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I am a scientist by nature, and I don't believe at all in God or any form of spirituality or the Holy Spirit (of course).

However, it does confuse me as to how some people genuinely do seem to be overcome by 'spirit' in certain more extreme churches. Watch this clip, and at about 3:35 the man goes into a strange state, and states like this do happen. As well as this, my dad once began crying for no reason in a Church or Mosque or something at the altar.

Are there any scientifically/theoretical psychological explanations as to why this could be possible without the need for any sort of spirituality?

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Temporal lobe epilepsy is also associated with hyper-religiosity, ecstatic states, and paranormal hallucinations. – Dan M. Jun 24 '13 at 10:33
A physiological explanation might be found here. – CheeseConQueso Oct 10 '13 at 0:15

One of the common answers is that it's driven by social demands and depends on the cultural expectation and the suggestibility of the individual.

I remember an example Spanos used to like to bring up regarding demonic possession. Catholics and protestants had different symptoms for demonic possession and people who exhibited it as a phenomenon each had the symptoms they were supposed to have. The long history of hypnosis, hypno-therapy and a variety of social and suggestibility related phenomenon suggests that's one potential cause for what you witness.

More recent theorizing talks about social emotional constructs such as social joy. The act of being with a group of people can make someone happy when all participating together and there is a strong feeling of shared belief. I think there's something to that and the general idea of spirituality that either comes from social contexts or strong isolation (isolation impacts an individual partly because of their reliance on the social). There is clearly some emotion that we can get that we attribute causally to God or a spirit that we do not fully understand. Of course, we've always attributed to God or a spirit that which we do not fully understand. Until we can better understand that and how it's important to the well being of humans, atheism will perpetually have an uphill battle.

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