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Philosophia Christi

Volume 10, Issue 1, 2008

Travis Dumsday
Pages 137-163

Neuroscience and the Evidential Force of Religious Experience

The claim that religious experience provides evidence for the existence of God or the supernatural has come under heavy criticism, with the most compelling critique arising from neuroscience of the last half century. The work of Michael Persinger has been particularly significant in this context. He argues that religious experiences can be generated via stimulation of the temporal lobe, and consequently that they are best interpreted naturalistically. I argue that this interpretation is inadequate for a large and significant class of these experiences. Moreover, Aquinas’s theory of religious visions not only allows for these recent scientific findings but actually foreshadows them.