Religions and mythologies from around the world teach that God or gods created humans. Atheist, humanist, and materialist critics, meanwhile, have attempted to turn theology on its head, claiming that religion is a human invention. In this book, E. Fuller Torrey draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to propose a startling answer to the ultimate question. Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods locates the origin of gods within the human brain, arguing that religious belief is a by-product of evolution. Based on an idea originally proposed by Charles Darwin, Torrey marshals evidence that the emergence of gods was an incidental consequence of several evolutionary factors. Using data ranging from ancient skulls and artifacts to brain imaging, primatology, and child development studies, this book traces how new cognitive abilities gave rise to new behaviors. For instance, autobiographical memory, the ability to project ourselves backward and forward in time, gave Homo sapiens a competitive advantage. However, it also led to comprehension of mortality, spurring belief in an alternative to death. Torrey details the neurobiological sequence that explains why the gods appeared when they did, connecting archaeological findings including clothing, art, farming, and urbanization to cognitive developments. This book does not dismiss belief but rather presents religious belief as an inevitable outcome of brain evolution. Providing clear and accessible explanations of evolutionary neuroscience, Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods will shed new light on the mechanics of our deepest mysteries.
Early Humans and the Origins of Religion
Author: E. Fuller Torrey
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Many of our questions about religion, says renowned anthropologist Pascal Boyer, are no longer mysteries. We are beginning to know how to answer questions such as "Why do people have religion?" Using findings from anthropology, cognitive science, linguistics, and evolutionary biology, Religion Explained shows how this aspect of human consciousness is increasingly admissible to coherent, naturalistic explanation. This brilliant and controversial book gives readers the first scientific explanation for what religious feeling is really about, what it consists of, and where it comes from.
The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought
Author: Pascal Boyer
Publisher: Basic Books
Category: Social Science
How did the human brain with all its manifold capacities evolve from basic functions in simple organisms that lived nearly a billion years ago? John Allman addresses this question in Evolving Brains, a provocative study of brain evolution that introduces readers to some of the most exciting developments in science in recent years.
Author: John Allman
Publisher: Potomac Books, Inc.
Churchward’s The Origin and Evolution of Religion, first published in 1924, explores the history and development of different religions worldwide, from the religious cults of magic and fetishism to contemporary religions such as Christianity and Islam. This text is ideal for students of theology.
Author: Albert Churchward
A controversial exploration of the origin of religion in the neurology of the human brain. In this book the noted cognitive archaeologist David Lewis-Williams confronts a question that troubles many people in the world today: Is there a supernatural realm that intervenes in the material world of daily life and leads to the evolution of religions? Professor Lewis-Williams first describes how science developed within the cocoon of religion and then shows how the natural functioning of the human brain creates experiences that can lead to belief in a supernatural realm, beings, and interventions. Once people have these experiences, they formulate beliefs about them, and thus creeds are born. Forty thousand years ago, people were leaving traces in the archaeological record of activities that we can label religious, and Lewis-Williams discusses in detail the evidence preserved in the Volp Caves in France. He also shows that mental imagery produced by the functioning of the human brain can be detected in widely separated religious communities such as Hildegard of Bingen’s in medieval Europe or the San hunters of southern Africa.
