God on the Brain

God on the Brain

Ratings: 7.48/10 from 31 users.

God on the BrainRudi Affolter and Gwen Tighe have both experienced strong religious visions. He is an atheist; she a Christian. He thought he had died; she thought she had given birth to Jesus. Both have temporal lobe epilepsy.

Like other forms of epilepsy, the condition causes fitting but it is also associated with religious hallucinations. Research into why people like Rudi and Gwen saw what they did has opened up a whole field of brain science: neurotheology.

The connection between the temporal lobes of the brain and religious feeling has led one Canadian scientist to try stimulating them. (They are near your ears.) 80% of Dr Michael Persinger's experimental subjects report that an artificial magnetic field focused on those brain areas gives them a feeling of not being alone. Some of them describe it as a religious sensation.

His work raises the prospect that we are programmed to believe in god, that faith is a mental ability humans have developed or been given. And temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) could help unlock the mystery. (Excerpt from bbc.co.uk.)

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5 years ago

I personally found this documentary informative and worth doing. Other experiments have been done some time ago on the thickness of peoples skulls and that people with thicker skulls dont allow electromagnetic waves to get through as much as those with thinner skulls, the signals dont get through. There have also been experiments about the effects on the human body yrs ago to do with electromagnetic waves (fields,ley lines etc)and appliances ,tv,computers etc and the do effect the human body.In 1974 it was proven the exstinct of the biophoton field that surrounds your body.The Word GOD is just that ,it can mean to you whatever you want to perceive it to be.How about Generations of Order and Disorder.In 2008 in Southampton England they did experiments on communication by one human being in a room with a computer and another human being in another room with a computer and used the electromagnetic wave field to connect, communicate via their brains to the extent of one getting the other to do things unvoluntarily apparently ,look it up.To me everything i read,watch ,hear,feel is just information some will be more truthful than others. The human body will do its best to fix itself depending on the information it has or you have, humans even now dont have that info apparently ,that could be a reason for the words (in hindsight). Information is in our cells apparently we are created by our parents genetic information which is then mixed together by the sperm and egg and out you pop, a new computer system of sorts ,as humans do use computers,books,voice recordings etc as our extened memory ,thoughts and dare i say it brain. And of course my parents were created by their parents etc Now the planet was here first ,before humans that is apparently and through its chemicals and compounds and those coming in from out side of it from space getting through its atmosphere etc many many many many other organisms have been created to balance each other out, you know one species feeding off another in order to survive. Strangely enough some plants do that e.g. a tree gets light from the sun water from the clouds and nutrients from its decaying leaves . The lessons in human history have taught weather religious or not , do not bit the hand that feeds you, the water you drink the food you eat the air you breathe etc it does not mean the water companies,gas electricity etc that is something people have created for whatever reasons.

7 years ago

Interesting in that this and subsequent research for such a "God Spot" implies religious experiences and the concept of the soul is within the brain, further proof that manifestations of such beliefs are physical. This research applies to everyone, not just people with epilepsy. The symptoms appear to be exacerbated in certain epileptic or in people like Kim Davis.

8 years ago

Amazing documentary, thank you scientists

8 years ago

That scientist claims that Richard Dawkins did not have the visions because of his low sensitivity in the temporal lobe. He fails to see the big picture here. Beliefs shape brain matter. Richard's non belief is the cause of this low sensitivity.

Tao Boi
9 years ago

This documentary seems to take a narrow view of religion and mysticism. I find it amusing how documentaries like this always seem to negate to mention the role drugs and endogenous chemicals in producing these experiences. A number of the worlds religions have there roots firmly based in the taking of natural occurring entheogenic chemicals which produce profound mystical states of being (eg. DMT, psilocybin, mescaline). The taboo placed on these substances by religious and political authorities seems to have precluded people in even exploring these connections. Interestingly more recent research on psilocybin in particular have revealed that these substances reduce blood flow to the same areas of the brain as deep mediation or prayer. I also think its is funny how people like try and create a duality between genuine and non-genuine mystical states. How did the first mystic know his experiences where genuine? This seems to be just another method for religious authorities to institute control and facilitate the idea that they have the true mystical knowledge (or true word of god) thus belittling and demeaning others experiences and divine truth as as merely mental illness or some other type of disorder. They must do this to place themselves as an religious expert just as a psychiatrist defines themselves as an expert of how "normal" people should think and feel. No theory of mind or religion will ever be complete until they can account for how and why entheogenic substances produce these profound states. Another question is why do these substances occur so abundantly in nature and where they an evolutionary catapult that accelerated the development of the mystical and creative powers of the human mind...?

