Study: Brain Chemicals Key to Spiritual Experience

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

BY: Frederica Saylor


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"This is helping us understand how religion and spirituality affect the global us and lead us to better knowledge to how people differ and religions differ - and how they affect people better than others or worse than others," Newberg said.

Farde also indicated that understanding the role of the brain in religion and spirituality may create more respect for plurality and the way we are religious beings. While the research does not explain whether a person has a belief system, Farde said, it might indicate why the person may be more attuned to a charismatic church as opposed to one with more order and tranquility.

" Because people are different in the way they perceive religion and spirituality, it adds to the difficulty of understanding and respecting each other, " Farde explained. "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."

Dr. Keith Meador, director of the Theology and Medicine program at Duke University, said that while the article is interesting, it points toward a lot more work to be done.

"The article is misinterpreted when it tries to make the direct relationship with spirituality," said Meador, explaining that the work lacks context. "By necessity, our brain is a vital part of the fullness of our understanding and expression of religion, but it has to be interpreted. It's that contextualization that gives it any meaning."

Meador added that there is a temptation to define perceptual phenomena as spiritual.

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