might happen in the brain of someone doing charity work for the poor? What happens when someone makes a moral choice based on his or her belief system? Newberg's work as of yet is focused on individual, private experiences, as opposed to the relationships and experiences that happen between other people [source: Peters].

­­Others are more concerned with the implications of the study. If religion is just an activation of certain parts of the brain, does that mean God or any higher power is just in our heads? That's not necessarily what scientists are trying to prove or disprove. After all, if we are wired to believe in God, then it's not a far leap to believe that God is the one who wired humans that way. But if we have this structure, is there any way to tinker with it so that we can have mystical experiences all the time? And is there any benefit to this brain structure in the first place? Go on to the next page to find out.

Do We Need the God Helmet?

As we learn more about what happens in the brain during a religious experience, is it possible that we'll ever be able to create them ourselves? Could we flip a switch and see the face of God? No more meditation, prayer or fasting? A scientist named Michael Persinger thinks it's possible.

Persinger has gained attention for his work with the "God Helmet," headgear so named because it may induce a person to feel the presence of God. The God Helmet includes electrodes that Persinger uses to alter the electromagnetic field at the temporal lobes. Persinger claims he can create a religious experience for anyone by disrupting the brain with regular electric pulses. This will cause the left temporal lobe to explain the activity in the right side of the brain as a sensed presence. The sensed presence could be anything from God to demons, and when not told what the experiment involved, about 80 percent of God Helmet wearers reported sensing something nearby [source: BBC].

George Burns in the film
Warner Bros./Getty Images
Not that kind of God Helmet. George Burns in the film "Oh, God! Book II"

Will it work for everyone? Richard Dawkins, famous for his criticism of religion, reported only slight dizziness and twitching in the legs after some time in the God Helmet [source: Horgan]. Persinger says that some people may just be more genetically predisposed to sensing God or another higher power, and they may not need a God Helmet to do so [source: Hitt]. According to Persinger, naturally occurring electromagnetic fields can also cause religious experiences, particularly in those with this predisposition to sensing God. For example, powerful meteor showers were occurring when Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, was visited by the angel Moroni, and when Charles Taze Russell formed the Jehovah's Witnesses [source: Hitt].

But is there any advantage to being genetically open to God? Scientists are trying to discern if there's an evolutionary reason for why our brains are so receptive to religious experiences. Religion might be a side effect of a developing brain; our brains needed ways to explain the world around us, so they may have created a belief system that could serve as kind of default place to turn in the case of questions. Religion could serve that purpose to early man, with its somewhat supernatural stories to explain cause-and-effect. But now, religion is an expensive trait to carry forward; it involves time and sacrifice, such as fasting. And now, there are scientific methods to explaining the world. Shouldn't religion have died by now?

Atheists may, of course, say yes, but as one anthropologist points out, even some atheists cross their fingers when a plane experiences turbulence. This may indicate that our brain will always seek out some sort of transcendental hope or otherworldly protection, even if it's not called God [source: Henig]. And some evolutionary biologists argue that there are important individual and collective benefits to a mind hardwired for religion [source: The Economist]. Individually, people who believe that someone bigger than themselves is watching them may make better choices in terms of their evolutionary fitness; they may be less likely to drink or engage in other dangerous behaviors if they feel something or someone higher than them may disapprove. But the real benefit may come down to a facet of Darwinism that doesn't get much attention anymore: survival of entire groups.

One study evaluated the success of various communes in 19th-century America. The communes with a secular ideology were four times as likely to disband in any given year [source: The Economist]. But in religious communes, such as modern-day kibbutzim in Israel, those subject to the strongest religious rules have been shown to be the most altruistic and cooperative of the bunch. In tests that examine an individual's generosity when the entire group is at stake, those living in these types of communities of faith are more likely to pool resources, which promotes the survival of the collective [source: The Economist]. Religion in that sense is a way for people to work together, to have an interest in an entire group's survival due to shared beliefs.

While scientists in the field of neurotheology continue to examine these types of issues, head on over to the next page for more interesting articles on the brain.

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


•Begley, Sharon and Anne Underwood. "Religion and the Brain." Newsweek. May 7, 2001.
•Britt, Robert Roy. "Monsters, Ghosts and Gods: Why We Believe." LiveScience. Aug. 18, 2008. (Sept. 9, 2008)
•Brorson, James R. and Kathleen Brewer. "St. Paul and temporal lobe epilepsy." Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. June 1988. (Sept. 9, 2008)
•Carey, Benedict. "A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues." New York Times. Nov. 7, 2006. (Sept. 8, 2008),%
•"God on the Brain". Programme Summary and Transcript. BBC. April 17, 2003. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Henig, Robin Marantz. "Darwin's God." New York Times. March 4, 2007. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Hitt, Jack. "This Is Your Brain on God." Wired. November 1999. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Horgan, John. "How to wire your brain for religious ecstasy." Slate. April 26, 2007. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Horgan, John. "The God Experiments. Discover Magazine. Nov. 20, 2006. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Meeks, Wayne A. ed. "The HarperCollins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version." HarperCollins Publishers. 1993.
•Paulson, Steve. "Divining the brain." Salon. Sept. 20, 2006. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Peters, Karl E. "Neurotheology and Evolutionary Theology: Reflections on 'The Mystical Mind'." Zygon. September 2001.
•"Religion and the Brain." PBS. Nov. 9, 2001. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Rothstein, Meryl. "Brain Changes While Speaking in Tongues." Seed Magazine. Nov. 9, 2006. (Sept. 8, 2008)
•Than, Ker. "No 'God Spot' in the Human Brain." LiveScience. Aug. 29, 2006. (Sept. 9, 2008)
•Vedantam, Shankar. "Tracing the Synapses of Our Spirituality." Washington Post. June 17, 2001. (Sept. 9, 2008)
•"Where angels no longer fear to tread." The Economist. March 22, 2008. (Sept. 9, 2008)

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