I have previously posted on the idea that religious need might stem from something hardwired into the human brain. In my view religion is a widely-practiced irrational blind faith that has some beneficial social outcomes (‘trust’ reduces transactions costs in a market economy) and also has outcomes beneficial for the individual (religion has evolutionary advantages in delivering endogenous opioids). My own rejection of religion is individually costly (in gross if not net terms) and socially counterproductive.
The August edition of Neuroscience Letters included work by Mario Beauregard and Vincent Paquette examining whether a ‘God Spot’ can be found in the brain. This created a big controversy in the neuroscientific literature. Dave Chavanne at Neuroeconomics reviews this research in a comprehensive way. He argues there is not much evidence of a particular spot but some evidence for a network of spots.
Overall Chavanne’s view is skeptical – religious experiences need to be separated out from other intense experiences and this is difficult. Maybe so but what would you expect – the key issue to me is that people get dragged into accepting goofy religions for reasons that make individual and social sense. The role of religion can therefore be objectively analyzed without getting bogged down in the myths.