by D. Gareth Jones
“Peering into the brain” has a number of connotations: from directly examining aspects of the functioning of an individual’s brain and hence what that individual may be thinking, to investigating the power of neuroscience to provide insights into characteristic features of our humanity. This article picks up on these different connotations and surveys several areas in neuroscience that raise issues of relevance for the Christian community. This is the domain of neuroethics, with particular reference to the prospects opened up by brain imaging and, in particular, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Use of this and allied imaging procedures opens up the possibilities of locating brain regions involved in religious experiences, from glossolalia to meditation, suggesting that there are neural correlates of activities central to Christian communities. This raises the issue of causation that is discussed by reference to the brain regions involved in “disgust,” altruistic acts, and religious visions.