THE HUMAN BRAIN: From Neurons to the Emergence of Self

November 21st, 2001Dr. Sukumar VijayaraghavanAssistant Professor of Physiology & Biophysics at CU Health Sciences CenterHost: Stan Adamson

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About the Presentation

Last Spring, the Interface program committee was inspired in part by an article in Newsweek and other publications on the topic of “NeuroTheology”. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Vijayaraghavan from Denver to present on his interests related to this topic.

Related Articles

From New Scientist magazine, April 21 2001:

In search of God 
“Are our religious feelings just a product of how the brain works? Bob Holmes meets the researchers who are trying to explain our most sacred thoughts…” Read the rest of the article… Health and Medical Issues in the News
Zapped by Science, Again by Nicholas Regush
“There is little study looking at how our states of awareness and imagery might be affected by the electro-magnetic corridors we inhabit.” —Michael Persinger, neuroscientist

Newsweek: May 7, 2001
(Sadly, now charges to retrieve archived articles online). See for more info.

Religion And The Brain by Sharon Begley With Anne Underwood
“One Sunday morning in March, 19 years ago, as Dr. James Austin waited for a train in London, he glanced away from the tracks toward the river Thames. The neurologist–who was spending a sabbatical year in England–saw nothing out of the ordinary: the grimy Underground station, a few dingy buildings, some pale gray sky. He was thinking, a bit absent-mindedly, about the Zen Buddhist retreat he was headed toward. And thenAustin suddenly felt a sense of enlightenment unlike anything he had…”

Faith Is More Than A Feeling by Kenneth L. Woodward
“Skeptics used to argue that anyone with half a brain should realize there is no God. Now scientists are telling us that one half of the brain, or a portion thereof, is “wired” for religious experiences. But whether this evolving “neurotheology” is theology at all is doubtful. It tells us new things about the circuits of the brain, perhaps, but nothing new about God. The chief mistake…”

Related Books

Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain science and the biology of belief by Andrew Newberg, M.D., Eugene D’Aquili, M.D., and Vince Rause
From Over the centuries, theories have abounded as to why human beings have a seemingly irrational attraction to God and religious experiences. In Why God Won’t Go Away authors Andrew Newberg, M.D., Eugene D’Aquili, M.D., and Vince Rause offer a startlingly simple, yet scientifically plausible opinion: humans seek God because our brains are biologically programmed to do so. Researchers Newberg and D’Aquili used high-tech imaging devices to peer into the brains of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns. As the data and brain photographs flowed in, the researchers began to find solid evidence that the mystical experiences of the subjects “were not the result of some fabrication, or simple wishful thinking, but were associated instead with a series of observable neurological events,” explains Newberg. “In other words, mystical experience is biologically, observably, and scientifically real…. Gradually, we shaped a hypothesis that suggests that spiritual experience, at its very root, is intimately interwoven with human biology.” Lay readers should be warned that although the topic is fascinating, the writing is geared toward scientific documentation that defends the authors’ hypothesis. For a more palatable discussion, seek out Deepak Chopra’s How to Know God, in which he also explores this fascinating evidence of spiritual hard-wiring. –Gail Hudson

See also Scientists studying the effect of religious experiences on the brain by David O’Reilly / Knight Ridder Newspapers, Saturday, February 21, 1998.

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