Course in Neurotheology at UF

A new course at the University of Florida, Neurotheology: The Interface between the Brain and the Divine , may be the only university course in neurotheology taught anywhere in the world—does anyone know of others?

The course has been developed by Dr. Lou Ritz, an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the university. According to his biography, his research interests are concerned with spinal cord injury and repair. One paper he’s written involves watching how cats balance themselves with their tails, then shows how breaking their tails (called sacrocaudal transection; ouch!) leads them to lose their balance and fall more often. He’s also a co-director of the Center for Spirituality and Health at UF.

From the syllabus:

Are religious and spiritual experiences brain-based? If they are, what are the implications to understanding brain circuitry? If they are not, what are the implications to our understanding of who we are? Our course – Neurotheology -will investigate the neural correlates of religious and spiritual experiences and the implications of such relationships.

Topics to be explored include: organization of higher cortical function in the human brain; effects of cortical brain lesions on our perception of reality; the variety of religious experiences; modern brain imaging; meditation and spiritual experiences; brain correlates of meditation; eastern and western views of the mind; how the brain constructs reality; attention and awareness; mind-body medicine; psychedelics and mystical experiences; the neurobiology of emotions; the God gene – the genetic basis of spiritual experiences.

I’d like to see the detailed syllabus for this course, including the reading materials. And it would be great if Dr. Ritz could turn the course into a book providing a balanced overview of the field—in spite of all that’s been written, such an overview still does not exist.

One Response to “Course in Neurotheology at UF”

  1. kirkmc Says:

    Have you read Zen and the Brain, by James Austin (MIT Press)? It seems to cover a lot of this.

    I’ve been reading this (somewhat demanding) book because I am interested in meditation, but also have a brainstem lesion – the book has helped me understand both the brain and how medatiaton can affect the brain.

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