Guide Fingerprints of God: What Science Is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience

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Fingerprints of God: What Science Is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience Paperback – May 4, Barbara Bradley Hagerty's new book, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife, is out now from Riverhead Books. Life Reimagined: The Science, Art.
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  • Fingerprints of God — Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

She makes these claims based on the evidence given to her during her search and then seeks to recapture her personal belief in Christianity before it slips through her fingers. She is right, nothing she found in her search pointed to a specific faith, so she simply believes in Jesus.

My question for her is "Why would a God without a story, be 'the God who loves math [and: Whatever clout Hagerty lost with me in her final pages, it isn't enough to detract from the fact that this is a well written and worth while book. The incredulous will hate it, the credulous will eat it up.

Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

What is of value is her honest grappling with her faith, her openness to new data and her conclusion that we choose to believe or not. Feb 25, Lanny Carlson rated it it was amazing. I found this book on a Pamida clearance shelf, and it is one of the best books I've ever read on the subject. I've read most of Lee Strobel's books, in which a skeptical journalist investigates Christianity though a series of interviews.

Hagerty is also a journalist, but while Strobel has an obvious bias and is rather selective in his interviewees, seemingly handpicking those who will support his point of view, Hagerty's research is much more far ranging, her discussion much more objective, and her conclu I found this book on a Pamida clearance shelf, and it is one of the best books I've ever read on the subject. Hagerty is also a journalist, but while Strobel has an obvious bias and is rather selective in his interviewees, seemingly handpicking those who will support his point of view, Hagerty's research is much more far ranging, her discussion much more objective, and her conclusisons much more open-minded.

She doesn't set out to "prove" the existence of God - something she readily admits science cannot do any more than it can disprove the existence of God , nor does she set out to prove any particular theological point of view. While she is very open about her own theological roots and her place in her spiritual journey, she ultimately rejects some of her religious presuppositions, including the nature of God and the exclusivity of any one tradition.

Fingerprints of God

In the course of her research and her writing, she explores such things as studies of brainwave activity in those who have had life-changing spiritual experiences, including those who are experienced meditators, those who have had spiritual experiences through hallucinogens, and those who have had near-death experiences. In the process, we learn a great deal about the nature of the brain and how experiences from quite different sources effect various parts of the brain in similar ways. At the same time, she rejects the reductionist presuppositions that everything can necessairly be reduced to the brain or that consciousness can necessarily be reduced to the physical gray matter in our heads.

Science really can't "prove" it one way or the other. And she even ssuggests that there is an emerging paradigm shift in the scientific community which is much less reductionist in its point of view. Her conclusions won't satisfy full blown materialists on the one hand or Christian exclsuivists on the other, and certainly not religious fundamentalists of any stripe. But anyone who is open-minded enough to explore modern science and to consider spirituality will find this extremely well-written book fascinating and thought provoking.

One of the few books I give Five Stars! Oct 19, Kathryn rated it it was amazing Shelves: The questions that this book poses are not so much along the line of, Is there a God? I found this book to be quite fascinating, and one that confirmed my own gut feeling so to speak that there is Someone Out There Watching Over Us. The author grew up in a very strong Christian Science tradition and grew up to become a journalist covering The questions that this book poses are not so much along the line of, Is there a God?

The author grew up in a very strong Christian Science tradition and grew up to become a journalist covering religion issues. In this book she probes the research of scientists to see what science has to say about intercessory prayer, about near-death experiences, and about all things spiritual. Along the way she finds plenty of scientists who tell her that anything that cannot be measured or quantified is fantasy, and that all so-called spiritual experiences are only things happening in the brain that can be explained in a purely material manner.

She finds scientists willing to study intercessory prayer, which seems to have some measurable effect, but notes that it is difficult to account for all variables. So, can Science prove that God exists? No more than it could before, because Science is not well equipped to deal with the inexplicable and unmeasurable. However, Scientific Method seems to give a very qualified Yes as an answer to the question, is there more out there than is met in our material philosophies, if only because some things can be picked up by the scientific method that do not seem to be self-created by our brains.

