STPS 5950 - 1 - Syllabus
Theology, the Person & Neuroscience
STPS 5950 – Fall 2005
Instructors: Robert John Russell (CTNS)
Contact: email@example.com (preferred) or (510) 649-2485
Office: 2465 LeConte, 2nd
floor (above GTU bookstore)
Mark Graves (GTU)
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 525-1457 (home)
Location: Mudd 204 (PSR)
Time: Tuesdays, 12:40-3:30
Prerequisite: Either familiarity with systematic and philosophical theology (science or
psychology background helpful, but not required) or
Strong, relevant science background with highly motivated interest in
This advanced MA/PhD seminar focuses on our growing understanding of the
relationship between theological anthropology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. It
provides the student a background in neuroscience; a mediating framework based on
cognitive science to explore the connections between theology and neuroscience; and
opportunities to participate in new scholarship in the relation between theology and
Recent advances in the study of the brain provide key insights into human nature that
impact contemporary theology. As the organ responsible for a person’s mental,
emotional, volitional, and social characteristics, the brain plays a central role in the
human aspects of religious experience. Theology provides systematic descriptions and
critical reflection of the cognitive content of religious experience, spirituality, theological
anthropology, neuroethics, imago Dei, and moral decision-making, some of which
neuroscience and psychology are beginning to address.
The course explores the relationship between theology and neuroscience using the
tools of cognitive science—the inter-disciplinary study of mind drawing upon
psychology, computer science, neuroscience, philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology.
Each area of cognitive science may provide paths between neuroscience and a theological
perspective on the person. In particular, topics examined in the course may include
narrative and contemplative psychology; artificial intelligence and systems modeling;
pragmatism and philosophy of mind; concepts and metaphor in language; and
consciousness and emergence.
The primary text for the course is from the CTNS/Vatican Observatory series,
Neuroscience and the Person: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action. Additional
readings come from neuroscience texts and articles. One of the goals of the class is to
provide sufficient background in neuroscience for the student to understand the science
used in the primary text and other books and articles in theology and neuroscience. In
STPS 5950 - 2 - Syllabus
addition, the course will provide sufficient neuroscience to enable the student to begin
drawing directly from scientists and basic scientific texts to explore new interactions. A
claim of the course is that cognitive science provides a framework for understanding
human nature in dialogue between theology and other cognitive disciplines including
psychology, philosophy and neuroscience, and the course introduces several areas of
cognitive science to illustrate the framework.
As theology and neuroscience only recently began dialoging, many areas of fruitful
interaction remain unexplored. The seminar provides students an opportunity to begin
work in that area for possible use on other projects and to receive feedback from the
instructors and other classmates as desired. To that aim, time within each class session
will be available for student-led theological reflection on a relevant area of neuroscience
or cognitive science.
• To introduce sufficient background in neuroscience for the student to understand
and begin writing articles in theology and neuroscience.
• To enable constructive interaction between theology and neuroscience by
providing a mediating framework based on cognitive science to bridge the two
• To encourage students to engage in critical theological reflection on human nature
informed by neuroscience.
1. Readings and class participation. Attendance at all class sessions and
demonstration of reading and reflection through active class participation is expected.
Please notify one of the instructors if a class must be missed.
2. Theological Reflection. During the semester, students will be responsible for
presenting a theological reflection and leading its discussion relevant to that week’s
topic. Reflection may draw upon additional theologians, and students are strongly
encouraged to coordinate the topic with the instructors to meet the student’s interest,
prior background, and other research needs. (Alternate requirements may be arranged
for UCB or advanced MDiv students.)
3. Research paper. A research paper is due by 5pm on Tuesday, Dec 13. The paper
should be 6-8,000 words in length not including references or footnotes or endnotes
(approximately 25 pages in Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style). Students are
encouraged to discuss their topic with an instructor prior to Nov 15. Doctoral students
should note that Dr. Russell is willing, if desired, to assess the research paper for the
purpose of completing the Research Readiness Review.
If you have any unique learning needs, please consult with one of the instructors, and we
will make every reasonable effort to accommodate you.
