Study: Brain Chemicals Key to Spiritual Experience

Lower serotonin levels make people more open to religious practices, experiences.

dannyg

12/22/2012 07:24:58 PM

Yes indeed, I agree with you @Tom.Head this is a very predictible experiment, maybe the base of this experimente is not to show how important is serotonin in the behaviour of a human being, but instead to raise some questions to religious people. People that want to get a handle on serotonin, need to start reading this type of articles regarding serotonin: serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro99/web3/Ho.html www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15006487 www.neuralpedia.com/neurotransmitters/serotonin/

seasiderascal

08/21/2004 03:10:51 AM

"Not a thing was made that He didn't make" including serotonin. Genetic differences here (He made DNA too) may account for why "many were called and few were chosen".

Tom.Head

04/01/2004 03:35:41 PM

My experience has been that folks who convincingly report "normal" religious experiences on a regular basis come across as far more "grounded" than the norm, and (as there has been some correlation between church attendance and reduction of depression) I would even go so far as to say that religious experiences may boost seratonin. This is pure conjecture--I haven't been manning a PET scan machine myself--but I think the folks who conducted this study may have erred if they considered religiosity and religious contemplation to be the same thing. Thomas Merton, probably one of the greatest mystics of our past century, was also one of the most open to skepticism about his own beliefs.

Tom.Head

04/01/2004 03:35:22 PM

The Temperament and Character Inventory measures beliefs about religious experience, not religious experiences themselves. It doesn't surprise me that folks with lower seratonin levels tend to hold more forceful beliefs about the paranormal/supernatural, because when your beliefs are challenged by depression or anxiety, you're going to be more emphatic about them. (continued)

firinne916

03/10/2004 11:14:37 PM

This "study" is yet another attempt to absolve mankind of any responsibility for individual choice regarding the Creator.Religious experiences often begin in childhood, and their nature is wholly apart from any "tendencies" of the individual. In those instances, God finds us before we look for Him, or at least draws us before we've any intellectual understanding of Him. In other words, we encounter and know intimately a God that we've never conceptualised. My apologies to the "scientists", but seratonin levels do NOT explain relationships with the Most High.

lindenmeadow

03/08/2004 04:23:24 PM

"By understanding the genetic component, this data can support that differences may not be a matter of views or dogma but can also be related to the way we are created from the beginning." Maybe that helps explain the diversity of religions. I've wondered what makes our minds different from one another that what one person finds totally believable another person may find totally ludicrous (regarding religious matters, that is). Intelligence isn't the answer, because extremely intelligent people can disagree completely on religion. Interesting findings...

Aquari

03/05/2004 08:01:40 PM

Good thought, kaveh500, but tests measured density of serotonin receptors, while SSRI’s only affect your overall serotonin level. A ‘high-density’ (materialist) person could be just as depressed as a ‘low-density’ (spiritual) person, but raising their serotonin levels wouldn’t affect the density of their receptors. This sounds like something psychologist/philosopher William James talked about in his book ‘Varieties of Religious Experience’ (which I highly recommend). He describes two temperaments: ‘healthy-minded’ and ‘sick soul’. The former can be anywhere from contentedly religious to stridently atheist, but either way they are optimistic about life and don’t worry much about the ‘big questions’. The latter have generally had a serious bout of depression which made them think hard about the ‘big questions’ – what’s the point of it all, is life worth living, etc. The answers they come up with tend to steer them towards religion, especially after they recover. Could all that be related to this?

kaveh500

03/05/2004 04:33:54 PM

Interesting. If this were true--and remember that you can't draw cause-and-effect conclusions from solely statistical studies, no matter how intuitive the relationship seems--then taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac would make you less religious. Venturing further out on a limb that may or may not be supported by science; people who are less depressed are less religious.

god_is_my_refuge

03/05/2004 01:39:16 PM

Funny that no one else has touched this with a ten-foot pole. Could it be that beliefnet is filled with people who spiritually don't make use of their brain chemicals? Me thinks so.

denisemac

03/05/2004 01:23:58 PM

On a spiritual point of view I think that the tests prove that we receive God's spirit to receive understanding. It is our ability to connect to this and use who we are and/or be guided by the spirit to understand God. That is why there is different ideas of religion because we can't help but use our beliefs and who we are to decide who God is.

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