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Neurotheology

Neurotheology

Overview
Neurotheology, also known as spiritual neuroscience, is the study of correlations of neural phenomena with subjective experiences of spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 and hypotheses to explain these phenomena.
Proponents of neurotheology say there is a neurological and evolutionary basis for subjective experiences traditionally categorized as spiritual or religious
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

. The subject has formed the basis of several popular science
Popular science
Popular science, sometimes called literature of science, is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is broad-ranging, often written by scientists as well as journalists, and is presented in many...

 books.

Neurotheology has been defined as "science’s attempt at explaining religion within the physical aspect of the brain using rational thought.”

Neurotheology attempts to explain the neurological basis for religious experiences, such as:
  • The perception that time
    Time
    Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

    , fear
    Fear
    Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

     or self-consciousness
    Self-awareness
    Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals...

     have dissolved
  • Spiritual
    Supernatural
    The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

     awe
  • Oneness
    Monism
    Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

     with the universe
  • Ecstatic trance
    Altered state of consciousness
    An altered state of consciousness , also named altered state of mind, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state. The expression was used as early as 1966 by Arnold M. Ludwig and brought into common usage from 1969 by Charles Tart: it describes induced...

  • Sudden enlightenment
    Enlightenment (spiritual)
    Enlightenment in a secular context often means the "full comprehension of a situation", but in spiritual terms the word alludes to a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God, profound spiritual...

  • Altered states of consciousness


Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

 used the term neurotheology for the first time in the utopian novel Island
Island (novel)
Island is the final book by English writer Aldous Huxley, published in 1962. It is the account of Will Farnaby, a cynical journalist who is shipwrecked on the fictional island of Pala. Island is Huxley's utopian counterpart to his most famous work, the 1932 novel Brave New World, itself often...

.
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Encyclopedia
Neurotheology, also known as spiritual neuroscience, is the study of correlations of neural phenomena with subjective experiences of spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 and hypotheses to explain these phenomena.
Proponents of neurotheology say there is a neurological and evolutionary basis for subjective experiences traditionally categorized as spiritual or religious
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

. The subject has formed the basis of several popular science
Popular science
Popular science, sometimes called literature of science, is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is broad-ranging, often written by scientists as well as journalists, and is presented in many...

 books.

Introduction


Neurotheology has been defined as "science’s attempt at explaining religion within the physical aspect of the brain using rational thought.”

Neurotheology attempts to explain the neurological basis for religious experiences, such as:
  • The perception that time
    Time
    Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

    , fear
    Fear
    Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

     or self-consciousness
    Self-awareness
    Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals...

     have dissolved
  • Spiritual
    Supernatural
    The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

     awe
  • Oneness
    Monism
    Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

     with the universe
  • Ecstatic trance
    Altered state of consciousness
    An altered state of consciousness , also named altered state of mind, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state. The expression was used as early as 1966 by Arnold M. Ludwig and brought into common usage from 1969 by Charles Tart: it describes induced...

  • Sudden enlightenment
    Enlightenment (spiritual)
    Enlightenment in a secular context often means the "full comprehension of a situation", but in spiritual terms the word alludes to a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God, profound spiritual...

  • Altered states of consciousness

Terminology


Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

 used the term neurotheology for the first time in the utopian novel Island
Island (novel)
Island is the final book by English writer Aldous Huxley, published in 1962. It is the account of Will Farnaby, a cynical journalist who is shipwrecked on the fictional island of Pala. Island is Huxley's utopian counterpart to his most famous work, the 1932 novel Brave New World, itself often...

. The discipline studies the cognitive neuroscience of religious experience
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

 and spirituality. The term is also sometimes used in a less scientific
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 context or a philosophical context. Some of these uses, according to the mainstream scientific community, qualify as pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

. Huxley used it mainly in a philosophical context.

The use of the term neurotheology in published scientific work is currently uncommon. A search on the citation indexing service provided by Institute for Scientific Information
Institute for Scientific Information
The Institute for Scientific Information was founded by Eugene Garfield in 1960. It was acquired by Thomson Scientific & Healthcare in 1992, became known as Thomson ISI and now is part of the Healthcare & Science business of the multi-billion dollar Thomson Reuters Corporation.ISI offered...

 returns five articles. Three of these are published in the journal Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, while two are published in American Behavioral Scientist. Work on the neural basis of spirituality has, however, occurred sporadically throughout the 20th century.

