The Poverty Of Neurotheology Why Recent Discoveries About The Brain Tell Us Nothing Conclusive About The Interface Between Religious Experience And Psychology

Studies show that brain stimulation, or manipulation of a participant’s sensory environment, can duplicate certain religious or mystical experiences. Some tout this as evidence that such states are indeed ontologically “real,” just not in any supernatural wayÑmerely the consequence of a “brain hiccup” of sorts. Loosely known as “neurotheology,” this research paradigm is thought to promise a version of physicalism that is sympathetic to claims of religious epiphany, while fitting them into a comfortably materialist niche. But this solution isn’t as neat or successful as it seems.

Paul H. Smith