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The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart [Hardcover]

Joseph Chilton Pearce
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 2, 2007
Social visionary Joseph Chilton Pearce’s indictment of cultural imprinting as the cause of humankind’s cruel and violent behavior

• Refutes the Neo-Darwinist assumption that violence is inherent in humanity

• Identifies religion as the sustaining force behind our negative cultural imprinting

• Shows how infant-adult interactions unconsciously block the creative spirit

We are all too aware of the endless variety of cruel and violent behavior reported to us in the media, reminded daily that in every corner of the world someone is suffering or dying at the hands of another. We have to ask: Is this violence and cruelty endemic to our nature? Are we, at our foundation, really so murderous? In The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit, Joseph Chilton Pearce, life-long advocate of human potential, sounds an emphatic and convincing no.

Pearce explains that beneath our awareness, culture imprints a negative force-field that blocks the natural rise of the spirit toward its innate nature of love and altruism. Further, he identifies religion as the primary cultural force behind this negative imprinting. Drawing from recent neuroscience, neurocardiology, cultural anthropology, and brain development research, Pearce explains that the key to reversing this trend can be found in the interaction between infants and adults. The adult mind-set effectively compromises the infant’s neural and hormonal interactions between the heart and the higher evolutionary structures of the developing brain, thus keeping us centered primarily in our most primitive and defensive neural foundations, generation after generation. Pearce shows us that if we allow the intelligence of the heart to take hold and flourish, we can reverse this unconscious loss of our true nature. 

Frequently Bought Together

The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart + The Heart-Mind Matrix: How the Heart Can Teach the Mind New Ways to Think + The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Building on Darwin, Pearce pleads that humanity rise above its lower, instinctual "brain" to allow "our newest brain"—the "fourth brain"—to flourish. This will bring about a higher stage in evolution that prizes love and altruism. According to Pearce (The Biology of Transcendence), the biggest roadblocks to this new order are religion and science, which together promote violence and arrogance. These "two mongrels" of culture have long forced civilized people into a false either/or choice, one that Pearce characterizes as a choice "between being hanged or shot." For Pearce, the two disciplines have produced "a single monoculture sweeping the globe and bringing a mounting tide of irrational and ever more intense violence," and leaving us—and especially our children—"spiritually starved." To overcome the terrible evils of science and religion and fulfill the promises of the fourth brain, we must cultivate what Pearce calls "the dynamic of the heart-brain-mind relationship," literally listening to our heart as a kind of brain itself that prioritizes love and intimate relationship above all else. Heavy on the science, Pearce's overall argument is slow going but worthwhile because of his fluid prose and intriguing understanding of human evolution. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Once again, Joseph Chilton Pearce’s genius and deep, essential humanity illuminate the most meaningful and important issue of our day--our relationship with Spirit and the all-too-often-toxic history and motivations of organized religion.” (Thom Hartmann, author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight)

“Joseph Chilton Pearce astounds with his ability to so clearly see and courageously state the most basic reason for chaos in the world--the closing down of inspirational love that can only come through heart-awareness. His piercing depiction of this dire state as due to the destructiveness of culture and religion is followed with an even more penetrating set of solutions, founded on insights into biological development, nurturing, and opening the heart to the future possibilities of love unconfined. The message has not been so clear since William Blake spoke of ‘Jesus, the Imagination.’” (Robert Sardello, author of Love and the World and Silence)

“In this remarkable book Joseph Chilton Pearce goes to the very memetic ‘DNA’ of our culture and recodes it to affirm life’s potential. He masterfully helps us to release the destructive aspects of religion and modern society, while affirming the magnificent reality of the spirit and the heartful intelligence that can guide us forward.” (Barbara Marx Hubbard, president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution)

"This book convincingly indicts cultural imprinting as the cause of humankind's cruel and violent behavior. Pearce's call to hope is much needed in a world turning ever more violent." (, March 14, 2007)

". . . [Pearce] shows what steps we can take to align ourselves with what is intended for the full development of the human being." (Richard D. Wright, New Age Retailer, April 2007)

"Reading [this book], allegorically, feels like lifting a boulder from one's very soul. This is one of the most relevant books of our time. . . . a stunning achievement. Do your Mind a favor & read this book!" (Parallel Perspectives, April 2007)

"Rarely has there been a book that opened my mind and heart so deeply as this courageous and astonishing book." (Robert Simmons, The Metaphysical Buyers Guide, 2007)

" . . . a serious search for the soul of humanity by one of our most seminal thinkers." (The Beacon, Jan/Mar 2008)

"It's a pick recommended for any spirituality collection that delves deeply into the need of change and lack of violence, particularly at the college level." (The Pagan Review, Feb 2008)

" . . . Pearce is surely right that we must ourselves harness the creative energies and apparently limitless potential of universal mind and not put off nurturing ourselves and our brethren until tomorrow lest we kill our spirit with religious fantasies of saviours who save those who don't help themselves." (The Scientific and Medical Network, Spring 2008)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Park Street Press (March 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594771715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594771712
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manifesto of a Spritual (R)evolution April 11, 2007
Beware! The photo of the author on the book jacket is deceptive. It pictures a soulful, Quaker like grandfather--when all the time the contents of his book are loaded with intellectual hand grenades aimed at the very heart of our culture!

