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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.

The Book

Sounds True
February 2008
Audio 3 CDs, 3.75 hours
Mind & Body  / Spirituality
More at

The Reviewer

Deborah Adams
Reviewed 2008
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.
© 2008