From the beginning of human history until today, there have always been botanical, psychosocial, and meditative practices involved in religious and spiritual experience, which Wildman posits as technologies. Projecting from existing techniques, we can expect neuropsychopharmacology, trans-cranial brain stimulation, brain scanning, and biofeedback to play ever greater roles in the religious lives of human beings. Whether we welcome it or fear it, the era in which we can induce, prevent, and effectively control many kinds of religious behaviors, beliefs, and experiences is fast approaching. This presents us with an ethical quandary of enormous proportions. The philosophical questions are no less challenging. What does this level of control say about the authenticity of religious behaviors, beliefs, and experiences? This lecture is about the form religious technologies are likely to take in the near and longer-range future.
Dr. Wesley J. Wildman is Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics at Boston University and directs the doctoral program in Religion and Science. He is the author of Religious and Spiritual Experiences (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and many other books and articles on aspects of religion. He works with a variety of researchers to develop new techniques for studying religious and spiritual experiences so as to understand their nature, their neurological expression, their cognitive reliability, and their existential and social functions in human life. He founded the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion and operatesScienceOnReligion.org, aPatheos.com blog, and many other web sites.