Summer Fellow Adam Fish's Letter 
on Neurotheology and Cognitive Liberty 

June 19, 2001

Like ancient alchemists, the scientists featured in the article, “Tracing the Synapses of Our Spirituality,” by Shankar Vedantam (Washington Post, Sunday, June 17th 2001) are exploring the place where scientists and mystics meet: the human mind.

As the article explains, many theologians have fundamental problems with empirical explanations of sacred experiences. It was this hostility towards scientific reality models that lead Inquisitioners to arrest Galileo. Likewise, the vested interest in subverting scientific knowledge led to the 1557 Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which banned books by authors such as Pascal and Milton.

At the interface between scientific method and religious epiphany, we need a new ethics of mental autonomy. The goal of this ethics should be to respect both the scientific method and religious cosmologies.  This new ethics must be based on cognitive liberty--the right to independent, unrestrained thinking and to respected, private world views.

Without the right to cognitive liberty, religious and scientific insights, that give life its meanings, are subject to arbitrary scrutiny by skeptics, superstitions, and law makers.

As our minds and the way they operate become more understood, the opportunity for mental policing increases. Civil liberty organizations must evolve in tandem with neurological research  in order to protect and promote the inviolability of an individuals mind.  

Adam Richard Fish
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, Summer Fellow
Post Office Box 73481
Davis, CA. 95617-3481

 





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