The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience

The Spiritual Brain Science and Religious Experience In The Spiritual Brain Science and Religious Experience award winning scholar and practicing neuroscientist Dr Andrew Newberg Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine a

  • Title: The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience
  • Author: Andrew Newberg
  • ISBN: 9781598038859
  • Page: 149
  • Format: Audio CD
  • In The Spiritual Brain Science and Religious Experience, award winning scholar and practicing neuroscientist Dr Andrew Newberg, Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, offers you 24 riveting lectures that explore the new and exciting field of neurotheology, a discipline aimed at understanding the conIn The Spiritual Brain Science and Religious Experience, award winning scholar and practicing neuroscientist Dr Andrew Newberg, Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, offers you 24 riveting lectures that explore the new and exciting field of neurotheology, a discipline aimed at understanding the connections between our brains and different kinds of religious phenomena Using an academic, experimental approach into what he calls objective measures of spirituality, Dr Newberg attempts to explain what others have previously only guessed at the neuroscientific basis for why religion and spirituality have played such a prominent role in human life.Spirituality through a Scientific LensHow do religious experiences originate What is their meaning And why does religion play such a huge role in human experience In this captivating course, you will peer directly into the seat of all human thought and action as you experience a leading researcher delve into the relationship between brain function and spirituality.Dr Newberg grounds The Spiritual Brain in the context of the brain s neurophysiological structure and religious development from infancy through late adulthood You ll discover how the brain and spirituality appear to develop in parallel throughout a person s life span, tracking through different stages of religious awareness You ll also learn how the various parts and systems of the human brain work together to create and sustain different beliefs about the world the ways in which religious beliefs and practices have measurable, biological effects on the individuals who hold and engage in them and why the increasing neuroscientific data help us to better understand how God, religion, and spirituality may be inextricably intertwined with ongoing brain development.Now, after millennia of human devotion to the divine, neuroscience is beginning to disclose the relationship between religion and the brain by providing answers to questions that have long eluded us Or have they Could this modern discipline actually be reinforcing some of our most cherished beliefs New Insights into That Old Time ReligionA leading researcher in neurotheology, Dr Newberg offers you innovative approaches to ancient beliefs and practices Using brain imaging and other cutting edge physiological studies, he helps you to better understand how the brain controls or responds to religious and spiritual beliefs and behavior For example, you ll examine MRI studies showing that long term practitioners of spiritual practices like meditation have thicker and active frontal lobes than those who do not practice meditation One obvious question that arises Did their brains naturally develop these attributes, making them inclined to practice meditation Or did their brains change over time as a result of practicing meditation Follow Dr Newberg as he continually devises new experimental methods designed to answer these apparent scientific stalemates You ll also take a look at snapshots he has taken of the brains of cloistered Franciscan nuns engaged in prayer You will then see what his analysis showed about the neurological changes that took place during prayer, as well as long after.For many people, religious practice relates to a specific tradition, but that is not always the case In The Spiritual Brain, you ll observe what Dr Newberg s groundbreaking research tells us about the role the brain plays in mystical states You ll study firsthand accounts showing how speaking in tongues may represent a supernormal functioning of certain areas of an otherwise whole and healthy human brain why near death experiences and other reports of disembodied consciousness might be than the activity of a brain on the verge of physical extinction and what the widespread experiences of divine revelation and spiritual salvation have to do with the brain s continued progression toward advanced states of development.With every intriguing answer these experiments produce, many questions are raised as a result, and with this course you have the advantage of Dr Newberg s expertise to accompany your quest for their answers every step of the way.Inside the Body of the Believing BrainThroughout The Spiritual Brain, Dr Newberg examines not only the neural activity of the religious brain, but also the effects of various religious beliefs and practices on human mental and physical health There are literally hundreds of studies that show that religion has a measurable effect on health What s , specific religious beliefs also have specific health advantages You will see that church attendance is associated with decreased heart disease, blood pressure, emphysema, cirrhosis, and suicide Mormon males may have decreased rates of cancer and mortality elderly Christians and Jews are less likely to die in the 30 days before important holidays and Seventh Day Adventists live longer than the average population.If this connection exists, these same studies then raise the question of potentially detrimental effects of religious belief and practice, such as in cases of dangerous cultic activity Dr Newberg evaluates fascinating research involving both believers and atheists showing the ways in which your beliefs actually determine how you rationalize as well as mistake the world around you Your brain is a belief generating machine that has evolved to realize your beliefs through your behaviors Join Dr Newberg as he shares some game changing discoveries coming out of the field of modern neuroscience, and perhaps on your thrilling voyage through these fascinating discoveries, you may reconsider some of your own beliefs along the way.The following are descriptions of each of the twenty four lectures 1 A New Perspective on Ancient Questions For many, science and religion address two fundamentally distinct realms of human experience, but scientists and theologians are increasingly discovering that these realms intersect Learn how neuroscience is tackling some of life s biggest questions while shedding new light on humanity s most ancient and enduring beliefs and practices 2 Why Do We Have a Spiritual Brain We humans possess highly evolved brains that enable us to create sophisticated systems of religious beliefs and practices Examine the theories that seek to explain the development of this astounding organ, showing how and why we have such a powerful inclination to search for a spiritual realm 3 Brain Function