What Your Body Knows About God


A few years ago, I began exploring the connection between neuroscience and spirituality. I was shocked to find that there is a growing field of neuroscientists who are testing how the human body--and specifically, the human brain--responds to various spiritual practices. I published the findings of my study in a 2013 article, "This is Your Brain on Religion," but had no idea that this field of study would continue to grow and expand until today. Now author Rob Moll, award-winning journalist and editor-at-large at Christianity Today, has collected the latest research on the connections between biology and spirituality into a single, accessible volume. In "What Your Body Knows About God," Moll argues that humans are hard-wired for spiritual experiences and connecting with God.

RNS: If prayer is visible on a brain scan, shouldn't we conclude that God is just a creation of our brains?

RM: No. The brain’s basic function is to perceive the external world and respond to it through the body. When it is hot your brain responds to your surroundings telling your body to sweat to cool off. Or you’ve just exercised and your body craves protein and carbs. Your brain is designed to use the senses in order to understand what’s happening around you.

If this is true of mundane, every day experiences, it seems entirely possible that every time you pray or belt out your favorite worship song, you simply are perceiving and responding to God in the way your brain has been designed to do. One researcher says that if God were to create us in order to be able to connect spiritually, we would expect the brain to operate just the way it does when we pray.