Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies

CIN Dialogues 2012: Topic

Are there neuronal foundations to religion? None of the relevant experiments has found a definitive answer. Some have localised particular areas of the brain which show a high rate of activity during religious experiences. Scientist have even been able to induce religious experiences artificially, e.g. by using magnetic fields. On the other hand, investigations show that the individual imagination is crucial for a person’s ability to have experiences of that kind. An individual who is “unmusical concerning religion”, as Max Weber put it, seems to be resistent to all kinds of artificially induced religioius experience. Based on these insights, the whole problem manifests itself as a complex of neurobiological and socio-cultural factors. This emphasizes the questions, whether a reductionist position is able to comprehend the phenomenon of religious experience in all its complexity.

This problematic situation is the background for the CIN-Dialogues 2012. Under the slogan “Neuronal foundations of religious experience” the panel discussion features Prof. Friedrich Wilhelm Graf (Theology) and Prof Wolf Singer (Neuroscience) and is hosted by the science journalist Ulrich Schnabel. In addition, lecturers and students from the sciences and the humanities will work on the topic in a one-day workshop organised by the Forum Scientiarum Tübingen.