Intelligent Design

Reviewers, reviewers: Booklist and Library Journal reviews of The Spiritual Brain

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Reading reviews of a book one wrote is one of the best ways to study popular cultural assumptions about who you are and what you are trying to say:

From the Booklist review

Neuroscientist Beauregard is no flighty New-Ager or Creationist but, he says, one of a minority of neuroscientists who don’t adhere to strictly materialist interpretation of the human mind. … That is, it is too limiting to strictly confine the origin of all human thought to material or chemical interactions. In this complex tome, he …

I am glad that the Booklist reviewer explained the key point a non-materialist neuroscientist would want to make. But for the record, Mario Beauregard – no New-Ager or Creationist – is a perennialist. And The Spiritual Brain is not a complex tome. As psychiatrist Jeff Schwartz says,

It clearly explains non-materialist neuroscience in simple terms appropriate for the lay reader, while building on and extending work that Sharon Begley and I began in The Mind and The Brain, and work that Mario and I collaborated on in academic publications.

[other links to much Mindful Hack fun below]
Others have noted the book’s simplicity and clarity here, here, here, and here.

I’d gladly quote the whole review, but I cannot find it online yet. On the whole, I am pretty pleased with it though. It is always nice when the reviewer more or less understands WHAT you are trying to do.

I wish I could say the same thing for the Library Journal review, also not yet on line. The reviewer writes that the book

… argues further that mystical experience shows spiritual beings must exist, and that the existence of God is probable. This conclusion is beyond science.

Actually, the book argues that the mind is not the same thing as the brain ora n illusion (the materialist view), and that reports of life-changing spiritual experiences are credible, based on the evidence. It is a lay introduction to non-materialist neuroscience. Theistic religious believers will, of course, assume that these findings are also evidence for God according to their tradition – but that isn’t the point the book makes.

That review, which I will link to when available, illustrates the widespread belief that science evidence – by definition – cannot support non-material realities. The reviewer may not realize that that is one of the fundamental doctrines of materialism, which regards science as its handmaiden – and increasingly, the university as its police academy.

However, this reviewer does at least say that the book

… argues well in clear, readable prose, avoiding highly technical language.

, which is pretty much the consensus of reviewers. As the writer on the team, I’m prtty happy about that.

Actually, these days, I’m happy when a reviewer appears to have actually read the work, at least in part, even if he misunderstood it. Mike Behe may not have been so lucky, as Cameron Wybrow implies in his Philadelphia Inquirer review of Edge of Evolution.

And also:

Does simulating out of body experiences prove that ther is no soul?

Straws in the wind: Why did a skeptics’ society change its name?

Why you shouldn’t vote for a politician who says that his religion will not influence him.

Atheism poster boy rants against genome mapper Francis Collins in science journal Nature

A thoughtful look at why it is difficult to separate politics and religion

One Reply to “Reviewers, reviewers: Booklist and Library Journal reviews of The Spiritual Brain

  1. 1
    Collin says:

    I look forward to reading it. I enjoyed Schwartz’ “the mind and the brain” but it was a tad long and technical in some places.

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