UPenn

Religion From a Psychological Perspective: From Miracles to Mindfulness Lecture Series at University of Pennsylvania.

It can be assumed that hearing God's voice, near death experiences and out of body experiences cannot be a part of the average Penn university student’s experiences. These, however, are the kernel of many a religious movement and spiritual commitment.

To examine and illuminate knowledge on such experiences, and to understand what exists at core of commitment and religious movements, a number of public lectures will be conducted at Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Center for Neuroscience & Society and Department of Religious Studies. The lectures will be done every Tuesday evening. The list of guest lecturers will be from varied professions- religious scholars, neuroscientists, philosophers and historians among others. They will explore the many aspects of the religious experience through a series of lectures titled From Miracles to Mindfulness: New Perspectives on Religious Experience.

The lectures comprise the first of semester long lectures on the Penn Campus. They are open to the public. They will touch upon divine experiences, voices and visions, angels and demons and the altered states of consciousness at the center of commitment and religious movements. The speeches will be interdisciplinary and have the aim to illuminate the number of ways scientists and academic researchers understand these experiences. Guest lecturers will explore religion's numerous facets and the religious experience. They will also open a window to the techniques and the findings of research in the course of their lectures.

The From Miracles to Mindfulness companion course to the lecture series provides UPenn students a more intimate look at the way scientists, psychologists and scholars utilize systematic research methods. These are done for the better understanding of the religious experiences from the psychological angle. This course will be taught by Steven Weitzman and Phillip Webster, a professor of religious studies and graduate student of religious studies respectively.

According to Weitzman, unusual experiences are at the core of all world religions. It could be the resurrection of Jesus or seeing a God in burning bushes. There may also be cosmic insights into the nature of universe. He added that although he was a scholar for an extended period, he has less knowledge of the reason people have experiences. He wanted to understand what the scholarship on the subject has for an answer. For students the lectures are an excellent intellectual exercise.

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