"Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance." ~ T.S. Eliot in "Burnt Norton"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Religious and Spiritual Experiences Affect our Brains

The link below is from a radio interview from TALK OF THE NATION npr News about religious and spiritual experiences affect our brains.
Dr. Andrew Newberg is the author of "Principles of Neurotheology," and he is the director of research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College. He studies the relationship between the brain and religious experience. In his research, he scanned people’s brains while they are meditating or praying and then he compared what was going on in their brains at that point to what is happening in their brain when they're at rest.  He approached that by using SPECT imaging technique that requires putting in a small intravenous catheter in a mediator’s arm. During meditation, he infuses a small amount of radioactive material in order to process images of the brain while meditating. Dr.Newberg found that people who engage in religious and spiritual practices have more active areas in their brains. He also found that during meditation “blood flow increase in the frontal cortex, the place where we are focusing on problems, and decrease in other areas of the brain”. These changes “help to lower the level of anxiety and depression and make us feel better”. They also help us to stay calm even after the meditation.
What do you think of his finding? For people who meditate or engage in religious practices have you experience the same outcome (feeling calm, positive or energetic after mediating) ?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

We spent last class watching Creation, a film depicting the life of Charles Darwin. One very important aspect of the film was Darwin’s struggle to reconcile science with religion. He faced push-back from the church, his friends, and his devout wife. These conflicts are minor when compared to his own internal struggle as a man of faith. The following scene between Darwin (Paul Bettany) and his wife (Jennifer Connelly) illuminates that very struggle.

The readings that were assigned to us before break discuss the idea that evolution does not contradict the biblical idea of creationism, but rather enforces it in many ways. Paley and Mivart go to great lengths to argue that evolution can be viewed as a mechanism of divine creation.

Which of these teachings (creationism or evolution) has been reinforced most in your schooling, home life, and social life? Have the readings persuaded you to believe that evolution and creationism can be reconciled? Why or why not?