Our Religious Brains: What Cognitive Science Reveals about Belief, Morality, Community and Our Relationship with God

Our Religious Brains: What Cognitive Science Reveals about Belief, Morality, Community and Our Relationship with God

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Overview

A Revolution in Human Self-Understanding Is Underway—What Does It Mean for Religion and Our Belief in God?

"The brain and consciousness are themselves awe-inspiring. So learning about them no more undermines religion than learning about how symphonies and paintings are crafted takes away from our appreciation of music and art. Science alone does not provide the ultimate answers or firmly rooted values for which we yearn. But religion alone does not have all the answers either. We are blessed, as moderns, with both."
—from the Introduction

This is a groundbreaking, accessible look at the implications of cognitive science for religion and theology, intended for laypeople. Avoiding neurological jargon and respectful to all faiths, it examines:

  • Current theory on how our brains construct our world in order to guide us safely through life, creating and appreciating meaning as we go.
  • What religious experience is as it plays out in our brains.
  • How modern science challenges historic ideas about free will and undermines the religious concept of the soul as a meta-physical entity separable from the body.
  • What cognitive science reveals about our need for community.
  • Why we should be loyal to one faith if, in fact, all major religious traditions deal effectively with universal human needs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580238403
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 09/15/2015
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Ralph D. Mecklenburger speaks nationally on topics related to science and religion, Judaism and Jewish-Christian dialogue. He is rabbi at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, Texas, an adjunct faculty member at Brite Divinity School and has served as the Jewish co-chair of the Texas Conference of Churches' Jewish-Christian Forum.


Dr. Howard Kelfer is a neurologist and former director of neurology at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. He maintains an active practice in critical care neurology and an interest in cognitive neuroscience.


Neil Gillman, rabbi and PhD, is professor of Jewish philosophy at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he has served as chair of the Department of Jewish Philosophy and dean of the Rabbinical School. He is author of Believing and Its Tensions: A Personal Conversation about God, Torah, Suffering and Death in Jewish Thought; The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and a Publishers Weekly "Best Book of the Year"; The Way Into Encountering God in Judaism; The Jewish Approach to God: A Brief Introduction for Christians; Traces of God: Seeing God in Torah, History and Everyday Life (all Jewish Lights) and Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew, winner of the National Jewish Book Award.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Preface xv

Introduction xix

1 Our Believing Brains: On Not Being Overwhelmed l

2 Taking God Personally 22

3 Mystical and Spiritual, Neurological and Theological 37

4 The Soul Which Thou Hast Given unto Me? 60

5 Free Will and Free Won't: Programming Your Brain 79

6 Morality: The Hop of Faith 110

7 Life Is with People: Organized Religion 133

8 Why My Religion? What of Yours? 151

Notes 169

Suggested Readings and Selected Bibliography 183

Index 189

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