The 100th anniversary of William James' classic work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, provides an historic waypoint for us to reconsider the scientific study of religious and spiritual phenomena. Anthropology, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, pharmacology, neurology, biology, neuroscience, religious studies, and cognate fields overlap in an interdisciplinary study of diverse and sometimes ambivalent religious phenomena. William James reminds us that "the varieties of religious experiences" should be "judged by their fruits, not by their roots." What are the "fruits of the spirit" as witnessed in numerous and remarkable accounts of spiritual transformation? How might we better understand these perennial and peculiar transformations in human thought and behavior?

The Metanexus Institute on Religion and Science is pleased to announce a $3.3 million research program on the nature of spiritual transformation. The Spiritual Transformation Scientific Research Program includes:

  • Submission of letters of intent from prospective principal investigators by June 1, 2002;

  • An invitation-only research conference October 5-7, 2002 designed for sixty prospective principal investigators to address issues pertaining to literature review, methodology, research design, peer review processes, and the establishment of a network of active investigators;

  • Submission of completed proposals by January 6, 2003 and selection of at least ten fully funded projects and ten projects with matching funds to be funded by March 1, 2003, with each project to receive between $70,000 and $150,000 over a two-year period to conduct research on the nature of spiritual transformation;

  • A public symposium in April 2006 to feature some of the research results;

  • Ongoing networking and collaboration to develop and sustain on-going scientific studies of diverse spiritual and religious phenomena.

Click here for the Purpose of the program.