What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Religious Consciousness? A Complex Adaptive Systems Framework for Understanding the Religious Brain

18 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 10 Aug 2011

See all articles by Aaron Burgess

Aaron Burgess

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Neuro-theology (a science of religious experience) has deepened our understanding of the religious brain but the research inevitably runs into many of the classical philosophical problems associated with any study of human consciousness. One of these problems is what philosopher John Hick (2006) has called the hard problem of consciousness. If we are going to understand something about the causes and content of religious consciousness we must devise a framework that will adequately address the hard problem. This paper gives a brief overview of Sam Harris' and Andrew Newberg's research on the religious brain, as well as an introduction to the hard problem and concludes that the problem materializes because the question of consciousness is ill-posed by materialism and dualism. The paper concludes that a plural aspect conceptual framework known as Complex Adaptive Systems Theory (CAS) with its emphasis on dynamical emergence allows researchers to escape reductive materialism without resorting to dualism. Instead of turning to dualism or reductive materialism researchers can turn to complexity and emergence to frame studies in neuro-theology. Emergence provides a basis for a position promoted by Nancy Cartwright (2004) known as causal pluralism which is promising in helping to explain the complex relationships between the brain and the mind.

Keywords: neuro-theology, hard problem of consciousness, complex adaptive systems, emergence, causal pluralism

Suggested Citation

Burgess, Aaron, What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Religious Consciousness? A Complex Adaptive Systems Framework for Understanding the Religious Brain (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1902951

Aaron Burgess (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
268
Abstract Views
1,210
rank
126,257
PlumX Metrics