- Scientists 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 "hard-wired" 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 overstimulation 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
- The results indicate that whether a person
believes in a religion or even in God may depend on how enhanced is this
part of the brain's electrical circuitry, the scientists said.
- 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 brain's 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 co-operation
- 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.