STPS 5950 - 3 - Syllabus
I. Broad Overview
1. Sept 6
• Introduction to Course
• Overview of Cognitive Science
2. Sept 13
• Religious Experience
3. Sept 20
• Philosophy of Mind
4. Sept 27
• Experimental Methods in Neuroscience
II. In-depth Analysis
5. Oct 4 – Cognitive Neuroscience
6. Oct 11 – Cognitive Linguistics
7. Oct 18 – Affective & Social Neuroscience
8. Oct 25 – No Class – Reading Week
III. Consonance & Conflict
9. Nov 1
• Transcendence & Atheism
10. Nov 8
• Neurobiology of Addiction (Guest)
• Sin, Freedom & Healing
11. Nov 15
• Habit, Virtue & Tendencies
12. Nov 22 – AAR Conference (Guest)
• Evolutionary & Developmental Perspectives on Experience
• Evolutionary Psychology
13. Nov 29 – Psychology (Guest)
• Buddhist Psychology
14. Dec 6 – Computational Approaches & Imago Dei
• Artificial Intelligence, Computational Modeling & Systems Theory
• Imago Dei
15. Dec 13 – No Class – Papers Due
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Theology & Science Text:
Russell, Robert J., Nancey Murphy, Theo C. Meyering, and Michael A. Arbib.
Neuroscience and the Person: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action. Berkeley:
Vatican Observatory Foundation ; Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences,
Brown, Warren S., Nancey C. Murphy, and H. Newton Malony. Whatever Happened to
the Soul? : Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature Theology and the
Sciences. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998. (Recommended for Background reading
One of the following Neuroscience texts:
Gazzaniga, Michael S., Richard B. Ivry, and G. R. Mangun. Cognitive Neuroscience :
The Biology of the Mind. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2002. (For students with a
Banich, Marie T. Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Co., 2004. (For students with some science or psychology background)
LeDoux, Joseph E. Synaptic Self : How Our Brains Become Who We Are. New York:
Viking, 2002. (For students with no science background. Also recommended for other
Cognitive Science Texts:
Varela, Francisco J., Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch. The Embodied Mind :
Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind and
Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books, 1999.
All readings not in one of the texts are available in one or two supplemental readers. The
required readings are in a printed reader available at Vick’s copy center at 1879 Euclid at
Hearst. Almost all the additional readings (including background and recommended
readings) are available in electronic form in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf) on a CD. On the
reading list, the items available on the printed reader are noted with a “” symbol, and
those available as pdfs on a CD are noted with a “”.
STPS 5950 - 5 - Syllabus
Readings are divided into Background, Required, and Recommended readings. The
Background readings contain additional material to assist in understanding the Required
readings, should that topic be unfamiliar. The Recommended readings provide additional
depth or context.
Readings may change depending upon student interests.
I. Broad Overview
Science & Religion
Barbour, Ian G. 1997. Religion and science : Historical and contemporary issues. San
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, pp. 77-105, chap 4, “Ways of relating
Science and Religion”.
Barry, William A. 1987. Missing the meaning of religious experience. Human
Development 8, no. 1: 37-41.
May, Gerald G. 1983. Will and spirit : A contemplative psychology. San Francisco:
Harper & Row. pp. 52-68, chap 3.
Edwards, Denis. 1983. Human experience of god. New York: Paulist Press, pp. 6-12,
chap 1 selection.
Newberg, Andrew B., Eugene G. D'Aquili, and Vince Rause. 2001. Why god won't go
away : Brain science and the biology of belief. New York: Ballantine Books,
p. 27-32, chap 6 (pp. 96-127) and/or 7 (pp. 128-141).
Russell, pp. 327-46, Watts, “Cognitive Neuroscience and Religious Consciousness”.
Russell, pp. 347-55, Wildman/Brothers, “NeuropsychologicaI-Semiotic Model of
Rcligious Experiences”, pp. 355-377, sections 2, 3. (Also, pp. 347-355,
section 1 provides background to their article.)
Russell, pp. 403-408, Wildman/Brothers, section 7.3.
James, William. 1902. Varieties of religious experience : A study in human nature.
London ; New York: Routledge, pp. 485-88, 507-19, Lecture XX,
Smith, John Edwin. 1968. Experience and god. New York,: Oxford University Press,
pp. 46-67, Chap 2.