Author: David Lewis-Williams
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
In an age of continued Middle East volatility, religious extremists, and terrorist threats, the mere mention of Islam and Muslims too often provokes misunderstanding and even rancor. Often overlooked are the important links between the Qur'an and the Bible. Also ignored are the significant historical overlap between Islamic interpretation of history with those of Christianity and Judaism, including the monotheistic belief in a single God. Islam is too often confusing and even opaque to those unfamiliar with it. The Handy Islam Answer Book, is clearly and eloquently written by John Renard, Ph.D., a scholar of Islam with more than 40 years of research and teaching experience. He provides detailed descriptions of the history, beliefs, symbols, rituals, observations, customs, leaders, and organization of the world’s second largest religion. Renard explains the significance of the Five Pillars, Muhammad, various sects, the Qur'an, Islamic law, and much more. This engaging primer is a resource for reliable information about Islam and Muslims and it brings an understanding of the shared humanity that joins Muslims and non-Muslims far more deeply than cultural or religious differences separate them. Truly a must-have reference for our changing and trying times, this user-friendly guide answers nearly 800 questions and offers fun facts that cover Islamic history, religious practices, and Muslim cultural perspectives, including … • When did Islam begin? • Why is Mecca a holy city for Muslims? • Do Muslims worship Muhammad? • What was the fate of Medieval Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land? • What do Muslims mean by the term "Allah"? • What does the crescent moon and star symbol mean to Muslims? • What is the Muslim “call to prayer”? Is it similar to “church bells”? • Do Muslims believe that God “tests” people? • Does Muhammad play a role in Islamic spirituality in a manner similar to Jesus’ role in Christianity? • Is jihad a legal concept for Muslims? • Is it true that Muhammad both preached and engaged in military campaigns? • Do Muslims, Christians, and Jews worship the “same God”? • Why do Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim parts of Israel/Palestine as “Holy Land”? • Why do some people, such as the Taliban, not want girls to get an education? • Does Islam require wearing face veils? • Does Islam have theologians like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the other great Christian thinkers? • Is there any similarity between Muslim and Christian art? Muslims are diverse, and they have a vast spectrum of views about Islam. The Handy Islam Answer Book aims for understanding, which is the first step to uniting, instead of dividing. This helpful books provides a historic timeline, a glossary of commonly used terms, a genealogy from Adam to Muhammad and beyond, a calendar of major observances, and a bibliography help further exploration of one of the world’s great religions.
Author: John Renard
Publisher: Visible Ink Press
Is Man the product of a God...or is "God" the product of human evolution? From the dawn of our species, every human culture-no matter how isolated-has believed in some form of a spiritual realm. According to author Matthew Alper, this is no mere coincidence but rather due to the fact that humans, as a species, are genetically predisposed to believe in the universal concepts of a god, a soul and an afterlife. This instinct to believe is the result of an evolutionary adaptation-a coping mechanism-that emerged in our species to help us survive our unique and otherwise debilitating awareness of death. Spiritual seekers and atheists alike will be compelled and transformed by Matthew Alper's classic study of science and religion. The 'God' Part of the Brain has gained critical acclaim from some of the world's leading scientists, secular humanists, and theologians, and is as a must read for anyone who has pondered the question of God's existence, as well as the meaning of our own. Praise for The "God" Part of the Brain "This cult classic in many ways parallels Rene Descartes' search for reliable and certain knowledge...Drawing on such disciplines as philosophy, psychology, and biology, Alper argues that belief in a spiritual realm is an evolutionary coping method that developed to help humankind deal with the fear of death...Highly recommended."— Library Journal "I very much enjoyed the account of your spiritual journey and believe it would make excellent reading for every college student - the resultant residence-hall debates would be the best part of their education. It often occurs to me that if, against all odds, there is a judgmental God and heaven, it will come to pass that when the pearly gates open, those who had the valor to think for themselves will be escorted to the head of the line, garlanded, and given their own personal audience." — Edward O. Wilson, two-time Pulitzer Prize-Winner "This is an essential book for those in search of a scientific understanding of man's spiritual nature. Matthew Alper navigates the reader through a labyrinth of intriguing questions and then offers undoubtedly clear answers that lead to a better understanding of our objective reality." — Elena Rusyn, MD, PhD; Gray Laboratory; Harvard Medical School "What a wonderful book you have written. It was not only brilliant and provocative but also revolutionary in its approach to spirituality as an inherited trait."— Arnold Sadwin, MD, former chief of Neuropsychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania "A lively manifesto...For the discipline's specific application to the matter at hand, I've seen nothing that matches the fury of The 'God' Part of the Brain, which perhaps explains why it's earned something of a cult following." — Salon.com "All 6 billion plus inhabitants of Earth should be in possession of this book. Alper's tome should be placed in the sacred writings' section of libraries, bookstores, and dwellings throughout the world. Matthew Alper is the new Galileo...Immensely important...Defines in a clear and concise manner what each of us already knew but were afraid to admit and exclaim."— John Scoggins, PhD "Vibrant ... vivacious. An entertaining and provocative introduction to speculations concerning the neural basis of spirituality."— Free Inquiry Magazine
A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God
Author: Matthew Alper
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Looks at scientific discoveries on the ways faith and spirituality affect one's physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
The Search for the Science of Spirituality
Author: Barbara Bradley Hagerty
How Humans Evolved teaches the processes that shape human evolution with a unique blend of evolutionary theory, population genetics, and behavioral ecology. The new edition continues to offer the most up-to-date research—in particular, significantly revised coverage of how recent discoveries are shaping our history of human evolution—while now giving you the best tools to engage your students in and out of the classroom.
