by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D'Aquili, and Vince Rause
Medical researchers Newberg and D'Aquili set out to determine if there is some biological reason for people's persistent belief in God. So they studied the brains of Buddhists as they meditated and nuns at prayer. Computed-tomography scans revealed a brain area with decreased activity during peak meditative states. This region, the orientation-association area, typically provides balance to a person's perception of the physical world. The findings led the researchers to hypothesize that "biology, in some way, compels the spiritual urge." With this as their foundation, the authors explore its implications: Are brains hardwired to create myth? Do ritual behaviors activate transcendent experiences within the brain? Does the mind's need to understand these experiences provide "a biological origin for specific religious beliefs"?
Ballantine, 2001, 226 p., hardcover
To subscribe to Science News call 1-800-552-4412
Copyright 2001, Science Service