Friday, November 11, 2005


Many observers, both secular and religious, would agree that there are strong parallels in religious experience among differing faiths. Perhaps largely similar phenomena have given rise to differing labels and traditions. Outside observers choosing to focus on religious objects and rituals may be ignoring wider religious impulses and experiences.

There may be more than one parallel with Stephen Christman's research work at the University of Toledo, Ohio. He identified a relationship between strength of preference for using right or left hand, musical abilities, and brain development (focusing on hemispheric linking nerves of the corpus callosum). An interesting dimension is that strength of preference was found significant, rather than the simple classification of right or left (see Wolman 2005). Most people have some degree of mixed-handedness, some have extreme strong-handedness. Hypotheses include linking handedness with corpus callosum size, with belief in improbable events, and with revision of attitudes when faced with new information.

I wonder whether one day indicators might be found for recognizing or measuring better developed religious tendencies.

Perhaps one day we will be better able to teach people how to live peak experiences, and religious vividness. What are the best questions to ask in regard to comparative religion? How do people relate to religion? What draws people to religion? What do they get from it? William James investigated "The Varieties of Religious Experience" over a century ago, but are we closer to understanding religion, religiousness or religiosity?

Wolman, David (2005) "On the other hand." New Scientist (5 November 2005) pp 36-39.

Lodz, Poland

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