LeDoux, chap 3.
Banich, chap 2.
Gazzaniga, chap 2.
STPS 5950 - 6 - Syllabus
Brown, Murphy & Maloney, chap 4, Jeeves, “Brain, Mind, and Behavior”.
Banich, chap 1.
Gazzaniga, chap 3.
Philosophy of Mind
Lodge, David. 2001. Thinks-- : A novel. New York: Viking, first third, pp. 1-102.
LeDoux, chap 1.
Searle, John R. 2004. Mind : A brief introduction. Oxford ; New York: Oxford
University Press, chap 1 (pp. 9-40); pp. 279-81, chap 11 selection.
Brown, Murphy & Maloney, chap 1, Murphy, “Human Nature”.
Hamilton, Craig. 2005. Neuroscience, consciousness, and the soul. In Science and
Religion: Global Perspectives. Philadelphia, PA: Metanexus Institute.
Searle, John R., Daniel Clement Dennett, and David John Chalmers. 1997. The
mystery of consciousness. New York: New York Review of Books, chap 1.
Guttenplan, Samuel D. 1994. A companion to the philosophy of mind. Blackwell
companions to philosophy. Oxford, OX, UK ; Cambridge, Mass., USA:
Blackell Reference, pp. 46-51, sections 2.2-2.2.3.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, part I, question 78.
MacKay, Donald MacCrimmon and Valerie MacKay. 1991. Behind the eye. Gifford
lectures ; 1986. Oxford, UK ; Cambridge, Mass., USA: B. Blackwell, chap 7.
Varela, pp. 59-81, chap 4, especially pp 59-72.
Gardner, Howard. 1985. The mind's new science : A history of the cognitive
revolution. New York: Basic Books, chap 4, “Reason, Experience, and the
Status of Philosophy”, pp. 49-88.
Russell, pp. 23-40, Kerr.
Searle, The mystery of consciousness, chap 6, Palmers.
Gregory, R. L. 2004. The oxford companion to the mind. Oxford ; New York: Oxford
University Press, entries on consciousness and qualia.
Damasio, H., T. Grabowski, R. Frank, A. M. Galaburda, and A. R. Damasio. 1994.
The return of phineas gage: Clues about the brain from the skull of a famous
patient. Science 264, no. 5162: 1102-5. In Cacioppo, John T. and Gary G.
Berntson. 2004. Social neuroscience : Key readings. Key readings in social
psychology. New York: Ohio State University Psychology Press, chap/reading
STPS 5950 - 7 - Syllabus
Banich, chap 3.
Gazzaniga, chap 4.
Caplan, A. L. 2003. Is better best? A noted ethicist argues in favor of brain
enhancement. Sci Am 289, no. 3: 104-5.
Farah, M. J. 2002. Emerging ethical issues in neuroscience. Nat Neurosci 5, no. 11:
Damasio, Antonio R. 2003. Looking for spinoza : Joy, sorrow, and the feeling brain.
Orlando, Fla.: Harcourt, Chap 4.
Kung, Hans. 1976. On being a christian. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, pp. 530-9,
first part of D.II “Being Human and Being Christian”.
Kung, pp. 540-53, remainder of D.II “Being Human and Being Christian”.
II. In-depth Analysis
Oct 4 – Cognitive Neuroscience
Brown, Murphy & Maloney, chap 5, Brown, “Cognitive Contributions to the Soul”.
Lonergan, Bernard J. F. 1957. Insight; a study of human understanding. New York,:
Philosophical Library, pp. 319-28, Chap 11 selections through 11.4.
LeDoux, chap 5.
Libet, Benjamin. 2004. Mind time : The temporal factor in consciousness.
Perspectives in cognitive neuroscience. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, foreword, pp. ix-vi..
Lonergan, pp. 328-39, Chap 11 selections.
LeDoux, chap 7, 9.
Banich, chap 11.
Gazzaniga, chap 12.
Libet, chap 2.
Libet, chap 4.
Lonergan, pp. 339-47, Chap 11 selections.
Oct 11 – Cognitive Linguistics
Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things : What categories reveal
about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, chap 2.
Lakoff and Johnson, pp. 16-73, chap 3-part of 6.
