Cognition

Why God Won't Go Away by Newberg, D'Aquill, & Rause

Despite its provocative title, this book is actually fairly supportive of religion and human belief systems in general. The authors studied the minds of religiously devout individuals including Catholic nuns and Tibetan monks, in particular using MRI brain scans while they were in or near the state of transcendence. What they discovered was a remarkable similarity in the brain chemistry between these individuals, a similarity that was hardly affected by the extreme different types of belief systems.

I think the most interesting bit is when they speculate on what the evolutionary reasons for the human mind to have evolved the transcendent state, and how the earliest practice might have occurred.

They conclude that spirituality is a hard-wired part of the human mind, and leave open the question of whether this is because there is some belief system or other that is true (i.e., we were wired that way by some god or other) or whether it is an emergent property of the evolution of our brains.

Rating: 3 of 5
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Other books by Newberg, D'Aquill, & Rause:
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