Neuroscience and Religion

Brain, Mind, Self, and Soul

Contributions by Michael Bess, Stephan Carlson, Tom Gregor, Gary Jensen, Alicia Juarrero, John McCarthy, Jeff Schall, Edward Slingerland Edited by Volney P. Gay

Publication date:

16 August 2009

Length of book:

300 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739133910

For religious persons, the notion of human being is tied inextricably to the notion of God (or the gods) and turns on this question: what is human being? How did we, with our almost infinite capacities for thought, change, and domination, come to be? Imbued with powers far beyond any other animal, humans are too faulty to be considered gods themselves. Yet, the idea of God (or the gods) appears in all distinctive human cultures: it names the other pole of human—it designates a being who realizes perfectly our imperfectly realized nature.

With the rise of new sciences come ancient anxieties about how we should define human being. In the nineteenth century, electricity and magnetism fascinated experts and captivated the lay public. In the twenty-first century, advances in neuroscience open up vast new possibilities of mimicking, and perhaps emulating human being. In this book twelve scholars and scientists ask what—if anything—distinguishes Brain from Mind, and Mind from Self and Soul.
With the growth in cognitive and neuroscientific study of religion, important questions are beginning to arise. This unique multidisciplinary collection of essays flags numerous issues that scholars will have to tackle for the field to realize its full potential.