Theoretical work


In an attempt to focus and clarify what was a growing interest in this field, in 1994 educator and businessman Laurence O. McKinney published the first book on the subject, titled "Neurotheology: Virtual Religion in the 21st Century", written for a popular audience but also promoted in the theological journal Zygon. According to McKinney, neurotheology sources the basis of religious inquiry in relatively recent developmental neurophysiology. According to McKinney's theory, pre-frontal development, in humans, creates an illusion of chronological time as a fundamental part of normal adult cognition past the age of three. The inability of the adult brain to retrieve earlier images experienced by an infantile brain creates questions such as "where did I come from" and "where does it all go", which McKinney suggests led to the creation of various religious explanations. The experience of death as a peaceful regression into timelessness as the brain dies won praise from readers as varied as author Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

, eminent theologian Harvey Cox
Harvey Cox
Harvey Gallagher Cox, Jr. is one of the preeminent theologians in the United States and served as Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School, until his retirement in October 2009...

, and the Dalai Lama and sparked a new interest in the field.

Andrew B. Newberg
Andrew B. Newberg
Andrew Newberg, M.D. is an American Neuroscientist who is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College, an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies and an Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of...

 and others describe neurological processes which are driven by the repetitive, rhythmic stimulation which is typical of human ritual, and which contribute to the delivery of transcendental feelings of connection to a universal unity. They posit, however, that physical stimulation alone is not sufficient to generate transcendental unitive experiences. For this to occur they say there must be a blending of the rhythmic stimulation with ideas. Once this occurs "…ritual turns a meaningful idea into a visceral experience." Moreover they say that humans are compelled to act out myths by the biological operations of the brain on account of what they call the "inbuilt tendency of the brain to turn thoughts into actions".

Based on current neuroscientific research, Eugen Drewermann
Eugen Drewermann
Eugen Drewermann is a German church critic, theologian, peace activist and former Roman Catholic priest. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.Drewermann was born in Bergkamen near Dortmund...

, one of today's most prominent and controversial theologians in Europe, developed in two monumental volumes (Modern Neurology and the Question of God), published in 2006 and 2007, a radical critique of traditional conceptions of God and the soul and a sweeping reinterpretation of religion in light of neurology.

However, it has also been argued "that neurotheology should be conceived and practiced within a theological framework."

Various theories regarding the evolutionary origin of religion and the evolutionary psychology of religion
Evolutionary psychology of religion
The evolutionary psychology of religion is the study of religious belief using evolutionary psychology principles. It is one approach to the psychology of religion. As with all other organs and organ functions, the brain and cognition's functional structure have been argued to have a genetic basis,...

 have been proposed.

Magnetic stimulation studies



Early studies in the 1950s and 1960s attempted to use EEG
Electroencephalography
Electroencephalography is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp. EEG measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain...

s to study brain wave patterns correlated with "spiritual" states. During the 1980s Michael Persinger
Michael Persinger
Michael A. Persinger is a cognitive neuroscience researcher and university professor with over 200 peer-reviewed publications. He has worked at Laurentian University, located in Sudbury, Ontario, since 1971.-Early life:...

 stimulated the temporal lobes of human subjects with a weak magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 using an apparatus that popularly became known as the "God helmet
God helmet
God Helmet refers to an experimental apparatus used in neuroscience, primarily in the field of neurotheology. Originally called the "Koren helmet" after its inventor Stanley Koren, it was conceived to study creativity and the effects of subtle stimulation of the mesiobasal temporal lobes...

". His subjects claimed to have a sensation of "an ethereal presence in the room".

This work has been criticised.

Neuropsychology and Neuroimaging


The first researcher to note and catalog the abnormal experiences associated with temporal lobe epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy a.k.a. Psychomotor epilepsy, is a form of focal epilepsy, a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Over 40 types of epilepsies are known. They fall into two main categories: partial-onset epilepsies and generalized-onset epilepsies...

