In response to my declaration of faith in something “more” than the physical world, Matt provided the following insights:
That there are areas of the brain that are in function when one is having a religious experience has been well understood. From pubmed in 2001:
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany. email@example.com
The commonsense view of religious experience is that it is a preconceptual, immediate affective event. Work in philosophy and psychology, however, suggest that religious experience is an attributional cognitive phenomenon. Here the neural correlates of a religious experience are investigated using functional neuroimaging. During religious recitation, self-identified religious subjects activated a frontal-parietal circuit, composed of the dorsolateral prefrontal, dorsomedial frontal and medial parietal cortex. Prior studies indicate that these areas play a profound role in sustaining reflexive evaluation of thought. Thus, religious experience may be a cognitive process which, nonetheless, feels immediate.
— Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Apr;13(8):1649-52
Further, Michael Persinger, Professor of Neuroscience at Laurentian University in Ontario has a lab wherein he can induce religious experience/feelings:
“Four in five people, [Persinger] said, report a “mystical experience, the
feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or
near” them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become
frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits.”
— Washington Post, 2001
This profoundly disrupts the view that there is an external force controlling the religious experience, does it not?
It seems to me the thrust of the neurological study is that certain religious experiences are cognitive rather than emotional. Neural correlates of religious experience.
Does the study undermine my perception of feeling God moving among us? No. For three reasons. (1) If A causes B, that doesn’t mean C cannot also cause B. (2) It proves too much and (3) I don’t believe God is external.
I’ll post a comment about each of these right now.