A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul"Drawing on cutting edge research in brain imaging done on Carmelite nuns, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard examines how our brain processes religious, mystical and spiritual experiences. The evidence he presents flies in the face of conventional thinking and provides scientific documentation for the validity of mystical experiences, giving us a peek into our very souls."
A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul
By Mario Beauregard & Denyse O'Leary
Here are some of the comments on The Spiritual Brain
"If you have a mind, you will find The Spiritual Brain a refreshing antidote to the strange arguments offered by some scientists who insist that their minds, and yours, are meaningless illusions."
Dean Radin, PhD, Senior Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences and author of The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds
"The Spiritual Brain is a wonderful and important book that provides new insights into our experience of religion and God. It offers a unique perspective to the ongoing dialogue between science and religion. This book is a necessary read for both the scientist and the religious person."
Andrew Newberg, M.D. Associate Professor of Radiology and Director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-author of Why We Believe What We Believe.
"The Spiritual Brain is a very important book. It clearly explains non-materialist neuroscience in simple terms appropriate for the lay reader, while building on and extending work that Sharon Begley and I began in The Mind and The Brain, and work that Mario and I collaborated on in academic publications."
Neuropsychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, author of The Mind and the Brain
"I truly was bowled over by the book, ... In The Spiritual Brain neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and science writer Denyse O'Leary push back hard. First they debunk the most widely touted urban legends of impoverished materialism"
Michael Behe, author of Edge of Evolution
"I've just finished reading The Spiritual Brain (I was sent an advance copy). It's superb, and is a milestone in what I think is going to be a 'long twilight struggle' against materialist neuroscience."
Neurosurgeon Mike Egnor
Just released - a neuroscientist's case for the existence of ... the soul!
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2007
The belief that the mind does not exist apart from the brain dominated the twentieth century. But can we really dismiss our thoughts and feelings, or furthermore, our religious and spiritual experiences, as simply outcomes of the firing synapses of our brain? In THE SPIRITUAL BRAIN, authors Dr. Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary present the groundbreaking evidence that the mind cannot be simply reduced to physiological reactions in the brain.
Most neuroscientists are committed to the view that mystical experiences are simply the result of random neurons firing, or"delusions created by the brain."THE SPIRITUAL BRAIN takes another approach, powerfully arguing for what many in science are unwilling to consider—that people actually contact a reality outside themselves during intense spiritual experiences. Beauregard uses the most sophisticated technology to peer inside the brains of Carmelite nuns during a profound spiritual state. His results and a variety of other lines of evidence lead him to the surprising conclusion that spiritual experiences are not a figment of the mind or a delusion produced by a dysfunctional brain.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS — Mario Beauregard's work at the University of Montreal on the effects of consciousness and volition on the emotional brain, and the neurobiology of the mystical experience has received international media coverage. Dr. Beauregard was selected by the World Media Net to be one of the"One Hundred Pioneers of the Twenty-First Century."Denyse O'Leary is a Toronto-based journalist who specializes in faith and science issues and who has written for the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail.
Do religious experiences come from God, or are they merely the random firing of neurons in the brain?
Drawing on cutting edge research in brain imaging done on Carmelite nuns, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard examines how our brain processes religious, mystical and spiritual experiences. The evidence he presents flies in the face of conventional thinking and provides scientific documentation for the validity of mystical experiences, giving us a peek into our very souls.
Do religious experiences come from God, or are they merely the random firing of neurons in the brain? Drawing on his own research with Carmelite nuns, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard shows that genuine, life-changing spiritual events can be documented. He offers compelling evidence that religious experiences have a nonmaterial origin, making a convincing case for what many in scientific fields are loath to consider—that it is God who creates our spiritual experiences, not the brain.
Beauregard and O'Leary explore recent attempts to locate a"God gene" in some of us and claims that our brains are"hardwired"for religion— even the strange case of one neuroscientist who allegedly invented an electromagnetic"God helmet"that could produce a mystical experience in anyone who wore it. The authors argue that these attempts are misguided and narrow-minded, because they reduce spiritual experiences to material phenomena.
THE SPIRITUAL BRAIN: A Neuroscientist's Case For The Existence Of The Soul
Mario Beauregard, Ph.D. & Denyse O'Leary
The Spiritual Brain: How Neuroscience is Revealing the Existence of God by Mario Beauregard, Denyse O'Leary
Most scientists today would answer the latter. To them, physical reality is the only reality. Absolutely everything else—including thought, feeling, mind, and will—can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena, leaving no room for the possibility that religious and spiritual experiences are anything but illusions. But neuroscientist Mario Beauregard does not approach his work with such materialist presumptions. So when he first began studying the spiritual experiences of Carmelite nuns at the University of Montreal, he didn't doubt in principle that a contemplative might contact a reality outside herself during a mystical experience. Now, in The Spiritual Brain: How Neuroscience is Revealing the Existence of God, Beauregard (with co-author Denyse O'Leary) offers compelling evidence from his research that religious experiences have a nonmaterial origin—and that may indeed be God who creates our spiritual experiences, not the brain.
The Spiritual Brain reveals:
- Why religious experiences can't be dismissed as illusions just because they are associated with brain activity—and more than thoughts and feelings can be;
- How the areas of brain activation associated with contemplative prayer are quite distinct from those associated with hallucinations, autosuggestion, or states of intense emotional arousal—resembling instead how the brain processes real experiences;
- Scientific evidence that individuals who have religious experiences contact an objectively real"force"that exists outside themselves;
- Extraordinary evidence that such experiences can occur even when clinical criteria of death have been reached and the brain is no longer functioning—and why this suggests that such experiences are not illusory;
- Are religious experiences pathological? How studies show that people reporting religious experiences score lower on psychopathology measures and higher on psychological well-being scales than people who don't report them;
- Why the high incidence of religious experiences in the American adult population also indicates that such experiences should be considered normal, not pathological;
- How the transformation that often follows religious experiences can involve changes in thoughts, emotions, attitudes, core beliefs, and behaviors;
- How there is absolutely no scientific evidence showing that delusions or hallucinations produce by a dysfunctional brain can induce the kind of long-term positive changes that often follow spiritual experiences;
- How evolutionary psychology errs in attempting to ground spiritual experience in the qualities that animal nature requires in order to survive—providing no explanation for the most significant evidence regarding spirituality;
- How materialist presuppositions restrict the areas scientists are permitted to research to narrow, unproductive paths—shutting the door to truth;
- Why materialist neuroscientists have not succeeded in providing a satisfactory explanation of how religious experiences arise from the interaction between various brain regions, neural circuits and neurotransmitters—and why their effort to so is doomed to failure;
Beauregard and O'Leary also take on recent theories about a"God gene"And that brains are"hardwired"for religion. Such misguided and narrow-minded attempts to reduce spiritual experiences to material phenomena, they argue, amount to knee-jerk scientific materialism that cannot account for the many irrefutable accounts of mind over matter, of intuition, willpower, and leaps of faith, of the"placebo effect"In medicine, of near-death experiences on the operating table, and of psychic premonitions of a loved one in crisis, to say nothing of the occasional sense of oneness with nature and mystical experiences in meditation or prayer. Traditional science explains away these and other occurrences as delusions or misunderstandings, but by exploring the latest neurological research on phenomena such as these, The Spiritual Brain gets to their real source.
"A lively introduction to a field where neuroscience, philosophy, and secular/spiritual cultural wars are unavoidably intermingled."— Publishers Weekly
Disclaimer: Our material may be copied, printed and distributed by referring to this site. This site also contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the education and research provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance freedom of inquiry for a better understanding of religious, spiritual and inter-faith issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.