 (TLE) was neurologist Norman Geschwind
Norman Geschwind
Norman Geschwind pioneered behavioral neurology in America. He is best known for his exploration of behavioral neurology through disconnection models based on lesion analysis.- Early life :...

, who noted a set of religious behavioral traits associated with TLE seizures. These include hypergraphia
Hypergraphia
Hypergraphia is an overwhelming urge to write. It is not itself a disorder, but can be associated with temporal lobe changes in epilepsy and mania in the context of bipolar disorder.-Causes:...

, hyperreligiosity, reduced sexual interest, fainting spells
Syncope (medicine)
Syncope , the medical term for fainting, is precisely defined as a transient loss of consciousness and postural tone characterized by rapid onset, short duration, and spontaneous recovery due to global cerebral hypoperfusion that most often results from hypotension.Many forms of syncope are...

, and pedantism, often collectively ascribed to a condition known as Geschwind syndrome
Geschwind syndrome
Geschwind syndrome, also known as "Gastaut-Geschwind" is a characteristic personality syndrome consisting of symptoms such as circumstantiality, hypergraphia, altered sexuality , and intensified mental life , hyper-religiosity and/or hyper-morality or moral ideas that is present in some...

.

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
Vilayanur Subramanian "Rama" Ramachandran, born 1951, is a neuroscientist known for his work in the fields of behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics...

 explored the neural basis of the hyperreligiosity seen in TLE using the galvanic skin response
Galvanic skin response
Skin conductance, also known as galvanic skin response , electrodermal response , psychogalvanic reflex , skin conductance response or skin conductance level , is a method of measuring the electrical conductance of the skin, which varies with its moisture level...

, which correlates with emotional arousal, to determine whether the hyperreligiosity seen in TLE was due to an overall heightened emotional state or was specific to religious stimuli. By presenting subjects with neutral, sexually arousing and religious words while measuring GSR, Ramachandran was able to show that patients with TLE showed enhanced emotional responses to the religious words, diminished responses to the sexually charged words, and normal responses to the neutral words. These results suggest that the medial temporal lobe is specifically involved in generating some of the emotional reactions associated with religious words, images and symbols.

Some studies have used neuroimaging
Neuroimaging
Neuroimaging includes the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly image the structure, function/pharmacology of the brain...

 to localize brain regions that are active, or differentially active, during experiences that subjects associate with "spiritual" feelings or images consistent with McKinney's thesis that feelings associated with religious experience
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

 are normal aspects of brain function under extreme circumstances rather than communication from God.

Research by Mario Beauregard at the University of Montreal, on neural imaging of Carmelite nuns, has purported to show that religious and spiritual experiences include several brain regions and not just what some have been calling the 'God center'. As Beauregard has said, “There is no God spot in the brain. Spiritual experiences are complex, like intense experiences with other human beings.” However, the neuro imaging was conducted when the nuns remembered past mystical states and not while actual experiencing mystical states; “subjects were asked to remember and relive (eyes closed) the most intense mystical experience ever felt in their lives as a member of the Carmelite Order.” This would fall under what is called State-specific memory. In other words, one can not recreate the mystic state by memory of the mystic state any more than one can be drunk by remembering a time when they actually were drunk.

Psychopharmacology


Some scientists working in the field hypothesize that the basis of spiritual experience arises in neurological physiology. Speculative suggestions have been made that an increase of N-Dimethyltryptamine
Dimethyltryptamine
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is found in several plants, and also in trace amounts in humans and other mammals, where it is originally derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and ultimately produced by the enzyme INMT...

 levels in the pineal gland
Pineal gland
The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions...

 contribute to spiritual experiences. Scientific studies confirming this have yet to be published. It has also been suggested that stimulation of the temporal lobe by psychoactive ingredients of Magic Mushrooms mimics religious experiences. This hypothesis has found laboratory validation with respect to Psilocybin
Psilocybin
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug, with mind-altering effects similar to those of LSD and mescaline, after it is converted to psilocin. The effects can include altered thinking processes, perceptual distortions, an altered sense of time, and spiritual experiences, as well as...

