Thanks, Itzok, for bringing that Oct. 3 article in Scientific American to our attention. I certainly see nothing in it that precludes religious belief, but then, I don't believe that faith can ever be undermined by science. It makes sense to me that if we are spiritual beings, our bodies would have a biological means of having spiritual experiences.
Think about it. We perceive visually with our eyes, which send information to specific parts of our brain, but that doesn't mean that what we see is nonexistent. The biological function serves reality, rather than creating illusion.
As the article concluded:
"Moreover, no matter what neural correlates scientists may find, the results cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Although atheists might argue that finding spirituality in the brain implies that religion is nothing more than divine delusion, the nuns were thrilled by their brain scans for precisely the opposite reason: they seemed to provide confirmation of God’s interactions with them. After all, finding a cerebral source for spiritual experiences could serve equally well to identify the medium through which God reaches out to humanity. Thus, the nuns’ forays into the tubular brain scanner did not undermine their faith. On the contrary, the science gave them an even greater reason to believe."
I said yesterday that I would be more specific about my own experiences, so I'll briefly relate my first conscious encounter with the sacred.
I was young, 3 or possibly 4 years old, and enjoying my swingset on a perfect summer day. As the swing rose and fell, I felt as if I were flying. Happily looking up into the treetops, I saw golden light pouring through bright green leaves.
What happened next is impossible even now to adequately describe. It was as if a curtain had been pulled away. As if I were suddenly in the presence of something -- no, Someone -- far greater than anything or anyone I had ever known. I felt a strange unity with all that is and all that was and all that will be. There was a sense that all was perfect, all was well. That I was just a tiny speck in a vast universe ... but infinitely loved.
Then my mother called me to come inside for my nap. And I clearly remember standing there, frustrated -- wanting to tell her what I saw but not having the words or the concepts to describe it. It was years later, after similar experiences, that I named it an encounter with God. Perhaps you choose to see it as a random firing of neurons.
At the time, I only knew it was awesome.
Whatever it is called, the experience shaped my life, giving me confidence to explore the mysteries of faith and a bedrock trust in the ultimate goodness of God.