Integrated physicality and the absence of God: Spiritual technologies in theological context

Sarah Lane Ritchie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Why do some people effortlessly experience God and others do not, no matter how much they may desire to? In the Christian tradition, there are different answers to this question. Some have seen this as a result of the Fall, election, or as Sarah Coakley argues, the result of God’s ‘dark intimacy’. Could the fact that human experiences turn out to be, at least partly, within our own control help us choose among these theories of the hiddenness of God, or even pose an alternative account? Human experience and belief are embodied and as such are conditioned by intentional practices: for example, in daily prayer, liturgy, ritual, and charismatic activities. Research in cognitive science of religion and neurobiology suggests that the brain is essentially malleable, constantly changing in response to lived experience. This article argues for the possibility of using scientifically-informed tools to work with psychological and neurobiological realities to provide a deeper understanding of the cooperative, participatory nature of our embodied human engagement with Divine presence and absence.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalModern Theology
Early online date11 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Feb 2021


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