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Towards a Theory of Spiritual and Religious Experiences

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A Building Block Approach of the Unexpected Possible

image of Archive for the Psychology of Religion

How do we define religious experiences? And what would be the relationship with spiritual experiences? The author claims that the cognitive turn in science gives us new opportunities to map the territory of religion and spirituality. In line with other authors (Taves, Wildman), he proposes a building block approach of cognitive mechanisms that can deal with questions regarding the specificity, origin, and complexity of religious experiences. Two concepts are presented that bridge the great divide which is presumed to exist between sciences that study the brain and humanities, namely the encultured brain and predictive minds. In section three, six building blocks of the structure of religious experience are formulated. New in his approach is the unexpected possible as distinctive ground between normal experiences and what we consider spiritual and religious experiences. Finally, the author presents a critical reflection on his proposal and challenges for the road ahead.

Affiliations: 1: University of the Free State Bloemfontein South Africa Radboud University The Netherlands


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