In his State of the Union Address, President Obama signaled his interest in launching a renewed collective effort to explore the nature of the human brain. The more we learn about how the brain functions as a whole, the more we will learn about the psychological dimensions of religion.
At the heart of humanity is a sometimes sweet, sometimes not-so-sweet narcissism that makes it almost impossible for us to get outside ourselves. In a similar vein, we tend to assume that God shares our perspective and priorities.
What is at the very heart of human desires? To be loved. And isn't it interesting that according to Christian teachings, love for us is the emotional core of the risen Jesus, the one who dwells in human hearts and hears the prayers of little children?
The Bible writers spoke as if God has emotions, and most Christians through history have spoken and behaved as if this were true. But to understand what that means you have to understand what emotions are.
Christian apologists argue for the possibility of the existence of a God that exists beyond the realm of human reason. But what they usually want is to create intellectual space for their belief in the person-god of the Bible.
Many believers never outgrow their childhood concept of God as a kind or mean daddy in the sky, one who needs our admiration, can be cajoled for special favors, and covers or beats our backs when we get ourselves into trouble.
The idea that God has emotions seems so natural that most people who believe in gods never question it. The God of the Bible gets angry, has regrets, gets lonely, loves, has loyalties, is jealous, feels compassion, and is vindictive.
Science is remarkably close to offering a full naturalistic explanation of individual religious experiences, everything from certain belief to moral indignation to mystical rapture to spiritual transformation.
The born again experience doesn't require a specific set of beliefs, but rather a specific social/emotional process; dogmas or explanations are secondary. It's not an experience unique to Christianity.