Neuroscience of Religion and AtheismSemester Course

Neuroscience of Religion and Atheism, Semester Course
Major Discipline(s)
Neuroscience, Psychology, Religious Studies
Elective Course
Fall/Spring semester

The course offers a biological and neuro-cognitive approach to explore and debate what neuroscience, psychology and related fields reveal about the brain’s role in spiritual experiences, religiosity and atheism. You learn how the “religious brain” is studied and how other psychological and biological studies inform cognitive neuroscientific views of religion. We also discuss the public and social impact of the scientific study of religion.

Main topics covered in the course include:

  • An introduction to the multidisciplinary field of neurotheology
  • Key elements of the functional neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of religious and spiritual experience
  • A survey of developmental approaches to religion
  • An introduction to the neuropsychology of meditation, and to the health benefits associated with meditation practices
  • Cognitive hypotheses about the sources of atheism


Jes Buster Madsen

DIS Copenhagen Semester Faculty

Master in Cognition and Communication (University of Copenhagen, 2015), Bachelor in Philosophy (University of Copenhagen, 2013). Author of the novel Project Luftballon. Specialization: Cognitive neuroscience and creative writing. With DIS since 2018.