I just stumbled across this series of articles on NPR's website. I am delighted! It's all about spirituality and brain chemistry and it's fascinating.
There's very little that can be conclusively proven one way or the other when it comes to what "spirituality" actually is. One of my favorite articles in the group points out that the encounters that Paul and Moses and Muhammad and David Koresh etc. had with "god," could be very handily and plausibly explained by a form of epilepsy, or overactivity in the temporal lobe.
This is all fantastic for those of us who always suspected that god and all his analogues are somehow manufactured by those experiencing it. I have never been so cynical to believe that everybody who claims to have had a spiritual experience was making it up or anything. Hell, when I was a believer, I was convinced a few times that I truly felt the spirit.
|The white rabbit will set your people free…|
"So, if you felt the spirit," ask the smug believers, "how do you explain that?" Until now, I could go into the psychology of the "theater" of church, and group dynamics, which I definitely feel play a part in all of it (see the video below). I can now add to the mix that, as this article points out, an influx of serotonin (or a serotonin-like substance, say… LSD?) will create a very "spiritual" experience.
Ironically, that last article was written by somebody who hopes to establish that there is scientific evidence in favor of a god's existence. As a matter of fact, the scientific community which is studying all this "spirit" stuff seems to be split right down the middle between those searching for evidence of god and those trying to demonstrate that what folks think is god is actually a series of internal functions. What tickles me is the notion that there are scientists out there whose hard work to validate their belief through science will only serve to discredit it. Ain't I a stinker?
Anyhoo, it seems to me that it is only a matter of time before science provides totally compelling evidence that all things attributed to god are, in fact, nothing supernatural at all. It's a logical impossibility to prove a negative (e.g. to prove there is no god), but it is certainly possible to prove that there are better explanations for god-y phenomena.
With that, I give you this video. I challenge anyone to deny that the people in this video are experiencing something very real. However, most folks (even most Christians, I imagine) would say it's not god making these people act like they're completely wasted. I defy you not to believe that these people are having an experience equivalent to drug use (they themselves say it!). Enjoy.