Given that religious belief is fundamentally embodied and a product of the entire brain-body-environment system, what can be said about the specific relationship between the brain and religious belief? One way to discuss this relationship is by examining the neural correlates of belief or the specific patterns of brain activity that correlate with religious beliefs and experiences. Now, religious belief and religious experiences are different things. But there's a strong connection between religious experiences, however mild, and a felt sense that God or other spiritual entities are real. When we talk about religious experiences, it's important to note that we're not necessarily talking about dramatic experiences. Religious experience can be as seemingly mild as a sense of God's presence and existence, or a sense of communicating with God in prayer. Religious experience exists on a spectrum, ranging from apparently mild experiences of perceived spiritual realities to more dramatic, altered states of consciousness. And even relatively mild religious experiences serve to enhance a felt sense that God is real. The fascinating thing is that these experiences of God are neurobiologically real. Researchers can use medical technologies to observe and predict patterns of brain activity that are correlated with particular religious practices and experiences. One researcher examining the neural correlates of religious experience is Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist who has used brain imaging technologies to study patterns of neural activity during specific religious practices, such as prayer, meditation or recitation of religious texts. Researchers like Newberg compare the brain states of religious believers engaging in religious activity with baseline brain states of those not engaging in religious activity. What is apparent from this sort of research is that there is no single God spot in the brain, no particular part of the brain's structure or a single mechanism that is responsible for making a person experience God. Rather, different spiritual practices are correlated with different patterns of neural activity. And one's felt sense of religious belief is actually a remarkably complex interplay of various parts and processes of the brain. For example, Newberg has found that Buddhist and Christian meditators exhibit decreased activity in the parietal lobe, a part of the brain that is involved in spacial orientation and one's sense of relationship to the world. This decreased activity in the parietal lobe essentially allows the meditator to experience a decreased sense of time and boundaries, and to feel at one with whatever he or she is meditating on, the world as a whole, God, etc. However, other religious experiences are instantiated differently. When charismatic Christians speak in tongues, for example, activity in the parietal lobe actually increases, which makes sense because the parietal lobe is also involved with language formation. Thus, the individual speaking in tongues would not experience the timelessness and connection with the universe that the meditator was experiencing but she would feel that she was engaged in real dialogue with God. This is just one small example of the many ways that different religious practices lead to different patterns of brain activity, and thus to different types of religious experiences. And again, a neurobiologically felt experience of God or other spiritual reality involves coordinated whole brain activity. Belief is a holistic phenomenon that involves the whole brain-body-environment system. So, while there maybe not be a single process of the brain that is responsible for religious belief, it is apparent that at the very least, observable and predictable patterns of brain activity are correlated with religious belief and experience. But this brings us to an important question. Does neuroscientific knowledge about religious belief and experience disprove one's felt experience of spiritual realities? Or, does such research simply highlight the fact that all religious experiences are correlated with brain processes, but not necessarily caused by them? The question here is one of causation. Does the brain create a sense that God is real? Or, does a real interaction with God lead to changes in the brain? Does the brain essentially create God or is real interaction with God simply correlated with observable neural activation patterns? Atheist scholars would argue that the tight relationship between brain activity and one's felt experience of God leaves no room for non-physical causes. In other words, one might argue for methodological naturalism, or the working assumption in contemporary science that only natural causes should be invoked in scientific explanations about the world. Some then might argue that contemporary science has provided more than ample evidence to suggest that religious belief and experience are neurobiological phenomena that can be observed and measured with brain imaging technologies. Others might argue that we need to apply Occam's razor to this question. That is, that the simplest explanation is the best one. And that in this case, the simplest explanation for religious belief is a scientific one. Because we know that certain types of practices and experiences will be reliably accompanied by a felt sense of God or other spiritual realities, the simplest explanation might be that the entire religious experience is best understood in neurobiological terms. The brain creates a sense of God's existence and presence. Others, however, argue that neuroscientific research on the neural correlates of belief prove nothing about the reality or unreality of God. They point out that the causal connection between the brain and belief has not been established. That is, if God exists and interacts with conscious human beings then of course the brain would respond accordingly. In other words, one might argue that it is completely unsurprising that the brain exhibits neural correlates for belief in response to real interaction with God. In fact, it might be more surprising if the brain did not exhibit neural correlates to one's experience of spiritual realities. To the extent that mental or spiritual experiences are mediated by the brain, one would expect God to elicit neural activity in the brain. Perhaps ironically, this argument also relies on Occam's razor. While an Atheist approach would say that the simplest explanation for belief is that it is created by the brain without any interaction with a real God, critics would argue that this is not a real explanation. Rather, they would argue that the simplest explanation is that the brain is actually responding to God, and that God is thus necessary for a full explanation of the neural correlates of religious experience and belief. In other words, if God is real and interacts with humanity, then any explanation that cuts God out would actually be an incomplete explanation. We can see, then, that there are various ways to interpret brain research on religious experience and belief. While researchers may be able to predict and observe religious experience and a felt sense of belief, the empirical data is insufficient for making judgements about God's, reality or non-reality. We can say that there is a very strong, tight correlation between religious practices and experiences and specific patterns in the brains, but how this correlation is to be interpreted is another question all together. Neuroscience can explain what is happening in the brain when one is experiencing God in some way but it cannot determine whether or not those neural correlates are actual responses to spiritual realities. We must look beyond neuroscience to answer our questions about the relationship between physical instantiations of belief and their possible correlation with supernatural entities.