Where God and Science Meet: The psychology of religious experience

Front Cover
Patrick McNamara
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 - Evolutionary psychology - 328 pages
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In this far-reaching and novel work, experts from across the nation and around the world present evolutionary, neuroscientific and psychological approaches to explaining and exploring religion, including the newest findings and evidence that have spurred the fledgling field of neurotheology. Spiritual practices, or awakenings, have an impact on brain, mind and personality. These changes are being scientifically predicted and proven. For example, studies show Buddhist priests and Franciscan nuns at the peak of religious feelings show a functional change in the lobes of their brain. Similar processes have been found in people with epilepsy, which Hippocrates called "the sacred disease." New research is showing that, not only does a person's brain activity change in particular areas while that person is experiencing religion epiphany, but that such events can be created for some people, even self-professed atheists, by stimulating various parts of the brain. It is not the goal of neurotheology to prove or disprove the existence of God, but to understand the biology of spiritual experiences. Such experiences seem to exist outside of time and space--caused by the brain losing its perception of a boundary between physical body and outside world. Understanding why this is the case could help explain other intangible events, such as altered states of consciousness, possession, supposed alien visitations, near-death experiences and out-of-body events. Understanding how and why these abilities evolved in the brain could also help us understand how religion contributes to the survival of the human race.
 

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Contents

The Neuropharmacology of Religious
1
The Relationship between Religion
35
Religion Meaning and the Brain
67
Risk Factors
91
The Common Core Thesis in the Study
119
CrossCultural Assessments of Shamanism
139
The Origins of Dreaming
213
Chemical Input Religious Output
235
Temptations
269
Index
283
About the Editor and Contributors
295
About the Advisory Board
301
Copyright

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