The Dennes Room

Event Detail

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.