Jan 11, Don rated it it was ok. When I first heard of Fingerprints of God I was filled with anticipation that this might be the book I've been looking for on the search for physical evidence of spirituality in the world. But, wow, was I disappointed!! Written by a journalist, Barbara Hagerty, this book lets you down on all fronts.

Firstly, the book's title is a HUGE disservice to the core topic she was writing about. The book should have been titled 'Religion and the Brain - the Search for Physical Influences on Perceptions of When I first heard of Fingerprints of God I was filled with anticipation that this might be the book I've been looking for on the search for physical evidence of spirituality in the world. This book has nothing to do with the Fingerprints of God or the Science of Spirituality. I was actually angry she gave this book that title because it misleads the reader and feels like a marketing ploy.

Next, her writing style is horrible - she spends a significant amount of words describing the look of the scientist - his or her hair, clothing, demeanor, voice inflection - do I really care????? Finally, the book reveals nothing but common sense regarding brain research on spiritual centers in our gray matter. If I were to ask you what five physical influences could affect the brain's perception of religion, I bet you could have come up with most of these: External Electromagnetic Fields 3.

Meditation and Prayer 5. Brain Injury Sorry, but that's the core of the book. Throughout she continually asks 'what if', 'what if' it really is spiritual and not just the brain? I don't want to take away from the hard work that she put into researching this topic - I'm sure it was years of effort. But, sadly, from a reader's perspective, I felt hoodwinked. Oct 31, drowningmermaid rated it really liked it Shelves: A very good "intro" book to the junction of faith and science. I particularly enjoyed the studies on the meditative and psychedelic-tripped brain Also really loved the study on "paired" couples and their ability to effect the other over distance and with no known material connection.

The chapters on near-death experiences I found tedious.

What Science Is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience

While I understand that they are life-changing for many people who have them, I really fail to A very good "intro" book to the junction of faith and science. While I understand that they are life-changing for many people who have them, I really fail to see them as scientifically meaningful, or as proof of anything. Complete brain death takes time-- a longer time than near-death experiences allow for.

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Near-deathers were not 'really' dead, because they came back to life. This last I find a tad suspicious. If you are going to use near-death experiences as 'proof,' you would be obligated to say that only some, randomly blessed, people get to experience life after death. The rest simply cease to exist. Oct 26, Kit rated it really liked it. This book can't answer the Big Question: What it can do is describe some new science that studies the brains of people who have had life-changing spiritual events. Brain activity, brain chemistry, and in some cases genetics are different for people who have had what they consider encounters with the spiritual than they are from people who haven't.

What's mor This book can't answer the Big Question: What's more, there is some actual scientific evidence that near-death experiences might be real and that prayer might have measurable effects and not those debunked hospital studies, either. Hagerty, an NPR correspondent and former Christian Science Monitor reporter, has the journalistic credentials to tell the story, although even in her case some scientists insisted on anonymity because they didn't want their colleagues thinking they were nuts.

That was the most interesting part of the story for me - the idea that scientific studies of spirituality, historically done in scientists' free time with data scavenged from other experiments - might have gathered the critical mass to be taken seriously for the first time. Apr 01, Ben Lee rated it really liked it. I added this book to my wishlist after hearing the story about the book on NPR.

Almost two years later, I finally read it. You get to read about all sorts of spiritual experiences people had, like encounters with God, near death experiences, spiritual conversions There were quite a few interesting stories. The writer shares her own spiritual experience, which wasn't quite as interesting, but r I added this book to my wishlist after hearing the story about the book on NPR. The writer shares her own spiritual experience, which wasn't quite as interesting, but relevant.

The book comes down to the idea that there's a part of the brain that seems to be involved in pretty much everyone's spiritual experiences, which Hagerty likens to piece audio hardware, and poses the question is it more like a radio, receiving real signals from a real God some people's radios work better than others or is it more like a CD player, where everything is just in our heads? Aug 07, Kelsey rated it it was ok. This book just wasn't what I was looking for or expected.