Author: Robert Boyd,Joan B. Silk
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Category: Social Science
Technical advances in the life and medical sciences have revolutionised our understanding of the brain, while the emerging disciplines of social, cognitive, and affective neuroscience continue to reveal the connections of the higher cognitive functions and emotional states associated with religious experience to underlying brain states. At the same time, a host of developing theories in psychology and anthropology posit evolutionary explanations for the ubiquity and persistence of religious beliefs and the reports of religious experiences across human cultures, while gesturing toward physical bases for these behaviours. What is missing from this literature is a strong voice speaking to these behavioural and social scientists - as well as to the intellectually curious in the religious studies community - from the perspective of a brain scientist.
Author: Patrick McNamara
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Presents a philosophy that unifies evolution and religion, discussing evolution as a divine process, how to use insights derived from evolution to improve spiritual life, and how to work for systemic change within this framework.
How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World
Author: Michael Dowd
From the award-winning NPR religion correspondent and author of Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife 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. From the Hardcover edition.
What Science Is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience
Author: Barbara Bradley Hagerty
Dr. David Comings, an internationally renowned physician, human geneticist and neuroscientist, proposes that spirituality is genetically hardwired into a specific part of the brain, is pleasurable, is critical to the evolution and survival of man, and will never go away. It strives to allow readers to develop a rational spirituality in which the fact-based rational brain and the faith-based spiritual brain can live in peace. In an era when politicians are judged on the basis of the strength of their belief in God, when schools are urged to teach Intelligent Design, and when religious terrorists threaten the existence of Western civilization it is critical to dispassionately examine the question - Did man create God? A wide range of issues are examined including intelligent answers to intelligent design; the relevance of modern cosmology to the existence or non-existence of god; the role of genes in spirituality; innate morality, the problem of evil, and many others. Michael Shermer called this the most detailed and up-to-date science ever generated on the subject of religion and suggested it will be the definitive scientific reference on religion for some time to come. This book is for those who have also questioned any part of their faith but treasure their spirituality and want answers that are not hostile to spirituality or religion.
Is Your Spiritual Brain at Peace with Your Thinking Brain?
Author: David E. Comings
Publisher: Hope Press
Category: Body, Mind & Spirit
"Evolving Dharma is a next-generation book about meditation, Buddhism, and the contemplative path. It explores how the dharma (the path, the way, the teachings of the Buddha) has evolved in astonishing ways and how dharma practice evolves in one's own life. Instead of approaching the dharma as spirituality, therapy, or self-help, scholar and practicing Buddhist Jay Michaelson presents it as a set of technologies for upgrading the brain, for physically enhancing its capacity for wisdom and compassion. In the last twenty years, Buddhism has exploded well beyond its former boundaries. Meditation is being taught to prisoners, cancer patients, and children. It is being practiced online--by geeks, hipsters, and punks; by atheists, Christians, and Jews; by people who are not "spiritual." It's not even "Buddhism" anymore, having evolved out of its original religious context and into dozens of new ones. Evolving Dharma is the first book to take stock of these trends, and to speak in real-life terms about how they affect the practice of meditation and the path to upgrading the mind. Michaelson is fearless, unorthodox, and irreverent, yet his book is also based on his decade of meditation practice and teaching as well as his ten years of work as an LGBT activist. Including forays into neuroscience and cultural criticism and Michaelson's personal stories of his five months spent in silent retreat, life-changing realizations, pain, joy, and insight, this is not an ironic, wading-into-spirituality memoir but a thoughtful, important work that takes its subject seriously, both as discipline and as individual narrative. Chapter titles include "The Dharma Evolves By Disappearing," "The Evolution of Enlightenment," and "When Every Mystical State You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough.""--
Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment
Author: Jay Michaelson
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Category: Body, Mind & Spirit
Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover. Brains come to know reality through a combination of perception and reasoning. Just as important, our brains evaluate aspects of reality through emotions that can produce both good and bad decisions. Our cognitive and emotional abilities allow us to understand reality, decide effectively, act morally, and pursue the vital needs of love, work, and play. Wisdom consists of knowing what matters, why it matters, and how to achieve it. The Brain and the Meaning of Life shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe. The book integrates decades of multidisciplinary research, but its clear explanations and humor make it accessible to the general reader.
