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on October 16, 2003
Religion and spirituality have had a bad "rap" and perhaps for good reason. How many crimes have been committed, how many wars, how many murders, all in the name of religion? The answer is actually provided in this book which is edited by pioneering neuroscientist Rhawn Joseph, the man who discovered or first documented neuroplasticity and recovery of function in the primate brain, the hormonal basis of sex differences, the role of early environmental influences on learning, memory, and emotional development, and who is the author of two best selling scholarly text books on the brain. Neurotheology contains over 30 chapters written by over 20 distinguished scientists and authors who offer a wide range of perspectives including the views of those who do not believe in neurotheology. The third edition includes chapters by William James, Nietzsche, Newberg, Persinger, Alper, Winkelman, and so on, in short, all the leading scholars and authors who have contributed to this field. There are nearly 200 eye-popping pictures and photographs and over a 1,000 scientific references. Of course, this book is not for everyone. Those who begin to gag at the very mention of religion or spirituality will hate this book. Those who believe that science and religion should never be mentioned in the same sentence, will also be agag. This book, with scientific chapters on such diverse subjects as the organic soup, the evolution of spirituality, the anti-christ, and so on, has the potential to open many doors, but only for those with open minds.
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on November 15, 2012
the overall tone of many of the essays was a self-righteous sense of humans being superior compared to any other creature on the earth because of our intelligence. while at the same time portraying a depressing outlook no matter what we do. i felt as if too often humans are being placed outside of the animal kingdom because of our higher functionality. the general tone of the compilation is that we are going to die and we can do nothing about it but ponder it and develop anxieties all through life and everything we feel or think is broken down to insignificance. too often i see the argument being between god or science. i really doubt the whole issue of brain science, evolution and spirituality are so black and white..
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on October 7, 2003
This book is a testament to what machinations the mind can create without a single shred of evidence. I can't beleive that the authors claim this book to be scientific! This book should be called, "NeuroTheology, Pseudoscience, Spirituality and other Ridiculous Theories." Rhawn Joseph blatantly disregards fundamental scientific evidence of darwinism to promote his "intelligent design" theory which is only a small modification of creationism (Instead of god, he has aliens.) Even the articles by scientists such as Newberg, that might have some scientific validity (at least the theories can be tested), are overshadowed by the new-age garbage. Any serious scientist searching for meaning and the understanding of religious experiences should avoid this book. I am apalled that scientists who consider themselves intelligent and reasonable would even associate themselves with this book.
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on July 22, 2003
There are full of garbages and a little bit of potentially interesting stuffs that can be scientifically validated/invalidated in this book. Intelligent design creationism elucidated by Rhawn Joseph not only lacks scietific evidence (well he does use the term "evidence", but they are not. They are mere speculations based on scientific evidence), but can be refuted by major scientific evidence (not by speculations). It is an interesting attempt to shift readers' attention from "hard-earned Darwin's evolution theory" to "creation of life by intelligent being (aliens?) theory, by invalidating some minor aspects of evolution theory. But does everyone think "if evolution is invalidated, creationism must be true"? I don't think so (I hope not). For the sake of devil's adovocate, let's assume that creationism does become prevalently popular among non-critical public. Some people with a little bit of critical thinking will eventually claim "show me intelligent beings that created us, and how they did it. Until that happens, I will not decide that this hypothesis is not any closer to the truth than other hypotheses out there." Reasonable?
Chapters by other scientits, both famous and not-so-famous, try to invalidate or validate the "reality" of anomalous experiences such as religious experiences. Evidence and scientific methods for/against those phenomenon are so thin that we can interpret in any possible way. I recommend that you buy and read this book, but read a book called "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark" by Carl Sagan beforehand or afterwards to decide where you want to place your opinion in this vague area that occupies science and pseudoscience. If you would really like to know solid "scientific" studies of anomalous experiences (e.g. near-death experiences), please take a look at "Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence" by Etzel Cardena (Editor), Steven Jay Lynn (Editor), Stanley C. Krippner (Editor). It might be more worthwhile to read those books first.
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on July 13, 2008
..then it must be true.
'Proof' based on feelings/subjective perception... like seeing shapes in clouds: "no no. that's
a sailboat, not a man with a beard; you must be crazy!!"
Now that's the scientific method at work, eh?
