Named after the mystical experiences that it causes, the God helmet is a piece of advanced, mind-altering technology that was developed by Dr. Michael A. Persinger. The God Helmet can create experiences such as out-of-body experiences and visions. Persinger claimed that by stimulating the temporal lobes of the brain, using his helmet, he could induce spiritual experiences in the majority of the tests subjects. The helmet uses magnetic-field stimulation to activate the temporal lobes, which he claims can create what people in the past have called religious epiphanies or revelations.

Willing subjects are brought into a dark room and blindfolded. The GH is then properly placed over the subject’s head. Once the magnetic field of the helmet is manipulated in the right way, 80% of subjects claim to feel like there was an additional presence in the room with them, watching them. This fundamental experience that is induced by the helmet is what Persinger calls the “sensed presence”. He then extrapolated his laboratory finding, that EM fields that stimulate the right temporal lobe can cause spiritual experiences, and the feeling of the presence of god, can be induced by natural EM fields.

Persinger deduced, after numerous external cases, that all religious experiences are connected with a stimulated temporal lobe. He decided to try to stimulate a religious experience in one of the most ardent atheists, Richard Dawkins. After failing to induce a religious experience in Dawkins – keeping in mind that it only affects 80% of subjects – he attempted to stimulate both temporal lobes. However, Dawkins only claimed to feel a sense of relaxation. Persinger, says that people exist on a temporal lobe sensitivity continuum. Dawkins, based on Persinger’s analysis, exists far along the continuum, away from the highly sensitive epileptic subjects.

The God helmet, and Persinger’s studies try to show that religious experiences are nothing beyond the stimulation of the temporal lobes. However, religious individuals believe that there is a massive gap between this neuro-theological view and their traditional religious beliefs. Persinger may never be able to prove definitely that the stimulation of the temporal lobe, caused either by natural processes, or in a lab, are the exclusive cause of spiritual experiences, but it does nonetheless bring us closer to understanding the magnificent power of our brains.