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The below resources offer different perspectives on the correlation between spirituality and neuroscience from scholarly, research, and diverse faith backgrounds. They are a means for us to dialogue and learn even amid our differences. If we can accept that which is best from those who are different from us, we can grow, encourage, and inspire one another.  

Featured Neuroscience Scholarly and Research Material

Click here to find top-rated and best-selling neuroscience books, articles, journals, and websites. You will find many resources on affective neuroscience to better understand the neuroscience of emotions such as love, joy, peace, and kindness. These books and materials also provide insight into the neuroscience of attention, intention, perception, neuroplasticity, and resilience.

Featured Author

Dr. Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist who studies the relationship between brain function and various mental states. His research includes taking brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, in an attempt to better understand the nature of religious and spiritual practices and attitudes. 

Newberg, A., & Waldman, M. (2009). How God changes your brain.New York: Ballantine.

The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience

Featured Interfaith Resources

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

His Holiness the Dalia Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams (2016).  The book of joy.  New York: Avery. – This book is infused with neuroscience research from a leading researcher Dr. Richard Davidson

Barrett, J. (2012). Born believers: The science of children’s religious belief. New York: Free Press.

Judaism

Newberg A. & Halpern, D. (2018). The rabbi’s brain. New York: Turner.

Sinai and Synapses is an organization that bridges the scientific and religious worlds, and is being incubated at Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

World-renowned relationship expert Jon Gottman The Science of Love

Buddhism

www.MindandLife.org – Bridging science and contemplative wisdom to illuminate our shared humanity and inspire action.  

Begley, S. (2007). Train your mind, change your brain.  New York: Ballantine.

Hanson, R. (2009). Buddha’s brain. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Hanson, R. (2020). Neurodharma. New York: Harmony.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. (2007).  The joy of living: unlocking the secret and science of happiness.  New York: Harmony.

Islam

Stanford University School of Medicine Muslims and Mental Health Lab is dedicated to creating an academic home for the study of mental health as it relates to the Islamic faith and Muslim populations.

Hybridization of Islamic Education and Neuroscience: Transdisciplinary Studies of ‘Aql in the Quran and the Brain in Neuroscience – This article holds an optimistic approach to interdisciplinary study showing that the concepts of nasiyah (crown) and ‘aql (mind) in the Quran have a correlation with the brain and mind in neuroscience. 

John L. Esposito is University Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. He is the editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Modern Islam and The Oxford History of Islam, and author of Unholy War, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, and many other acclaimed works. Click here for books by John Esposito

Within Islam, the God Most-High, Allah is known to have 99 names.  The 99 names of God shed light into God’s many attributes.  Prayer and reflection on the 99 names of God, give Muslims the opportunity to be representatives of these attributes in the world.  The 99 names of God include loving, peaceful, compassionate, generous, and patient.  

Muslim theologian Bediuzzaman Said Nursi wrote that The Most Beautiful Names of God, help show that: “the true meaning of your life is this: it’s acting as a mirror to the manifestation of Divine oneness and the manifestation of the Eternally Besought One” (Nursi, The Words, 141). Mirroring the divine attributes of love, kindness, and peace have profound neurological effects. For more on Nursi:

Michel, T. (2013). Insights from the Risale-i Nur: Said Nursi’s Advice for Modern Believers. New Jersey: Tughra Books. – Michel writes that “the Qur’an challenges people to look more deeply at the world around them to discover the signs (ayat).”

Some key Ayat in the Qur’an relating to science: 3:191, 17:44, and 96:15-16.

Christianity

Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz is a research psychiatrist at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles and a leading expert in neuroplasticity.

Schwartz, J. (2012). You are not your brain: The 4-step solution for changing bad habits, ending unhealthy thinking, and taking control of your life. New York:Avery.

Also by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz: The Wise Advocate

Rev. Bryan Spoon is a board certified pediatric staff chaplain and Episcopal priest. His website www.neurotheology.info offers many resources for Christians to learn and grow in love, joy, and peace.

All royalties benefit Children’s Mercy Hospital

Spoon, B. (2020). Neuroscience and the Fruit of the Spirit. Glendale, WI: T.A.L.K. Publishers.

Dr. Caroline Leaf is the bestselling author of Switch on Your Brain, Think Learn Succeed, Think and Eat Yourself Smart, and many more. She teaches at academic, medical and neuroscience conferences, churches, and to various audiences around the world.

Psychiatrist Curt Thompson offers practical applications for developing our Christian faith through the lens of neuroscience. Advocating that while Jesus was a carpenter, he often used the language of farming to draw people into the Way of Love. We can use the language of neuroscience to cultivate the Good News within us and to offer it with others.

Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist who also writes from a Christian perspective. A leader on the intersection of Christianity and neuroscience.

Science and Christianity

The organization BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith. Despite our differences about faith and science, this organization invites dialogue.

Taoism (also known as Daoism)

Annellen M. Simpkins, PhD and her husband C. Alexander Simpkins combine Eastern and Western principles in their book The Dao of Neuroscience.

World Religions

Traditions in Brief – Short video introductions of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism from the Harvard Divinity School Religious Literacy Project.

The World’s Religions – by Huston Smith is an excellent primer for understanding different faith traditions.

Global Religious Landscape – The Pew Research Center provides extensive demographic studies on faith throughout the world.

Mindfulness

Jon Kabat Zinn on Mindfulness

Body Scan Meditation

This article from the Journal of American Medicine Association sites that mindfulness training “effects are comparable with what would be expected from the use of an antidepressant in a primary care population but without the associated toxicities.” 

For many more resources on the neuroscience of emotions, habit formation, and relating topics click here.

 

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