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The Neurobiology of Religious Experience

This month the Secular Student Alliance is hosting a FREE event featuring Dr. Sarah Strand on the neurobiology of religion and religious experiences.

The Science

Dr. Strand will talk about how to induce an out-of-body experience and why people tend to feel a sense of peace and connection when they have one. To many people, this proves the existence of a spiritual world inhabited by god(s). Dr. Strand explains just how fallacious this argument is.

Evidence increasingly demonstrates that the feelings associated with religious experiences play a primary role in people being intensely religious. Andy Thompson of the Richard Dawkins Foundation has written about the ways in which religion latches onto human characteristics developed during our evolutionary history. Dr. Strand will focus on what cortices of the brain are associated with religion, and how religious experiences induce strong sensations of pleasure, providing an illusion of an invisible friend in a world beyond ours. She will tell you who William James, Olaf Blanke, and Michael Persinger are and what they have in common.

And if all that fails to convince you to attend, then come for a funny god cartoon and to see a woman wearing a football helmet who sees floating spiritual entities. How can you resist that?


When Dr. Strand last gave this talk in Sacramento at a large atheist gathering, it was highly rated.

Here are some members’ comments:

“A great, succinct presentation. Very well done!”

“What a great talk! Now I see how my sister could have really seen angels around her bed at the age of 5. This is her trump card proof of God to this day.”

“Great presentation, fun and informative. I understand a bit better now that it’s not all about indoctrination and tradition.”

Dr. Strand is a Professor of Psychology at Sacramento State University and Research Supervisor of Neurobiology at UC Davis.


Daily parking passes are available for $6 in lots adjacent to the University Union.

Join or login to comment.

  • Dan P.

    Thank you all SO MUCH for coming out. I got to meet so many really interesting people, and the event was #6 of the top 10 events for Sacramento on Hugecity.

    Don't forget to check out our next event coming up, "Sexy Violence & Violent Sex".

    October 22, 2013

  • Dena C.

    I won't be able to attend Tuesday's meet-up as I am out of town on a contract assignment which ends October 31st. However, I'm looking forward to subsequent meetings.

    October 21, 2013

  • David J.

    I have a previous commitment at that time. I thought I would be able to go, and told some people I was going, but looks like I will not.
    If someone records this, I would like to view it. Please let me know.

    October 15, 2013

    • David J.

      Is there a Channel I can subscribe to now. What will it be called? This is a great solution and can add many more viewers and draw attention to the Skeptics events and membership. ------David

      October 15, 2013

    • Dan P.

      There is; however, it's in transition right now between accounts. I will post the link here when it's ready.

      October 19, 2013

  • Dan P.

    The event will take place in Orchard Suite III on the 2nd Floor of the University Union.

    October 15, 2013

  • Bryan S.

    Dr. Strand's presentation was one of my favorites at Skeptical. Highly recommended!

    1 · October 15, 2013

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