Are we hardwired for religion?
Thursday, 27th Nov 2008 | 7:00 pm
Rudi Affolter and Gwen Tighe have both experienced strong religious visions. He is an atheist; she a Christian. He thought he had died; she thought she had given birth to Jesus. Both have temporal lobe epilepsy.
Like other forms of epilepsy, the condition causes fits but it is also associated with religious hallucinations. Research into why people like Rudi and Gwen saw what they did has opened up a whole field of brain science: neurotheology.
The connection between the temporal lobes of the brain and religious feeling has led one Canadian scientist to try stimulating them. 80% of Dr Michael Persinger’s experimental subjects report that an artificial magnetic field focused on those brain areas gives them a feeling of ‘not being alone’. Some of them describe it as a religious sensation. His work raises the prospect that we are programmed to believe in god, that faith is a mental ability humans have developed or been given. And temporal lobe epilepsy could help unlock the mystery.
Find out more at T2F’s Science Ka Adda …
Horizon: God on the Brain – A BBC 2 Documentary
Running Time: 50 minutes
Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.