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The Brain & Spirituality

Date: 12-05-04
Host: Art Bell
Guests: Matthew Alper

Mathew Alper, the author of The God Part of the Brain, discussed his theory that human beings are genetically hard wired to experience some form of spirituality. He suggested that over time humanity evolved in this direction as a way of coping with the inevitable knowledge of their deaths. Being compelled to believe "there's something out there," was developed in a region of the brain, he contends.

Alper noted that a recent Time Magazine cover story titled Is God in Our Genes? (reprinted here) referenced many of his original ideas, but credited them to author Dean Hamer, whose book on the subject recently came out (Alper's book was published years earlier).

Beyond the "god" part of the brain, Alper said there is mounting evidence for a "love" part of the brain. He cited studies that show women can release hormones such as oxytocin, that create a chemistry of bonding, such as with their newborn. He also asserted that criminal behavior can be traced to genetic defects or neurotransmitter imbalances, and that ultimately manipulating or reprogramming an offender's brain chemistry would be more useful than imprisonment.

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