Brain scans of people who believe in God have found further evidence that religion involves neurological regions vital for social intelligence. In other words, whether or not God or Gods exist, religious belief may have been quite useful in shaping the human mind’s evolution.
“The main point is that all these brain regions are important for other forms of social cognition and behavior,” said Jordan Grafman, a National Institutes of Health cognitive scientist.
In a study published Monday in Public Library of Science ONE, Grafman’s team used an MRI to measure the brains areas in 40 people of varying degrees of religious belief.
People who reported an intimate experience of God, engaged in religious behavior or feared God, tended to have larger-than-average brain regions devoted to empathy, symbolic communication and emotional regulation. The research wasn’t trying to measure some kind of small “God-spot,” but looked instead at broader patterns within the brains of self-reported religious people.
The best book I've read on the new neuroscience of faith is "Fingerprints of God." Accessible, moving, and sober, it's a model of scientific-religious discourse.