Neurotheology: Making Sense of the Brain and Religious Experiences

With the tiny sliver of knowledge I’ve gained of the tiny sliver of knowledge humans have gained about neurology and consciousness, I think it’s pretty hard to correlate any specific brain activity with the peace of God. Brain scans of religious meditation practitioners are different from those of average people. If I remember correctly, the default mode network is less active and frontal lobes are more active–signs of a disciplined mind, i suspect.

My DMN is highly active (how else to account for all the pinging thoughts?), and yet I experience the peace of God. It varies in intensity, but it’s personally indisputable. I’m curious about what that looks like to a neurologist, but it probably looks a lot like other types of phenomenon.

Brain scans of grandmothers looking at pictures of their grandchildren look a lot like brain scans of people having other types of highly pleasant experiences. We need more refinement before we can tell the difference between specific types of phenomena. I hope humans keep working at that!

It seems that even the definition of peace is not universal.

I do not induce the peace of God, or claim such a process possible. As far as I am concerned the peace is an overwhelming sense of calm and contentment. A complete lack of worry or anxiety.

As I see it such a state would probably be upset just by the attachment of the device to measure it.


The “peace of god” is one of those things that is mostly just a personal experience. It’s mostly meaningless to others. As in there is no way to prove the peaceful feeling you have is supernatural from god or a magical banana or just yourself. I think all forms of trying to get scientific data on anything supernatural is fruitless.

It’s like when someone is driving to Walmart… but decides that the Holy Spirit is telling them to go to Publix instead. I’ve met people who lets the Holy Spirit guide what outfit they wear in the morning because by wearing yellow vs blue it may be a sign to some random person that drives past them type of stuff .

Yes, I think you are right about both. Have you ever read William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience? It’s a wonderful and fascinating book. The first time I read it, i was captivated because other people had experiences that sounded a lot like my own.

Unfortunately not, but it is refreshing to read of people who have had similar experiences and relate to them as we do.


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Exactly, just because you see that activity is taking place in an areal of the brain gives you no indication of what is going on there. There are similarities in external appearance despite the internal experience being completely different.


I don’t think it says anything about free will, but it definitely says something about our consciousness.

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I pedaled about ninety miles one day and “missed” over twenty of them in just that way.

Had that happen last week! I was talking to someone and went three blocks on “automatic” before I realized it and had to loop around to get on a proper route.

One major difference being that we have years of experience in following routes.

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