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Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  614 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
From the award-winning NPR religion correspondent comes a fascinating investigation of how science is seeking to answer the question that has puzzled humanity for generations: Can science explain God?

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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 14th 2009 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 2009)
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Frank Jude
Dec 03, 2009 Frank Jude rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: only those who want to bolster thier 'faith' and 'willfulness to believe.'
Well, Barbara Bradley Hagerty set out to find the evidence of God, and the Transcendent reality she hoped to find and -- guess what? She found it! She asserts she's a "journalist" and "reporter," but her awards as a "religion correspondent" tell me more that what she is is a believer looking for any evidence -- or lacking that, any justification to lower the bar for what counts as evidence -- for grounding her belief.

She often asserts her feeling that "There has to be more" than this, and her fi
Sep 20, 2009 Brynna rated it it was ok
An interesting read, but ultimately disappointing. This would be a good introduction into the interaction of science and spirituality for a non-scientist. As a scientist who has read some on this topic, I found it a little shallow, not in terms of research (obviously extensive and with an honest attempt at balance), but in thinking. In the end, it didn't really tell me anything I didn't know already.
Jennifer Willis
Mar 02, 2011 Jennifer Willis rated it it was amazing
It’s been nearly a week since I finished reading this book by NPR correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty, on “the search for the science of spirituality.”

When I was only about a quarter of the way into the book, I sat down with two fellow writers to talk shop, and mentioned what I was reading. I surprised myself by admitting to these two ladies — whom I like and respect, but whom I don’t know very well — that I had cried my way through roughly half of what I’d already read of Hagerty’s book. In t
Apr 02, 2014 Robert rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
Hagerty states at the beginning of her book that science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. I agree with this. She then goes on to try to prove God through science.

She misses the fundamental principle that how much we "know" about and understand God is not a function of our knowledge or intelligence, but how closely our life is in conformance with what we know of God's will and how much we're willing to let that knowledge change us.

I enjoyed learning about the Christian Science relig
Oct 21, 2009 Joey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
How does the brain function when a Buddhist monk is in deep meditation or a charismatic Christian speaks in tongues? What do scientists know about out of body experiences? Can the mind function apart from the brain? These are some of the interesting questions that Hagerty tackles. However, she does so in a way that gives both highly educated mystics and skeptics a fair treatment in voicing their interpretations of such paranormal events.

Hagerty also speaks of a new generation of scientists who a
Feb 02, 2010 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful nonfiction book, one of the best I’ve read. I usually like to just read nonfiction one chapter at a time, but Fingerprints of God is so conversational and engaging; it’s easy to get caught up in it like a good novel. Barbara Bradley Hagerty is the religious correspondent for NPR, and she took a year off to research this work. Hagerty is scrupulously honest about how this book is as much about her personal journey (and admits her lack of objectivity to a certain degree) as it ...more
May 24, 2010 Mike rated it liked it
Hagerty sets out to explore the link between science and faith through a series of interviews and self reflection. What she finds is that ultimately you can read the data to support either a theistic or atheistic worldview and that a theistic reading of the data points to a god spoken of by apologists and loved by no one.

What I liked about the book is that Hagerty presents a bunch of scientific (and pseudo-scientific) studies through the eyes of her own personal quest for the truth about god. S
Lanny Carlson
Mar 09, 2012 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
Nov 01, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
The questions that this book poses are not so much along the line of, Is there a God?, but exploring whether Science can attest that spiritual experience and experiences are something separate than just brain synapses and physiological changes. 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
Feb 06, 2010 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
Nov 14, 2011 drowningmermaid rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, doubt-search
A very good "intro" book to the junction of faith and science. I particularly enjoyed the studies on the meditative and psychedelic-tripped brain... which did make me want to try LSD at some later date in life. 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. While I understand that they are life-changing for many people who have them, I really fail to
Oct 26, 2009 Kit rated it really liked it
This book can't answer the Big Question: is God really communicating with people who have spiritual experiences during prayer, in spontaneous healing, or in near-death experiences? 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 ...more
Ben Lee
Apr 11, 2011 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. It's very interesting. You get to read about all sorts of spiritual experiences people had, like encounters with God, near death experiences, spiritual conversions... and then an explanation of what's going on from the neurological perspective. There were quite a few interesting stories. The writer shares her own spiritual experience, which wasn't quite as interesting, but ...more
Aug 26, 2014 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 ...more
Jun 29, 2010 Tori rated it it was ok
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. the author appeared to be trying too hard to quantify spirituality, and I just don't believe it's possible. I DO believe that a lot of people are asking themselves, "Is this it?" "Is this all there is to life?" and the more you delve ...more
Steve hops
Jan 29, 2010 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 ...more
Jun 18, 2009 Thomas added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 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 ...more
Philippe Lazaro
Nov 16, 2016 Philippe Lazaro rated it really liked it
“I came to define God by His handiwork: a craftsman who builds the hope of eternity into our genes, a master electrician and chemist who outfits our brains to access another dimension, a guru who rewards our spiritual efforts by allowing us to feel united with all things, an intelligence that pervades every atom and every nanosecond, all time and space, in the throes of death, or the ecstasy of life.”