I'm fascinated by faith and those who have it, people who can believe with such certainty in something they don't see. I think it would be very comforting to believe like that and I want that. I was hoping this book would give me some sort of proof, or at least something that could be proof. The author set out to write this book, not really wanting to objectively examine a question, but to validate her own belief. So the book focused on t This book just wasn't what I was looking for or expected. So the book focused on things that she felt proved her ideas true.

It was well researched and interesting, although at times it felt very repetitive, but it had a strong agenda and nothing was going to deviate from that path. Dec 01, Tori rated it it was ok Shelves: I really wanted to like this book. Books dealing with spirituality and quantum physics - how could you go wrong? I am still fascinated by the idea of quantum physics, and the insights it would seem to provide on life. But - this book just couldn't hold my interest. I DO believe that a lot of people are asking themselves, "Is this it? I've picked this book up three times now, but have not gotten past pages.

I expect there is more good stuff farther on, but seeing as I have so many books that I would prefer reading, I will just leave this one unread. Jan 29, Steve hops rated it liked it. A very well- documented account of many near- death experiences. She tries very hard to be objective about the question of proof of God.

My conclusion is that with so many people seeing and experiencing the same things at the time of "death", it has meaning to me. They all report an incredible peace and oneness. It did get a bit long and drawn out. Her conclusion was that she found no conclusive proof that there was a God, but certainly no proof that there is not a God.

She continues to believe A very well- documented account of many near- death experiences. She continues to believe that Jesus' life should be modeled. She does find it impossible to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Wishy-washy lovers of Consilience. It took me a while to figure out what I disliked about this book. It's true that the author goes out of her way to offend pretty much every reader, but that's not the main problem.

She does so by lumping together evangelical Christians, drug addicts, Native Americans, Sufis, parapsychologists, epileptics, and just-plain-crazy persons. For me, that's not so difficult to swallow--we are all human.

What really gets under my skin is the fact that when she gets interviews with assorted elite neurolog It took me a while to figure out what I disliked about this book. What really gets under my skin is the fact that when she gets interviews with assorted elite neurologists, Hagerty asks them really stupid questions, like, "Does your research disprove the existence of God?

View all 3 comments. Jun 17, Drema Deoraich rated it it was amazing. Throughout the book, she compares her new findings to the belief system that has supported her throughout her lifetime. By the end of the book, she admits to having lost some of her long-held assumptions, but overall her research only informs what she believed all along.

The big difference is that she no longer believes her own religion is the only right, true faith. She has come to understand that, as she says in the book, faith is like a spoked wheel. God is the hub. All spokes lead to God. And—she asserts this clearly—it is a choice.

Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality

The choice is up to us how we interpret these experiences, and how we allow them to inform our lives. Still, as a deeply spiritual woman with personal numinous experience, I am always inspired by this book. Can science explain God?


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  7. Is spiritual experience real or a delusion? Are there realities that we can experience but not easily measure? Does your consciousness depend entirely on your brain, or does it extend beyond? In Fingerprints of God , award-winning journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty delves into the discoveries science is making about how faith and spirituality affect us physically and emotionally as it attempts to understand whether the ineffable place beyond this world can be rationally -even scientifically-explained.

    Hagerty interviews some of the world's top scientists to describe what their groundbreaking research reveals about our human spiritual experience. From analyses of the brain functions of Buddhist monks and Carmelite nuns, to the possibilities of healing the sick through directed prayer, to what near-death experiences illuminate about the afterlife, Hagerty reaches beyond what we think we know to understand what happens to us when we believe in a higher power. The blogs also reveal mixed reports, both positive and negative.

    Although I understand there are times when psychic relief is vitally needed including drugs administered professionally , my inner voice and common sense tells me that the correct path for getting on with life is more than floating in ecstasy or achieving a mind state from a chemical, and that avoidance of potentially harmful drugs and safeguarding the mind is how we honor the body we have. Studies are ongoing, in any event, and I am interested to follow their progress.

    One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Thought provoking, insightful, factual. See all 78 reviews.

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