Fri Mar 4, 2011
5101 Tolman, 11 AM–1 PM
|Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford University)
When God Talks Back
This presentation argues that when people become charismatic evangelical Christians, they learn a new theory about their minds, and that theory affects their mental experience–including their ability to have audible experiences of God. I do not make a judgment about whether the divine is real, but I do suggest that the ability to experience God as real is learned, and that (in contrast to the evolutionary psychology position) the learning is hard and requires work. I also suggest that the learning has real consequences–that prayer practice makes it more likely that one will have sensory experiences of the immaterial. I draw upon extensive ethnographic and experimental evidence to support these claims.