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The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God
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Is Man the product of a God...or is "God" the product of human evolution?

From the dawn of our species, every human culture-no matter how isolated-has believed in some form of a spiritual realm. According to author Matthew Alper, this is no mere coincidence but rather due to the fact that humans, as a species, are genetically predisposed to believe in the universal concepts of a god, a soul and an afterlife. This instinct to believe is the result of an evolutionary adaptation-a coping mechanism-that emerged in our species to help us survive our unique and otherwise debilitating awareness of death.

Spiritual seekers and atheists alike will be compelled and transformed by Matthew Alper's classic study of science and religion. The 'God' Part of the Brain has gained critical acclaim from some of the world's leading scientists, secular humanists, and theologians, and is as a must read for anyone who has pondered the question of God's existence, as well as the meaning of our own.

Praise for The "God" Part of the Brain

"This cult classic in many ways parallels Rene Descartes' search for reliable and certain knowledge...Drawing on such disciplines as philosophy, psychology, and biology, Alper argues that belief in a spiritual realm is an evolutionary coping method that developed to help humankind deal with the fear of death...Highly recommended."— Library Journal

"I very much enjoyed the account of your spiritual journey and believe it would make excellent reading for every college student - the resultant residence-hall debates would be the best part of their education. It often occurs to me that if, against all odds, there is a judgmental God and heaven, it will come to pass that when the pearly gates open, those who had the valor to think for themselves will be escorted to the head of the line, garlanded, and given their own personal audience." — Edward O. Wilson, two-time Pulitzer Prize-Winner

"This is an essential book for those in search of a scientific understanding of man's spiritual nature. Matthew Alper navigates the reader through a labyrinth of intriguing questions and then offers undoubtedly clear answers that lead to a better understanding of our objective reality." — Elena Rusyn, MD, PhD; Gray Laboratory; Harvard Medical School

"What a wonderful book you have written. It was not only brilliant and provocative but also revolutionary in its approach to spirituality as an inherited trait."— Arnold Sadwin, MD, former chief of Neuropsychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania

"A lively manifesto...For the discipline's specific application to the matter at hand, I've seen nothing that matches the fury of The 'God' Part of the Brain, which perhaps explains why it's earned something of a cult following." — Salon.com

"All 6 billion plus inhabitants of Earth should be in possession of this book. Alper's tome should be placed in the sacred writings' section of libraries, bookstores, and dwellings throughout the world. Matthew Alper is the new Galileo...Immensely important...Defines in a clear and concise manner what each of us already knew but were afraid to admit and exclaim."— John Scoggins, PhD

"Vibrant ... vivacious. An entertaining and provocative introduction to speculations concerning the neural basis of spirituality."— Free Inquiry Magazine

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Street Date:
9/1/2008
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781402236372
ASIN:
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APA Citation (style guide)

Matthew Alper. (2008). The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. Sourcebooks.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Matthew Alper. 2008. The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. Sourcebooks.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Matthew Alper, The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. Sourcebooks, 2008.

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Matthew Alper. The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. Sourcebooks, 2008.

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      • bioText: Matthew Alper (New York City) graduated from SUNY Stonybrook with a BA in philosophy. He has worked as an electrician in England, a photographer's assistant in New York, a fifth-grade and high school history teacher in Brooklyn, a truck smuggler in Africa, a tutor in the Philippines, and a screenwriter in Germany.
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The "God" Part of the Brain
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Is Man the product of a God...or is "God" the product of human evolution?

From the dawn of our species, every human culture-no matter how isolated-has believed in some form of a spiritual realm. According to author Matthew Alper, this is no mere coincidence but rather due to the fact that humans, as a species, are genetically predisposed to believe in the universal concepts of a god, a soul and an afterlife. This instinct to believe is the result of an evolutionary adaptation-a coping mechanism-that emerged in our species to help us survive our unique and otherwise debilitating awareness of death.

Spiritual seekers and atheists alike will be compelled and transformed by Matthew Alper's classic study of science and religion. The 'God' Part of the Brain has gained critical acclaim from some of the world's leading scientists, secular humanists, and theologians, and is as a must read for anyone who has pondered the question of God's existence, as well as the meaning of our own.

Praise for The "God" Part of the Brain

"This cult classic in many ways parallels Rene Descartes' search for reliable and certain knowledge...Drawing on such disciplines as philosophy, psychology, and biology, Alper argues that belief in a spiritual realm is an evolutionary coping method that developed to help humankind deal with the fear of death...Highly recommended."— Library Journal

"I very much enjoyed the account of your spiritual journey and believe it would make excellent reading for every college student - the resultant residence-hall debates would be the best part of their education. It often occurs to me that if, against all odds, there is a judgmental God and heaven, it will come to pass that when the pearly gates open, those who had the valor to think for themselves will be escorted to the head of the line, garlanded, and given their own personal audience." — Edward O. Wilson, two-time Pulitzer Prize-Winner

