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Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion (The Terry Lectures Series) Hardcover


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Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion (The Terry Lectures Series) + Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought
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Product Details

  • Series: The Terry Lectures Series
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300140347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300140347
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Barbara Herrnstein Smith is Braxton Craven Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory at Duke University and Distinguished Professor of English at Brown University. She is the author of Belief and Resistance: Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy and Scandalous Knowledge: Science, Truth and the Human.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Israel Ramirez on February 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Barbara Herrnstein Smith discusses and evaluates several recent biological/neuropsychological/evolutionary theories about religion. Maybe dissect is a better word for what she does than discuss. She summarizes each theory attempting to give the reader get a fair overview of each theory and then slices through the surface to reveal unstated assumptions, shaky arguments, and logical deficiencies. Although, as a former biological researcher, I am naturally drawn to biological explanations of human behavior, I had to agree with her that we don't presently have an entirely satisfactory biological account of religious belief and there is no reason for anyone to abandon their beliefs or practice.

This is an academic book, not really written for a general audience. Sentence structure, logical concepts, and vocabulary are all at an advanced level. She packs a lot of ideas into a short book and after reading it, I felt as if I had read a book four times as long.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Cooper VINE VOICE on March 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book results from Barbara Herrnstein Smith's 2006 contribution to the Dwight H. Terry Lectureship, which was established in 1905 so that "...the Christian spirit may be nurtured in the fullest light of the world's knowledge and that mankind may be helped to attain its highest possible welfare and happiness upon this earth." It seems fair to note upfront that the goal here is intellectual harmony as opposed to scholarly, albiet adversarial, argument. To her credit, Ms. Smith manages to admirably maintain her credibility in this odd milieu. She does this by skillfully picking her targets (notably Dan Dennett and Scott Atran) and exposing their weaknesses with meticulous yet respectful accuracy.

The principle manner in which Smith chooses to achieve concord is to illuminate the blind-spots in some of the most densely articulated scientific exegeses of the subject, and to point out the cognitive similarities on both sides the polemic divide. The result is a blast of cold water on the whole faith v. science debate. While the front lines may continue to rage (truth claims being what they are), Smith provides some relief for those who seek a calmer mind.
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