Behavioral scientists have provided a window into how religion resides in the human brain. A study published in in the Nov. 30 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discusses how people infer their own opinions and judgments onto their “god”, using their own moral instincts to conclude that the imaginary being they worship must think similarly. From Science Daily:
The final study involved functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the neural activity of test subjects as they reasoned about their own beliefs versus those of God or another person. The data demonstrated that reasoning about God’s beliefs activated many of the same regions that become active when people reasoned about their own beliefs.
The researchers noted that people often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God’s standards. “The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing,” they conclude. “This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”
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