An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion.
"... [Dr. Wathey's] book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond...[He] argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy.
These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like:
For the town of Killorglin -- population 1,359 -- the goat festival has turned into a cash cow. More than 100,000 people pass through during the three days of the fair, and festival organizers estimate the event is worth over 6 million to the local economy. Puck Fair is one of the only places, and times, of the year in Ireland that the pubs are allowed to stay open till three in the morning. At the end of it all, the king is dethroned (in a nice way) and returned to the wild to rejoin his comrades on the foothills of Ireland's highest mountain.