The Wondering Brain: Thinking about Religion with and Beyond Cognitive Neuroscience

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The explosion of new research in cognitive neuroscience has revealed fascinating dimensions of the human brain/mind system. But even as it brings us closer to understanding how the mind works, science is producing more, and perhaps even larger questions. What further powers and abilities are latent within us? The Wondering Brain argues that the profound questions raised by cognitive neuroscience may best be answered through a dialogue with religion. Kelly Bulkeley argues that cognitive neuroscience, seen in the light of religion, is a unique source of insight into the natural groundings of faith, morality, love, ecstasy, and revelation. And religion, seen in the light of cognitive neuroscience, is a powerful cultural system whose most valuable function is to stretch and expand our basic cognitive capacities. Kelly Bulkeley's deep engagement with both religious thinking and the workings of cognitive neuroscience makes for a constantly surprising book, full of stories that catch the reader in the unexpected place between two supposedly irreconcilable ways of being in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An accessible and well-written synthesis of the implications of cognitive neuroscience for the study of religion, this volume focuses on the experience of wonder in four major contexts…" —Diane Jonte-Pace, Santa Clara University, Religious Studies Review

"Successfully alluring readers into rapt interest, Bulkeley guides them through an introduction to cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. His command of the literature and ease of expression make it possible for the novice to learn, discover, and ponder with him." — David T. Gortner, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Anglican Theological Review

"This book is a masterwork of scholarly integration with a fascinating theory of wonder as a source of spiritual growth. It also provides us with many examples of gracefully respecting the contributions of scholars whose own work is painfully contemptuous of others." - Patricia M. Davis, Pastoral Psychology, December 2006

'The Wondering Brain should achieve its aim of spurring conversation. It teaches enough for people to enter into discussion, includes very helpful illustrations of the brain and perceptual processes, and takes on tough questions about wonders such as war that are neither pleasant nor beautiful.' - Sandra Lee Dixon, University of Denver

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415938419
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 1,232,782
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelly Bulkeley teaches at the Graduate Theological Union and John F. Kennedy University, both in the San Francisco Bay area. Former president of the Association for the Study of Dreams, he is the author of several books.

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Table of Contents

1 Dreams and visions 11
2 Sexual desire 53
3 Creative madness 99
4 Contemplative practice 143
Conclusion : the evolution of wonder 183
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