Is the Human Brain Hardwired for God?

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Duration 00:50:24

Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist and professor at Thomas Jefferson University who studies the relationship between brain function and various mental states. He is a pioneer in the neurological study of religious and spiritual experiences: a field known as “neurotheology.” His research includes taking brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, in an attempt to better understand the nature of religious and spiritual practices and attitudes.


When we look at how the brain works, it looks like the brain is able to very easily engage in religious and spiritual practices, ideas and experiences. All the brain scan studies that we've done show that there are multiple parts of the brain that seem to get involved. The brain is easily capable of having these experiences. Now exactly how that ability got into the brain is the much more complex question, both a philosophical and scientific. Scientists might say it was through millions of years of evolution, and that because being religious or spiritual was an adaptive process, it got incorporated into the biological mechanisms of the brain. Religious individuals might say that if there is a God, that we would have a brain that's capable of communicating to God, praying to God, doing the things that God needs us to do.

In this talk, Professor Newberg will discuss how it does look like the brain, no matter how it got there, does have this profound ability to engage in religious and spiritual experiences. This is part of why we've seen religion and spirituality be a part of human history since the very dawn of civilization.



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barbara ann.fields

Food for Thought

This gives me insight on a subject that I was very much involved in but put very little thought behind why.

2 years ago


There are a number of false premises offered. Differences are stated to exist based on subjective material; true differentiation is not established. People, when they attempt to apply science to the concept of god, may not be functioning as scientists at the moment. Too many loose ends; not enough neuro-science.
My drawing paper would be blank.

10 months ago
Petar Kashev

Eye-opening presentation

I’m a Christian and this presentation was eye-opening as it helped me see the positive effects of praying to God not only for my spiritual growth, but for my physical one, too.

9 months ago

Science and religion coexisting?

It seems to me that the chicken or egg question about whether our brains are wired to realize God or does the concept of God cause our brains to become “wired” in that way. The lecture raises several questions, but as a biologist, it lacks the rigor necessary to really explore these important questions. Perhaps in another 10 years the answers will be more clearly defined?

9 months ago
john Hammons

This lecture could be about anthing

What if we change the word “God” to the word “Corvette” and the religion group to Motor Head. Atheist will be changed to Climent change Activists.

So when a Motor Head sees the Corvette logo his brain will light up just like when the theist sees the cross. What if the Motor head thinks about how great it would be to have a tricked-out corvette 8 hours per day. Would his brain not show the same activity as the theist?

6 months ago
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