Neuroscience And Religion

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For religious persons, the notion of human being is tied inextricably to the notion of God (or the gods) and turns on this question: what is human being? How did we, with our almost infinite capacities for thought, change, and domination, come to be? Imbued with powers far beyond any other animal, humans are too faulty to be considered gods themselves. Yet, the idea of God (or the gods) appears in all distinctive human cultures: it names the other pole of human_it designates a being who realizes perfectly our imperfectly realized nature. With the rise of new sciences come ancient anxieties about how we should define human being. In the nineteenth century, electricity and magnetism fascinated experts and captivated the lay public. In the twenty-first century, advances in neuroscience open up vast new possibilities of mimicking, and perhaps emulating human being. In this book twelve scholars and scientists ask what_if anything_distinguishes Brain from Mind, and Mind from Self and Soul.

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Editorial Reviews

Justin L. Barrett
With the growth in cognitive and neuroscientific study of religion, important questions are beginning to arise. This unique multidisciplinary collection of essays flags numerous issues that scholars will have to tackle for the field to realize its full potential.
Luther H. Martin
Contributors to this volume plunge headlong into the contested relationship between science and religion to question whether there is, in an age of materialistic neuroscience, any unique reality that constitutes the 'human.' Although their answers are diverse, ranging from attempts to justify 'soul' (and hence religion) to scientific reductions of notions of soul, there is much of interest to be found in their considerations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739133927
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Volney Gay is professor and chair of religious studies, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, professor of psychiatry, and professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University. He is also a faculty member of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Neuroscience and Religion: Brain, Mind, Self, and Soul Chapter 2 Chapter 1. A Conversation on Neuroscience and Religion Chapter 3 Chapter 2. Science, Religion, and Three Shades of Black Boxes Chapter 4 Chapter 3. Neuroscience, Theory of Mind, and the Status of Human-Level Truth Chapter 5 Chapter 4. Downward Causation and Religion Chapter 6 Chapter 5. Rapid Advances in Human Brain-Machine Interfacing: Ethical and Social Implications Chapter 7 Chapter 6. The Neuroscience of Religious Experience: An Introductory Survey Chapter 8 Chapter 7. Actions, Reasons, Neurons, and Causes Chapter 9 Chapter 8. Human Universals and Human Nature Chapter 10 Chapter 9. Religion, Science, and Cognition: Explorations in Pluralistic Integration Chapter 11 Chapter 10. "The Little Divine Machine": The Soul/Body Problem Revisited Chapter 12 Conclusion: Looking Forward: The Question of Brain, Mind, Self, and Soul

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