For the past 25 years, I have had the great fortune to be able to work in an emerging field sometimes referred to as “neurotheology" :
The term itself reflects a hybrid, multidisciplinary approach that does not eliminate either the scientific or the spiritual side, but seeks to find ways of integrating them in such a way that helps us more deeply understand who we are as human beings.
I typically like to define neurotheology broadly so that the “neuro” side includes fields such as neuroscience, neuroimaging, psychology, and consciousness studies. The “theology” side includes theology itself, but also religious and spiritual practices, experiences, and beliefs. Today we have the ability to combine the best that both sides have to offer to deepen our understanding of ourselves and what it means to be human.
With that in mind, neurotheology has profound implications for the study of consciousness in terms of both its potential material and non-material aspects (or local and non-local aspects). After all, many spiritual traditions embrace the notion of altered states of consciousness that might arise through various rituals and practices. These altered states of consciousness may manifest as spiritual experiences of varying types, near death experiences, and ultimately some of the most powerful mystical or enlightenment experiences known to human beings. In addition, many religious and spiritual traditions acknowledge aspects of the world that go beyond the purely material and may include spiritual healing, the notion of spirits or angels, psychic concepts,...