How Religious Belief Can Affect Health
Source: Next Avenue
According to Newberg, a number of studies point to an association between religious involvement and decreased morbidity and mortality.
By Debbie Musser
Adhering to a well-balanced diet and incorporating exercise into your routine are two well-known ways to improve health. What about religious involvement? Can that also have a positive effect on health and well-being?
There’s a growing field of study that seeks to link the physiological effects of religious and spiritual practices on the body: neurotheology.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist and pioneer in the field, defines neurotheology as exploring the link between the brain and our religious and spiritual selves. Newberg is director of research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health and professor of emergency medicine and radiology at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia. He is also the author of 10 books, including How God Changes Your Brain and Neurotheology: How Science Can Enlighten Us About Spirituality.
The History of Neurotheology
“The first place where I believe neurotheology appears in an academic setting was a 1984 article by James Ashbrook, Neurotheology: The Working Brain and the Work of Theology in the journal, Zygon,” Newberg said. “But in some ways, neurotheology is thousands of years old, as with the Hindu and Buddhist traditions and how they tie the spiritual to the mind.
A number of studies point to an association between religious involvement and decreased morbidity and mortality.
“Even in western religions such as Christianity and Judaism, there is a tie between the brain and how we function on a religious and spiritual level,” Newberg continues. “An example I like to give is the Ten Commandments: The Bible says that these are things we can do (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). But there’s the recognition that we are able to do those things by using our minds.”
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