ESSAYS IN NEUROTHEOLOGY BY TODD MURPHY
Spirituality & The Brain (Home Page)
Other pages on this site:
Near-Death Experiences in Thailand:
1) Case histories
Spirituality & The Brain (Home Page)
The neurotheology of God, enlightenment, out-of-body experiences, Deja Vu, near-death experiences, and how spirituality is part of what makes us human.
Whether God is in the brain or works through the brain, the power of prayer still lies in the human mind. Meditation works by making changes in both the brain and the mind. This idea has created a new science called neurotheology by several authors and journalists, though it’s really the behavioral neuroscience of religion, mysticism, and spirituality.
My approach is different from others in this field, like Andrew Newberg or Mario Beauregard. I believe that the theory of evolution is the most important concept in understanding why the brain keeps spiritual experiences and beliefs in it’s repertoire. To truly understand our ‘spiritual brain’, we have to think about how it evolved. We also need to look at how spirituality and religion helped us survive at the dawn of humanity, by making changes in the brain.
The Role of Mystics and mysticism in Human Evolution (An evolutionary hypothesis for neurotheology). Our populations consistently produce a percentage of people who experience profound altered states, imposing behavior patterns that offered benefits to our social groups early in our evolutionary history. This is a simplified version of a paper that appeared in the Journal NeuroQuantology in 2010.
Enlightenment This essay discusses what may have happened to the Buddha’s brain the night of his enlightenment.
Darwinian Reincarnation The idea of rebirth takes an important step towards science when it is integrated with Darwin’s Theory. Learning from past lives confers an important advantage in complex cultures, and the human death-process, made explicit in Near-Death Experiences, serves this end. Reincarnation was an evolutionary adaptation that contributed to the survival of our species.
The Origins of Spirituality in Human Evolution. When Humans acquired language, we began to think about death in some very new ways. This created a new feeling of being threatened whose source lay in our own thoughts. People responded to this new threat by finding a sense of spirituality that allowed us to come to terms with our mortality.
About the God Helmet. This article discusses the Koren Helmet, often called the “God Helmet”. Some ‘straight dope’ about a misunderstood technology. (Opens in a new Window).
God Helmet Effects independently replicated by a group of Brazilian researchers in a 2014 Publication. Using equipment very similar to Dr. Michael Persinger’s, they measured significant differences in the speech of subjects and controls, replicating one of Persinger’s early experiments. Here’s a discussion about this.
Spiritual Aptitude Test Read about subtle altered states (like deja vu), and what they say about your spiritual aptitudes.
The ‘Sensed Presence.’ Understanding the feeling that there is someone behind you when you’re actually alone is an important starting point in our approach to neurotheology. It’s a subtle manifestation of the sense we use to feel the presence of ghosts, spirits, angels and even God.
God The direct experience of God is one of the highest mystical states a person can achieve. If there is a God to be experienced, then like everything else we perceive, God must appear through our brains. This article owes a debt to Michael Persinger’s book, “Neuropsychological Bases of God-Beliefs”.
A dialog in Neurotheology. An email conversation about how we should view information from traditional religions.
Video Lectures on Neurotheology. A nine-hour lecture series on neurotheology. Subjects include God, enlightenment, rebirth, psychic skills, the sacred body, practical neurotheology, and some interviews, presentations, and more.
Evolution of God An article based on a lecture given in March 2005 at the Winchester “Art & Mind” festival. Easier reading.
The Shiva God Helmet Dr. Persinger’s famous magnetic brain stimulation technology that induces spiritual experiences in the laboratory is available in a PC-based version.
Validating New Technologies to Treat Depression, Pain and the Feeling of Sentient Beings: A Reply to “Neuroscience for the Soul” Persinger points out that some of his critics object to opinions and beliefs mistakenly ascribed to him. For example, he doesn’t believe that religious belief is an epileptic phenomenon, and his theories are not based on religiousness in epileptics. Read this if you like keeping up with developments in this field. (Technical Article – Opens in in a new Window)
Out of Body Experiences A 2002 study by Dr. Olaf Blanke has implicated the Angular Gyrus, (an area on the surface of the brain) in out of body experiences. This article replies to that study to the effect that there are other areas in the brain that may be involved. If researchers take Dr. Blanke’s interpretation of his results at face value, they may miss other avenues of inquiry.
Guided Spiritual Exercises from Brain Science Simple guided imaginative exercises that have immediate results for many people.
