1 Section for the Study of Religion, Faculty of Theology, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 School of Culture and Society - Department of the Study of Religion, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University3 School of Culture and Society - Department of the Study of Religion, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University
On neurotheology from a philosophy of science perspective
Since the 1990s medical technology has afforded exciting possibilities for studying the brain. Together with knowledge accrued through psychology and psychiatry, it has set the stage for pioneering research and stimulated disciplines such as Social Neuroscience, the Cognitive Science of Religion, Cognitive Anthropology, and Cognitive Archaeology. Another discipline has arisen, Neurotheology, which is interested in the brain and religious experience. Early proponents such as d'Aquili and Newberg had a religious agenda in their work. Others, such as members of Transcendental Meditation, have used experimental and brain studies to legitimate religious agendas. Experiential shamanists have embarked on a similar legitimation process. The differences between science and therapy and spirituality have been slurred or denied. Neurotheological attempts to discover special areas of the brain responsible for religious experiences have led to untenable results. The fact that such research has passed the peer review process of leading psychological, psychiatric, and neurological journals is perhaps more indicative of the pervasiveness of religiosity throughout American society than of objective brain science. This essay argues that neurotheology is an example of the struggle between confessional and critical approaches to the study of religion. The main difference is that the battlefield of this struggle is the brain.
Religion, 2009, Issue 39, p. 319-324
religion; religionsvidenskab; metode; kognition; kognitiv religionsvidenskab; mystik; meditation; neuroteologi; neurovidenskab; study of religion; methodology; cognition; cognitive science of religion; mysticism; neurotheology; neuroscience