Most people have not heard of the emerging science of neurotheology. It seems as if all of the sciences are going “neuro,” “nano,” “micro,” and “bio.” In case you may not have noticed, we are experiencing a Renaissance in all the sciences.
Scientific paradigms are shifting and there is a growing trend at integrating the myriad of scientific disciplines. And it is this urge toward integration that has created neurotheology.
Because it is so new, neurotheology is seeking to define itself. For now, a respectable definition seems to be: neurotheology is the field of study that links the neurosciences with religion, spirituality, and theology. As Unity ministers who are excited about the integration between science and spirituality (We have a Science Advisor on staff at our spiritual education center) we are thrilled at the transformative value neurotheology brings to serious spiritual practice.
Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, in his groundbreaking book, The Principles of Neurotheology, speculates that “neurotheology can provide an integration of science and religion that might allow for new ways of considering the sciences and theology.”
We believe he’s right. And we get particularly excited when we hear about new scientific discoveries like the one last week. On July 4, 2012, physicists announced that they’ve found the ‘God particle.’ The head of the world’s biggest atom smasher (the $10 billion 17 mile long Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border), Rolf Heuer, says physicists have discovered a new particle that is consistent with the long-sought Higgs Boson known as the ‘God particle.’
We get goose-bumps when we learn from biologists like Bruce Lipton that every neuron has a mind of its own, governed by its own beliefs and directives inferred by certain genes. Individual cells have the molecular capacity to hold beliefs. If a cell perceives stress, it can actually “rewrite” the genetic directive in order to overcome the stressful situation. (B. H. Lipton, The Biology of Belief).
We continue to be deepened by the implications of credible neuro-research like the following finding Sharon Begley mentions in her spectacular book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain:The hardware of the brain is not fixed at birth. That’s an incredible piece of neuro-research for ministers to get their hands on, especially when they are in the business of inspiring congregants to move out of old self-defeating life patterns into new, life-affirming versions of themselves.
With physics finding an important “particle,” and neurotheology being one of the driving forces of the new “wave” of the integrationist we believe the union between science, spirituality, theology, and religion will be a marriage made in heaven.