Can science explain spirituality?
As the debate between believers of religion and the atheists continues unabated, many are turning towards science to understand why humans seem to not only want religion, but need it as well.
Once again the battlefield is the human brain as some neuroscientists are attempting to explain spiritual experiences through scientific means that make an end run around religion. This group is basing its findings around the study of interoception. Sandra Blakeslee attempts to understand why she feels a spiritual presence and why she can reject religion at the same time in Flesh Made Soul. Here’s a brief excerpt:
Can science help?
I think it can, although the research is in an early stage. A stunning new description of how the human body and brain communicate to produce emotional states — including our feelings, cravings, and moods — has all the elements needed to explain how the human brain might give rise to spiritual experiences, without the necessary involvement of a supernatural presence, according to Dr. Martin Paulus, a psychiatrist at the University of California in San Diego who is also a Zen practitioner.
Called interoception, it offers a radically new view of human anatomy and physiology based on how information from the body reaches the brain and how that information is processed uniquely in humans.