Fingerprints of God: What Science Is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience

Fingerprints of God: What Science Is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience

3.8 17
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
     
 

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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…  See more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

In this moderate, thoughtful book, award-winning National Public Radio religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes about what recent scientific research reveals about human spiritual experiences. These studies are far-reaching, covering not only the mental activities of Buddhist monks and Carmelite nuns but also faith healing through directed prayer and near-death experiences. In interviews with several of the world's leading scientists, Hagerty probes what science can tell us and not tell us about faith and spirituality. Talking about the ineffable; a believer's honest search for truth.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101052600
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/14/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
695,981
File size:
338 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Bradley Hagerty is the award-winning religion correspondent for National Public Radio. She’s the recipient of the Templeton Foundation-Cambridge University Journalism Fellowship in Science and Religion, and a Knight Fellowship at Yale Law School. Before joining NPR, she was a reporter at The Christian Science Monitor for 11 years. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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Fingerprints of God 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Elishka More than 1 year ago
If you're planning to read this book in order to find scientific proof that there is a God, put it down. It's not that kind of a book. This book is more of an erudite summarion of personal anecdotes along with reports of what various researchers are discovering about what the human brain looks like in periods of prayer and meditation. Most of the researchers interviewed will tell you that these variations in brain patterns are not evidence that there is a God; rather, it's evidence of how the brain reacts or changes during periods of prayer. What I found more interesting personally were the recurring themes among a variety of believers as they reported their experiences. It wasn't just that most of them experienced feelings of euphoria or that they encountered a white light of some kind; it was that they felt a fundamental change in their outlook because of their experiences. Additionally, each person -- no matter their religious persuasion (or lack thereof) -- described their spiritual encounters with a figure they would describe as God (as in creator and omniscient being, no matter what name they gave it) and were left with a sense that religious affiliation was an artificial construct (i.e., it didn't matter whether a person were Jewish or Christian or Hindu or agnostic -- all paths lead to the same place). In his book Spectrum, Dr. Dean Ornish urges meditation as a component of healthful living because it has been proven to reduce stress. Having read Fingerprints of God I am convinced that this is true. That it also opened up some new "visions" for my personal spiritual life is also helpful, but that's beside the point for the purposes of review because not everyone will find this book helpful in that regard. Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes clearly and with a gentle sense of humor, by the way. She brings her journalistic style of writing and sense of organization to the overall tale. It's a joy to read her writing.
TM4VP More than 1 year ago
For those who feel they are seekers of spiritual growth and willing to look at many paths this is a wonderful enquiry into the realms of modern explanation, scientific and otherwise for such a desire. Compelling hopeful and honest.
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
As a person continually seeking answers to the big questions, I really enjoyed Barbara Hagerty's book Fingerprints of God. As with Losing my religion by xxx I was impressed by the courage of the author to freely discuss the parts of her life that most people keep under a basket. For a book of this genre, absolute truth is essential but also rare. I also appreciated the excellent writing. Her year of award winning journalism was quite evident in her sharp writing and ability to distill the complex into simplicity with analogy and metaphor. Of the 12 chapters, my favorites were chapter 6 - Isn't God a Trip and chapter 11 - A New Name for God. In 2008 I published a book which dealt with the subject in chapter 6 although I did not provide the rich detail that Barbara gives us. While some may find this to be a 'flaky' science, it is not. Even the top scientists admit they do not understand the mechanics or the ramifications. Another aspect of this wonderful book was the clear sense that the author was not always adhering to a rigid outline. That is, is apparent that at times her mind would pick up new, fresh ideas and thoughts as she actually wrote the book. For me, this is the mark of a true author. Anyone can 'paint by numbers'. This is not one of those books. The evidence suggests the ideas flowed from the mind to the fingers as the work was being produced. I would also recommend, the Language of God and the Mind of God. Older works for sure, but still highly compelling. I highly recommend this book to anyone that seeks a link between our spirit and modern science. It is thought provoking and in this age of atheism, very relevant. I hope you enjoyed this review. Michael L. Gooch
Penny_King More than 1 year ago
My interest was spurred when Hagerty presented her findings in a tantalizing series featured on NPR. I ordered the book in audio format and found myself wishing it had been read by the enthusiastic journalist Hagerty herself instead of a theatrical paid professional. But my criticism stops there. My husband and I listened to the book on a recent road trip. While most of the concepts are not new, the research compiled into one volume is. Each chapter stimulated conversation between us, and friends for that matter, that has gone on for days. Hagerty's explorations have delighted two old metaphysicians.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story documents the authors journey as she questions her religious beliefs and her very believe in God. I felt that it was an honest book that presented both sides objectively. Those of you who believe in God will continue to do so after reading this book. Those of you who do not believe in God will no doubt find support for your beliefs as well. I enjoyed the book, but wish it had spent more time exploring the discoveries in quantum mechanics. Nevertheless, I found the section on quantum entanglement insightful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been seriously searching for the answer to Barbara's question "is there more?" Most of my life. I find myself strongly relating to her experiences and what she has to say. There is much truth here!
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GFS More than 1 year ago
This book is most helpful in providing a well researched and through introduction to the evolving brain function - religious experience data. The notes are a great source for further reading and investigation. it also is an interesting and easy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ritun_Minor More than 1 year ago
An eye opener for skeptics. Well written, absorbing, a personal, uncompromising, rational search through scientific data and personal interviews - for the big question: is there a G? The writer isn't preaching for a certain God or any God - but left me (a rationalist) excited to see what fantastic revelations science may bring us - about the power of thought, faith and maybe, possibly - a certain type of God.
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From_the_Margins More than 1 year ago
The author's journalism credentials should be revoked. This is pure theism, and cloaking it with dribs and drabs of scientific opinion does not earn it any scientific authority whatsoever. It's dishonest philosophy; yet another lame attempt to drag God back into a universe where it doesn't exist. Don't waste your time!