and Religion The brain is structured in several sections, governs a variety of systems and functions, and is the central processing unit of the human body Delve into the inner workings of this elusive organ by means of modern neuroscience to determine how various brain processes may be involved in religious and spiritual experiences 4 How Does Science Study Religion Pursuing knowledge by means of science requires a disciplined methodology This methodology is based in experimental approaches to its subject Dissect the various ways in which science attempts to investigate religious phenomena, allowing you to better understand these spiritual experiences in an effort to determine their ultimate nature and makeup 5 Believers and Atheists Religion has been a fundamental part of human culture for many millennia If the human brain is hard wired for religious activity, then why do some people s brains reject the notion of the divine altogether Analyze the current neuroscientific evidence for the differences between the brains of believers and nonbelievers 6 Spiritual Development Human brains are capable of producing complex spiritual thoughts and states At what age does this capacity begin How does this capacity change throughout a lifetime Trace the development of the brain from infancy into adulthood and see how this physiological transformation corresponds to progressive stages of religious belief 7 The Myth Making Brain From the first campfires of our ancient ancestors, storytelling has been an essential part of our human experience Stories communicate important ideas meant to illuminate and inspire us Harness the power of myth to appreciate how it is used by your brain to make sense of an often puzzling universe 8 The Brain and Religious RitualsHabitual activity is the key to internalizing behavior, and religious ritual is a clear example of this phenomenon Observe how the rhythm of repetitive routine changes your neural network by imprinting the precepts of religious worldviews in transformative and visceral ways 9 The Biology of Spiritual PracticesTwo of the most common forms of religious behavior are prayer and meditation Although these practices seem to be a pathway to another, spiritual realm, learn how they can also be measured by the physiological changes that the practitioners exhibit, not only while engaged in them but long afterward 10 Religion and HealthDo prayer and meditation increase your physical well being Can regular church attendance contribute to an increased life span Consider the emerging evidence that shows that increased involvement in a religious lifestyle may offer many additional health benefits 11 Religion and Mental Health Explore the complex relationship between religious conviction and disorders like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, and determine what role, if any, religion should play in medical therapy 12 Religion and Brain DysfunctionSome scientists have linked religious conversion with a physical pathology, while others have associated intense spiritual practices, such as speaking in tongues, with brain dysfunction, but are these perspectives too reductionist to be accurate Test these experiences to determine whether they speak to mental disorders or to supernormal brain functioning 13 Transmitters to GodMessages of the mind are relayed through brain chemicals called neurotransmitters Uncover the mental connections involved in humanity s religious experiences and follow the hidden pathways through which human beings may be connecting with the divine 14 Stimulated States and Religious ExperiencesChanges in brain activity that occur from natural or internal conditions seem to track closely with artificial methods produced by electrical or chemical stimulation Grasp how stimulated states give us insight into the nature and meaning of spiritual experiences 15 Near Death Experiences and the Brain Even at the point of death, our cerebral circuitry is quite active In fact, the neural activity of these extreme states contributes to phenomena that some claim as evidence of life beyond death Come to appreciate how neuroscience is broadening our perspective on the riveting reports associated with near death experiences 16 The Believing BrainYour brain works hard to interpret your experiences, making sense of your world through creating and adopting belief systems about it In a manner of speaking, your brain is essentially a belief generating machine Master the mechanics by which your brain constructs your beliefs including those that may prove demonstrably false 17 The Brain s Influence on Religious Ideas Whether you are thinking about the here and now or about the abstract notion of a spiritual realm, your thoughts are governed by the nature and capabilities of your brain Ponder the ways that the structure and function of your brain shape and limit your religious and theological conceptions 18 Revelation, Salvation, and the Brain Your experiences are processed by your brain to determine both their immediate importance and their connection to your life as a whole While many experiences are dismissed as largely insignificant, others have the ability to profoundly transform us Test two widely experienced religious experiences with the tools of modern neuroscience 19 The Brain s Influence on Religious BehaviorEthical behavior is close to the heart of all religious traditions Find how neuroscience is shedding new light on the processes that make possible religiously motivated behavior such as altruism, empathy, and forgiveness 20 How the Brain Changes GodGiven the fact that your brain interprets experience to construct a picture of reality, how does this shape your concept of God Size up the various ways we tend to envision God as our brains work to formulate ideas of divinity, ranging from the overly humanized to the esoterically abstract 21 How God Changes the BrainYour brain is constantly changing in response to your shifting thoughts and experiences This ongoing neural transformation recreates your brain to adjust to everything from your routine activity to thoughts and experiences of extreme enlightenment Consider the ways in which these spiritual practices and religious beliefs actually modify your brain 22 Why God Won t Go AwayDespite the prophesied death of God and demise of religion, both are alive and well over a decade into the 21st century Moreover, they are gaining ground in many spheres of modern life Discover how the two most basic functions of the brain allow for religion s ongoing durability 23 The Mystical Mind Religion and spirituality can be said to be very important aspects of human life, but what about people who take it much further Transcend the religious ego to experience mystical frames of reference in which distinctions between the self and other, as well as the past, present, and future, simply disappear 24 Reality and Beyond Having explored how our brains construct and interpret reality, we have yet to address why we assume our mental constructions are correct Test the boundaries of your worldview and probe the possibility that spiritual experiences may speak to an underlying reality that is hidden from us in our everyday lives.

