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God's Brain Hardcover – March 23, 2010
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"With economy, evidence and no little wit and elegance, Lionel Tiger and Michael McGuire look for the answer to religion's ubiquity and persistence in the only place possible: the human brain. To say more would be to give away their answer, and that would spoil a great read and a serious and informative argument. This is easily the best book on the nature of religion to appear for a long time." --ROBIN FOX, University Professor of Social Theory, Rutgers University
"Tiger and McGuire have concocted an amazing and insightful look - based on sound science - into how the human brain 'seeks' religion. The book beautifully describes how belief, ritual, and socialization within a closed group work together to help humans survive the stresses of everyday life." --R. CURTIS ELLISON, MD, professor of Medicine & Public Health, Boston University School of Medicine
"If God's Brain sounds whimsically paradoxical, it is only because the authors believe that most people of faith have been looking for God in all the wrong places. The authors suggest that religious believers should look inward, rather than outward, to find God. The book is a well-written, easy to read, unique perspective on religion. Yes, God has a brain. The book will captivate all but the piously religious faint-of-heart." --JAY R. FEIERMAN. Editor, The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion.
About the Author
Michael McGuire, MD (Cottonwood, CA), is the author or editor of ten books, including Believing: The Neuroscience of Fantasies, Fears, and Convictions and Darwinian Psychiatry (with A. Troisi). He is the president of the Biomedical Research Foundation, director of the Bradshaw Foundation and the Gruter Institute of Law and Behavior, and a trustee of the International Society of Human Ethology. Formerly, he was a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles and editor of Ethology and Sociobiology.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book sounds promising enough. I like to think of it as Dawkins' Dilemma. In other words, for those of us who are firm believers in evolution, what do we make of the possibility that our brains may have evolved for belief? I'll bet there's tons of fascinating research out there that support that assertion.
Unfortunately, we don't get that here. What we get instead is stream-of-consciousness musings that go all over the place. The writers' style is particularly frustrating - wordy, repetitive, vague, abstract, trying so hard to be clever. As a former writing teacher, I'm reminded of my students who didn't have much to say or had no clue what they wanted to say, but bravely dove in anyway.
Here's an example:
"Descriptive numbers are capacious enough - they go on forever, after all, from here to infinity - to accommodate the range and reach of religion, and they can seem evenhanded and fair. However, individual religions may seem odd and even bizarre to some or many outsiders, and their benefits and activities are hardly consistent from place to place and time to time. But their overwhelming numbers and rich ubiquity underline the normality in practice. We're dealing with a phenomenon as diffuse as oxygen and seemingly as imperative."
And all to introduce that there are about 4,200 religions in the world.
Try The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures instead.
If you really want to understand the science of neuroreligious studies, I would offer the following insights and book recommendations:
Neuroreligious studies essentially divides religion into two discernable areas:
1) A study of what gives rise to the doxologies of religion. In this regard, all religions are verbatim similar when they discuss the moral stuff that one should do...i.e. doing unto others as you would have done unto you, teaching the children well, giving generously etc.
2) The morphology of myths of origin. In this regard, though religions may seem different in terms of their myths of beginning in reality, their founding characters all share a human like concern for imparting stragetically important information that matters to humans.
1) For the evolution of religious doxology I would recommend:
ONENESS by Jeffrey Moses because it shows the verbatim similarity of religions in laying out essential moral rules (i.e. do unto others).
ORIGINS OF VIRTUE by Matt Ridley. Ridley is a genetistic par excellente. His book tells why humans value cooperation and virtue as a matter of genetic imperative.
THE PRISONER'S DILEMNA by William Poundstone. Poundstone simply discusses game theory which posits that cooperation is actually a selfish virtue in that it most economically enhances the prospects of success.
EVOLUTION OF COOPERATION by Robert Axelrod. Axelrod did a computer simulation which showed the power of the golden rule even in an environment occupied only by computer programs.Read more ›
Take the very last paragraph, for example. "If God is a creation of the brain, then God's brain is our brain. There is then no lower authority to be found than the operations and impact of our brains and the process of brainsoothing. We named the brain as the source of infinity. This is surely appropriate since it was our commitment to that brain that caused ambitious humans to call ourselves sapiens. And, by and large, that we are, give or take... " Huh?
I am left with the distinct impression that the authors were in the habit of splitting a few bottles of wine (or worse) before sitting down to write. Perhaps I should have done the same when I sat down to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A little long winded to get to the concept, but still relly good.Published 18 months ago by antowan batts
When books of just over 200 pages, little bitter than paperback dimensions, have list prices of $25, publishers and booksellers have no reason to throw hissy fits. Read morePublished on September 10, 2010 by S. J. Snyder
Naturally a difficult book to read but well worth the effort for those who seek reasons for the strange habits of the mind. Read morePublished on July 12, 2010 by Chris Wood
"What if it is discovered that the source and essence of [religious] identity results not from theological commitment and texts but form operations of the brain? Read morePublished on May 23, 2010 by J. C. W. West
Lionel Tiger and Michael McQuire have provided a carefully balanced presentation of the evidence for the evolution of religion. Read morePublished on May 18, 2010 by R. Hugh Cunningham
Two authors radically change the typical discussion of the existence of God and the nature of religion, considering the purpose and needs of religion, its source, and why every... Read morePublished on May 14, 2010 by Midwest Book Review
Over the past ten years a series of books have claimed that people with serious religious affiliations are mentally deranged. Read morePublished on May 6, 2010 by Nancy Brown
I heard Buckminster Fuller talk shortly before he died. When he said that our greatest danger was from religion, at the same time President Reagan was declaring the Soviet Union... Read morePublished on April 21, 2010 by Michael Cogan
A fascinating discourse on how religion is to the brain as jogging is to the legs. Refreshing and readable.Published on April 17, 2010 by Alexander C. Sanger