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on October 16, 2003
This fascinating text opens with a chapter by Nietzsche who proclaims the death of God. Science makes god and religion, irrelevant, for how do we reconcile religious and spiritual belief with the "big bang" the "organic soup" and Darwin's theory of random variations? The death of these latter theories is proclaimed in the three ensuing chapters, which in turn paves the way for a reexamination of the scientific foundations for spiritual and religious belief in the following 30 chapters. We learn there are over 50 major scientific theories which offer conflicting explanations as to the origin and nature of the universe. We are provided in-depth examinations of particle physics, string theory, qauntum mechanics, etc., only to discover a consensus does not exist, and that much of the scientific evidence seems to refute the big bang and any notions as to the age of the universe. The authors tell us there are stars which may be so far away, and which may have died so long ago, their light may have winked out of existence or may never be detected, which makes it impossible to determine the age or extent of the universe. Making estimates on stars that still live tell us little about the age of the universe if we know nothing of those stars which died long ago. We cannot preclude "God" is we know not how the universe came into being. There may in be multiple-universes and dozens of additional diminsions as predicted by string theory, including dimensions which the common people refer to as heaven and hell. The chapters dealing with these subjects are densely scientific. In another chapter, it explained that given the incredible complexity of a single molecule of DNA, the notion it was randomly assembled in an organic soup, is the equivalent of discovering a computer on jupiter and then arguing it was randomly assembled in the methane sea. So how did life orginate? Perhaps it fell to earth, encased in cosmic debris. Perhaps it was designed by "God." The Universe may be swarming with life, and its DNA, which shows signs of "intelligent design" as is reluctantly admitted by many DNA-experts. Darwin's theory explains variability, but cannot explain evolutionary progress. His theory is also incompatible with what we know of genetics. DNA, we learn, is capable of engineering the environment, and its own evolution, through complex genetic mechanisms. Life may not have randomly evolved. The progression leading to modern humans appears to be under precise genetic control, e.g., introns, silent genes, etc., Humans can now manipulate DNA and humans may begin engineering their own evolution, and this is also incompatible with Darwin's theory. Humans may continue to "evolve" and traits that we associate with religion and spirituality, may actually be similar to the pre-language grunting of Neanderthals. These are rudimentary capacities which may yet evolve and become more complex and "God-like." Thus, the groundwork for reexamining and exploring the scientific foundations of religious belief is established and there ensues 30 additional chapters, both pro and con, which examine the scientific basis of god beliefs and spirituality, with chapters on the evolution of religion, mysticism, shamanism, ghosts, demons, possession, the anti-christ, violence, terrorism, and homosexuality and sexuality and religion. There is absolutely nothing "new age" about this text. For the most part, this is a rigorous scientific book, with chapters written by esteemed scientists and scholars who have made significant contributions to this emerging new field of science. When a book triggers high praise and vehement hysterical condemnation, we should recognize it is an important book. This is an important book.
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on October 30, 2011
Rhawn Joseph's work is recognized in this field as being unprofessional and unreliable. For a more authoritative and reputable introduction, look to works by Andrew Newberg.
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on April 10, 2003
This is a provocative and ground breaking book. NeuroTheology contains 34 chapters written by 20 different experts, including Michael Persinger (who many consider the father of the field), Rhawn Joseph (who Newberg refers to as one of the founders of the field), Dr. Paloutzian (the editor of the International Journal of the Psychology of Religion), Dr. Albright (the former Executive Editor of Zygon the Journal of Science & Religion), and a host of others including those who do not believe in NeuroTheology. The value of this book is that it offers so many different perspectives. It is 644 pages in length, contains over 100 pictures, and addresses and answers many provocative questions regarding the nature, origin, and scientific basis of spirituality and religious belief.
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on May 3, 2008
Joseph is attempting to explore the question of origins, specifically the question - the elephant in the room - that material science for some reason does not acknowledge as valid: what was before the 'beginning'? What triggered the whole process of material formation and physical evolution? Anyone satisfied with the answer 'nothing' (because it is unknowable?) is simply a reverse-new ager. If 'hard' science doesn't ask these questions then it has limited its own value.
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on April 10, 2003
NeuroTheology is an excellent, comprehensive, scholarly text which begins at the beginning (the Creation) and ends at the end (Armageddon). Some of the best, most daring minds in the science of religious experience, have chapters included in this book, including Newberg, Persinger, Alper, Albright, d'Aquili, Bruce MacLennan, and Fraser Watts of the University of Cambridge. ... this is otherwise an excellent, comprehensive text which deserves a place on the bookshelf of any serious scientist.
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