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CTNS Public Forum with Dr. Andrew Newberg

Wednesday, October 4, 2006, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Location: The GTU Richard S. Dinner Board Room, Third floor of the Hewlett Lamson Library, 2400 Ridge Rd, at Scenic and LeConte Avenues. Please arrive promptly.

Where do our beliefs come from, and why do we hold on to some of them even if there is evidence to the contrary? Why, for example, do we continue to be fascinated by God, religion, haunted houses, UFOs, conspiracy theories, and miracle cures, even when science can dispute many of these claims? Is it because we are uneducated, or are our brains designed to interpret and seek out such possibilities in the world? Simply put: Why do we believe what we believe?

In Dr. Newberg's new book, Why We Believe What We Believe, he focuses on the underlying mechanisms which govern our spiritual, social, and individual beliefs, arguing that we are biologically driven to find meaning and wholeness throughout our lives. In fact, our brains have the capacity to create and maintain a system of beliefs which can take us far beyond our survival-oriented needs. These belief systems not only shape our morals and ethics, but they can be harnessed to heal our bodies and minds, enhance our intimate relationships, and deepen our spiritual connections with others. However, they can also be used to manipulate and control, for we are also born with a biological propensity to impose our belief systems on others. This innate power of our beliefs to heal or injure, to foster happiness or disease, or generate societal friction or peace is the underlying theme of this book.

Based upon his neurological research (including new studies with Franciscan nuns, atheists, and evangelicals speaking in tongues), Dr. Newberg correlates a wide range of human beliefs with specific perceptual, social, and biological factors. He argues that some beliefs can enhance our physical and emotional well-being while others can function destructively, not only upon one's self, but upon society as well. Although our beliefs are rooted in the biology of the brain, Dr. Newberg emphasizes that they are equally shaped by parents, peers, and society. In the end, a better understanding of beliefs can foster a more compassionate perspective on people who hold other beliefs and point the direction towards a more positive life and society.

Dr. Andrew Newberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Psychiatry and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania . He is Board-certified in Internal Medicine, Nuclear Medicine, and Nuclear Cardiology. He is the director and co-founder of the Center for Spirituality and the Neurosciences, also at the University of Pennsylvania .

In collaboration with the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry, he has actively pursued neuroimaging research projects on the study of aging and dementia, Parkinson's disease, depression, and other neurological and psychiatric disorders. He has also researched the neurophysiological correlates of acupuncture, meditation, and alternative therapies, and how brain function is associated with mystical and religious experiences. Dr. Newberg helped develop stress-management programs for the University of Pennsylvania Health Systems and received a Science and Religion Course Award from the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences for his program entitled "The Biology of Spirituality" in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania . He is currently teaching a course in the Department of Religious Studies entitled, “Science and the Sacred: An Introduction to Neurotheology.”

Dr. Newberg has published over seventy-five articles, essays and book chapters, and is the co-author of the best selling book, Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (Ballantine, 2001) and The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1999). He presents his research throughout the world in both scientific and public forums. He appeared on Nightline, Good Morning America, ABC's World News Tonight, National Public Radio, London Talk Radio and over fifteen nationally syndicated radio programs. His work has been featured in Time, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other newspapers and magazines. An overview of his work can be viewed at www.andrewnewberg.com .

Street parking is unlimited after 7 pm.
Please arrive promptly as the interior doors are only open between 6:30 and 7:30 pm.

This CTNS Public Forum is open to the public at no charge.

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