God belief physiology

Is there a biological precursor to belief in the supernatural?

The belief in God is perhaps one of the most basic beliefs we as humans hold to. But one has to consider this carefully. If you were born in Baghdad, and your parents were Islamic, you have to consider the possibility that you would have believed in Allah. Were you born in Tel Aviv, chances are you would have believed in the Hebrew God, but would have denied Jesus as your saviour. Were you born in the jungles of Borneo and were never exposed to any of the "modern" gods, you probably would have believed what your parents believed, even if that might have been the godliness of a piece of wood. There are specific reasons why we feel this way.

When we are infants, and our brains are totally "plastic", meaning it is eager to accept new information, we are exposed to certain constant presences in our lives. An infant does not see itself as separate from its mother during those first few months. It has no concept of "self" and has not yet developed a view of the world, simply because it has not been able to "view" this world. It's only reference to it's existence is the "oneness" that it perceives with it's mother, or caregiver.

Imagine this. Many times a day, a hundred times a week, a thousand times a month, and many thousands of times a year, that baby cries because it seeks comfort, warmth, food and closeness. Every time it cries, it's caregiver comes, without faltering, and offers what the child seeks. This process is called the biological event, and it is one of the most potent manifestations of a "supreme" being in our early lives. Our mothers were always there when we needed them.

However, during this period, the child's brain is developing, forming neural connections at a massive rate. Everything the child perceives and experiences during this period gets absorbed into this newly forming neural network, but the things that are repeated obviously make a much stronger impression on the child's brain. One such thing is, yip, you guessed it...the mother always being there to care for the child. This presence is "hard-wired" into the child's brain in this manner.

But there is more. As the child matures, it goes through a stage where it attempts to separate itself from the caregiver who has always been there to take care of it. This is a difficult period for this child, because it feels the urge to separate, and yet it still needs the safety and security offered by the caregiver. This is also the point where the adults in this child's life start to teach it about God's love and mercy, how he will care for you and how Jesus loves you. Effectively, we replace the concept of caregiver, previously the mother, with the concept of God taking on the responsibility of caring for the child. In this way, the child continues to feel safe and cared for, even during the periods that it is, due to educational and other societal influences, are separated from the mother.

This desire for someone to look over us is created at a very early stage in our lives. The power of this desire can be ascribed to the instinct of survival. We are taught, by religious parents or others, that we possess souls, and that our souls will survive death and we will move on to some other form of existence and consciousness. The details of this is always and will always be very sketchy and poorly defined, simply because no-one really knows, do they? Yet our parents, whom we trust implicitly, teach us these things as gospel truths, and we find within ourselves a sense of comfort with which we are at ease with. Fear has been stilled, and even if our mothers are not there to provide food and shelter, we believe that God in his love will provide.

It is also the remnants of this fact that causes adults to seek out God and Jesus when they are experiencing difficult times. Like the infant crying for food, we cry (pray) for deliverance from our hardships. We simply "believe" that God will hear our prayers, because he is always there, and will always be, in the same way that we, as infants, simply "knew" that our mothers will always be there to care for us.

Last updated by Nelson Feb 14, 2009.



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