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Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Beliefby Eugene G. D'Aquili
Synopses & Reviews
Why have we humans always longed to connect with something larger than ourselves? Why does consciousness inevitably involve us in a spiritual quest? Why, in short, won't God go away? Theologians, philosophers, andpsychologists have debated this question through the ages, arriving at a range of contradictory and ultimately unprovable answers. But in this brilliant, groundbreaking new book, researchers Andrew Newberg and Eugened'Aquili offer an explanation that is at once profoundly simple and scientifically precise: the religious impulse is rooted in the biology of the brain.
Newberg and d'Aquili base this revolutionaryconclusion on a long-term investigation of brain function and behavior as well as studies they conducted using high-tech imaging techniques to examine the brains of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns at prayer. Whatthey discovered was that intensely focused spiritual contemplation triggers an alteration in the activity of the brain that leads us to perceive transcendent religious experiences as solid and tangibly real. In otherwords, the sensation that Buddhists call oneness with the universe and the Franciscans attribute to the palpable presence of God is not a delusion or a manifestation of wishful thinking but rather achain of neurological events that can be objectively observed, recorded, and actually photographed.
The inescapable conclusion is that God is hard-wired into the human brain.
InWhy God Won't Go Away, Newberg and d'Aquili document their pioneering explorations in the field of neurotheology, an emerging discipline dedicated to understanding the complex relationship betweenspirituality and the brain. Along the way, they delve into such essential questions as whether humans are biologically compelled to make myths; what is the evolutionary connection between religious ecstasy and sexualorgasm; what do Near Death Experiences reveal about the nature of spiritual phenomena; and how does ritual create its own neurological environment. As their journey unfolds, Newberg and d'Aquili realize that a single, overarching question lies at the heart of their pursuit: Is religion merely a product of biology or has the human brain been mysteriously endowed with the unique capacity to reach and know God?
Blendingcutting-edge science with illuminating insights into the nature of consciousness and spirituality, Why God Won't Go Away bridges faith and reason, mysticism and empirical data. The neurological basis ofhow the brain identifies the real is nothing short of miraculous. This fascinating, eye-opening book dares to explore both the miracle and the biology of our enduring relationship withGod.
From the Hardcover edition.
Andrew B. Newberg, M.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology in the Division of Nuclear Medicine and an instructor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has spent more than six years studying brain physiology and function, with focus on the neurology of religious and mystical experiences. The co-
A landmark introduction to the new field of neurotheology explores the complex relationship that exists between spirituality belief and the human brain, examining the link between transcendant religious experience and actual neurological events that occur within the brain. Reprint.
Why have we humans always longed to connect with something larger than ourselves? Even today in our technologically advanced age, more than seventy percent of Americans claim to believe in God. Why, in short, won’t God go away? In this groundbreaking new book, researchers Andrew Newberg and Eugene d’Aquili offer an explanation that is at once profoundly simple and scientifically precise: The religious impulse is rooted in the biology of the brain.
In Why God Won’t Go Away, Newberg and d’Aquili document their pioneering explorations in the field of neurotheology, an emerging discipline dedicated to understanding the complex relationship between spirituality and the brain. Blending cutting-edge science with illuminating insights into the nature of consciousness and spirituality, they bridge faith and reason, mysticism and empirical data. The neurological basis of how the brain identifies the “real” is nothing short of miraculous. This fascinating, eye-opening book dares to explore both the miracle and the biology of our enduring relationship with God.
Table of Contents
A photograph of God?: an introduction to the biology of belief — Brain machinery: the science of perception — Brain architecture: how the brain makes the mind — Myth-making: the compulsion to create stories and beliefs — Ritual: the physical manifestation of meaning — Mysticism: the biology of transcendence — The origins of religion: the persistence of a good idea — Realer than real: the mind in search of absolutes — Why God won't go away: the metaphor of God and the mythology of science.
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