God and the Brain
The Physiology of Spiritual Experience
by Andrew Newberg, M.D.
The title of the first session on Andrew Newberg’s audio book is "Why God won’t go away." In fact, many gods have
gone away - Thor, Mithra, Ra, to name a few. Our belief in all-powerful forces, however, remains strong, and it’s
that dogged belief that this audio addresses.
So why do humans continue to search for, believe in, and worship mysterious invisible beings? Why haven’t the
mind-boggling advances of science led to incontrovertible Truth? Does God exist, or is it all in our minds?
As Newberg points out, we must first make a clear distinction between the mind and the brain. Beginning with a
brief introduction to brain biology (explained in a way that non-scientists can understand), he describes a few of
the experiments conducted to determine just how the brain and the mind work together. While the results show
clearly what the brain is doing during prayer or meditation, the mystery that remains is this: why are the same
results of scientific study interpreted by devout worshippers as proof of communion with God and by atheists as
proof that God is a figment of the imagination?
What exactly is belief? Is it biological or psychological? How does belief affect the brain and the mind? And
if, as Newberg suggests, our brains reject any facts that aren’t in accord with the beliefs we already hold, how
can we trust our interpretation of any results, experiences, or beliefs we encounter?
It doesn’t get any better than this for those of us who enjoy pondering where the circle ends and begins, but I
suspect the hard-science community must be driven mad by the new questions that such research delivers. Clearly
this is a topic that can only be outlined in a four-hour lecture. It’s equally clear that there can be no
definitive answer to the question ‘Did God create us or did we create God?’
In spite of the impossibility of resolution, God and The Brain is a fascinating and entertaining
presentation. Touching on the development of cultural and social beliefs, ethical and moral beliefs, and religious
and spiritual beliefs, Newberg’s fast-paced lecture is packed with relevant and revelatory anecdotes and
information. The beliefs we already hold will affect what we learn from this audio, which pieces of information we
retain, and how we apply them, but God and The Brain can certainly give us a better understanding of
ourselves and others, and of how we interact with and influence those around us.
Audio 3 CDs, 3.75 hours|
Mind & Body / Spirituality|
More at Amazon.com|
NOTE: Reviewer Deborah Adams
is the Flair and Macavity Award winning author of the Jesus Creek Mystery Series: All The
Great Pretenders, All The Crazy Winters, All The Dark Disguises, All The
Hungry Mothers, All The Deadly Beloved, All The Blood Relations, and All
The Dirty Cowards. She was also an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel.