Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:30 am - 1:00 pm
Andrew Newberg / Thomas Jefferson University
When we look at how the brain works, it looks like the brain is able to very easily engage in religious and spiritual practices, ideas and experiences. All the brain scan studies that we've done show that there are multiple parts of the brain that seem to get involved. The brain is easily capable of having these experiences. Now exactly how that ability got into the brain is the much more complex question, both a philosophical and scientific. Scientists might say it was through millions of years of evolution, and that because being religious or spiritual was an adaptive process, it got incorporated into the biological mechanisms of the brain. Religious individuals might say that if there is a God, that we would have a brain that's capable of communicating to God, praying to God, doing the things that God needs us to do.
In this talk, Professor Newberg will discuss how it does look like the brain, no matter how it got there, does have this profound ability to engage in religious and spiritual experiences. This is part of why we've seen religion and spirituality be a part of human history since the very dawn of civilization.
Dr. Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist and Professor at Thomas Jefferson University, as well as an adjunct professor at The University of Pennsylvania, who studies the relationship between brain function and various mental states. He is a pioneer in the neurological study of religious and spiritual experiences, a field known as “neurotheology.” His research includes taking brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, in an attempt to better understand the nature of religious and spiritual practices and attitudes.
Stephanie Yuhl / College of the Holy Cross
From the kiss in Times Square to "Rosie the Riveter" to "Saving Private Ryan," Americans tend to cherish their memories of WWII as "the best war ever." Yet the Vietnam War remains controversial and brings up an entirely different set of images – from anti-war protests to Agent Orange to the film, "Born on the Fourth of July." What helps explain these radically different understandings of two wars only twenty years apart? Of course, things get even more interesting when we take into consideration the historical memories of the other nations involved in these conflicts.
In this course, we will examine how different societies remember these wars and what those memories might tell us about national hopes and values, about generational change, and even about decisions regarding the military. Animating this presentation is the notion that history is different from the past – it is the often contested way that the past is remembered in the present.
Stephanie Yuhl is a Professor of History at the College of the Holy Cross. She is a recipient of the Fletcher M. Green and Charles W. Ramsdell Award for the best article published in the Journal of Southern History, as well as the Inaugural Burns Career Teaching Medal for Outstanding Teaching. Professor Yuhl is also an Associate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the Critical Conservation Program, and an expert in twentieth-century US cultural and social history, with specialities in historical memory, social movements, gender, and Southern history. She is the author of the award-winning book, “A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston.”
Jacob Appel / Brown University
The same medical technologies that have brought us miracle drugs and unprecedented longevity are also forcing us to confront increasingly difficult ethical dilemmas. Should taxpayers spend several million dollars to prolong one patient's life for one month? Can genes be patented? How ought judges respond when doctors and family members disagree on the very definition of death? May a seventeen-year-old boy refuse to give a life-saving bone marrow transplant to his fifteen-year-old cousin? Thirty years ago, debates in medical ethics focused on the same questions that had once puzzled Hippocrates and Galen many centuries earlier. When does life begin? When may confidentiality be broken? Must a physician help a stranger in need?
Today, most challenges in bioethics arise from two relatively novel sets of issues: 1.) conflicts over scarce healthcare resources and 2.) the desire of philosophical and religious minorities to be opt out of established medical norms. How society ultimately resolves these questions is not simply an abstract matter for debate by philosophers and ethicists. Rather, the outcome of these controversies is likely to affect each and every one of us when we or our loved ones become ill. This lecture will examine some paradigmatic recent cases in the field of bioethics and will offer students a framework for analyzing future cases on their own.
Jacob Appel is an American author, bioethicist, physician, lawyer and social critic. He is best known for his short stories, his work as a playwright, and his writing in the fields of reproductive ethics, organ donation, neuroethics and euthanasia. Appel’s novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012. He has taught medical ethics at New York University, Columbia University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Brown University’s Alpert Medical School.