Religion and the Body

Modern Science and the Construction of Religious Meaning


This book reflects on the implications of neurobiology and the scientific worldview on aspects of religious experience, belief, and practice. Just as interest in the neurosciences and related fields has burgeoned in contemporary society, interest in the fields of neuroscience and cognitive studies is also growing within the religious studies academy, and reflection on these shifts is well overdue. How do religious practitioners negotiate the interconnection of science and religion? What can the neurosciences add to scholars’ understanding of religion and to how humans construct religious meaning? Chapters address these questions by investigating religious experience and authority, the cultural construction and deconstruction of the body, and cross-cultural appropriations of the body.
Restricted Access


EUR €114.00USD $150.00

Biographical Note

David Cave, Ph.D. (1989), Regional Director, University of Michigan, has published widely on the phenomenology and comparative study of religion, including Mircea Eliade's Vision for a New Humanism (1993) and "The Role of the Authoritative in the Comparative Process" (2006). Rebecca Sachs Norris, Ph.D. (1999) in Religious Studies/Anthropology, Boston University, is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Merrimack College. Her publications include Toying with God: The World of Religious Games and Dolls (2010) and articles on religion, neuroscience and body. Contributors include: Whitney Bauman, David Cave, Núria Farré-Barril, James Haag, Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Mira Karjalainen, John McGraw, Rebecca Sachs Norris, Eric Repphun, Arthur Saniotis, Sebastian Schüler, and Deana Weibel.

Table of contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction SECTION one: NEUROBIOLOGY AND SOURCES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE AND AUTHORITY Reading the Body, Reading Scripture: The Implications of Neurobiology on the Study and Interpretation of Scripture David Cave De/Constructing Transcendence: The Emergence of Religious Bodies James W. Haag and Whitney A. Bauman Tongues of Men and Angels: Assessing the Neural Correlates of Glossolalia John J. McGraw Synchronized Ritual Behavior: Religion, Cognition and the Dynamics of Embodiment Sebastian Schüler SECTION two: CULTURE AND THE DE- AND RE-CONSTRUCTION OF THE BODY Religion, Neuroscience and Emotion: Some Implications of Consumerism and Entertainment Culture Rebecca Sachs Norris Every Story is a Ghost: Chuck Palahniuk and the Reenchantment of Suffering Eric Repphun Attaining Transcendence: Transhumanism, the Body, and the Abrahamic Religions Arthur Saniotis SECTION three: (CROSS) CULTURAL APPROPRIATIONS OF THE BODY Magnetism and Microwaves: Religion as Radiation Deana L. Weibel Scientific Approaches to the Body in the Spiritual-Physical Marketplace Mira Karjalainen Sleep Deprivation: Asceticism, Religious Experience and Neurological Quandaries Núria M. Farré-i-Barril Sikhism and Mental Illness: Negotiating Competing Cultures Jagbir Jhutti-Johal Bibliography Index


All those interested in neurobiology and religion, contemporary culture and religion, theology and embodiment, anthropology, sociology, and psychology of religion, including scholars, students, educated laymen, academic and public libraries.