My idea of why so many people believe in invisible supernatural entities is fear of the unknown; death being the major factor. This has been inherited in the mind since mankind existed, in fact, even before that. Spirituality has developed in the evolution of thought along with hate, love, jealousy and all other emotions.

Some of the earliest human burial sites discovered in Europe are those of Neanderthals, from 30,000 to 200,000 years ago. In the graves were found food, clothing, decorative shells, weapons, stone tools, plants, flowers, and bodily remains often covered with a red pigment. The people who buried their loved ones surely thought that they would need nourishment, clothing, tools and weapons to survive in another existence.

Louis Leaky, the noted anthropologist, said that the nature of the graves indicated that the Neanderthals displayed a keen self-awareness and a concern for the human spirit. Another anthropologist F. Clark Howell noted that all the evidence in these discoveries suggests that the Neanderthals believed in a life after death.

Going back even further in the evolution of man some neurologists and other scientists believe primates are capable of having spiritual experiences similar to humans.

Researchers acknowledge that spiritual experiences originate within primitive parts of the human brain, structures shared by animals. Kevin Nelson, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, has analyzed the processes of spiritual sensation for over three decades.

Professor Nelson, author of the book 'The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain,”says: "Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences. Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences,"

This is food for thought and if true is is not unreasonable to accept that the reason that the faithful have no rationale or common sense when it comes to believing in irrational ideas.

What do you think?

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Spirituality is a word that has no real meaning for me. Sometimes I think I know what people mean when they use it. If they mean “human consciousness” then use that term. If they mean “artistic creativity” then use that term.

It cannot go back “millions” of years as we are only around about 180k years at most. Maybe we are now evolving to the point where we have started to stop thinking “magically” and now the term has no meaning anymore, whatever that meaning was.

Unless someone can tell me what they might be or what the word means then I do not need anyone to look after the spiritual needs that I do not have.

I feel the same way, Reg. I think it has some kind of supernatural meaning, which is meaningless. Sometimes people say it means a sense of awe at the universe and one's place in it. Then say that. Don't use a term that means woo unless you mean woo.

Reg,  The millions of years goes to "neurologists and other scientists believe primates" which includes studies they performed on chimpanzees.


Spirituality is such a stupid word it's meaning is vaporous without form, it's meaning is different in the mind of each speaker, I have little use for it.

"Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences. Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences”

What are these “spiritual experiences” that Nelson is talking about? Why is it reasonable to conclude that animals are capable of such experiences? Claiming that part of my brain is spiritual is as meaningless as claiming my knee is spiritual. Nelson would (or someone else) have to explain what they mean by “spiritual” especially if he has 30 years of data on the “process of spiritual sensation”. I think he may have lost the key to that “spiritual doorway in his brain” and may be trapped in there.

“Researchers acknowledge that….” What researchers and what research?

I do agree with your opening line that most people are happy to believe in the supernatural to alleviate the fear of death. I often argue that if it was possible for Science to make us immortal then most people would very quickly stop believing.

Reg, I don't necessarily believe in this completely. I thought it was an interesting concept studied by neuroscientists so I threw it out for discussion. Is love, hate, jealousy, anger and spirituality the same? Do animals have these emotions? I think they do and so do many others. Will it ever be proven? I don't know.

The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain: A Neurologist's Search for the God Experience by Kevin Nelson,

How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist, by Andrew Newberg M.D.

Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief, by Andrew Newberg and Eugene D'Aquili

The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul, by Mario Beauregard

The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures, by Nicholas Wade

Take a look at this on Mario Beauregard please. If you ever hear the term "quantum mind"....run. It is complete rubbish, just like "intelligent design". 

How god changes your brain?? Emmm....God does not exist. Maybe people inflicted with magical thinking show different brain patterns when their scans are compared to people that use critical thinking. Any neuroscientist worth his salt should be able to spot a god delusion.


@Reg, my support group always passes out to new members the "self care wheel." Keep in mind this is a secular organization, not promoting any religion, but geared towards helping victims of trauma. One of the pieces of the "wheel" IS spirituality, suggesting that it is part of leading a balanced life.

Is there any merit to that?
Here is more on the subject and hyperlink to an example of the "wheel"

Could someone please explain what "spirituality" is or at least explain what they think it means. Then we can discuss it.

When someone is making positive steps towards moving away from a bad relationship or when they are trying to heal from a traumatic experience(s) it is important to have a plan. Let’s call it a road map to recovery. It needs to be structured to suit each person differently. So it should only be done in tandem with trained professionals and any advice that is worth heeding must come from those who have walked in the same shoes.

At the start people will feel confused and delicate but the advice must be dogmatic and realistic. When I hear people give advice on “spiritual matters” I know some pseudo claptrap is about to follow. Sorry if that sounds brutal but it is the way I see it. Their other advice may be solid but once spirituality (like the quantum mind) is dumped on the table it is time to get up off your chair. People don’t "heal the holes in their souls". They face the issue honesty, go through the pain of dissecting the problem and see how it impacted on their lives. Then they can take ownership of it and file it away and move on. It will never be easy and seldom pleasant but the process makes you stronger.

Any time spent on the woo of spirituality is a waste and is a detour to nowhere from  your road map. So when you hear “spiritual healing” or “spiritual matters” ask them for a definition.

I found it interesting that on that self care wheel I linked, the section of spirituality had things listed like, "walking in nature" or "self-reflection," and "being part of a community" (not even suggesting it has to be religious)...I think there can be merit to doing those things, and if a person decides they want to call it "spirituality" that's fine for them. I have decided for myself not to do so, not to take on that label of being "spiritual" because in conversation that would lead the average person to think I am religious and I am not. I have also found recently that many people say they are "spiritual" without really thinking through what it means FOR THEM. It is a blanket statement to not seem.....cold and disconnected from the spice of life perhaps? No one wants to seem that way, so I think many people just say, "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual," and if you ask 100 people what spirituality means TO THEM, you'll get about 100 different answers with about 5 or 6 commonalities.

Another interesting article on the subject:


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