Michael Persinger, Canadian neuroscientist
cradling a human cerebrum.

Religion may be revolutionized in the coming millennium, not by Bible thumping preachers, but by the brain massaging of neuroscientists. Canadian neuroscientist, Michael Persinger, who is recognized as a pioneer in the frontier of neuroscience, told Wired Magazine in an article "
This is Your Brain on God" he has produced what has been described as the presence of God in many of his patients with the use of well placed electrodes.

Persinger reported to Wired that "typically people claim a presence. One time we had a strobe light going and this individual actually saw Christ in the strobe. Another individual experienced God visiting her. Afterwards we looked at her EEG and there was this classic spike and slow-wave seizure over the temporal lobe at the precise time of the experience -- the other parts of the brain were normal."

Persinger's work is based on a kind of "
Grand Unified Theory of the Otherworldly" proclaiming that cerebral fritzing is responsible for almost anything one might describe as paranormal. Persinger also claims that electromagnetic field disturbances, such as the deformations in the electromagnetic field caused by the intense pressure change in the tectonic plates before an earthquake, also correlate with reports of the paranormal and religious mass conversions.

Like Persinger, Researchers at the University of San Diego have also located an area in the temporal lobe of the brain that appears to produce intense feelings of spiritual transcendence, combined with a sense of some mystical presence.

A Religious Hot Spot?

Rita Carter, in her book Mapping the Brain, cautions, "the fact that we seem to have a religious hot-spot wired into our brains does not necessarily prove that the spiritual dimension is merely the product of a particular flurry of neural electrical activity. It is easy to see that being able to get your God Experience from a well-placed electrode could --at the very least -- undermine that precious status such states are accorded with many religions. How believers will cope with what many might see as a threat to their faith is one of many interesting challenges that brain science will throw up in the coming millennium."

Inducing the God Experience to Heal

In spite of the moral questions believers would most likely protest over in an induced supernatural encounter, there may be benefits yet unexplored. An induced experience could have an effect of healing emotional stress and psychological deficiencies related to the depravations in a person's cultural environment. It might also allow a person to break free of self imposed barrier to a larger spectrum of the world. If we could replace the destructive drugs people have relied on to fulfill that need, with a more controlled environment -- of "brain healing centers" where people pay for a well placed electrode, the world might indeed become a better place. In fact, we may one day find "brain massage" centers all over the world.

Information derived from:

This Is Your Brain on God, Jack Hitt
Wired Magazine - November, 1999

Mapping the Mind, Rita Carter
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998