Church and Mental State:
Perspectives on Cognitive Science and Religion
The Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence Students’ Association (CASA) and the Cognitive Science program at the University of Toronto present UTISM – a biennial conference that brings together individuals from diverse perspectives to promote an interdisciplinary intellectual exchange on the study of the mind.
Conference Abstract: Spirituality and religious practice have had a powerful role in human history, with the echoes of spiritual traditions still informing modern secular culture. However, religion and spirituality have largely lost their central place in our daily lives. With many modern thinkers now treating “soul” as a classical synonym for “mind,” the study of religion and spirituality falls under the purview of cognitive science. What is the relationship between mentality and spirituality? What are the links between religion and cognition? While such questions are most frequently asked in anthropology and philosophy, interest in them is increasing in psychology, neuroscience, and even artificial intelligence. Mystical experiences have powerful and lasting effects on our behavior, alter brain chemistry, and must be understood and replicated if we are to conclusively understand the nature of the mind. This symposium aims to bring together faith and reason once more, and to provide a dialogue between cognitive science and the study and practice of religion for the purposes of gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of both.