    One thought on “The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience”

    1. This is a collection of twenty-four lectures about the neurology of spirituality. The lecturer knows his audience contains some who want to think of spirituality as somehow transcending the reality of the workings of the brain, thus he is diplomatic on such suggestions. But its apparent to any honest assessment of reality, no brain no thoughts—including spiritual thoughts. So the lecture at one point makes the point that if there is a God capable of communication with humans any messages will [...]

    2. I did not hesitate to start this course because I'm fascinated with how the brain has developed to have experiences beyond reality (dreams, religious experiences, drug-induced states, near-death experiences, etc). I struggled to make it all the way through this series and ultimately only finished it so I could assess the work as a whole and warn others.Professor Newberg is ridiculously apologetic towards the Christian religious tradition. Many of his studies seem designed to prove that religion [...]

    3. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book of lectures. There were times I wanted to stop because he frustrated me so much. Through a big portion he seemed to be trying to defend religion rather than talk about the brain with regard to religion. Especially during the beginning of the book, he would talk about certain studies and make assumptions that to me doesn't seem valid without mentioning the other side. This annoyed me greatly. That being said, I did enjoy the findings regarding the MR [...]

    4. There is some useful information here, but it must be read quite critically. Some of the studies Dr. Newberg sites are quite poor, yet he does not allow that from slowing his rapid fire and sometimes dodgy inferences from them. Beginning in lecture 12 (of 24) the quality really drops off. He has little new to say about the brain and it's connection to spirituality. He simply rehashes the same material while looking at finer and finer subsets of beliefs and practices, all while becoming ever more [...]

    5. Interesting series series of lectures by Dr. Andrew Newberg. I decided to listen to this course because I find neuroscience and neurophysiology fascinating. I was surprised to discover how my own skepticism and belief systems kept interfering with my appreciation of the research results he was describing.

    6. You can take a good deal of information from this course (and you can see the bad things also), it was too long though and it would've been better to include more specific details (like mentioning the brain areas in certain conditions).Overall, it is good.

    7. If there is one important point to keep in mind when reading or listening to this, it is that the term "god" is not at all your private, culturally created notion by which all other deities can be judged. Think of "god" instead as a holder-place for general spiritual or transcendent experience and you'll get closer to what Newberg is attempting to explain and explore. He wants a definition that is testable, applicable across multiply different experiences and and accessible when explained. Now, [...]

    8. Let me save you the trouble of reading this!Religion is great (improved health, happiness, magical cures etc etc)MRI studies show this.Most of the conclusions only seem to apply to white usa Christians with money Religion makes you healthierwhat about Christian science (no blood transfusion), scientology (no mental health drugs), Catholicism (mental health problems may need exorcism), voodoo (kill animals) etc etcWhy do religious countries come at the bottom of lists of child mortality, longevit [...]

    9. Lots of really interesting stuff in this course. People of faith need not fear this course, as Professor Newberg walks a very respectful line between a faithful perspective and a scientifically skeptical perspective. If anything (IMHO), he may have sided a bit disproportionately on the apologetic side of things.

    10. I got 2 of Andrew Newberg's books on Audible that are very much the same. Of the 2, I preferred Spiritual Practices for a Powerful Brain.

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