NEUROTHEOLOGY

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Source:Neurotheology

Neurotheology is a scientific field that attempts to study the neurological activity of the brain during spiritual experiences.The field of neurotheology does not accept that spiritual experiences may be actually causing the neural impulses, but is the other way around.

Spiritual experience is specifically defined in neurotheology. Subjects may feel at one with the universe, experience sudden enlightenment, altered states of consciousness, ecstatic trance, or spiritual awe. Evaluations of brain wave patterns were the first investigations in neurotheology, conducted in the late 1950s.

Most recent investigation has used brain imaging to study people undergoing a spiritual experience. However, it was the studies in the 1980s by Dr. Michael Persinger that have mainly defined neurotheology. Persinger believed that he could cause a spiritual episode with stimulation of the temporal lobes.

The device Persinger used to stimulate the temporal lobes is called a God-helmet, which creates a weak magnetic field that causes the temporal lobes to react. Those undergoing the experience often reported that they felt some kind of presence in the room with them. Based on Persinger’s studies, many concluded that a spiritual experience was merely a reaction of the brain, thus discounting the possibility of a spiritual experience actually existing as a real phenomenon.

Modern neurotheology with brain mapping techniques is fascinating in its suggestion that all humans, regardless of religion, may have a common core that makes us open to experiences of a spiritual nature. This innate spirituality may actually do more toward proving that a God exists. Those who believe in intelligent design are apt to point to this as a specific design of man being “made in God’s image,” and the ability for all to find a spiritual way of life.

These recent theories of neurotheology may also however, point to the validity of all religions, rather than a single dominating religion. If all are capable of spiritual experience, and brain imaging of spiritual experiences from people of different religions remain the same, it begs the question as to the validity of asserting one specific religion over another, or one sect of a religion over another sect. Instead, this type of work tends to align with the psychological theories of Carl Jung, and his avid follower Joseph Campbell, who changed the face of comparative mythology by pointing out inherent similarities in all myths and sacred religious texts.

Related Pages:
Nirvana-Right Brain
Scientific Pantheism
Earth in Universe

2 Responses

  1. Carol…The hope of neurotheology is to end separate religions and separate symbols…Sid

  2. This goes with the theory, (which I don’t know where it came from,) that I incorporated into paintings when I was in art school. Somehow, I just believed that certain symbols registered the same way in everyone’s mind, and always incorporated a very subtle mandala into the compositions. Thanks. Great article.

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