The Neuroscience of Spirituality | Interview with Andrew Newberg (Thinking Tools Podcast #21)Vote
The neuroscience of spirituality and religious experience is a fascinating subject. In this episode, I interview Dr. Andrew Newberg about the brain, spirituality, and religion. Even if you’re not particularly spiritual or if, like me, you don’t believe in god, spirits, the soul, or the afterlife, it’s still fascinating to understand that the brain is naturally wired for profound experiences and what effect they have on our health and wellbeing. In this episode, we primarily discuss his 2012 Teaching Company Course, “The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience.”
Andrew B. Newberg, M.D. is currently the Research Director at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia. He is a Professor in the Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Radiology at Thomas Jefferson University. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Nuclear Medicine. He has actively pursued a number of neuroimaging research projects which have included the study of aging and dementia, epilepsy, and other neurological and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Newberg has been particularly involved in the study of mystical and religious experiences, a field referred to as “neurotheology”. He has published over 250 peer reviewed articles and chapters on brain function, brain imaging, and the study of religious and mystical experiences. He has published 12 books which have been translated into 17 different languages. He was listed as one of the 30 Most Influential Neuroscientists Alive Today by the Online Psychology Degree Guide.
He is the co-author of the new books entitled, “Brain Weaver: Creating the Fabric for a Healthy Mind Through Integrative Medicine” (Kales) and, “The Rabbi's Brain: Mystics, Moderns, and the Science of Jewish Thinking" (Turner). He is the co-author of the best-selling books, “How God Changes Your Brain” (Ballantine) and, “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief” (Ballantine). He is also a co-author of “How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain: The New Science of Transformation” (Avery); “Words Can Change Your Brain” (Hudson Street Press); and “Born to Believe: God, Science, and the Origin of Ordinary and Extraordinary Beliefs” (Free Press). And he is the author of several academic books including: “Neurotheology: How Science Can Enlighten Us About Spirituality” (Columbia University Press); “The Metaphysical Mind: Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought”; “Principles of Neurotheology” (Ashgate); and co-author of “The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Belief” (Fortress Press). He has presented his work at scientific and religious meetings throughout the world and has appeared on Dr. Oz, StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Good Morning America, Nightline, 20/20, CNN, and ABC World News Tonight. His work has been featured in a number of major media articles including in Newsweek, Time, National Geographic, Discover, New York Times, O Magazine, Los Angeles Times, London Observer, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Readers Digest.
❓ Question: Do you consider yourself spiritual? ❓
00:00 The neuroscience of spirituality and religious experience is fascinating.
00:33 Andrew Newberg’s Credentials and Background
01:50 Dr. Newberg’s reasons for studying spirituality and religion
05:16 What is spirituality?
11:00 How spirituality affect the brain
15:17 Andrew Newberg on How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain
23:59 Andrew Newberg's Kirtan Kriya study
26:57 Andrew Newberg’s Saint Ignatius study
28:55 Bad spirituality
34:51 Andrew Newberg on prayer and belief in the brain
39:14 The prefrontal cortex and enlightenment
42:02 Andrew Newberg on brain changes during spiritual experience
45:33 Spirituality, Health, and Mental Health
50:04 Social effects of religion
52:37 How does the brain work? Dr. Newberg’s short answer
55:09 Find Dr. Newberg at AndrewNewberg.com
55:39 Thank you! Please like and subscribe.
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About Sense of Mind
My goal: Give you an accurate and clear picture of how the brain and mind work at various levels of analysis. I do that by carefully reading and reporting the science as I understand it.