.

Criticism


An attempt to marry a materialistic
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 approach like neuroscience to spirituality attracts much criticism. Some of the criticism is philosophical, dealing with the potential irreconcilability between science and spirituality, while some is more methodological, dealing with the issues of studying an experience as subjective as spirituality.

Philosophical criticism


Critics of this approach, like philosopher Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber
Kenneth Earl Wilber II is an American author who has written about mysticism, philosophy, ecology, and developmental psychology. His work formulates what he calls Integral Theory. In 1998, he founded the Integral Institute, for teaching and applications of Integral theory.-Biography:Ken Wilber was...

 and religious scholar Huston Smith
Huston Smith
Huston Cummings Smith is a religious studies scholar in the United States. His book The World's Religions remains a popular introduction to comparative religion.-Education:...

, see the more materialistic
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 formulations of the approach as examples of reductionism
Reductionism
Reductionism can mean either an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can...

 and scientism
Scientism
Scientism refers to a belief in the universal applicability of the systematic methods and approach of science, especially the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints...

 that are only looking at the empirical aspects of the phenomena, and not including the possible validity of spiritual experience with all of its subjectivity.

Scientific criticism



In 2005, Pehr Granqvist, a psychologist
Psychologist
Psychologist is a professional or academic title used by individuals who are either:* Clinical professionals who work with patients in a variety of therapeutic contexts .* Scientists conducting psychological research or teaching psychology in a college...

 at Uppsala University
Uppsala University
Uppsala University is a research university in Uppsala, Sweden, and is the oldest university in Scandinavia, founded in 1477. It consistently ranks among the best universities in Northern Europe in international rankings and is generally considered one of the most prestigious institutions of...

 in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, questioned Michael Persinger
Michael Persinger
Michael A. Persinger is a cognitive neuroscience researcher and university professor with over 200 peer-reviewed publications. He has worked at Laurentian University, located in Sudbury, Ontario, since 1971.-Early life:...

's findings in a paper published in Neuroscience Letters. Granqvist et al. claimed that Persinger's work was not "double-blind." Participants were often graduate students who knew what sort of results to expect, and there was the risk that the experimenters expectations would be transmitted to subjects by unconscious cues. The participants were frequently given an idea of the purpose of the study by being asked to fill in questionnaires designed to test their suggestibility to paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 experiences before the trials were conducted. Granqvist et al. failed to replicate Persinger's experiments double-blinded, and concluded that the presence or absence of the magnetic field had no relationship with any religious or spiritual experience
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

 reported by the participants, but was predicted entirely by their suggestibility and personality traits. Following the publication of this study, Persinger et al. responded both in Neuroscience Letters and in a publicly-available email exchange between Persinger and Granqvist.

See also


  • Biological psychology
  • Bicameralism (psychology)
    Bicameralism (psychology)
    Bicameralism is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human brain once assumed a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking", and a second part which listens and obeys—a bicameral mind...

  • Daniel Dennett
    Daniel Dennett
    Daniel Clement Dennett is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the Co-director of...

  • Dimethyltryptamine
    Dimethyltryptamine
    N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is found in several plants, and also in trace amounts in humans and other mammals, where it is originally derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and ultimately produced by the enzyme INMT...

  • Dualism
    Dualism (philosophy of mind)
    In philosophy of mind, dualism is a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, which begins with the claim that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical....

    /Materialism
    Materialism
    In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

    /Nondual
  • Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness
  • Eugen Drewermann
    Eugen Drewermann
    Eugen Drewermann is a German church critic, theologian, peace activist and former Roman Catholic priest. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.Drewermann was born in Bergkamen near Dortmund...

  • Geschwind syndrome
    Geschwind syndrome
    Geschwind syndrome, also known as "Gastaut-Geschwind" is a characteristic personality syndrome consisting of symptoms such as circumstantiality, hypergraphia, altered sexuality , and intensified mental life , hyper-religiosity and/or hyper-morality or moral ideas that is present in some...

