NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty spent a year exploring the science of spirituality for her book Fingerprints of God, and what she concluded was that science can't prove or disprove the existence of God.
"But there was something that I saw in interviewing dozens of scientists," Bradley Hagerty tells NPR's Michele Norris. "The science of spirituality is like a Rorschach test — that you can look at the evidence and come to opposite conclusions."
Bradley Hagerty says that a materialist would say a spiritual experience is just brain chemistry — or firings in the temporal lobe of the brain — and it's all explainable by material means. But someone else could look at the same evidence and say that people are wired to be able to connect with the divine and that brain chemistry is a reflection of an encounter.
Bradley Hagerty says she could have taken 10 more years to research the book.
"One of the great pleasures was interviewing people who have had spiritual experiences; it's not just the scientists," she says, adding she talked with Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, people who were spiritual but not religious. "One of the interesting things is what they described as a spiritual experience was basically the same: An encounter with light, an encounter with love, often an out-of-body experience. What that told me is spiritual experience is spiritual experience — it's a human phenomenon and in fact, it may be divine."