OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
“Science is a set of methods specifically designed for understanding experience. Scientific research consists of creating speciic kinds of experiences and investigating those experiences systematically.”
Not all scientific methods are about studying experience. For instance, statistical studies look for correlations between variables. Statistical studies, generally speaking, are not about studying experience; rather, statistical studies are about studying what they define as objective changes in variables across cases—what’s the effect of race on election outcomes, for instance. Other types of systematic analyses are about studying experience—they include ethnography, ethnomethodology, phenomenology, etc—which generally has nothing to do with claims of objectivity. In important methodological ways, scientific approaches geared to studying objective phenomena are distinctly different than systematic approaches geared to studying experience; the former are interested in measuring and predicting, while the later are interested in how interpretive communities of people make sense of their experiences and act toward others.
“Is it possible to investigate the source of this activation? If there are no readily identifiable sources of activation occurring from outside stimuli, then might not we hypothesize that God activates the neurons directly?”
Researchers studying experience usually rely on theoretically informed inductive methods of data gathering and data analysis. So, in effect, this means that one is not aiming to study “the source of this experience,” as you phrased it. But rather, these researchers are interested in explaining and understanding how this experience of “God” is made sense of by the person and community and how it impacts their everyday life.
So, for instance, we know that people visible make sense of “God” in a great variety of ways. Some pray to this “God” others spend a lot of time and effort denouncing this “God.” And among those people that identify with this “God” experience and pray, there are still a great variety of ways that people do this. Some burn incense and others sit silently and still others do it in Latin and others in Southern-drawl English, and some wear colorful robes and others dark suites and shiny shoes.