Does faith intersect with neuroscience and psychology?

Understanding the human mind through neuroscience and psychology is one of the most fascinating endeavors of science! Studying the scientific underpinnings of the mind raises questions about the origins of consciousness, free will, morality, and being human.

Science, Faith, and the Human Mind

The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) Program proudly supports the work of neuroscientists, psychologists, and mental health professionals in their ongoing research and practice to better understand the human mind. In our continued engagement with scientific and religious communities, we at DoSER frequently engage in conversations about how scientists and people of faith can work together to understand the latest findings in brain science nd to explore the meanings and implications of those discoveries. These topics range from philosophical questions of free will and human morality to considerations in caring for those experiencing mental illness.

In the resource center, you will find a plethora of videos, syllabi, and articles on engagement with neuroscience and psychology from a variety of religious traditions. Several videos from our “Science: The Wide Angle” film series touch on the human mind, including Frontiers of Neuroscience: Charting the Complexities of Our Brains, Caring for the Health of Your Brain, and Is the Human Mind Predisposed to Religious Thought?

The intersection of faith and neuroscience?

Frontiers of Neuroscience: Charting the Complexities of Our Brains
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Frontiers of Neuroscience: Charting the Complexities of Our Brains

Scientists expand upon new discoveries by exploring identity, the complexity of treating neurological diseases, and the need for a comprehensive…

Some of our resources are specific to faith traditions, such as the dozens of course syllabi from Christian seminaries that examine the brain and mind, created as part of the Science for Seminaries project. Through the Engaging Scientists in the Science and Religion Dialogue project, we have videos from our 2017 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting roundtable, “Engaging Neuroscientists in the Dialogue with Religious Communities,” which featured scholars who bridge Buddhism and neuroscience. We also have a recording of and an article about our 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting symposium, “The Biology of Resilience: How Science and Faith Communities Can Work Together,” which featured a psychiatrist who works with Islamic communities. More resources for people of faith include those from Sinai and SynapsesBioLogos, and The Clergy Letter Project.

We also have several resources tailored for scientists and science communicators, who should always be mindful of religious audiences when giving scientific presentations. These include our “Scientists in Civic Life: Facilitating Dialogue-Based Communication” booklet and our new Profiles in Science Engagement with Faith Communities, which contain interviews with neuroscientist Gillian Hue and psychologist Nancy Adleman.

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Related Resources

Four panels featuring different brain images and a person wearing a cap to measure brain activity
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Caring for the Health of Your Brain

In this compelling short film, Dr. Huda Zoghbi discusses how brain exercises, avoiding mental stress and trauma, and maintaining a…

Is the Human Mind Predisposed to Religious Thought?
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Is the Human Mind Predisposed to Religious Thought?

Across cultures, the tenets of various religious beliefs reveal similarities and recurrent patterns. Why does this happen? In this film,…

Synthetic Brains and Identity 2
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Synthetic Brains and Identity

What if you replaced all the neurons in your brain with artificial neurons? How would this change you? In this…

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