Neurotheology & Psychology of Worship.
Considering that the brain is increasingly being credited with having a role in everything we think, feel, and do, it was probably just a matter of time before it was postulated that religious belief has a neural substrate.
Neurotheology is a unique field of study that seeks to understand the relationship specifically between the brain and theology, and more broadly between the mind and religion. It is multidisciplinary in nature and includes the fields of theology, religious studies, religious experience and practice, philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology.
Neurotheologians argue that the structure and function of the human brain predispose us to believe in God. They claim that the site of God's biological substrate is the limbic system deep within the brain, which has long been considered to be the biological center for emotion.
Rhawn Joseph, a prominent neurotheologian, goes a step further to suggest that the limbic system is dotted with "God neurons" and "God neurotransmitters."
Illia Delio, a Neurotheologian said,
"It is tempting to speculate that there is a 'God module' in the brain and that such a module is located in the area of the limbic system; however, such speculation needs to be made cautiously. What these findings do point to, however, is that spirituality involves the brain. For the first time in human history we are beginning to understand spiritual experience not as something apart from the physical human but rather bound up with human matter, that is, the matter of the brain. Thus, matter and spirit are no longer seen to be opposed but are indeed mutually related, if not one and the same."
Psychologists on the other hand believe that Spirituality is inextricably connected to creativity--and vice-versa. It signifies a positive approach, an accepting, embracing. even loving attitude toward life, suffering and death.
Spirituality, in essence entails the capacity to see life as it is--wholly, including the tragic existential realities of evil, suffering, death and the daimonic--and to love life nonetheless. This amor fati, as Friedrich Nietzsche phrased it--love of fate-- is a spiritual achievement of the highest magnitude.
Well-renowned psychologists like Otto Rank, Carl Jung and Rollo May recognized spirituality as an archetypal potentiality and essential psychological need. Jung was one of the first to see that despite their disillusionment with and rejection of organized religion, many of his patients' problems were religious in nature, requiring the development of their own personal spiritual perspective during the healing process of psychotherapy.
On the other hand, you have the delusional Sigmund Freud, who viewed religion as a neurotic or sometimes psychotic means of dogmatically avoiding, denying or defending against the primal realities of existence and refusal to accept full responsibility for one's thoughts, desires, feelings, impulses, choices and actions.
The stoics on the other hand did not necessarily believe in God but they believed in living a good life. Marcus Aurelius said;
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
We also have Anthropologists like Atran who viewed Religion as a byproduct of many different evolutionary functions that organize our brains for day-to-day activities.
The truth is, the person who does not believe in the concept of Fitrah will have a difficult time coming up with (flawed of course) theories as to why people worship a Creator.
Coming up with a theory on something requires first comprehending it. Since human beings are finite creatures, they are incapable of fully comprehending the reality of an eternal God and grasping His Perfection. After all, they do not have direct access to God, nor the visual or mental capacity to handle such access were it granted.
Muslims on the other hand believe that, “human beings are specifically designed to invest their lives in serving a purpose. Being purposeful is an inescapable facet of our functionality as it is hardwired in our fiṭra—call it our metaphysical DNA”
Allah Says in Surah Adh- Dhariyat;
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I did not create jinn and humans except to worship Me. [Quran 51:56]
‘Worship in Islam, therefore, represents the definitive roadmap for actualizing human excellence, beginning internally in the form of spirituality and extending externally in the form of exceptional character. Without worship, humans are destined for psychospiritual ills and behavioral dysfunctions.’
‘For this reason, and contrary to how most people perceive ritual worship, the Qur'an indicates that among the profound functions of the daily prayers is to deter evil and indecency [29:45]—just as the ritual fast cultivates integrity [2:183], and just as giving charity serves to purify one from greed and unethical earnings [9:103].’
Ibn Rajab said,
There is no well-being for the hearts until there settles in them the recognition of God and His Greatness, love of Him, fear of Him, awe of Him, hope in Him, reliance upon Him, until they become filled with all of that. This is the reality of monotheism and the actual meaning of la Ilaha Ilallah (none worthy of worship except God). There is no soundness for the hearts until the god they adore, intimately know, love, and fear is Allah alone without any partner…
We also stand everyday in Salah, repeating this verse;
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
You Alone we worship and You Alone we ask for help' [1:5]
Some of the Salaf have said Al-Faatihah is the secret of the Qur'an, while these words are the secret of Al-Faatihah. So how can we stand before Allah day in and day out, uttering such perfect words of tawakkul, and yet not sincerely mean them? For belief, undoubtedly, must be followed by action.
Allah created the human being for devotion to Him, sending down scriptures and dispatching messengers for that objective. However, He also created them with different leanings, as well as a considerable degree of free rein.
Having digested all that, the decision is ours to make…
أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ
Did you then think that We had created you without purpose, and that you would never be returned to Us? [Quran 23:115]
Just as oxygen is necessary for the body to breathe, loving God and remembering Him is necessary for the spirit to breathe. Those who comprehend this and connect with their Creator in worship ascend a unique spiritual mountain where the air is particularly invigorating, where tragedy does not lead to despair, where social relationships are not paralyzing, and where temptations cannot compromise one’s moral fortitude.