Thursday, December 16, 2010


The spiritual practice of meditation has been shown to have neurological benefits in this new study. The downside of this information is the tendency of humans to co-opt religious practices for utilitarian purposes which inevitably become self-serving - whether those purposes are to gain money via tithing, to feed ambition and desires for fame/infamy, to elevate or suppress people or groups, or perhaps, better brain function.

The research doctor, Andrew Newberg, who has been studying the neurological effects of meditation and prayer seems to understand how difficult it can be to maintain the balance between spirituality and science. He laid out the goals of his scholarship in his book, Principles of Neurotheology, and the 4 goals are excerpted in the NPR article. Any thoughts about pitfalls, implications, dangers, and Newberg's goals?

When considering the primary reasons for developing neurotheology as a field, we can consider four foundational goals for scholarship in this area. These are:

1. To improve our understanding of the human mind and brain.

2. To improve our understanding of religion and theology.

3. To improve the human condition, particularly in the context of health and well being.

4. To improve the human condition, particularly in the context of religion and spirituality.

These four goals are reciprocal in that they suggest that both religious and scientific pursuits might benefit from neurotheological research. The first two are meant to be both esoteric as well as pragmatic regarding scientific and theological disciplines. The second two goals refer to the importance of providing practical applications of neurotheological findings towards improving human life both individually and globally.


  1. Interesting. I wonder sometimes if something like a neurological benefit might not be spiritual in its way. Peace, wherever its found might be a window into the concept of Sabbath rest.

    Thanks for stopping by I appreciated your comment.

  2. LL, for those of us seeking God's reign, I agree that our seeking God & God's righteousness will benefit us in many ways, including neurologically. Yet, for us, the goal is being known by God, and knowing God's presence in our lives, not the neurological benefit in and of itself.

    That goal may be what makes Newberg's research difficult. Would the goals of his research corrupt the participants' goals of seeking God?