Colloquium: Dr. David Noelle on Supernatural Experiences (Manteca)

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While philosophers and theologians debate the existence of a divine entity guiding the course of the universe, some claim to have incontrovertible proof of god in the form of their own personal experience. These rare individuals describe vivid experiences of direct revelations of the divine. Many of these reports share... common properties, including: a sense of an unseen intelligence, changes in the sense of self, intense euphoria and/or intense terror, a sense of extreme darkness and bright light, and a sense of deep personal significance.

Can these religious experiences be explained as anything other than communion with the supernatural? In this brief presentation, recent scientific insights into the nature of brain functioning during revelatory religious experiences will be reviewed. These insights are grounded in data from the study of brain damaged patients, modern brain imaging studies of healthy people, studies of the effects of psychoactive drugs on experience, and even efforts to simulate religious experiences by stimulating the brain directly. While the primary focus will be on spontaneous, life changing, religious experiences, the neural basis of meditation and prayer will also be discussed, as will near-death experiences.

The goal will be to provide highlights of this expanding field of research, while allowing ample time for discussion.

About David Noelle

Dr. David C. Noelle is Associate Professor of Cognitive and Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced (UCM).

He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego, and he completed postdoctoral training at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University.

Dr. Noelle's research involves the fabrication, analysis, and testing of computational models of brain function, with a focus on the prefrontal cortex and its role in learning, memory, and the control of behavior.

He is also the faculty adviser for the Society of Freethinkers at UCM.

About the Free Event

This is a free event, open to the public, at the Manteca Library. Those of all worldviews and faiths are welcome. Donations to support this and future Colloquiums are appreciated.

Future Colloquiums

Colloquiums are always on the third Tuesday of every odd-numbered month, and always at the Manteca Library.

• November 19: TBA (http://www.meetup.com/Stockton-Atheist/events/dqsnjhyspbzb/)