Anyone listening to NPR this week? They have a 5 part series on the science of spirituality (sounds like an oxeymoron to me). I caught two of the shows, but haven't formed an opinion yet.

In a nutshell, scientists have discovered that neurons firing off in a particular part of the brain account for the "spiritual" visions some folks have. Some folks believe that this is proof that peoples visions are all in their head, so to speak, while more religious folks beleive that we are all hard-wired for the supernatural - this is how god intended for us to be able to communicate with him.

check it out if you are interested

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I find this fascinating. I've often wondered if the brains of people who claim to benefit from prayer and religion are in some way different from mine. The third article in the series (which, at this point, is the only article I've read) contains some information that is pertinent to issues in my life with which I'm grappling. In a nutshell, a human brain praying and a human brain meditating are essentially undergoing identical processes (or, mathematically, meditation = prayer - god). I'm in therapy to deal with chronic anxiety and my therapist is teaching me relaxation techniques. She seems reluctant to call these techniques 'meditation' but that's basically what they are. So, I wonder: is engaging in prayer-like activity the best way to deal with my chronic stress? Would I be happier if I was religious? Is there something about the religious brain that makes it happier and better able to cope with stress than its secular gray-matter counterpart? Does the brain benefit from religion? Am I doing my kids a disservice by not exposing them to the meditative benefits of religion, even though religion is total BS?
Actually, I've never believed in god, or even "spirituality" (whatever that means) so I can't go back to believing in god. All my life I've wondered what it is that so many people seem to get out of believing in something that is so obviously bogus. Perhaps this is part of the answer. It also makes me wonder: if prayer and meditation are essentially the same mental process, and if meditation can help me cope with the crushing anxiety I've felt for most of my life, would I have been happier if I'd been religious?
for a long time I wished I could beleive in God so that I would feel the comfort others claimed they felt in knowing there was someone out there in control of it all. I just couldn't buy it, and refused to pretend. I still feel sad sometimes, but remind myself to try to embrace the present and make the most of what I have.

I'm not an incredibly intelligent person, so I am amazed when people I know who are way way smarter than me are religious. I just don't get it.


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