I began writing this review in the usual manner, underlining a phrase here, a word there, scribbling little notes at corners, on the edge--you know, the usual. But after a couple pages I saw that practically every word, every phrase was highlighted, and that there were copious notes all over the place. The book contains so much knowledge, so much insight, and addresses so many of the most vital subjects of life--that to attempt restricting myself to a few ideas here and there seemed almost sacrilegious.

And in the most positive sense this book IS sacrilegious.

In his call for humans to approach the next step of evolution, JC Pearce challenges us to overcome the greatest obstacle to that evolution--our very culture based on organized religion and orthodox science, that in turn arise from humanity's apparent need for PREDICTION and CONTROL. The author is such a master of phraseology that he'll have you convinced in a matter of a few pages that, yeah, they really ARE holding us back.

Pearce is no mere iconoclast--he skillfully demonstrates that the natural replacement for these cultural misconceptions exists and has existed all around us from the beginning of our collective jump from chimp to human (via the common shrew we are now told.) The author illustrates the power & biological source of both the individual & collective creative process, and how they interconnect in "fields of mind.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Eric
I ordered this, Pearce's latest offering, together with his preceding 2002 effort, "Biology of Transcendence" and read them back to back, in chronological order. This is the one book, in his output so far, Joseph Pearce needn't have written.

Given that Pearce's incentive for writing this book (p. 190) was triggered by an altogether demonic experience, that behold-and-become function stressed so often in his authorship has here become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Really, a previous reviewer put it mildly in saying "Death of Religion" shows the author retreading familiar ground. In fact, this is an about 80% rehash or rewrite of his previous title "Biology." The very same material has been reorganized, rewritten - sometimes expanded upon a bit, sometimes contracted. I would not say the presentation of it has improved, it is merely a different version. It even uses the same batch of quotes from a select number of, to Pearce's mind, outstanding thinkers.

So because the bulk of the contents is yet again the discussion of the "New Biology," the title of the new book is a bit of a misnomer. The post 9/11 impetus to writing a book on "violent culture" is a thin veneer, a couple of dozen pages bracketing the older material. Pearce carries over not only his favourite quotes but even repeats a number of his own punch lines already used up in "Biology."

Some mistakes slipped through editing: using cases from, to some, controversial para-psychology, one would expect facts to be absolutely in order. Still famous French explorer Alexandra David-Neel turns into an Englishwoman (and gets her name slightly misspelled). From where Pearce got the etymological explanation that "sin" originally meant "separate" (p. 166) baffles. See [...]resource for more trustworthy facts.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart could've been featured in our New Age column but deserves wider mention here for its far-reaching survey blending philosophy, religion and sociology. The study begins with a survey of violence in human society and the question of whether cruelty is part of human nature - and argues that the roots of human behavior aren't violent, but a cultural imprint. Chapters use recent neuroscience, cultural anthropology and brain development research to explore the violent trends, spiritual understanding, and how to reverse violence to achieve a higher level of being. It's a pick recommended for any spirituality collection - particularly at the college level - strong on added cultural analysis.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've been here before May 12, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been reading Joseph Chilton Pearce for years beginning with "Crack in the Cosmic Egg". His work has been very valuable to me because he explains the spiritual search in ways that are understandable and not all woo woo. This book seemed to me to pretty much cover territory that I was familiar with from previous books. His ideas about the proper birthing and raising of children are important and probably will never have a wide following because of the strength of cultural ways of doing things (another topic that he is very good on). I think this book would be very interesting to someone who had never read any other of his works.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waking Up November 21, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have followed Pierce's work for decades. This book and his preceeding one, The Biology of Trancendence clearly shows us that we are simply the products of our cultural beliefs. Yet we can begin to see through the veil without blame, shame, or guilt and do it differently. The book made me want to reparent my four children yet understanding that I was so imprinted by the culture I couldn't have done it differently. Choosing to restory our lives & assist our children to parent our grandchildren differently is crucial if we are ever to break the cycle of war and violence.
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