Varela, pp. 147-84, Chap 8.
Lakoff and Johnson, pp. 267-89, chap 13, Self.
Lakoff and Johnson, pp. 551-68, chap 25.
STPS 5950 - 8 - Syllabus
Tracy, David. 1981. The analogical imagination : Christian theology and the culture
of pluralism. New York: Crossroad, chap 10.
McFague, Sallie. 1982. Metaphorical theology : Models of god in religious language.
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, pp. 1-29, chap 1.
Lakoff and Johnson, pp. 74-93, remainder of chap 6.
Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 2003. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, pp. 1-40, chaps 1-8.
Ricoeur, Paul. 1977. The rule of metaphor : Multi-disciplinary studies of the creation
of meaning in language. Toronto ; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, pp.
101-33, chap/study 4.
Oct 18 – Affective & Social Neuroscience
Russell, pp. 41-4, LeDoux (I), “Emotions: How I’ve Looked for Them in the Brain”.
LeDoux, Joseph E. 1996. The emotional brain : The mysterious underpinnings of
emotional life. New York: Simon & Schuster, chap 2, “Souls on Ice”.
Russell, pp. 101-18, LeDoux (II), “Emotions—A View through the Brain.
LeDoux, chap 8, pp. 200-34, “The emotional brain revisited”. (Also recommended for
Banich, chap 12.
Gazzaniga, chap 13.
Peters, Ted. 1994. Sin : Radical evil in soul and society. Grand Rapids, Mich.:
Eerdmans. chap 2, “Anxiety: The Fear of Loss”.
Cacioppo, John T. 2002. Foundations in social neuroscience. Social neuroscience
series. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 3-6.
Russell, pp. 67-74, Brothers, “A Neuroscientific Perspective on Human Sociality”.
Russell, pp. 119-28, Jeannerod (II), “Are there Limits to the Naturalization of Mental
Pannenberg, Wolfhart. 1985. Anthropology in theological perspective. Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, pp. 157-87, chap 4 selection.
Saxe, R. and N. Kanwisher. 2003. People thinking about thinking people. The role of
the temporo-parietal junction in "theory of mind". Neuroimage 19, no. 4:
1835-42. In Cacioppo and Berntson, Social neuroscience : Key readings,
Oct 25 – No Class – Reading Week
STPS 5950 - 9 - Syllabus
III. Consonance & Conflict
Nov 1 – Emerging Self
Gregory, The oxford companion to the mind, entry on “emergence and reduction in
Ellis, George. 2005. Physics and the real world. Physics Today 58, no. 7.
Brown, Murphy & Maloney, chap 6, Murphy, “Nonreductive Physicalism:
Clayton, Philip. 2004. Mind and emergence : From quantum to consciousness.
Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, chap 1.
Russell, pp. 181-214, Clayton, “Neuroscience, the Person, and God: An Emergentist
Russell, pp. 215-247, Peacocke, “The Sound of Sheer Silence: How Does God
Communicate with Humanity?”.
Deacon, Terrence W. 2003. The hierarchic logic of emergence: Untangling the
interdependence of evolution and self-organization. In Evolution and learning
: The baldwin effect reconsidered, ed. Bruce H. Weber and David J. Depew.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Palmer, Stuart. 2004. “Pastoral Care and Counseling Without the “Soul”. In Green,
Joel B. 2004. What about the soul? : Neuroscience and christian
anthropology. Nashville: Abingdon Press, chap 12, pp. 159-70.
Rahner, Karl. 1978. Foundations of christian faith : An introduction to the idea of
christianity. New York: Seabury Press, Introduction chapter.
Rahner, pp. 24-43, chap 1.
Rahner, pp. 116-37, chap 4.
Churchland, Patricia Smith. 2002. Brain-wise : Studies in neurophilosophy.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 373-402, chap 9, “Religion and the Brain”.
Nov 8 – Addiction & Freedom
Brown, Murphy & Maloney, chap 9, Post, “A Moral Case for Nonreductive
LeDoux, chap 6.
Banich, chap 10.
Gazzaniga, chap 8.