  • God gene
    God gene
    The God gene hypothesis proposes that a specific gene predisposes humans towards spiritual or mystic experiences. The idea has been postulated by geneticist Dean Hamer, the director of the Gene Structure and Regulation Unit at the U.S...

  • God helmet
    God helmet
    God Helmet refers to an experimental apparatus used in neuroscience, primarily in the field of neurotheology. Originally called the "Koren helmet" after its inventor Stanley Koren, it was conceived to study creativity and the effects of subtle stimulation of the mesiobasal temporal lobes...

  • God in a Pill?
    God in a Pill?
    God in a Pill? was a 1966 pamphlet by Meher Baba in which he spoke out strongly against taking illicit drugs like marijuana and LSD, saying they were harmful "physically, mentally, and spiritually."...

  • Julian Jaynes
    Julian Jaynes
    Julian Jaynes was an American psychologist, best known for his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind , in which he argued that ancient peoples were not conscious....

  • Meditation
    Meditation
    Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

  • Music Therapy
    Music therapy
    Music therapy is an allied health profession and one of the expressive therapies, consisting of an interpersonal process in which a trained music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients to improve or maintain their...

  • Neuroethics
    Neuroethics
    Neuroethics is the ethics of neuroscience, and the neuroscience of ethics.The ethics of neuroscience deals with matters as a subclass of bioethics...


  • Neuroscience
    Neuroscience
    Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics,...

  • Neurotechnology
    Neurotechnology
    Neurotechnology is any technology that has a fundamental influence on how people understand the brain and various aspects of consciousness, thought, and higher order activities in the brain...

  • Out-of-body experience
    Out-of-body experience
    An out-of-body experience is an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside of one's body and, in some cases, perceiving one's physical body from a place outside one's body ....

  • Philosophy of mind
    Philosophy of mind
    Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind-body problem, i.e...

  • Philosophy of science
    Philosophy of science
    The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

  • Psychedelic crisis
  • Psychology of religion
    Psychology of religion
    Psychology of religion consists of the application of psychological methods and interpretive frameworks to religious traditions, as well as to both religious and irreligious individuals. The science attempts to accurately describe the details, origins, and uses of religious beliefs and behaviours...

  • Religious ecstasy
    Religious ecstasy
    Religious ecstasy is an altered state of consciousness characterized by greatly reduced external awareness and expanded interior mental and spiritual awareness which is frequently accompanied by visions and emotional/intuitive euphoria...

  • Religious experience
    Religious experience
    Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

  • Temporal lobe epilepsy
    Temporal lobe epilepsy
    Temporal lobe epilepsy a.k.a. Psychomotor epilepsy, is a form of focal epilepsy, a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Over 40 types of epilepsies are known. They fall into two main categories: partial-onset epilepsies and generalized-onset epilepsies...

  • Theological anthropology
  • Third Man factor
  • Viruses of the Mind
    Viruses of the Mind
    "Viruses of the Mind" is an article by Richard Dawkins using memetics and analogies with biological and computer viruses, and with disease and epidemiology, to analyse the propagation of ideas and behaviours. Its particular focus is on religious beliefs and activities...

  • VMAT2
    VMAT2
    The vesicular monoamine transporter 2 also known as solute carrier family 18 member 2 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the SLC18A2 gene...

  • Zen and the Brain
    Zen and the Brain
    Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness is a book authored by James H. Austin. First published in 1998, the book's aim is to establish links between the neurological workings of the human brain and meditation....



Further reading

  • Andrew Neher, The Psychology of Transcendence, Dover, 2nd ed 1990, ISBN 0-486-26167-0
  • Andrew B. Newberg, The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience, (1999), Fortress Press, Minneapolis, ISBN 0-8006-3163-3
  • Thomas B. Roberts, "Chemical Input — Religious Output: Entheogens" Chapter 10 in Where God and Science Meet: Vol. 3. The Psychology of Religious Experience edited by Robert McNamara. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.
  • Gerald Wolf, (science-in-fiction novels) Der HirnGott; Dr. Ziethen Verlag 2005, Sich Verlag 2008, ISBN 978-3-9811692-8-7. Glaube mir, mich gibt es nicht; Sich Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-9812628-0-3.

External links