I came to the Lord on December 3, 2003. There were many reasons for my accepting the Truth, but one of them was a long-time curiosity with how the world got started and a dissatisfaction with the secular answer of evolution, Big Bang and simple chance. During this time of my peak curiosity, I was fortunate to be able to travel the world for ten years. I saw many sunsets, the majestic Alps, active volcanoes, the Northern Lights, myriad exotic animals, the ocean at peace and in turmoil, and I would think, ‘there HAS to be more to it than a Bang…this is all so beautiful and delicately complex.’ In this, the scripture in Romans 1:20 comes into play, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Eventually, I clearly saw, and I understood. More important, I believed.
I had another question too, for example, why does every culture in the world worship something? I’d learned in my twenties that every culture that ever existed worshiped something greater than themselves in some way, from the beginning of recorded time to this moment. Why is that, I’d wonder, and why is is that of all the animals on earth, that none others ever attained that transcendence of self, and looked up to a God?
Could it be…because God designed it that way?
In 2001 scientists began to delve into that question with more advanced technology. The brain is SO complex, that it still remains a mystery to them today, but is being better understood bit by bit.
Tracing the Synapses of Our Spirituality
What creates that transcendental feeling of being one with the universe? It could be the decreased activity in the brain’s parietal lobe, which helps regulate the sense of self and physical orientation, research suggests.
In 2008 another study focused on the parietal lobe further, separating that part of the brain into synapses that define ‘me’ and ‘not-me’:
Spirituality Spot Found in Brain
The area in question — the right parietal lobe — is responsible for defining “Me,” said researcher Brick Johnstone of Missouri University. It generates self-criticism, he said, and guides us through physical and social terrains by constantly updating our self-knowledge: my hand, my cocktail, my witty conversation skills, my new love interest …People with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives, reports the study in the current issue of the journal Zygon.
Now, “spirituality” is not Jesus, the blood and the cross, but it is progress. By 2010 scientists were studying the brain interior itself again rather than external behavioral impulses, responses, and self-reporting. They found in brain-damaged patients that some areas in the brain lead to a greater spirituality.
Scientists Find ‘Spirituality’ Center of Brain
Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say. Previous neuroimaging studies had linked activity within a large network in the brain that connects the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortexes with spiritual experiences, “but information on the causative link between such a network and spirituality is lacking,” explains lead study author, Urgesi said.
The fact of the matter is, whether a person believes in God or not, “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4) All of Ecclesiastes reminds us that life without God is empty and vain. Every person ever created has the opportunity to see the world and His invisible attributes within. Every person has the opportunity to seek the fulfillment of that empty place inside us where we groan and discover what it is we groan for. The Lord made us with sinews and blood and DNA and a place in our brains (it seems) where the seat of heavenly longing waits for the Holy Spirit to connect with it and AWAKE our soul unto Jesus. The key is receptivity. Will you harden your heart to the questions that arise in you? Will you push out of your mind the unanswerable that is before your eyes? Or will you accept the Holy Spirit’s conviction and seek until blessed belief overwhelms you with love and grace?
Though the brain research into the parietal lobe is intellectual and “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) it is still a matter of pondering the miracle that we are spiritual beings. If we evolved, why is that spirituality absent from 100% of the rest of the animal kingdom? Could it be because “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”? (Gen 1:27)
I urge all of us to ponder these things. His creation has His signature on it. His formation of humans has in us implanted longing for His Magnificent self. If you have ever looked at the beauty of the world and wondered Who made it, or felt within yourself a longing and unfulfillment, a seeking for something more, it is the Spirit knocking on the door of your heart ready to reveal the kingdom to you. If you only believe, and ask. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
[Hardwired for God, another essay I wrote exploring this subject, is here]