9 years ago

Where do we get ideas for inventions and machines able to travel distances faster than the body can move or send and receive images and sound through what are to our senses invisible wavelengths? The answer is so simple...our brains. As we shift our mind sets we tune to variables within and around ourselves, thus we evolve.

10 years ago

Temporal lobe epilepsy is what I have, sometimes mistaken for pseudo-seizures but also I have visions of aura and sometimes of terror.. I cant wait to watch

10 years ago

worse documentaries ever seen

10 years ago

Achems_Razor are you an Anti-Theist?

10 years ago

Yes both are opinions but yours is correct, hmmm. Just like people to shove beliefs and opinions down peoples throats. As for what i believe, im afraid its no ones business but my own. I should add, if someone chooses to believe something they have the free will to do so without affliction from people but on the same token if that person forces and imposes their belief on anyone or uses it for their own gain(monetary or otherwise) they should be dealt with harshly. Anyway you twist it you still believe something, don't put yourself in a category, just accept you are human.

10 years ago

Atheism is a belief just as someone who believes in a creator, they both are beliefs, this is a fact! Both have not been debunked and people wait on science to tell them the truth and in the process you forget you are human. Believe as you will it won't change the fact that we are all human beings living on earth. I would say stop bashing god and stop bashing atheism, they are both belief systems. What I would bash is doctrines!

11 years ago

The religious experience may be derived from the function that has evolved in the human brain to make us realize the importance of our society for our survival and the need to commune with what is greater than us individually. To join an entity that is beyond us personally, which is society and the people to whom we owe everything. This makes sense in a scientific perspective and turns religion in a by-product and misinterpretation of this normal brain function. The same way optical illusions are a by-product and misinterpretation of natural brain and eye functions. But of course, religious people are probably not objective and rational enough to realize it.

11 years ago

More crap about the mental illness of those who believe in God. Better check out Noam Chomsky's lecture about the Ghost in the Machine on Youtube. BTW, some people who believe in God are quite sane and actually do a lot to make the world a better.

11 years ago

This sounds real interesting!

11 years ago

The thought that religious belief may be a bi-product of evolution really just blows my mind. She goes on to say that religious belief, or faith may be a quirk of nature. I believe that nature or truth.... is God

11 years ago

michael H you are totally wrong ..its obvious that you didnt know God nor you had any personal relationship with Him :) so therefore you decided to reject Him ..which is really sad ..i will pray that the Father will open your eyes to His truth and ways

Michael H
11 years ago

I did believe in god and jesus and all that mumbo jumbo at one point in my life where i was young..

After 20 long years of hearing god this god that, jesus this mary that..
I actually got sick of hearing all this cr*p.. I actually felt a little stupid and ignorant thinking those stories made up by some m*ron hundreds of years ago to be true. even if there is a god/ jesus and s**t.. there's still starvation and countless of pointless deaths..

if there is an all powerful and all mighty god.
then tell me, you bible believers. why the **** didnt god make this planet and the people on it a better place?
maybe it's because no matter how perfect that mofo is.. he can't get anything right.

to all you god believers.. keep thinking there is this higher power..
when the day comes for you to suffer in pain and agony.. please call for him.
see what he'll do for you. cause in the end.. he won't do s**t for you.


12 years ago

the answer of the first question of the beginning of this documentary is yes.
human design to believe God. now you see when scientist will find it out. i know it for sure. there was a book i read that been written 900 years ago, the book called perfect human, a great book, written by a Persian Sufi, he strongly mention that this sense been installed inside human FETRAT or nature.

12 years ago

Ah, so religion is all just one big epileptic fit.. And here I thought it was the mushrooms!

12 years ago

people's experiences with something supreme is simply a simulation of what it would be like if you talked walked etc with a supreme being yes the emotions are real but it is to something simulated by our brains.
to the believers when you pray you realize that you often pray for things that without prayer would actually would happen anyway prayer is just as beneficial as prayer to a remote control.
religion myths folklores etc are things used to explain the non explained but science is explaning things each in every day that in the time of the bible was made that deemed a mystery.
nobody wants to believe once you die that is it but believing in stories that logically dont make no sense but unfortunatly religion will never die when one religion is proven incorrect a new one fit for that generation and time will be created and if you are comfortable believing in a religion just like so many that stamp you gng to a very bad place if you dont believe then i feel sorry for you,

