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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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  275 Ratings  ·  28 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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Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.

Amber Volk
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Eneas Núñez
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is not for this generation. This is the short-version generation, the my-opinions-are-facts generation and this book (like any science book) is full of investigation results that can be used by a religious group or a skeptic. It's incredibly interesting to realize how people's beliefs and the rituals (prayers, speaking in tongues, meditation) is all a biological response. I didn't understand a lot of it, considering neurology is not my strong point, however it's a fascinating book, tho ...more
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
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
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Tess Rupprecht
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Helping fill in the gap between science and spirituality / belief / spontaneous healing... A physician who attempts to explore how we get into our own beliefs. Yet getting into a belief is not a car park; something we just reverse out of... even though you can see perhaps learn about how you have come to believe what you believe you still can't change it!!
Dec 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!
Dan Burke
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love Andrew Newberg's books! They take a very different approach to understanding brain function and our belief systems. He keeps a unbiased view of belief systems and examines them all in terms of how brain function is affected. A very good bridge between science and religion!
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, sociology
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.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent exploration of neuroscience research on contemplative activity and what it might suggest about the nature of belief!
Dec 01, 2009 is currently reading it
Interesting examination of current knowledge of how the brain works.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it
It was below my expectations.
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Interesting, but technical.
Mitch Wilde
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Caffection Mariah  Byron
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mariah-read
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Another interesting look at the cognitive science behind belief.
Eileen Dougherty
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A great book if you want to learn how we think and how we function.
Dec 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Fantastic! If you are interested in philosophy, education or life-long learning......check it out!!!
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Meh nothing new here folks.
Oct 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Mostly a review but I did enjoy a few new ideas...
Hunter Marston
Dec 17, 2009 rated it liked it
This was the famous case study on the Tibetan Buddhist monks meditating while neuroscientists monitored their brain activity. Very interesting.
rated it it was amazing
Sep 25, 2011
Dawn Petersen
rated it really liked it
Sep 04, 2011
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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

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