The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience
"The work of Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew Newberg is of tremendous importance in advancing the rapprochement of science and religion. Few investigators have been able to match their access both to research on the neurological basis of religious experience as well as the theological analysis and evaluation of this experience. The result, which is of enormous importance for theological apologetics, is a change of view of the rational human mind from an arena which should, by its nature, attempt to exclude the mystical and religious as aberrational at best, to one which views the mind as necessarily including experience of the spiritual and religious."
G. Ronald Murphy, SJ,
Professor of German, Georgetown University,
author of: The Heliand (transl) (New York: Oxford UP, 1989) and The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove (New York: Oxford UP, 2000)
A fascinating study of the neurological basis of mystical and religious experience… The first work to explicitly probe the biology of religious experience.
How does the mind experience the sacred? What biological mechanisms are involved in mystical states and trances? Is there a neurological basis for patterns in comparative religions? Does religion have an evolutionary function?
This pioneering work by Andrew Newberg and Eugene d’Aquili explores the neurophysiology of religious experience. Mapping the basic functions of the brain, the authors focus on structures most relevant to human experience, emotion, and cognition. On this basis, they plot how the brain is involved in mystical experiences. Successive chapters employ this understanding to explore mythmaking, ritual and liturgy, meditation, near-death experiences, and theology itself. Original, daring, and widely acclaimed, the authors’ research bears exciting implications for philosophy, science, theology, and the future of religion itself.
The Mystical Mind also received the award for Outstanding Books in Theology and the Natural Sciences for 1999, sponsored by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, January 2001.