"This is an essential book for those in search of a scientific understanding of man's spiritual nature. Matthew Alper navigates the reader through a labyrinth of intriguing questions and then offers undoubtedly clear answers that lead to a better understanding of our objective reality." — Elena Rusyn, MD, PhD; Gray Laboratory; Harvard Medical School

"What a wonderful book you have written. It was not only brilliant and provocative but also revolutionary in its approach to spirituality as an inherited trait."— Arnold Sadwin, MD, former chief of Neuropsychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania

"A lively manifesto...For the discipline's specific application to the matter at hand, I've seen nothing that matches the fury of The 'God' Part of the Brain, which perhaps explains why it's earned something of a cult following." — Salon.com

"All 6 billion plus inhabitants of Earth should be in possession of this book. Alper's tome should be placed in the sacred writings' section of libraries, bookstores, and dwellings throughout the world. Matthew Alper is the new Galileo...Immensely important...Defines in a clear and concise manner what each of us already knew but were afraid to admit and exclaim."— John Scoggins, PhD

"Vibrant ... vivacious. An entertaining and provocative introduction to speculations concerning the neural basis of spirituality."— Free Inquiry Magazine

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        September 4, 2006
        First published in 1996, this is a minimally revised new edition of Alper's manifesto against belief in God. Beginning with philosopher Kant's supposition that humans cannot know a reality beyond their perception of reality, Alper uses his vast research into scientific phenomenon to build a case that humanity's perception of a spiritual realm is, in fact, the biological result of thousands of years of evolution. Alper writes that this is "'nature's white lie', a coping mechanism selected into our species to help alleviate debilitating anxiety caused by our unique awareness of death." Alper's theory is elegantly drawn, and he shows an admirable grasp of a wide range of scientific disciplines. However, generalizations weaken his case: Alper's proof relies on readers' agreement that all humans are equally spiritual creatures, whose "cross-cultural proclivity toward spiritualism suggests that we must be neuro-physiologically hardwired this way." A harsh anti-religion tone (i.e. "How much longer will be slaves to destructive religious creeds... ?"), though not entirely inappropriate, provides the book's main flaw; aside from the fact that his anti-faith proclamations themselves demonstrate a certain kind of blind faith, he gives no credence to others' views, nor is he compassionate to the helpful role that spirituality plays in peoples' lives. Ultimately, Alper is preaching to the choir, but in a time of renewed interest in the clash between religion and science, this cult classic will appeal to those caught up in the debate.

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Is Man the product of a God...or is "God" the product of human evolution?

From the dawn of our species, every human culture-no matter how isolated-has believed in some form of a spiritual realm. According to author Matthew Alper, this is no mere coincidence but rather due to the fact that humans, as a species, are genetically predisposed to believe in the universal concepts of a god, a soul and an afterlife. This instinct to believe is the result of an evolutionary adaptation-a coping mechanism-that emerged in our species to help us survive our unique and otherwise debilitating awareness of death.

Spiritual seekers and atheists alike will be compelled and transformed by Matthew Alper's classic study of science and religion. The 'God' Part of the Brain has gained critical acclaim from some of the world's leading scientists, secular humanists, and theologians, and is as a must read for anyone who has pondered the question of God's existence, as well...

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God Part of the Brain A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God
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publisher
Sourcebooks
tableOfContents

Prologue

BOOK I: THEORY'S EVOLUTION

Chapter 1: Throwing Rocks at God

Chapter 2: What Is Science?

Chapter 3: A Very Brief History of Time or Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Universe but Were Afraid to Ask

Chapter 4: Kant

Chapter 5: God as Word

Chapter 6: Universal Behavioral Patterns

BOOK II: INTRO TO BIOTHEOLOGY

Chapter 7: The "Spiritual" Function

Jung

Universal Spiritual Beliefs and Practices

The Argument For a Spiritual Function

Chapter 8: The Rationale

The Origin of Mortal Consciousness

The Pain Function

The Anxiety Function

When Mortal Consciousness Meets the Anxiety Function

Advent of the Spiritual Function

The Origins of Immortal and God Consciousness

Chapter 9: The "Spiritual" Experience

Origins of the Spiritual Experience

The Ego Function

The Transcendental Function

Chapter 10: Drug-Induced God

Chapter 11: The "Spiritual" Gene

Chapter 12: The Prayer Function

Chapter 13: Religious Conversion

Chapter 14: Why Are There Atheists?

Chapter 15: Near-Death Experiences

Chapter 16: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter 17: Why Is America So Religious?

A Bio-Historical Hypothesis

Chapter 18: The Guilt and Morality Functions

Chapter 19: The Logic of God:

A New "Spiritual" Paradigm

Chapter 20: What, If Anything, Is to Be Gained from a Scientific Interpretation of

Human Spirituality and God?

Epilogue: Quest's End

Addendum: Experiments That Might Help Prove the Existence of a Spiritual Function

Endnotes

Bibliography

Index

About the Author