Neuroscience and Religion: Brain, Mind, Self, and Soul

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Volney P. Gay
Rowman & Littlefield, 2009 - Psychology - 287 pages
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For religious persons, the notion of human being is tied inextricably to the notion of God (or the gods) and turns on this question: what is human being? How did we, with our almost infinite capacities for thought, change, and domination, come to be? Imbued with powers far beyond any other animal, humans are too faulty to be considered gods themselves. Yet, the idea of God (or the gods) appears in all distinctive human cultures: it names the other pole of human_it designates a being who realizes perfectly our imperfectly realized nature. With the rise of new sciences come ancient anxieties about how we should define human being. In the nineteenth century, electricity and magnetism fascinated experts and captivated the lay public. In the twenty-first century, advances in neuroscience open up vast new possibilities of mimicking, and perhaps emulating human being. In this book twelve scholars and scientists ask what_if anything_distinguishes Brain from Mind, and Mind from Self and Soul.
 

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Contents

A Conversation on Neuroscience and Religion
19
Science Religion and Three Shades of Black Boxes
37
Neuroscience Theory of Mind and the Status
67
Downward Causation and Religion
109
Human Universals and Human Nature
199
Explorations
217
The SoulBody Problem Revisited
241
The Question of Brain Mind Self and Soul
271
About the Contributors and Interviewees
285
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About the author (2009)

Volney Gay is professor and chair of religious studies, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, professor of psychiatry, and professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University. He is also a faculty member of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

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