The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul

The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul

by Mario Beauregard, Denyse O'Leary

Paperback(Reprint)

$17.99
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, May 31

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Scophi More than 1 year ago
I completely agree with GWN. It only takes the reader a handful of pages to realize that this book is less science than angry conjecture. The authors claim that God cannot be proven or found in materialistic science, yet they (poorly) attempt to use scientific discovery to do just that. Their total rejection of materialism is ungrounded and naive. There is a difference between what they label as "pop science" and real scientific discovery/advancement. But instead of sticking to a single battle with pop science (which seems to be their real target), they blithely dismiss all science without consideration for their own argument. This book might have carried more weight with me if the authors had published this as a philosophical or spiritual inquiry, rather than an anti-science science book. Don't waste your time with this one.
Mybookreview More than 1 year ago
The focus or purpose of the book is to argue against the materialist position and took that position throughout. The book was "against" something but didn't seem to be written "for" something. It provided little information for those interested in learning about spirituality and related brain research. This was a disappointment. The title was misleading. However, there are other books that do examine the topic.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
Beauregard’s thesis is that mystical/spiritual experiences have effects on the brain that are too complex to be generalized down to a “God Gene,” a “God Switch,” or a section of the brain dedicated to religiosity. His evidence for this thesis is pretty strong—specifically, he summarizes his own neuroscience research with Carmelite nuns. This thesis does not take an entire book to prove, however, so he spends the rest of the book discussing other aspects of spirituality and neuroscience. Problem is, he’s not an exciting writer, so I really can’t remember any of his other points. I don’t recall any objectionable arguments he made…it’s just that the book is rather forgettable. Maybe worth a read if you have a specific interest in the area—but there are better books out there for casual popular reading.
johnbattle More than 1 year ago
For centuries philosophers and theologians have argued about the makeup of the human being. Are we material only, or do we possess also an immaterial soul? Plato argued from reason for the dualistic theory, that we are both body and soul. The Greek materialists took the opposite position-we are only made of atoms, material particles. In the Western world the predominant Christian religion teaches the existence of an immortal soul, a separate essence from the material body. Jesus said, "Do not fear them who can destroy the body; fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell." He also said, "What shall a person give in exchange for his soul?" Traditionally Christians also believe in a future resurrection, when the disembodied souls of the dead shall be permanently reunited to their physical bodies, which will be made perfect and immortal in the resurrection. Since the time of the Enlightenment modernistic thinking led to widespread materialism in the West. Only the observable universe is real. All events have natural causes. Humans are simply an organized collection of material parts. What used to be considered characteristics of the soul are only the products of chemical and electrical forces in the physical brain. Belief in a nonmaterial soul is a relic of the superstitious past. The soul is only a myth, a social construct-as are angels, demons, and God. Theology should be divorced from science. Mario Beauregard is an associate researcher in neuroscience at the University of Montreal. He has done groundbreaking work in the neurobiological responses to emotions and mystical experiences. Especially significant is his work with volunteer Carmelite nuns. His scientific studies of many people in controlled situations, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), has quantified and located brain activity related to these experiences. Beauregard subjects the modern idea of a "God spot" in the brain, the result of evolution, to scientific scrutiny. He finds that the evidence of his studies contradicts the popular notion. Rather, people's mystical experiences, near-death experiences, the placebo effect, and low-level but measurable extrasensory perception all give evidence that the mind or soul is separate from the brain. The responses of the brain to such non-material entities are the same as those to material entities perceived by the physical senses. They are not located in one part of the brain, but rather use the same complexes and patterns as in normal interpersonal relations. The arguments of the materialists do not adequately address these findings. Beauregard and his coauthor, Denyse O'Leary, present a well-written, convincing scientific argument supporting the non-materialist position of the human mind or soul. I hope that the scientific community will respond to the arguments and evidence this book presents, and will not simply consign it to the oblivion of ignored theories that contradicts its worldview.
The_Hibernator on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beauregard¿s thesis is that mystical/spiritual experiences have effects on the brain that are too complex to be generalized down to a ¿God Gene,¿ a ¿God Switch,¿ or a section of the brain dedicated to religiosity. His evidence for this thesis is pretty strong¿specifically, he summarizes his own neuroscience research with Carmelite nuns. This thesis does not take an entire book to prove, however, so he spends the rest of the book discussing other aspects of spirituality and neuroscience. Problem is, he¿s not an exciting writer, so I really can¿t remember any of his other points. I don¿t recall any objectionable arguments he made¿it¿s just that the book is rather forgettable. Maybe worth a read if you have a specific interest in the area¿but there are better books out there for casual popular reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find this book to be not only a very good read, but a book that I wish to use as a reference. with it's 45 pages of reference notes, a glossary, a 10 page bibliography, and a thorough index. This book covers it all from mystical experiences, to materialism, from artificial intelligence to brain anatomy/physiology. What distinguishes mind from brain? Is there a difference? Did God create the brain, or did the brain create God? This is deep stuff, but presented in a very clear, logical, scientific, and remarkably easy to read book. I didn't want to put it down - that's rare for me! I recommend this to anyone wondering about the science behind the mind, spirit, and soul. The conclusions are clear and overwhelmingly convincing. Read this book!
GWN More than 1 year ago
This book claims to be objective science. It is not. To begin with, it smears anyone who disagrees with what they are saying as a "materialist" -- frequently as a "radical materialist." It makes no distinction between ontological materialism and methodological materialism, the latter being universally accepted by scientists -- science can only go where there are testable theories and hypotheses. They admit that science can't "prove" God, but then they slip it in by the back door by simply assuming, without evidence, that the mystical experiences of their subjects represent a link to some outside force [code word for God, just like "intelligent design" is a code word for "creationism."
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Spiritual Brain authors Mario Beauregard, a neuroscientist from the University of Montreal, and Denyse O'Leary, a Toronto science journalist, offer another approach to understanding the brain. Drawing on evidence such as near-death experiences, and Beauregard's scientific research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) they make a case for the nonmaterial nature of humans. Basic to this book is the question ¿What is the mind?¿ Is the mind and the brain the same thing? Or does a mind exist that is somehow independent of the brain yet somehow different from it? There is no clear ¿materialist¿ explanation of the mind so materialists must treat the mind as an illusion produced by neuron activity. Sir John Eccles spent his life studying the brain and concluded, in harmony with the book reviewed here, that ¿Since materialist solutions fail to account for our experienced uniqueness, I am constrained to attribute the uniqueness of the self or soul to a supernatural spiritual creation. This conclusion ¿ strongly reinforces our belief in the human soul and in its miraculous origin in a divine creation.¿ (Eccles 1994, 168). ¿I believe in the reality of the world of mind or spirit as well as in the reality of the material world. Furthermore I am a finalist in the sense of believing that there is some Design in the processes ¿ that has eventually led to us self-conscious beings with our unique individuality¿ (Eccles 1979, 9). This work supports this conclusion and is highly recommended.