Maybe it’s because religion is wired into some people’s brains and not others. If this is true, it would suggest that religiosity is a organically based phenomenon rather than a spiritual calling. I will delete the many references from the following quotations from a recent study entitled “Religiosity in patients with Parkinson’s disease.”*
“Relative to other major life goals parkinsonian patients were significantly more likely to report that ‘my religion or life philosophy’ was less important than were age-matched controls. Scores on a battery of religiosity scales were consistently lower for Parkinson’s patients than those of age-matched controls.”
“Several recent carefully controlled neuroimaging and neuropsychological investigations of potential brain correlates of religiosity consistently implicate neo-striatal, limbic, and prefrontal cortical networks as key nodes in the widely distributed neural networks that apparently support common religious practices such as prayer and meditation.”
This study positively thrilled me. Why? Because some of my readers have wondered; some of the atheists I’ve known have wondered; and I myself have wondered why I, a firm nonbeliever in the supernatural, read book after book and write post after post about religion. All I could figure was that I was driven to work through the childhood wounds that were inflicted on me in the name of God, yet most atheists who have been so wounded lack my interest in religion per se, so why me and not them? I even think it likely that I have a greater interest in religion than do most people who consider themselves religious. I can’t let it go, yet at the same time, whatever it is I’m searching for, it’s not God, at least by that name or in supernaturalist terms, so when I read that people with Parkinson’s appear to lose their interest in religion, I thought voila, that’s it; just as an organic process takes away their interest, it stimulates my own.
“Aha,” some of you might say, “what is it that stimulates that part of your brain if not God?” Damned if I know, but surely you don’t mean to suggest that God favors me over most people, or that he’s more interested in me than in people with “neo-striatal, limbic, and prefrontal cortical” brain damage; and surely you realize that a mad scientist could take any of us and make us into entirely different people by rewiring our brains. There is no us apart from organic components and processes, all of which are subject to injury and disease. Our own identities, even to the deepest recesses of our thoughts and feelings, are no less organically based than the identity of a dog, an amoeba, or even a rock. Cause and effect reigns supreme, and we are its playthings. This can only mean that cause and effect is the nearest thing there is to a God, and that we have no choice about whether we worship it, or something else, or nothing at all. Or such is my long considered opinion, an opinion that gained a degree of validation from this study.