15 May 2008

Science Meets Spirituality

David Brooks looks at how the latest research in neuroscience is validating ancient spiritual beliefs. Science is converging towards spirituality. He calls it "neural Buddhism". He rightly notes that this poses a serious threat to revealed religions (like Christianity and Islam).

Brooks says, "The self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships". This line really struck me. Why? Because I have been coming around to the same conclusion of late. Just replace "relationships" with "experiences". Relationships are a subset of experiences.

Brooks helpfully gives a list of names for those interested in reading on the subject. Here's a closer look at who these guys are, and what they have written:

Andrew Newberg (associate professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania)
1. The mystical mind: Probing the biology of religious experience
2. Why God won't go away: Brain science and the biology of belief
3. Why we believe what we believe: Uncovering our biological need for meaning, spirituality, and truth

Daniel Siegel (associate clinical professor of psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine)
4. The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are
5. The mindful brain: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being

Michael Gazzaniga (professor of psychology, University of California Santa Barbara)
6. The mind's past
7. The ethical brain
8. Human: The science behind what makes us unique

Jonathan Haidt (associate professor of psychology, University of Virginia)
9. The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom

Antonio Damasio (professor of neuroscience, University of Southern California)
10. Descartes' error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain
11. The feeling of what happens: Body and emotion in the making of consciousness
12. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, sorrow, and the feeling brain

Marc Hauser (professor of psychology, Harvard University)
13. Moral minds: How nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong

Just reading the names of the books is quite an education :-)

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