SEEKING THE TRUTH
As this NPR article, the first in a five-part series by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, goes on to explain:
I spent a year exploring the emerging science of spirituality for my book, Fingerprints of God. One of the questions raised by my reporting: Is an encounter with God merely a chemical reaction?"
In a subsequent piece in NPR, the third in the series, the author goes on to recount some experiments by Andrew Newberg from the University of Pennsylvania:
A few years later, Andrew Newberg made that possible. Newberg is a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of several books, including How God Changes Your Brain. He has been scanning the brains of religious people like McDermott for more than a decade..."
"Newberg found that result not only with Baime, but also with other monks he scanned. It was the same when he imaged the brains of Franciscan nuns praying and Sikhs chanting. They all felt the same oneness with the universe. When it comes to the brain, Newberg says, spiritual experience is spiritual experience.
"There is no Christian, there is no Jewish, there is no Muslim, it's just all one," Newberg says.
A little theological dynamite there — but, remember, the research is just beginning."
Theological dynamite indeed, but the nascent field of neurotheology (aka the Science of Spirituality), is intriguing indeed, especially when the studies start to explore the so called "God Chemical":
"...Snyder, who is chairman of the neuroscience department at Johns Hopkins
and was not involved in the study, says scientists suspect that a key
player in mystical experience is the serotonin system.
The neurotransmitter serotonin affects the parts of the brain that relate to emotions and perceptions. Chemically, peyote, LSD and other psychedelics look a lot like serotonin, and they activate the same receptor."
The whole series is worth reading, including listening to the audio in the interactive guide that accompanies the series.
(Hat-tip to my friend Greg Ostroff for his original tweet that led me to these articles).