Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth
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Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  23 reviews
WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THE THINGS YOU BELIEVE? Do you remember events differently from how they really happened? Where do your superstitions come from? How do morals evolve? Why are some people religious and others nonreligious? Everyone has thoughts and questions like these, and now Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman expose, for the first time, how our complex views emerge from...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Free Press
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The most up-to-date information from a brain/mind researcher into what goes on inside our neural anatomy when we ponder "reality". The best book on this topic that I have read thus far.

Heretics Words
Jul 22, 2012 Heretics Words rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
So that we can approach the effects of beliefs - particularly religious or spiritual ones - on people, it is necessary to acknowledge what science and technology can do and what it can't. Our technology can only measure and record empirical data as we observe from the outside as objectively as possible. Beliefs come from the mind whereas scientifically we are observing the brain, so science doesn't 'prove' or 'disprove' anything in this regard as it is personal and ultimately subjective - not ex...more
There is a lot of interesting stuff in this book. It's not terribly well written, however. Newberg vacillates between being much too relativist (hey, don't want to offend anyone, so who's to say what's right? every random belief you have is okay) and much too certain (merrily leaping from correlation to causation on slim evidence). A key dilemma for Newberg seems to be that he is a scientist, and believes that science is the way to establish our best guesses at truth, but many of his subjects wo...more
Mitchell Wilde
Easy and informative read. The author remains neutral and provides and fairly interesting format to explain the neurology of belief as simply as is possible with such a subject.
The author's previous book, "Why God Won't Go Away" explained the parts of the brain active in mystical experience and why they are activated from an evolutionary point of view.
This book is even better. It includes the findings from those books, as well as surveying many books of the same type. He's doing some exciting research. Even though I would categorize the book as popular science, it is still pretty dry. But it is a superb thought provoker - that's what I ask for in a book. It is especia...more
Jul 29, 2008 Christopher rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: George Clinton
I have been wanting to read this book for several years. Not necessarily this particular book, not knowing it existed until recently, but a book about this subject. About the biological origins of belief. I read two books under the mistaken notion it would be what I wanted. One: The Biology of Belief and Why People Believe Weird Things. Neither one was even close to what I wanted. But this book was so right on. Nearly every page is full of highlighting and writings in the margins. I think this b...more
Tess Rupprecht
The author who is also a well known doctor who specializes in the study of the brain is also a very good writer! The way he presented their medical findings about how the brain works is very easy to understand. The results of the studies they made about those speaking in tounges is quite fascinating. We dont really need a proof that we believe in is true, but if you wanted to know what happens in our minds when we pray or mediate then this book would be a good read.
Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth by Andrew Newburg and Mark Robert Waldman explores neural activities of the brain in relation to religious practice. Using brain scans of people during prayer, meditation, and speaking in tongues, the authors make a persuasive case that there may be a unique role for religious belief in the human mind.
I was utterly intrigued by the premise that our brains process spirituality in such a way that, to a degree, it can be measured. Clearly not an exact science, but thoughtful people might understand that God needs to speak to us in some way that we can receive the messages. Complicated logic, and not necessarily true, but certainly thought-provoking!
Very interesting and thought provoking. Not an anti-religion book in any way, delving further into the human mind and how it works. Written by a neuroscientist with scientific testing to back it this really goes far into seeing how we think.
It is an interesting subject, the science presented in the book was problematic, experiments/studys were flawed. (small samples, no control group) It still was a worthwhile read and I am going to continue exploring this topic.
this was the book that change my view of World. once i completed this work i then moved onto critically thinking about how i was living my life and then made some changes change. I recommend this for everyone.
Eileen Dougherty
Andrew Newberg is utterly brilliant. His insightful research has produced incredible findings and he writes about it in an engaging and thoughtful manner. Working on reading all of his books.
Hunter Marston
This was the famous case study on the Tibetan Buddhist monks meditating while neuroscientists monitored their brain activity. Very interesting.
Excellent exploration of neuroscience research on contemplative activity and what it might suggest about the nature of belief!
Fantastic! If you are interested in philosophy, education or life-long learning......check it out!!!
A great book if you want to learn how we think and how we function.
Dec 01, 2009 Richard is currently reading it
Interesting examination of current knowledge of how the brain works.
Mostly a review but I did enjoy a few new ideas...
It was below my expectations.
Meh nothing new here folks.
Interesting, but technical.
Another interesting look at the cognitive science behind belief.
Larry Ellison jr.
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Dr. Andrew Newberg is Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College. He is also Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Nuclear Medicine. He is considered a pioneer in the neuroscientific study of religiou...more
More about Andrew B. Newberg...
Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy Born to Believe: God, Science, and the Origin of Ordinary and Extraordinary Beliefs Principles of Neurotheology

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