STPS 5950 - 10 - Syllabus
Peters.Playing god? : Genetic determinism and human freedom, pp. 8, 17-27, chap 1
Niebuhr, Reinhold. 1941. The nature and destiny of man; a christian interpretation.
Gifford lectures, 1939. New York,: C. Scribner's Sons, chap 7, “Man as
Peters, 2003. Playing god? : Genetic determinism and human freedom. New York:
Routledge, pp. 193-214, chap 9.
Nov 15 – Pragmatism & Habits
Scheffler, Israel. 1974. Four pragmatists : A critical introduction to peirce, james,
mead, and dewey. International library of philosophy and scientific method.
New York: Humanities Press, pp. 1-9, Introduction.
Kent, Bonnie. 2002. Habits and virtues (ia iiae, qq. 49-70). In The ethics of aquinas,
ed. Stephen J. Pope:xv, 496 p. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University
Lee, Sang Hyun. 2000. The philosophical theology of jonathan edwards. Princeton,
N.J.: Princeton University Press, pp. 15-17, 34-46, 76-9, 89, 90, 95, selections
from chaps 1-4.
Hausman, Carl R. 1993. Charles s. Peirce's evolutionary philosophy. Cambridge
[England] ; New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-19, Introduction.
Smith, John Edwin. 1978. Purpose and thought : The meaning of pragmatism. New
Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 13-49, chap 1.
Peirce, Charles S. 1905 “Issues in Pragmatism.” In Peirce, Charles S. 1960. Collected
papers. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, vol V, para
Gelpi, Donald L. 2001. The gracing of human experience: Rethinking the relationship
between nature and grace. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, pp. 137-172,
chap 4 on Peirce. (Also Chap 5 on Royce, and Chap 8 for Gelpi.)
Royce, Josiah. 1912. The sources of religious insight. New York,: C. Scribner's sons,
pp. 3-34, chap 1.
Nov 22 – Development & Evolution
Evolutionary & Developmental Perspectives on Experience
Varela, pp. 185-214, chap 9.
Ayala “Human Nature: One Evolutionist’s View” in Brown, Warren S., Nancey C.
Murphy, and H. Newton Malony. 1998. Whatever happened to the soul? :
Scientific and theological portraits of human nature. Theology and the
sciences. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
STPS 5950 - 11 - Syllabus
Banich, chap 13.
Gazzaniga, chap 14,15.
LeDoux, Synaptic self, chap 4.
Gregory, The oxford companion to the mind, entry on evolutionary psychology.
Nov 29 – Psychology
Rosch, Eleanor. 2005. Beginner's mind: Paths to the wisdom that is not learned. In
Teaching for wisdom, ed. M. Ferrari and G. Potworowski. Hillsdale, NJ:
LeDoux, chap 11.
Dec 6 – Computational Approaches & Imago Dei
Gregory, The oxford companion to the mind, entry on artificial intelligence.
Charniak, Eugene and Drew V. McDermott. 1985. Introduction to artificial
intelligence. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, chap 1, in particular sections
1.4 & 1.7.
Bertalanffy, Ludwig von. 1975. Perspectives on general system theory : Scientific-
philosophical studies. The international library of systems theory and
philosophy. New York: G. Braziller, chap 2.
Russell, pp. 249-80, Barbour.
Brooks, Rodney A., Cynthia Breazeal (Ferrell), Robert Irie, Charles C. Kemp,
Matthew Marjanovi, Brian Scassellati, and Matthew M. Williamson. 1998.
Alternate essences of intelligence. In AAAI-98.
MacKay, Behind the eye, chap 8.
Herzfeld, Noreen L. 1999. Imago dei/imago hominis : Interacting images of god and
humanity in theology and in artificial intelligence, pp. 68-84, chap 5.
Niebuhr, The nature and destiny of man; a christian interpretation, chap 6, “Man as
Image of God and as Creature”.
Minsky, Marvin Lee. 1986. The society of mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, pp.
17-20, 27, 30, 39-42, 53-4, 82-92, 109-11, 245-9, 250, 299, 301-7.
Vatican's International Theological Commission. 2004. Communion and
Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God.
Georges, T. M. 2003. Digital soul : Intelligent machines and human values. Boulder,
Colo.: Westview Press, chap 7, “What is consciousness?”