Spirituality Not Given Us by God, Professor Says

A researcher, Brick Johnstone in the University of Missouri has been studying “Right Parietal Lobe ‘Selflessness’ as the Neuropsychological Basis of Transcendence” (Kansas City Star, 4/20/12, p. A-8).

It’s about the so-called “God spot” in the human brain. It seems now that there is no single spot as previously thought, but multiple spots.

Until now belief in a higher power has been associated with a reduced parietal lobe, the area just above the right ear, the home of self needs.  A person with brain injury in this area tends to think less about self and more focused on the spiritual. In experiments the left parietal lob seems to respond to pictures of others — meaning it is the place for otherness?

But now this science finds spiritual connectedness in the frontal lobe as well, the office of planning and coordinating. Increased participation in religious activities shows up in the frontal lobe, too.

Johnstone notes that the study “supports the idea that our spirituality is based in the brain rather than given by God.”

The assumption would be then that a divine power might not have given us the brain. I do not imply that the brain was created on Monday of Creation Week either — unless perhaps that First Monday was an  eon long.

I’m sorry, being of a more poetic persuasion, I find “God spots” in a bucolic meadow, a Liszt composition, a Keats sonnet, a charitable act, the face of dogs offering unconditional love,  etc.

And finally, a brain injury, heart attack or recovery from any emergency surgery might make anyone more spiritual. I don’t care where the “evidence” shows up. A miraculous recovery might make a man believe in good angels, too.

Steadfast and cautious,


David Milliken



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