12 years ago

Good doc. Great to hear more on this subject and curiouser & curiouser to watch where it may lead. My thoughts - perhaps the 'religious' will make note that people from all 'faiths' and spiritual practice have these similar Experiences ... might be obvious then that 'one true' religion is an idea that might be Wrong? (Maybe in future we will be hailing this new science of Neuro-Theology as the Peace Maker) - Also wonder if people will be lining up to buy their own 'God Helmet' or looking for antidote for the electric magnetic disturbances (?) that stimulate the experience "where is your clock radio"? HA :)

12 years ago

I am GOD the same way that the drop is the ocean. We are afraid to say I am GOD because our ego fears the opinion we would receive from others from professing those words. The day we realize our potential fully, the day we believed in our own self with faith we will be able to do miracles. Most of us would say that we have done what felt like a miracle, most of us more than once....but we call it coincidence or chance event. God is spread among us in drops, God needs all of us to live everything that is and we need every drop still alive to reunite the true essence of God that is in all of us.
If Jesus lived or if he was the subject of the best novel ever written by many writers...one thing that was particular about him is that he wasn't afraid to say i am the son of GOD, God talks through me. AZ

Mr. Wrong
12 years ago

It is pretty obvious that it is a case of man made god than the other way round.
I am happy to be devoid of any mysticism or religious inclinations. To me there simply is not enough evidence to convince me there is a god or supernatural being.
I also read someone's comment stating that it is more difficult to be a non believer than otherwise; I guess it is as it takes more effort to learn, investigate, collect data, analyze it and derive conclusions from it. Why go to all that effort when a little book written ~2000 years ago would do. Well, those who so chose to act are welcome to drown in the ignorance of their beliefs. I prefer to make the effort of finding out about the natural world, trying to get as close to the truth as possible by the only method that works. I am, of course, referring to the scientific method. I refuse to be fooled into believing the kind of utter rubbish any 'holy' book claims to be the truth. They explain precisely nothing. Not even why they are riddled with contradictions and nonsensical stuff, such as flying, talking snakes. What a load of bollocks that is.

12 years ago

I'll tell you all something now... I had right temporal lobe epilepsy for many years until I had my op and I can see now that I am 'cured' I was living on a different level of consciousness The only way to describe it is that I know my right lobe is 'me' It was my identity all through the living hell of my seizures caused by music when I would go a.w.o.l
I would convince myself that all was well in order to cross a road safely in the midst of a fit when a car radio would be blaring out music or when I was hallucinating it was as though my 'self' was talking me through it or maybe it was my coping mechanism? Maybe religion is a coping mechanism? I had no religiosity but mystical feelings yes definateley

12 years ago

U go man! One Consciousness, One Love, One People, One BEing.

12 years ago

Religion gets corrupt once it becomes 'religious'.Any thought based on mundane repetitions in a transient ever changing universe, fails to be accurate. And is more powerful as a system of control towards, blind acceptance of social & economic injustices.
But it has been predominant through out the past 500 years, so I have to accept its significance, hence I religiously..... swim everyday!

12 years ago

Buddhism and Christianity are very very different, what in the world are you talking about? What 'common' way are you talking about? Even amongst meditative techniques, the brain can be put into 1000s of different states. I think you need to meditate for a long period of time before you start talking of what is the same or not. The comments on most pages on this site make me so sad for the extremely shallow research.

Achems Razor
12 years ago

@Charles B:

"Koinky Dink"??

Had to look that up. According to the Urban dictionary, the people who use this word are a$$wipes, it says if you hear anyone say it, get rid of them in any way possible!
Just relaying info. Charles (LOL)

Charles B.
12 years ago

First of all you are not Jesus Christ.

Secondly, it takes more effort to be an atheist than a believer because you're fighting against the way God intended your mind and soul to work. Perhaps children's minds are more receptive to the things of faith because they haven't learned yet how to suppress the God-given inclination to believe. That is why it is so important to guide them, as adults, in the way that they are meant to go, and perhaps that is why Jesus said that "Unless you come to me as little children [in child-like faith], then you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven."

Also, it says "Woe to the one that offends one of these little ones that believe in Me [making them disbelieve]"

As children, our brains do not become better, and therefore we move from faith in God as faith in the Three Little Pigs to atheism as a matter of maturity, but rather we loose the God-given seed of faith by sin's consequences on our minds, souls, and lives. We grow colder, not wiser in our spirits and minds if we do not continually nurture God's presence and faith in our hearts.

As for my misspelling, "believer" I've never been a very good speller. I was in special classes for math, reading, writing, especially spelling, and even P.E. because I was socially awkward by being mercilessly teased for being "slow" and "different". I was hyperactive which short-circuited my attention and thought processes. Thank you for you social kindness in pointing out my error in spelling.

It's by God's mercy and grace alone that I've done so well in life academically, spiritually, and personally.