The Spiritual Personality. Doing spiritual practice (or having a spiritual awakening), has an impact on the brain, the mind, and personality. These changes happen are pretty easy to predict. The altered states of consciousness experienced through spirituality create some interesting ‘traits’.
Deja Vu is one of the most common spiritual experiences known. That is, if you enjoy it. If you don’t, its more a matter for the right kind of doctor than a temple. Deja vu is a change in the perception of the present moment, and it can be used to enhance some meditation practices, like Zen, that emphasize the ‘here and now’.
The Neurology of Romantic Love. In many ways, romantic love looks similar to devotional religious feelings, and its disappointments look very much like ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’. Neuroscience for the hopeless romantic.
Stimulating My Brain As a Spiritual Path Here’s my story, more or less. When its finished, you’ll find that I accept many of the things that psychics, gurus, and religions teach, but in very different forms.
Archetypes We might be more likely to see the archetypes in others than in ourselves. Evolution may have provided us with some hard-wiring that allows us to see them in others, giving us an almost instinctive feeling for how to relate with different types of people.
Sacred Lands A look at Harbin Hot Springs, a spiritual resort and retreat center in Northern California, that’s also in one of the most geologically active places in the world. Geomagnetic changes interact with magnetic processes in the brain, producing ‘power spots’ where it takes extra awareness just to get by.
Consciousness. Where does the phenomena of conscious awareness come from? This hypothesis suggests that consciousness functions to mediate states of consciousness. Simple answer for a vexing question. Not easy reading.
Terrorism “I would kill in God’s name” What do people willing to be violent for God have in common? And just how different is a religious extremist from an ordinary religious believer?
Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) in Thailand. The experience of dying is different in different cultures, and Thai NDEs provide one of the best examples of culture-specific ‘altered state’ experiences uncovered so far.
Thai Near-Death Experiences in Context. This article discusses how Thai NDEs make sense when looked at in terms of their cultural and religious context. An article accepted for publication by the Journal of Near-Death studies was edited from this study.
Glasses for Enhanced Visual Acuity. About a pair of glasses that induces a stunning enhancement in vision. If you have ever had moments where you were seeing as though your eyes had been polished from the inside, and wondered if it was possible to re-capture those moments, you should read this.
Inventing Shakti A non-technical article about how Shakti was invented.
By Todd Murphy
Foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama
Foreword by Dr. Michael A. Persinger.
506 pages, paperback
“Sacred Pathways is the Principia (“book of basic principles” or “first work”) of the scientific investigation of spiritual experiences. … Individuals who appoint themselves protectors of “true knowledge” may find this book disquieting.” – Dr. M.A. Persinger
“In this book, Professor Todd Murphy recounts what he has discovered about the brain’s role in religious and mystic experience; findings that interested readers will no doubt find illuminating” – H.H. The Dalai Lama
|Spiritual Aptitude Test|
Links to pages about Michael A. Persinger
Media Articles (on other websites – open in new windows):
Interview (w/ TR Murphy)
Discussions with the Author Would you like to have a discussion with the author of these articles? A series of ‘podcasts’, emphasizing spirituality, is being prepared for this site based on interviews and question-and-answer discussions on a wide range of themes. If you would like to have a (recorded) conversation on any of the subjects on this site (or any other you think is appropriate) click HERE to fill out a request form.
Being Investigated by the FDA The FDA requires pre-marketing approval for all devices promoted for medical use. I learned that medical use even includes research proposals. The investigation consisted of a letter from them, and my reply to them. No action was taken.
Assorted Neurotheology Links (Open in new Windows):
Searchable Archive of Papers by Dr. M.A. Persinger (Over 500 publications)
Comment on recent partial replication of the God Helmet’s effects. (Replication of one of his experiments)
Persinger replies to his early critics (From 1999)
Paranormal Studies (a bibliography)
The tectonic strain theory of paranormal and UFO events (a rigorous explanation of Persinger’s explanation for UFOS, ghosts and apparitions.)
Brief reply to Christopher French’s “Haunted Room” experiment. (About the methodology)
Dr. M.A Persinger On magnetism and the brain – YouTube
Blogs by Dr. Michael A. Persinger on the God Helmet (and other subjects).
NEURAL STIMULATION: HUMAN EVOLUTION: SPIRITUAL NEUROSCIENCE: NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES: BRAIN STUFF: OTHER STUFF:
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