The Believer's Brain
Home of the Religious and Spiritual Mind
Psychology Press – 2014 – 146 pages
About 90% of people have faith in a supreme being, but our yearning for the divine, and whatever it promises, involves a large divergence in mental states and behaviors. Some adhere to doctrine, supplication, and fastidious religious practices; others have a strong sense they are part of something greater and more universal. However, all religious and spiritual paths are mediated by complex brain networks.
When different areas of the brain are stimulated, a person can have a variety of experiences, but there is no specific ‘God spot’ where stimulation enhances religiosity or spirituality. Functional brain imaging shows that there are specific areas of the brain that ‘light up’ when subjects perform certain religious activities, but imaging only provides anatomic correlations, not functional explanations.
The Believer's Brain takes a step beyond these singular methodologies, providing converging evidence from a variety study methods of how humans’ brain networks mediate different aspects of religious and spiritual beliefs, feelings, actions, and experiences.
Although the book reveals how our brain is the home to the religious and spiritual mind, understanding this gift will not diminish our spirituality or our love or our belief in a supreme being, but will increase appreciation of the apparatus that mediates these mental states.
"This book is a remarkable exploration of science and religious belief. The authors have put together a magnificent volume." -Bruce Miller, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
"The Believer’s Brain will be of particular interest to readers who have a general interest in understanding basic neurological foundations that may be related to spiritual experiences. The book will also interest those who want to learn about the intersection between the neurosciences and humanities." - Brick Johnstone, PsycCRITIQUES
1. Introduction: A World of Believers. 2. Beliefs: How Our Brains Are Molded and Beliefs Become Ingrained. 3. More Than Me: How We Sense and Feel Beyond The Self. 4. Left Brain-Right Brain, Spiritual and More. 5. Suspending Disbelief: The Ability to Believe. 6. The Brain Does Some Peculiar Things: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Religiosity. 7. Circle the Wagons: Depression, Fear and Aggression. 8. The Genius Beyond Religious Fundamentalism. 9. Our Spirituality: Beyond You. 10. The Greatest Fear.
Kenneth M. Heilman, MD, the James E. Rooks Jr. Distinguished Professor of Neurology and Health Psychology at the University of Florida, has described several new diseases and is the author or editor of 14 books, 100 textbook chapters, and 500 research journal publications about brain-behavior relations. He is listed in Best Doctors in America, America’s Top Doctors and Who’s Who. He has trained approximately 70 postdoctoral fellows, many of whom are now leaders in neurology and neuropsychology.
Russell S. Donda has devoted nearly two decades to expanding and translating science into clearly understood and useful ideas. He has launched several companies and spearheaded the development of multiple novel technologies. His efforts have spawned a number of innovations, and he is an inventor on 15 patents and applications.