Methodological Principles for Research in Neurotheology: Practical and Philosophical Implications
“Neurotheology” has garnered substantial attention in the academic and lay communities in recent years. As would be expected, there have been many positive and negative responses to purported neurotheological studies. The attempt to integrate neuropsychology and theology has been extremely controversial and often dismissed as an attempt to integrate incommensurables. Thus, if neurotheology is to be considered a viable field going forward, it requires a set of clear principles that can be generally agreed upon and supported by both the theological or religious perspective and the scientific one as well. I have recently expanded upon these principles in the book entitled, Principles of Neurotheology (Newberg, 2010). The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the principles which can be used as a foundation for future neurotheological discourse, particularly as it may pertain to the relationship between the brain and quantum mechanics. Rather than to specifically try to answer major theological or scientific questions, this paper intends to set forth a program of scholarship and a methodological basis for future inquiry thereby laying the groundwork for a new synthesis of scientific and theological dialogue. The first part will review some of the methodological principles of neurotheology, the second part will describe preliminary data that might be particularly relevant in terms of developing future neurotheological research, and the third part will consider some of the more speculative, philosophical, and theological implications of such work. In the end, neurotheology, a term sometimes fraught with potential problems, might nevertheless, be a highly useful and important voice in the greater study of religious and theological ideas and their intersection with science.
methodological principles, neurotheology
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