How Does the Brain Experience God?
Interview with Andrew B Newberg
Interviewed by Emily Esfahani Smith
EES: What are some of the questions you’re trying to answer in your research?
ABN: We are trying to understand the relationship between our religious and spiritual selves and the human brain. What are the ways that the brain allows us to experience religious feelings and thoughts, and what are the ways that it hinders us? I’m particularly interested in what’s going on inside the brain during intense religious experiences, like moments of transcendence, awe, and mysticism. When somebody says, “I had a mystical experience and I felt God” and someone says “I had a mystical experience and felt universal consciousness,” we can ask if those are the same experiences interpreted differently, or are they two completely different experiences?
PHOTO © CHRIS ROCHE