How does the brain generate and process mystical states? What are the
neurological explanations for religious experiences? How does the mind create
myth, religious ritual and liturgy? The late D'Aquili (Brain, Symbol, and
Experience) and Newberg, a researcher in nuclear medicine at the University of
Pennsylvania, explore these and other questions in their exhilarating study of
religion and the science of mind. The authors contend that since the "mind and
brain are responsible for all of our experiences, they are also the mediator
for our experience of God." Using the insights of neurology and
neuropsychology, they develop a "neurotheology" that serves to explain how the
mind functions to create religious experience. In the first section, the
authors map out the structure of the brain, focusing on the parts that are most
significant for understanding human emotion and cognition. Here the authors
contend that the mind and brain form a kind of "mystical union," and they
examine the ways in which the mind/brain provides "our advanced methods of
experiencing and interpreting the external world." The second section explores
the relationships between myth, ritual, liturgy and the mystical mind. D'Aquili
and Newberg assert that "all religious and spiritual phenomena, including the
concept and experience of God (Absolute Unitary Being), are generated by the
brain and central nervous system." The book's final section argues that
"Absolute Unitary Being (Pure Consciousness or God) paradoxically and
counterintuitively generates experience and the world (including the brain)."
D'Aquili and Newberg make difficult scientific concepts understandable and
accessible as they formulate this fresh approach to religion and science.
(June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.