Peace to you.

Charles B.

Jesus Christ
12 years ago

@Charles B.

"Appearently it takes a lot more effort to be an atheist than a beliver . . . imagine that."

Of course it requires more effort to be an atheist than a believer (by the way you misspelled believer). To be a theist (a believer of God), requires only the mental acuteness and critical thinking capacity of a young child. As much mental energy, I suppose, it takes to comprehend any allegorical fable or myth, such as the Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Horus, and the life and times of Jesus Christ (my favourite!). A belief in a super-natual being aka God is simply a psychological meme (you might want to look up Meme for further clarification) manifested by our still evolving temporal cortex, in order to explain the yet not explained. The more rational members of our species subscribe to a scientific approach to unlocking the secrets of our reality and existence, than wasting time glorifying things that could or could not be there. Simply, because our species has not yet discovered or determined all the workings and intricacies of universe does not provide evidence for the existence of a God.


Achems Razor
13 years ago

Watched this quite awhile ago, coming in to get notifications.

13 years ago

My initial thought at the beginning of this documentary was that science is quickly becoming the World's favorite God/religion. As such, stretches and postulations of our perceived reality, some outlandish, are made to justify and prove ones own point of view (belief). I, myself, have flip-flopped through my years between religious, agnostic, and atheist. This film only strengthened my belief in the uncertainty principle; we can never know the truth of our reality. Therefore, whatever one chooses to believe, dictated by internal or external stimuli, is his/her own personal reality (experience as Old Limpy said). I might, however, change my mind tomorrow or in the next 5mins! Being human is such a great and terrible "blessing"!

13 years ago

This was a good film and it raised some very interesting questions and proposed some answers. It was well worth viewing.

I did not watch this film to strengthen nor weaken my own spiritual faith and it had no effect on it as I have a weak form of temporal epilepsy which I take medication for. I learned a lot about temporal epilepsy.

I have had some religious experiences. Luckily some of my those spiritual experiences were not viewed alone but with others. I did understand the dynamics of it though.

I really intend to watch this again.

13 years ago

I’m Atheist, and despite my Catholic upbringing I have never believed in God.
I never felt anything nor have I ever had an impending need to believe in anything, plus I asked a lot of questions that could not be answered.

13 years ago

we use more of the brain than originally thought so the idea of, what if we used more of the brain, is ignorance.

I'm open to a creator as stated many times, but who created god? If god always is and was then why cant laws of physics be always is and was? Why does creationist use the theory that since the probability is a million gazillion trillion to 1, then that is so improbable there has to be a creator. Doesnt the definition of probability means that its probable, however unlikely? Just a few more questions to think about.

13 years ago

A personal experience of God is just that...a PERSONAL experience and is NOT and never can be reality. Our reality in this world around us is based on our knowledge of it and ourselves. Because we are being continually updated all the time, or should be, our world view must evolve, but if our head is distracted by foggy thoughts about a mysterious all powerful super being then this will inform our reality and influence our decision making. This is not thinking clearly or critically and is a poor choice of reality. Do you not want the best and fairest reality you can come up with. This documentary offers an insight into the source of why man can believe in God/s (ironically because we dream) and you dismiss this evidence based approach with a preference based on utter ignorance. Open your minds and think critically for your own sake, not God's.

13 years ago

If God is the creator of man and the mind. Perhaps God designed the makeup of the brain in the frontal lobe to be sensitive, so that it can take in experiences of Him.
I have encounters with dreams and visions, I do not have epilepsy. I also can be in several different sleeping places and still have the same results. whether at my parents house, in my childhood room, at the inlaws, in a hotel, in a tent, doesn't matter,these encounters always happen to me, almost on a nightly basis.

13 years ago

Interesting doc but science proving religious people are nut jobs is like them proving oranges are umm ... orange. Shame about the cop out at the end with the vicar etc saying "this doesn't prove God doesn't exist."

13 years ago

@ Dreighen

Interesting assumption. So this probably means that our real reality are our dreams. If this is true I did a really naughty thing tonight ;) And now that my soul resides in this lame and weak container, having to work for material needs of this container so I can communicate with you, I ask myself if it is worth it?

11 dimention here I come just give me a moment to get rid of this container! We will talk later on the membrain. Hm... cypress Hill comes to mind.

fear and loathing
13 years ago

why are people so fearfull to admitt that their is no god? if religion has brought death im not saying it has all the time but it definitly has then why dont we get rid of this beliefs that do nothing but conflict with each other? i much rather have an idea of god DIE! then any single human being on this planet die

13 years ago

I believe our DNA, Brain, what have you in it's complexity was designed to be able to "broadcast" our consciousness. And I believe our consciousness is housed outside the realm of space time (if you wanna use modern theory, you could even say the 11th dimension). I believe the reason the body, and mind have to sleep at night is to recharge the body to house such a strong force such as our consciousness and that it is returned to wherever it truly resides, when we sleep.

