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Seminar: 3/4 - Tanya Luhrmann, Stanford University

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  5101 Tolman Hall

When God talks back

This presentation argues that when people become charismatic evangelical Christians, they learn a new theory about their minds, and that theory affects their mental experience--including their ability to have audible experiences of God. I do not make a judgment about whether the divine is real, but I do suggest that the ability to experience God as real is learned, and that (in contrast to the evolutionary psychology position) the learning is hard and requires work. I also suggest that the learning has real consequences--that prayer practice makes it more likely that one will have sensory experiences of the immaterial. I draw upon extensive ethnographic and experimental evidence to support these claims.