Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Continuing Neurology of Religion

Did you ever get the sense that there are very different things going in with the following types of people:

- your aunt who just likes the songs and colors at church on Easter and Christmas

- and the people strapping bombs to their chests

- and your mild-Christian friend (and you) who like to go out in the woods at night and remember that you're made of stardust while watching shooting stars leap between trees and cliffs that will surely outlive your great grandchildren?  (More on this kind of awesome stuff here; more on how you're probably not that different from your Christian friend who wants to look at shooting stars here.)

If you've noticed such a difference, you're probably onto something.  It looks increasingly like fundamentalism, ritual, and spirituality are separate components of religion that occur in separate parts of the brain, based on these unfortunate natural experiments performed by lesions - that is, trauma breaking parts of the brain, and seeing changes in these behaviors.  Yes, you can have a brain lesion that makes you more fundamentalist.  Or more spiritual.

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