Complete this quote: “In a small, dark room at the lab of a large university hospital…”

The first line of Why God Won’t Go Away begins, “In a small, dark room at the lab of a large university hospital…” but how would you finish such a sentence?

This week, we want your ideas on how you will complete this unfinished quote by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili and Vince Rause:

“In a small, dark room at the lab of a large university hospital…”


D’Aquili worked with one of the very first neuroanthropologists, Charles Laughlin, on the book “The Spectrum of Ritual” published in 1979 (Laughlin, McManus and d’Aquili). Sadly, D’Aquili died before the publication of Why God Won’t Go Away in 2001. The book , Why God Won’t Go Away, goes some distance towards a neuroethological perspective on religious experiences and ideologies particularly among Tibetan Buddhists and Franciscan Nuns. They describe a neurobiological model that links mystical experience with observable brain function. They talk about an underlying religious urge with a brief discussion of the possible origins of religion that reads like something out of evolutionary psychology (pp 130-140). Through what could be interperted as a Lamarckian account of the origins of religious experience (first arising from mystical insights and then entering the gene-pool), they conclude that humans have a genetically inherited talent for mental states that are associated/interpreted/confused with the presence of a higher spiritual power. Could it be that the historical origins of the institutionalisation of religion may be easier to trace than the evolutionary origins of religiosity?

In a recent article in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Professor Roger Valentine Short points out a solid scientific study by Bouchard et al. (1999) that demonstrates that this religious urge may in fact be genetic. Bouchard et al. (1999) & Koenig et al. 2005 explored the concordance rates of religiosity between twins who have been reared apart. The study demonstrates that religiosity is a characteristic in which both twins are highly likely to behave identically regardless of the environments in which they were reared. If one twin is religiously inclined, the other will probably be also, even though they might adopt different religions. If the heritability of religiosity is so high then it points to a clear genetic predisposition for religiousness. It is interesting to note that this twin research has received little attention until a recent neuroimaging experiment by Kapogiannis et al. (2009) that associates key aspects of religiosity with cortical volume differences. Robert Winston, whose eloquent work on the human mind you may be familiar with, has also picked up on Bouchard’s research in his book The Story of God.

Anyway, let us put all of that aside for the moment and have some fun. How would you complete the following quote?

 “In a small, dark room at the lab of a large university hospital…”

Published by

Paul Mason

I am a biomedically trained social anthropologist interested in biological and cultural diversity.

13 thoughts on “Complete this quote: “In a small, dark room at the lab of a large university hospital…”

  1. lay the secret weapon to beating the divine design, clones in their truest form, alike not only in appearance…but in thought, tendency and emotion

  2. ” … lurks a horror never before seen!”

    “SEE the monster as it breaks its chains and terrorizes a small nearby town!”

    “HEAR the screams of its victims!”

    “FEEL the spine-tingling horror!”

    “IN 3-D!!!!!!”

    Then, you’d have a guy and two robots in the lower right corner eating popcorn and making wisecracks. 🙂

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