Worshippers lifting hands in a trance


Worship and Prayer most often involve shutting one’s eyes, staying still, listening to something repetitive (such as music or chanting) and blocking out the world around you.

This seems to be common to many religions of the world.

But these are exactly the sort of things a doctor might ask a person to do in order to put that person into a hypnotic trance. All of these things tend to put the logical/rational parts of the brain to sleep and enhance the emotional parts of the brain.

When a person is in a hypnotic trance they are more in touch with their feelings and more open to suggestions.

When I was a Christian, I went to a charismatic church where this hypnotic trance was also enhanced by lowering the lights[1]. Some people would lift their hands and relax as they sang or listened to repetitive music playing. In this state some people would begin to have strong feelings that they would attribute to being touched by an imagined invisible father figure which was the appeal of the worship. Later on after I awoken out of Christianity I realized that nothing of the sort was actually happening. This experience was all simply going on mentally and physically inside of the worshipper rather than being imposed externally by some sort of spiritual realm.

Much of the same effects happen during prayer/meditation where eyes are also closed, the person is immobile/still, shutting out the outside world, etc…


Rods and Gods

With eyes closed, the person also begins to become dark adapted. This is natural reaction by our eyes in order to see better in the dark. Dark adapted eyes use photo receptor cells called rods. These rods are very sensitive to light, but there are fewer of them than of daytime vision cells so we get a grainy sort of vision with them which some people mistake for the “presence of God” when they eventually open their eyes again.


[1] – By the way, I’m not saying that the people who run places of worship are intentionally producing conditions contusive to people entering trances or even that they are aware they are doing so. My guess is that the vast majority are simply following tradition.