–Barbara Bradley Hagerty

The topic of life after death is both so divisive and sensationalized t
Nov 12, 2016 Ann rated it it was amazing
Barbara Bradley Hagerty plunges boldly right into that chasm between religion and science and finds all kinds of fascinating bridges and trails. She has the gift of making her readers feel like they're right there with her, in the church or the lab or the hospital or the home of someone who has had a near-death experience or mystical encounter. A riveting book.
Nov 11, 2009 Jean-claude rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Raima Larter
Apr 05, 2013 Raima Larter rated it it was amazing
Barbara Bradley Hagerty's recent book, "Fingerprints of God: the Search for the Science of Spirituality" is great and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Hagerty, a religion correspondent for National Public Radio, is a superb journalist who has brought her superior reporting skills to bear on the question, "Is there more than this?"

In this book, she presents evidence gleaned from countless journal articles, interviews and even experiments she participated in herself that address the question of wh
May 16, 2012 kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I bought this book, it was the subtitle that had caught my eye: "What Science is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience." I thought I was going to get a purely journalistic account, not someone's personal search (although the slant should have been obvious to me from the main title); it turned out to be an interesting mix of both. Hagerty does detail all the science with lucidity and thoroughness, complete with extensive footnotes about various experiments, while at the same time ...more
John Martindale
Apr 18, 2013 John Martindale rated it it was amazing
Wow, what an absolutely wonderful book on a topic that greatly interest me. I really liked the author; she seemed genuine and sincere. I loved that she never came across as cocksure, arrogant or blindly biased; it didn't feel like she had agenda and it seemed hers was an honest search (and this was refreshing to me). But she also didn't hide the fact that her disposition and her upbringing did lend her to embrace certain conclusion over others. The fact of the matter is we're all going to be ...more
Jun 03, 2010 Meg added it
Shelves: spirituality, health
I liked this book. I enjoyed learning about scientific studies of spiritual experience. I was a little ambivalent about the author's personal opinions being so clearly a part of the ideas put forward, and felt that at times this compromised her analysis... but hey, at least she was honest about being biased toward the existence of God.

But what really drove me crazy was that, aside from a few token references to "He or She", the God that she imagines is clearly, solely male. She even refers at on
I loved this book, both for the beautiful quality of the author's writing, and for the subject matter it attempts to tackle: finding scientific legitimacy to a variety of human spiritual experiences. I didn't feel that Hagerty always maintained a complete scientific objectivity herself, but she was able to find scientists who are conducting research in many different ways, to either support or refute spiritual experience. Among the studies/scientists she visited: a comparison of the brain ...more
May 31, 2010 Tamlynem rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2015 Cristine rated it it was amazing
Impressive! As a life long spiritual seeker suffering from an existential crisis, I found this book incredibly fascinating. I enjoyed how she combined science with anecdotes (I love to read of other's mystical experiences and spiritual transformations) and included her own story which turned what could have been a science text into an engaging read. The author researched the science on our brains and what makes some believers and not others, the so called "skeptic gene", near death experiences, ...more
Dec 25, 2009 Courtney rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and thought it sounded interesting. I thought the author, although a journalist and supposedly objective, did have a clear slant. (She was looking for affirmation that there is a God.) She was raised in the faith of Christian Science, but then left the faith. She spent a year interviewing scientists to see if there was data to support whether there is a God. She describes various studies and experiments ...more
Cam Mannino
Jan 19, 2012 Cam Mannino rated it did not like it
Haggerty tried; she really did. She entered the process admitting her own strong paradigm preference: she's a God person. She makes an effort throughout the book to present evidence for another level of reality beyond the material and then interviews the debunkers. I just found the debunkers a lot more persuasive than the evidence, which wasn't given in enough detail to let me know if it was peer-reviewed, had a large enough sample, got truly significant results etc. I had only her word or the ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Badri rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am not a believer.

That said, this book was a decent read: I learned about a few interesting science experiments and advances, that blur the lines between traditional science and faith. I appreciate the authors effort in doing all the research, and her openness in terms of sharing points of view she doesn't subscribe to. However I found her coming to conclusions (often slight variations of the same thing) that she wants to believe in, rather than what one would arrive at if one were to think c
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“The real distinction between a material and spiritual worldview, [William] James wrote does not rest in "hair splitting abstraction about matter's inner essence, or about the metaphysical attributes of God. Materialism means simply the denial that the moral order is eternal, and the cutting off of ultimate hope; spiritualism means the affirmation of an eternal order, and the letting loose of hope".
Given the choice, I throw my lot in with hope.”
“I came to define God by His handiwork: a craftsman who builds the hope of eternity into our genes, a master electrician and chemist who outfits our brains to access another dimension, a guru who rewards our spiritual efforts by allowing us to feel united with all things, an intelligence that pervades every atom and every nanosecond, all time and space, in the throes of death, or the ecstasy of life.” 2 likes
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