All in the Mind?

All in the Mind? : Does Neuroscience Challenge Faith?

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Much progress has been made to understand the intricacies of the brain's workings. Some have claimed, and many assumed, that these findings have challenged faith in God to the point of destruction. Are we not mere neural machines? Are religious experiences not just "in the mind", the products of abnormal "brain events"? Is faith not just a side effect of evolution? Not so, according to neuroscientist Peter Clarke, after a lifetime's study of the brain. In this comprehensive book, the current state of neuroscientific evidence is weighed up alongside ideas of what it means to be human, the idea of the soul, near-death experiences, and questions of free will and responsibility. He engages with the leading thinkers in these areas, including Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Daniel more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 136 x 214 x 16mm | 260g
  • Lion Hudson Plc
  • Lion Books
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • B&W maps and diagrams
  • 0745956750
  • 9780745956756
  • 433,614

About Peter Clarke

Peter Clarke is is a retired Associate Professor at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and a neuroscientist. Following a first degree at the University of Oxford, England, he did a PhD with philosopher-neurobiologist Donald MacKay at the University of Keele (UK), then postdoctoral jobs in Oxford, England and St. Louis, He has been awarded two international prizes: The Ingle Writing Award and the Demuth Foundation Award for Medical Research. He is Associate Editor of the journal, Science and Christian Belief, and lectures widely on science and religion, mainly on questions relating to the more

Review quote

"In this impressive overview the author draws on decades of his own experience in brain research to tackle a wide range of questions concerning the relationship between the neurosciences and faith. Free-will and determinism; the question of the soul; religious experience; criminal responsibility; near-death experiences - all these topics and many more are tackled in a style accessible to the general reader, yet drawing on the latest research publications. This highly commended book is essential reading for anyone interested in the latest findings on brain and religion." * Denis Alexander, Emeritus Director, The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund's College, Cambridge * "Reports of exciting discoveries by neuroscientists are frequently followed by speculation about what these discoveries may mean for traditional beliefs about human nature, including our religious beliefs. The links between mind and brain seem to tighten with every new discovery so we wonder are we really nothing more than a machine without free will, and is there any longer room for the soul? And, given the discoveries of rudimentary aspects of religious behaviour in animals, what is special, if anything, about our religious belief and practices? This book, written by someone with a lifetime career in neuroscience, gives a concise, evenhanded, fair-minded, well-informed and balanced account of how some of our cherished religious beliefs look in light of what neuroscience tells us. Peter Clarke does not offer slick, dogmatic, simplistic answers to difficult problems but makes accessible to the nonspecialist the relevant evidence necessary to reach meaningful conclusions. He argues for an attitude of open but not empty-minded assessment. This excellent book is up-to-date, clearly written, helpful in thinking through pressing issues and is thoroughly permeated by a secure Christian faith solidly based on historical biblical foundations. I commend it most warmly." * Malcolm Jeeves, Emeritus Professor, CBE, F.Med.Sci, FRSE, past President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, past Editor-in-Chief of Neuropsychologia, School of Psychology and Neurosciences, St Andrews University * "Peter Clarke gives a wide-ranging critique of the view that there is a threat to human responsibility and dignity from modern neuroscience. He writes as an expert on how and why brain cells live and die, and a practising Christian. He urges us to take seriously the observations and experiments that show that wherever it has been possible to device a means of testing the issue, all our cognitive abilities, including making judgments and ethical decisions, depend on the integrity of brain circuits. On the other hand he shows that it does not follow that we are nothing but automata: you need your brain but you aren't its slave. There is careful discussion of a number of the arguments often presented as knocking down one view or another, such as whether the Libet experiment undermines free will, and whether `near-death experiences' prove that materialism is false. Contrary to the common view that modern neuroscience leaves no room for the soul, Clarke argues that it leaves plenty of room for an Aristotelean-Thomist view of the soul and there are the theological reasons for preferring this to the Platonic concept. He reviews the claim that modern neuroscience presents fundamental challenges to key notions of criminal responsibility and finds it wanting. A demanding but rewarding read." * Dr Stuart Judge, neuroscientist, Emeritus Reader in Physiology, University of Oxford * "Peter Clarke has written a fascinating account of the workings of the human brain and a calm, measured and well-informed rebuttal of the many ways in which modern neuroscience has been hijacked to deny human free will and religious belief. Thoroughly to be recommended." * Rodney Holder * "This is a well-argued and compelling defence of religious belief in the face of apparent challenges from neuroscience, psychology, and genetics." * Russell Stannard, Professor of Physics, The Open University * "In this very original book Professor Clarke takes up the challenge of reconciling modern reductionist neuroscience with the central doctrines of religion and theology. The result is a stimulating and highly readable survey of the sweep of contemporary brain research and a successful demolition of the idea that neuroscience necessarily dethrones human values." * VS Ramachandran, author of The Tell-Tale Brain * "The question of the veracity of the tenets of religious faith in the context of current advances in neuroscience is both fascinating to consider and critical to bring within a proper perspective. In this book, neurophysiologist Peter Clarke allows the reader to encounter the fascination of advances in neuroscience in a way that is clear and of sufficient depth to be authoritative. Clarke also leads the reader beyond fascination into consideration of what is implied, and not implied, by neuroscience for a philosophical and theological account of human nature. It is clear from Clarke's exposition that a scientific account of the embodiment of human thought and action, when correctly understood, poses no threat to belief in human agency, the causal role of conscious thought, and the possibilities for genuine moral action and personal responsibility. What is more, Clarke's exposition suggests that a more embodied view of humankind can fund a robust faith." * Warren S. Brown, research neuropsychologist and author of several books on the relationship between neuroscience and faith, director, the Travis Research Institute, the Fuller Theological Seminary and Professor of Psychology, Graduate School of Psychology * "This book is a must read for those interested in the interface between faith and neuroscience. Throughout, Professor Clarke advocates an integrated, holistic approach to the major questions where neuroscience and faith impinge. He touches on our core beliefs about who we are, and deals with hotbed arguments around free will and responsibility. He gives a clear analysis of the arguments and indicates where he would draw the line. As a scientist he does not shy from engaging with other disciplines like philosophy and as a molecular neuroscientist he keeps a healthy balance between molecular and systems approaches. He shows how advances in neuroscience inform at all levels who we are. I highly commend this informative book. * Harvey T. McMahon * "'Modern neuroscience raises challenges for many of our most basic ethical and religious beliefs' writes neuroscientist Peter Clarke in the introduction to All in the Mind. In this honest, clearly written, and wide-ranging book, he describes how the brain works and discusses the relationship between brain mechanisms, mind, consciousness, free/conscious will, morality, and a range of spiritual/religious beliefs and experiences. The breadth of scholarship is impressive, giving rise to a very informative text with a large amount of material packed economically into its pages. It is a much-needed and welcome addition to the Science-Religion literature." * John Bryant, Emeritus Professor, University of Exeter *show more

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