How Reading the Bible Affects the Brain 

Reading the Bible has a strong emotional and spiritual impact on its readers for a lot of reasons. And reading the Bible imparts a strong influence on your faith and religious beliefs. But what impact does the Bible have on your brain?

In this article, we’ll be going in-depth into how exactly the Bible can affect your brain. As well as your thought patterns and beliefs. If you’re interested in learning about this topic, keep on reading. 

A picture of a brain reading a book and a bible

What’s Happening Inside Your Brain When Reading the Bible?

When you’re reading your Bible, you may have a strong emotional reaction to scripture along with the stories. My heart pounds when Pharaoh is chasing the Israelites from the rear and the red sea is in front of them. Or when Esther states “I was born for such a time as this.” Even the dynamic between siblings, Rachel and Leah rivalry over Jacob. And their feud carries on to the next generation, after all it’s his step brothers who sell Joseph into slavery.

According to a study, your brain is reacting and responding in numerous ways when you read the Bible.

Dr. Michael Feguson performed a study, Where the researchers scanned and studied the brains of religious individuals. While they were practicing spiritual activities, such as prayer and reading scripture. 

In this study, it was found that there were three regions of the brain that were the most active during these times. Areas such as the frontal attention lobe, the medial prefrontal cortex, and the nucleus accumbens all experience significant increases of activity and responsiveness during religious activities

It was found that high amounts of dopamine were released through the body, while reading the Bible. When dopamine is released, you are likely to be more focused, motivated, and happy. 

It’s clear to see there are numerous chemical reactions and systems at play here. Many of which can positively affect your brain and make a lasting impact on your thoughts and behaviors. 

Reading the Bible can affect neural pathways in the brain. These pathways  are in charge of cognitive thinking and behavior. As you read, dopamine releases and affects the thoughts you have while reading the Bible. These factors contribute to changing your ideals and key beliefs. 

Reading the Bible can do a lot more than just affect the brain, though. Once certain parts of the brain are activated, emotional responses begin to show not only inward, but outward in the form of behavioral changes as well.

How Reading the Bible affects your brain. A bible with the sword, For the word of God alive and powerful. Sharper than any double-edged sword.

How Reading the Bible Affects Your Behavior 

Changes in our behavior begin with changes occurring in our brains. Here are a few of the ways reading the Bible can affect our behaviors:

 -It Encourages Goal-Oriented Behaviors

As we stated above, reading the Bible affects neural pathways within your brain. One of these neural pathways, in particular, is called the mesolimbic dopaminergic system, or ML-DA. 

This system is also known as the brain reward pathway, and the activation of this pathway comes with a lot of benefits. Functional theories have credited the ML-DA with enforcing goal-oriented behaviors. 

woman praying

When this system is activated by reading the Bible, it can have multiple effects on the way you behave in your day to day life. For one, reading the Bible can encourage and inspire behaviors such as praying.

This is due to the fact that when the mesolimbic dopaminergic system begins working. It causes our brains and bodies to experience a strong emotional response, which in turn will affect our behavior. The more positive emotions you feel while reading the Bible. The stronger the effects are that occur within your brain. 

-It Encourages Partaking in Community Activities

Not only can the Bible encourage you to begin spiritual practices such as praying. But it also motivates you to find a community of like-minded people to surround yourself with.

When you read and discuss the Bible in a large group setting, the emotional reaction is magnified. Since what you and others may experience is bound to be far stronger in a group as opposed to reading the Bible alone. 

The Bible can have a strong effect on our brains. Which in turn can change our behaviors. Behaviors such as involving yourself in spiritual practices such as praying and being involved in a religious community stem from the emotional reaction you get from reading the Bible. 

How Reading the Bible Affects Your Thoughts 

Pastor in deep thougth

As we discussed earlier, when you read the Bible, emotional reactions occur within your brain that can have many effects.

But these chemical reactions that your brain experiences can also affect your thoughts. The more you focus on a particular belief or idea, the stronger your belief in that system will be. When you really begin focusing on these ideals, they become a part of your thoughts. 

Your thoughts can differ depending on how you perceive the Bible or God. For instance, if you read the Bible and focus on God as a loving entity, you increase the amount of love and compassion in your body. That’s pretty amazing!

However, if you subscribe to the depiction of God in the Bible as vengeful, you may increase more negative emotions within your brain. Which will, in turn, affect your thoughts and actions. The more you draw your attention to certain ideas, the stronger your belief in these ideas become.

Woman holding a bible with the quote For as he thinks within himself so he is.

The Bible itself also speaks many times about the power of thought. So it’s clear to see how important it is to be mindful of what you’re constantly consuming and how you’re interpreting it.  As shown, your thoughts are very powerful.

In the video below, you can learn more about another study. That was done in terms of the connection between spirituality, brain chemistry, and how your thoughts are affected. 

Your Brain on God: How faith Affect Your Brain Chemistry on YouTube is interesting.

Other Benefits from Reading the Bible

Not only does reading scripture have numerous benefits, but reading, in general, holds a lot of power and has many positive effects on the mind. Below we’ll explore some more ways reading the Bible can positively impact you.

For one, reading the Bible can heighten brain connectivity. When you read, you are using several brain functions at a time, including visual, auditory, comprehension, and more.

You are using multiple parts of your brain to decode the words on the page, and when you pair those functions with the other parts of your brain that are releasing chemicals like dopamine, you are sure to have a strong and emotional reaction to what you’re consuming. 

It’s also proven that you can improve your concentration if you dedicate just as little as 30 minutes a day to reading your Bible.

If you already struggle with concentration, this is a great practice tool for you. Setting aside a time of day for yourself to read the Bible is great for creating healthy patterns and schedules for yourself. Patterns are built over time, and they all begin inside your brain. 

Your brain is responsible for noticing patterns and helping you create structure. Not only will these patterns enable you to set time aside to read your Bible, but this time will also help with your concentration.

The Bible can have a strong and lasting impact on a lot of different factors within your life, including your brain. It’s fascinating to see just how much goes on internally when you’re reading scripture. 

Conclusion 

We explored how the Bible can affect different areas of your brain, as well as your thoughts and actions. When reading scripture, chemicals are released within the brain that are caused by a strong emotional reaction on your end. 

We also discussed while our brains are experiencing change, our thoughts and actions will change as well. Depending on how we receive and decode messages within the Bible we can think and feel either positive or negative emotions. 

Lastly, we discussed other ways reading your Bible can positively affect your brain and the ways you form patterns. So next time you open up your Bible, remember there’s a lot happening inside your brain. Which all contribute to keeping you and your faith strong. 

Reading the Bible on a consistently can impact your life, read eleven additional benefits. 

Sources

photo of brain and Bible
Susan Davis