Author: Paul Thagard
Publisher: Princeton University Press
In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music—its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it—and the human brain. Taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, he reveals: • How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world • Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre • That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise • How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our head A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, This Is Your Brain on Music will attract readers of Oliver Sacks and David Byrne, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.
The Science of a Human Obsession
Author: Daniel J. Levitin
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, and psychologists 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 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. Newberg and d'Aquili base this revolutionary conclusion 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. What they 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 other words, 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 a chain 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. 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. 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 sexual orgasm; 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? Blending cutting-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 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. From the Hardcover edition.
Brain Science and the Biology of Belief
Author: Andrew Newberg, M.D.,Eugene G. D'Aquili
Publisher: Ballantine Books
How is consciousness created? When did it first appear on Earth, and how did it evolve? What constitutes consciousness, and which animals can be said to be sentient? In this book, Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt draw on recent scientific findings to answer these questions -- and to tackle the most fundamental question about the nature of consciousness: how does the material brain create subjective experience? After assembling a list of the biological and neurobiological features that seem responsible for consciousness, and considering the fossil record of evolution, Feinberg and Mallatt argue that consciousness appeared much earlier in evolutionary history than is commonly assumed. About 520 to 560 million years ago, they explain, the great "Cambrian explosion" of animal diversity produced the first complex brains, which were accompanied by the first appearance of consciousness; simple reflexive behaviors evolved into a unified inner world of subjective experiences. From this they deduce that all vertebrates are and have always been conscious -- not just humans and other mammals, but also every fish, reptile, amphibian, and bird. Considering invertebrates, they find that arthropods (including insects and probably crustaceans) and cephalopods (including the octopus) meet many of the criteria for consciousness. The obvious and conventional wisdom--shattering implication is that consciousness evolved simultaneously but independently in the first vertebrates and possibly arthropods more than half a billion years ago. Combining evolutionary, neurobiological, and philosophical approaches allows Feinberg and Mallatt to offer an original solution to the "hard problem" of consciousness.
How the Brain Created Experience
Author: Todd E. Feinberg,Jon M. Mallatt
Publisher: MIT Press
Surviving Manic Depression is the most comprehensive, up-to-date book on the disorder that affects more than two million people in the United States alone. Based on the latest research, it provides detailed coverage of every aspect of the disorder.All aspects of the disease are addressed: symptoms, with many direct descriptions from patients themselves, risk factors, onset and cause, medications (including drugs still in the testing stage), causes, psychotherapy, and rehabilitation and how the disease affects children and adolescents. Here too are discussions of special problems related to manic-depressive disorder, including alcohol and drug abuse, violent behavior, medication noncompliance, suicide, sex, AIDS, and confidentiality. Surviving Manic Depression also includes special features such as a listing of selected websites, videotapes, and other resources.
A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers
Author: E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.,Michael B. Knable, D.O.
Publisher: Basic Books
“The Evolution of Religion” is exactly what the title suggests, and beyond. It traces religion's origins back to the first instincts of morality, through the archaic blossoming of polytheism, to the modern branching of creeds from the agnostic East to the monotheistic West. It also conducts an in-depth analysis of religion's organic and synthetic qualities. The organic aspect is demonstrated through consistencies between biology and theology, ranging from similarities in their 'tree-of-life' diagrams to specific phylogenetic characteristics. The synthetic facet is showcased through coinciding patterns with such manmade conventions as government, culture, economics, and technology. What isn't clearly revealed is a supernatural quality, prompting us to delve into the psychology behind worship and why many of us are “addicted to faith”.
How Religions Originate, Change, and Die
Author: Alex Shelby