There is an entire new field of science devoted to understanding what changes happen in our brains when we engage in religious experiences or practices, called neurotheology
, or the neuroscience of religion.
While McHargue draws upon physics, he leans most heavily on Andrew Newberg's work in neurotheology
and Tanya Luhrmann's anthropological work with evangelicals.
Although concerns have been expressed about what Tallis (2011) has termed "neuromania"--the view that the complexity of human consciousness can be reduced to neural activity--neuroscience research methods are nevertheless being applied to an array of new fields, such as neuroaesthetics, neurotheology
, neurolaw, neuroeconomics, and neuroeducation, to name a few.
Thus, a neuroscience of mystical states is emerging, following from the pioneering early SPECT imaging studies of meditation that birthed the field of neurotheology
(Newberg, 2001), and follow-up research on the spiritual brain (Beauregard, 2007).
Newberg wrote his 2010 book, Principles of Neurotheology
(Ashgate), intending to bring the field--and the practice itself--into wider respectability.
Shamanism as Neurotheology
and Evolutionary Psychology.
The chapter concludes with a quick overview of the empty hype and genuine insights produced by the new "neuro- disciplines" of neuroeconomics (mostly a success story), neuromarketing, neurodesign, neuroaesthetics, neurotheology
, and neuropolitics (rife with charlatanism).
Other studies in the burgeoning field of neurotheology
rely on cuttingedge technology to make connections between religion, genes and the brain.
The narrative arc of the chapter is a deft profile of University of Pennsylvania radiologist Andrew Newberg, whose work in a new discipline, neurotheology
(studies of the relationship of brain function and spiritual experience), is capturing increasing attention in neuroscience.
29) I would name the experience he describes here "empathy" and begin to conclude by pointing to the new field of neurotheology
, wherein cognitive scientists and practitioners from other social sciences along with theologians are doing studies of the brain on how empathy works.
helps me fine-tune my brain so that it more accurately attunes itself to the larger reality I call God.
Using powerful imaging tools, this new field of study, neurotheology
, has increasingly focused on the parietal lobes of the brain.