Honors Theo & NeuroSci
IDSC 480-05 CRN 43065 Honors Theo & NeuroSci
Fall 2012 – T 9:55 or 1:30
Professors: Anne King (Theology) and Jennifer Prichard (Psychology)
This seminar seeks to introduce students to the classic studies of psychology and religious experience, and to evaluate contemporary explorations of the connections between the mind and brain as viewed from a scientific perspective and a theological one. The core of the course will be based on William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience and the representative positions of those who try and explain how their research leads them to a contemporary exploration of the issues that James ultimately resolves pragmatically. We will explore the findings, theories and conclusions of psychologists, neuroscientists, and theologians concerning the relationship of the mind/brain discussion to human experience, especially as it applies to religious experience. Topics will include the following questions, among others: Why have all human societies developed a culture of spirituality? Why do people with a particular form of epilepsy often report enhanced religious experiences? How does the brain function differently during periods of intense prayer? How can an understanding of the scientific basis of religious experience coexist with theological explanations of the divine?