Synopses & Reviews
From the award-winning NPR religion correspondent comes a fascinating investigation of how science is seeking to answer the question that has puzzled humanity for generations: Can science explain God?
Is spiritual experience real or a delusion? Are there realities that we can experience but not easily measure? Does your consciousness depend entirely on your brain, or does it extend beyond? In Fingerprints of God, award-winning journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty delves into the discoveries science is making about how faith and spirituality affect us physically and emotionally as it attempts to understand whether the ineffable place beyond this world can be rationally -even scientifically-explained.
Hagerty interviews some of the world's top scientists to describe what their groundbreaking research reveals about our human spiritual experience. From analyses of the brain functions of Buddhist monks and Carmelite nuns, to the possibilities of healing the sick through directed prayer, to what near-death experiences illuminate about the afterlife, Hagerty reaches beyond what we think we know to understand what happens to us when we believe in a higher power.
Paralleling the discoveries of science is Hagerty's own account of her spiritual evolution. Raised a Christian Scientist, she was a scrupulous adherent until a small moment as an adult triggered a revaluation of her beliefs, which in turn led her to a new way of thinking about God and faith.
An insightful examination of what science is learning about how and why we believe, Fingerprints of God is also a moving story of one person's search for a communion with a higher power and what she discovered on that journey.
"In her first book, National Public Radio correspondent Hagerty acts as a tour guide through the rocky terrain of scientists who study religious experience. Is there a so-called 'God gene'? Why do some people have mystical experiences while others never see the so-called light? Right up front, Hagerty reveals that this is not an entirely objective exercise. As a Christian, she wants to understand her own mystical encounter with the divine and why she believes when others do not. Yet to each interview, whether with a world-renowned neuroscientist or a back-road mystic, she brings a suitably skeptical eye. Along the way, she manages to explain some pretty cutting-edge science psychoneuroimmunology, anyone? and unravel some people's pretty hard-to-comprehend religious experiences without sacrificing depth or complexity. Then, with equal aplomb, she dances off to peyote ceremonies, church services and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The real beauty of this book lies in watching Hagerty gracefully balance her own trust in faith and science and, in the end, come down with one foot planted firmly in both." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“With honesty, discernment, humor, grace— and an enormous amount of reporting—Barbara Bradley Hagerty takes on one of the fiercest controversies of the last 500 years: Can we measure faith? Fingerprints of God
reads like an elegant mystery story as Bradley Hagerty launches a search for evidence of God within us and the universe as a whole. People of faith and science will be grateful for the chance to join her on her quest."—E. J. Dionne Jr.
, author of Souled Out
and syndicated columnist
“Barbara Bradley Hagerty has done something truly remarkable here. She has brought her considerable reporting skills and wonderfully wry writing to the question of who or what is God. By meticulously documenting scientific studies and interspersing them with the experiences of a number of individuals, including herself, she opens doors to those answers. Fingerprints of God is its own scientific and spiritual journey, one well worth taking.”—Cokie Roberts, author of Ladies of Liberty and news analyst
“Fingerprints of God is a courageous and immensely enjoyable book. In Barbara Bradley Hagerty's investigation of the science of spirituality, I found answers for questions I've pondered for years. Many people will find themselves in these pages.”—Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz
“What a book! The pages crackle with fresh insights into the nexus of faith and science. Striking just the right balance between skepticism and open-mindedness, Bradley makes for the perfect guide on this journey of discovery. Read this book. It'll inform and entertain – and just might change the way you view the world.”—Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss
“You can find God in many places, from the condemned on death row to the deepest folds of the human brain. In this groundbreaking book on the emerging science of faith, Barbara Bradley Hagerty discovers the links between science and spiritual experience. Fingerprints of God will provoke you, intrigue you, and inspire you.”—Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
The New York Times bestseller that explores the startling discoveries that science is making about faith.
Is spiritual experience real? Or is it a delusion? When we pray, what happens? Can science explain God? In Fingerprints of God, National Public Radio religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty attempts to answer these and other vexing questions about the science of spiritual experience. Along the way she tells the story of her own intriguing spiritual evolution, delves into the discoveries science is making about how faith affects our brains and explores what near-death experiences reveal about the afterlife. The result is a rich and insightful examination of what science is learning about how and why we believe.
About the Author
Barbara Bradley Hagerty is the award-winning religion correspondent for National Public Radio. She’s the recipient of the Templeton Foundation-Cambridge University Journalism Fellowship in Science and Religion, and a Knight Fellowship at Yale Law School. Before joining NPR, she was a reporter at The Christian Science Monitor for 11 years. She lives in Washington, D.C.