Finding God In The Brain

Self-transcendence, Koenig explained, can also often encompass things like belief in ESP and the paranormal, which would not necessarily be considered a part of religion.

"There are neurological areas of the brain that enable us to have spiritual experiences, but it's very different than the religious involvement and practice and beliefs, per se, which are not always based on experiences," said Koenig. "There's only so much that we can conclude from a study like this. This is interesting research that provides some clues for future avenues to pursue, but it is only one study."

A Mind Problem

McNamara said that while spirituality may be an important component in religion, this study also indicates an important physical component.

"If there's a God, then he communicates with us via our minds, via our brains, via our bodies," he said. "The brain matters, your body matters."

While some religions over time have dismissed the importance of the physical world, "All the orthodox religions say 'No, the body really matters.' These sorts of results confirm that," he said.

The significance of the frontal lobe displayed by this study, he said, also points to a "talent" some might have for religion, akin to the ability some people have with language or mathematics that gives them superior ability in the area.

"It tells us about why certain people find it easier to be spiritually religious," he explained. "Down through the centuries, we have seen that there are some spiritual geniuses."

McNamara listed as examples Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., along with Jesus, Mohammed and Moses.

"These people had special talents, there's no question about it."

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