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What research has been done to inspect whether there are connections between the spiritual and the physical?

Starting from the belief that spiritual does in fact exist, has there been any research done to discover what sort of provable effects and connections exist between the physical and/or mental aspects of human life? If so, what do they present? Are their any TED talks directed towards this?

I assume those interested would be those who study and are interested in the overlap of various studies such has cultural, medical, religious, and psychological, and their practical relationships. Potential experts this question is geared to are those in the field such as neuroscientists, psychologists, endocrinologist, physicians, religious workers, etc...

There of course is a starting bias that the spiritual does in fact exist, and in definition is different that the psychological, emotional, and physical.

Also related, what experiences have you had that proof or disprove the overlap of the spiritual with human life?


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  • Jan 10 2013: "What research has been done to inspect whether there are connections between the spiritual and the physical?"

    If you can measure it (even indirectly) it's physical by definition, if it can't be measured then why the hell are you wasting your time talking about it as a researcher, because it probably doesn't even exist?

    People who believe in spirituality conveniently keep moving the goalposts (like in Carl Sagan's dragon in the garage parabel) so science can't debunk their beliefs through cold hard measuring. Scientists don't believe the spiritual exists, yes there are things that we can't measure yet and there are things that we understand now but appeared miraculous centuries ago, but everything in the universe is physical: if telepathy exists it exists because the laws of physics allow it and the mechanism behind it can eventually be explained through scientific concepts.
    • Jan 10 2013: Hold on a minute before you make a blanket statement like "Scientists don't believe the spiritual exists." My own father has a doctorate in microbiology and runs a DNA sequencing center. My sister has a doctorate in atmospheric science from the University of Colorado. My brother is working on his doctorate in physics at Michigan State. I'm not a scientist, just a mechanical engineering student. We are all very religious people that believe in spirituality and science both. You might be correct in saying "the majority of scientists don't believe in spirituality" but I don't even know if that's true or not. The atheists are just more vocal.
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        Jan 10 2013: Here is some research on the matter. 2009 research by the Pew Research Center for the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed that of the scientists surveyed 33% said they believed in God and 18% said they believed in a universal spirit or higher power.

        In 2007 research out of Rice University, a sociology professor surveys almost 2000 academic scientists at major universities in the US. 68% of natural scientists considered themselves spiritual and 69% of social scientists.

        These beliefs were not reached through science. Science, according to professional scientists, can neither prove not disprove the spiritual.
      • Jan 11 2013: What I described was the philosophy behind science (which, no offense to you, most engineers severely lack understanding, that's why there are so many crackpot engineers chasing ufos, building perpetual motion machines, blaming the Jews for 9/11, spreading the gospel of anarcho-capitalism, saying the world is only 6000 years old, etc...), it doesn't mean that every scientist is an atheist (though most are, especially outside the United States, which is a religious outlyer in the developed world), it does mean that good scientists keep religion out of their work and tend not to believe in an intervenionist god. No scientist worth his salt, even on who believes in god would recommend researching the spiritual.
    • Jan 11 2013: First, I never said anything about measuring it. Second, I disagree with your definition of physical being only tied to what is measurable and immeasurable. Thirdly, I'll humor you for a moment and propose a fictional circumstance - a substance that is so potent that it can have effects, while at the same time is immeasurable. I'll admit that to ponder this takes some imagination and creativity.

      I just read the "Dragon in the garage" excerpt from Carl Sagan's book "The Demon-Haunted World." Interesting indeed. However, the neither the dragon keeper or the dragon keeper's friend can prove or disprove that the dragon doesn't exist, since the knowledge about the dragon's characteristics continues to expand as the questions do. Related to your example on telepathy, physical experiments have not always been the standardized method of testing to define reality, who says they always will be. And, if they haven't always been, therefore they perhaps won't always will be. If they won't always will be, whose to say that it isn't worth pursuing other methods and standards of discovering reality.

      Scot, thank you for weighing in. Agreed, that blanket statement regarding scientists and believers in spirituality was outlandish.

      Fritzie, thank you for those comments. I would like to follow up on those researches. Could you post those sources. And, that might be great supplemental material, but its not as specific as I was looking for.
      • Jan 11 2013: "First, I never said anything about measuring it."

        How do you research without measuring, sitting on the couch and making stuff up?

        "Thirdly, I'll humor you for a moment and propose a fictional circumstance - a substance that is so potent that it can have effects, while at the same time is immeasurable."

        If it has effects it is measurable.
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        Jan 11 2013: Tom, I cannot do more footwork on this for you, but you will find these references quickly from the info I posted.
    • Jan 11 2013: John: being able to measure something makes it "physical"? what is physical about ligjht , or radiation in general.? What about "energy "? Is that physical. ? For that matter, I understand there is a lot of measuring going on in these brain scan exercises. It looks as though "Physical" merely means everything, including even sensations of hot and cold, etc.

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