"The joint effort [of two distinguished authors and scholars] is impressive. It manages to bring the experience and energy of both men together in one, pithy, provocative package."
"The writing style is concise, interesting, and even quite entertaining at times. What could have been a technical tome in evolutionary theory and neurobiology has been transformed into an informative book that even nonscientists can comprehend."
—Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
"With economy, evidence and no little wit and elegance, Lionel Tiger and Michael McGuire look for the answer to religion's ubiquity and persistence in the only place possible: the human brain. To say more would be to give away their answer, and that would spoil a great read and a serious and informative argument. This is easily the best book on the nature of religion to appear for a long time."
University Professor of Social Theory, Rutgers University
“If God’s Brain sounds whimsically paradoxical, it is only because the authors believe that most people of faith have been looking for God in all the wrong places. The authors suggest that religious believers should look inward, rather than outward, to find God. The book is a well-written, easy to read, unique perspective on religion. Yes, God has a brain. The book will captivate all but the piously religious faint-of-heart.”—Jay R. FeiermanEditor, The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion
Two distinguished authors radically alter the fractious debate on the existence of God and the nature of religion. Taking a perspective rooted in evolutionary biology with a focus on brain science, renowned anthropologist Lionel Tiger and pioneering neuroscientist Michael McGuire—a primary discoverer of serotonin’s crucial role in brain chemistry—elucidate the perennial questions about religion: What is its purpose? How did it arise? What is its source? Why does every known culture have some form of it?
Their answer is deceptively simple, yet at the same time highly complex: The brain creates religion and its varied concepts of God, and then in turn feeds on its creation to satisfy innate neurological and associated social needs.
Brain science reveals that humans and other primates alike are afflicted by unavoidable sources of stress that the authors describe as “brainpain.” To cope with this affliction people seek to “brainsoothe.” We humans use religion and its social structures to induce brainsoothing as a relief for innate anxiety. How we do this is the subject of this groundbreaking book.
In a concise, lively, accessible, and witty style, the authors combine zoom-lens vignettes of religious practices with discussions of the latest research on religion’s neurological effects on the brain. Among other topics, they consider religion’s role in providing positive socialization, its seeming obsession with regulating sex, creating an afterlife, how religion’s rules of behavior influence the law, the common biological scaffolding between nonhuman primates and humans and how this affects religion, a detailed look at brain chemistry and how it changes as a result of stress, and evidence that the palliative effects of religion on brain chemistry is not matched by nonreligious remedies.
Concluding with a checklist offering readers a means to compute their own “brainsoothe score,” this fascinating book provides key insights into the complexities of our brain and the role of religion, perhaps its most remarkable creation.
Binding: Hardcover256 pages
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Lionel Tiger (New York, NY) is the bestselling author of Men in Groups, The Imperial Animal (with Robin Fox), The Pursuit of Pleasure, Optimism: The Biology of Hope, and The Decline of Males. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Harvard Business Review, and Brain and Behavioral Science. He is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University.
Michael McGuire, MD (Cottonwood, CA), is the author or editor of ten books, including Darwinian Psychiatry (with A. Troisi). He is the president of the Biomedical Research Foundation, director of the Bradshaw Foundation and the Gruter Institute of Law and Behavior, and a trustee of the International Society of Human Ethology. Formerly, he was a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles and editor of Ethology and Sociobiology.