Think of it this way. When you see a t.v, you see the pictures and people talking, but if you break open the t.v you will not find them there. It is the same for us, if we were to die you will not find our consciousness in our dead bodies (or soul if you're religious). It is obviously housed some where else in time, space...

Reality is the illusion, created by our consciousness, for me to be able to communicate with yours, so on and so forth. I believe the Universe to be a conscious entity itself, and that all of our collective consciousness are part of the same web or membrane...

13 years ago

I think you may have a bit of a heightened sense of your abilities, Lonnie. It's not every day that people just figure out the meaning of life. Thanks for the laugh, though.

13 years ago

Just for the record, we use about 90% of our brains. The 10% came about from old less sensitive eeg equipment that made it appear that we use less of our brain, but modern mri imaging and what have you have utterly debunked that theory.

Tyronne D
13 years ago

Makes me wonder if the planet's magnetic fields becoming weaker may be the key for world unrest? At it's worst right now as I speak & I'm sure there's a connection no matter how small.
But yes many years ago I did have this same theory mentioned in the documentary, but do I believe in god? I definitely don't believe religion but god ..hm..
I'm really looking forward to 2012 as this will make or break religion & hopefully Steven Hawkins will break the code to the theory of everything.

13 years ago

I have developed the theory that the other 80% of the brain that we supposedly do not use at this juncture if fully activated would allow us not only to communicate with God fully, but also to perform the same miracles Jesus was able to.
I believe that this "Awakening" that mankind is experiencing right now is activating those areas of the brain. I can't prove anything just yet but it explains a great deal and I think the next 2-3 years will tell the story.

I think we get caught up in the "fairytale" feelings toward God so that we tend to think like what He does is some kind of magic, and then when we are able to explain the things attributed to God by "natural" phenomena we act as though that excludes God manipulating "natural" phenomena.

I mean He did create it, surely we'll allow Him an occasional usage of His own creation?

Charles B.
13 years ago

Mr. Razer, sorry about adding the "B." Figured there are more than one "Charles" out there, and that would narrow the field. Really an interesting doc. though, wasn't it?

13 years ago

Granted that this research so far did not prove or disprove the existence of god or supernatural being, but if the brain do behave in a common way whenever prayer, deep meditation or other similar religious practice is acted out, then it does raise the possibility that all religions are not differentiated. This means belief in whichever religion be it Christianity, Buddhism, etc... is all the same. This certainly is very significant with respect to any specific religion.


Achems Razor
13 years ago

Charles B.

I did not realize I was talking to Charles, you added a B. it threw me off.

I believe in "All That Is", Not any particular God. Especially the God of the Bible.

Actually I will look into this temporal lobe thing. Just to see if atheists do march to the beat of a different drummer. Or "Visa-Versa"

Chow. :D

Charles B.
13 years ago

Mr. Razer, I thought that would get a comment from you! I thought you said you weren't an atheist. You yourself said you believe in a god, the god of "All there is." Even you have some kind of faith, do you not? I haven't entirely figured out what you mean by that really.

Anyway, I was half-heartedly joking about the brain damage thing, but it would be interesting to acually test that theory to see if most "atheists" did indeed have what they called low sensitivity to magnetic fields in the temperal lobes. And if there was some way to test the temporal lobes without being zapped with that silly looking helment, I would like to know if there is extra sensitivity in say . . . my temporal lobes. What faith I have, I would like to have even more. I want to go deeper still in knowing and loving God with my whole heart. I know I don't have temporal lobe epilepsy, but even as a child I've always had a strong faith. Perhaps it is a "gift" as they said on the documentary, the gift of "faith". Such a "gift" is mentioned in the Bible, and shouldn't be foo fooed away so easily by the temporal lope "deficient"! ;-)

I'm on vacation, so I'm up late cracking jokes, but seriously, wouldn't you also like to know if there were a notable difference in the temporal lobes between the "faithful" and the "atheists"? My gut feeling is "No, there isn't" but who knows for sure? I think it's a lot more complicated than just that. The temporal lobes are just one small part of God's masterpiece of our minds and brains and spirits all working together as one.

Achems Razor
13 years ago

Charles B.:

Wow! I never knew I had Brain damage! that explains everything! Hard Heart? Maybe.