Neurociencia y fe: El sistema de creencias como lugar de encuentro interdisciplinar

José Víctor Orón



Neuroscience and Faith: The belief system as a venue of interdisciplinary meeting

The present paper offers contributions from neuroscience to faith experience and vice versa. First of all, we look for a meeting point between them for beginning the interdisciplinary dialog. Personal system of beliefs (PSB in English and SPC in Spanish) is proposed as the meeting point. PSB has to do with both disciplines. The relation between PSB and faith is assumed, but it is not treated here. Here we try to answer two questions: (i) what can be said from neuroscience about PSB?, and (ii) what can be useful for the experience of faith? To do that we make a conceptual redefinition of one neural system that neuroscience calls “default mode”.

So, we need to clarify how neuroscience works. How several reductions of reality are made in order to be capable to study it. We also introduce some other elements which manifest the person as a unity. After this initial approach (parts 1 and 2), a neuroanatomical presentation (part 3) about the “default mode”, “precuneus”, and “rich-club” is presented.

This is the starting point for the following reflection about contributions from cognitive neuropsychology to faith experience. They show the importance of keeping in contact faith experience with the whole life and reality, of human relationships, of emotions, and they also talk about personal processes for maturation, about the consequences for personal future and other relevant aspects like: conscience, forgiveness, cognitive dissonance / blame, and possible pathology of faith (part 4).

The conceptual redefinition of “default mode network” (DMN) as a personal system of beliefs (PSB) is made in order to have a broad conception of making decisions. Neuroscience has reached the view that emotion, as body and perception are several elements for making decisions, but it is not yet assumed that our PSB is another element playing an important role. PSB would be the abstract representation about what is and what could be the world, my relationships, and myself.  these beliefs are reached through a long process of reappraisal in which personal experiences, emotion, and relationships are settled down. When beliefs are formed thanks to abstraction they are no longer connected to a given and concrete experience but to a conceptualization of the whole world and myself. Thus, the PSB is one more element for making decisions.


default mode; rich-club; precuneus; faith; interdisciplinary dialog; beliefs

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