NEUROPHENOMENOLOGY OF THE SUPERNATURAL SENSE IN RELIGION F H. P The great majority of scholarly de ﬁ nitions of “religion” center around some notion involving experience or awareness of a supernatural dimension ( forces, entities). This sense of the supernatural has been found in virtually all human societies extending back into paleolithic times. Advances in neuroscienti ﬁ c research technology have made it possible to assert that phenomenal experience is in fact a form of brain activity; the two are identical. This naturally leads us to inquire as to why and how a brain evolving to serve the needs of survival and replication in a harsh natural envi- ronment should have developed the capacity and evident propensity to generate a sense of the supernatural. Psychology has recently identi ﬁ ed a set of three primitive interpretive modules dedicated to generating a sense of causative essence. These mo- dules are located in areas of the brain whose representational output can be experi- enced as non-material, like the stream of thought, rather than as external physical landscape. These non-physical neurophenomenal essences are identical to the three forms of otherworldly spirit essence found throughout human religious history, and they
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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