Conversations About Ethics

Neurotheology, Neuroscience, and the Religious Sensibility

Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D

With the advent of implantable brain chips, neural tissue transplants, brain-computer interfaces, and psychopharmaceutical advances, human beings will soon be able to micromanage their moods, enhance cognitive and affective skills and traits, “mind-read” through brain scanning, and replace brain functions with brain prostheses.  Brain imaging may soon be able to apprehend subjective thoughts; new technologies or pharmaceuticals may be able to give others greater control of our thoughts or feelings; and neurologically designed lie detectors may reduce our ability to deceive others, including those in oppressive regimes.   At the same time, the new field of “neurotheology” is examining how religious experience manifests in the brain, and is trying to challenge some of our understandings of the religious impulse itself. 

Does religion have anything valuable to add to the ethical consideration of these neurotechnological advances?  Does religion have a response or a counterargument to some of the neuroscientific attempts to explain religion away?  Considered one of the founders of the field of “neuroethics,” and one of the few who have written on modern neuroscience and its relation to religion from an ethical perspective, Dr. Wolpe will introduce these new technologies and explore their profound ethical and religious implications.

CME: The UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) accepts certificates of attendance for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by the ACCME.

 Healthcare professionals receiving a certificate of attendance should consult with their licensing board for information on applicability and acceptance.

 †This presentation meets the Texas Medical Board criteria for formal continuing medical education involving the study of medical ethics and/or professional responsibility.

CNE: Dannemiller is a provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number 4229. This activity has been approved for 1.0 contact hour. Dannemiller has determined that this activitiy qualifies for 1.0 hour of credit in ethics.

CEU: The Ecumenical Center is an approved provider of continuing education by the State of Texas for the following: LPC, LMFT, LSW, LCSW and LMSW.

This activity provides up to 1.0 ethics continuing education units.*

About the Speaker

Wolpe headshot (f).jpgPaul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, Raymond Schinazi Distinguished Research Professor of Jewish Bioethics, Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University.  Dr. Wolpe is also the Senior Bioethicist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He is Co-Editor of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB), the premier scholarly journal in bioethics, and Editor-in-Chief of AJOB-Neuroscience, and sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals. He is a past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the country’s oldest medical society.  Dr. Wolpe’s work focuses on the social, religious, and ideological impact of biotechnology on the human condition.  He sits on many national and international non-profit organizational boards, and consults for academic institutions and the biomedical industry.  Dr. Wolpe won the 2011 World Technology Network Award in Ethics, has recorded a TED Talk, was named one of Trust Across America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior, and was profiled in the November, 2011 Atlantic Magazine as a “Brave Thinker of 2011.”   Chosen by The Teaching Company as a "Superstar Teacher of America," Dr. Wolpe is a frequent contributor and commentator in both the broadcast and print media, recently featured on 60 Minutes and with a personal profile in the Science Times of the New York Times.



* You may only claim up to 1 continuing education unit for either the afternoon keynote or the evening keynote. Not both.

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Resource List

This resource list brings together websites, videos, audio recordings, books, and articles to supplement the workshop and lecture.

By Our Speaker

Dipping Your Toe (Introductory Information)

Wading Waist High (Intermediate Resources)

Taking a Deep Dive (Advanced Materials)

Access to Materials

Freely available Online
Available through the San Antonio Public Library
For information about how to obtain a San Antonio Public Library card, click here:
Available through the Briscoe Library at the UTHSCSA Faculty
Faculty, students, and staff may access these materials remotely using their Health Science Center log-in. Non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public may access these materials in-person by visiting the library and registering for guest access. Off-site access is not available for non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public due to licensing restrictions.