Book review: Minds, Brains, Souls and Gods

by Malcolm Jeeves

★★★★

Thirty pages into this one, I was telling my partner that it wasn’t going to get a good rating. The style is a bit dry for me, the gimmick of presenting the material as a conversation seemed a bit artificial, and I’m no psychologist, so the research references and name-dropping went over my head.

Seventy pages in, I was ready to throw in the towel and scan the rest to write a review.

By the time I finished the book, I was wishing it hadn’t ended so quickly. It took time, but content trumped style.

Malcolm Jeeves examines free will, neuroscience, consciousness, placebos, reductionism, and much more to figure out what makes us human … and what a human being really is. Jeeves is a solid Christian, and his thinking is often flavored by the Bible or by his faith. Nevertheless, by reading this book you may begin to see things differently, through the eyeglasses of a renowned psychologist. You’ll see Alzheimer’s patients differently, you’ll see clinical depression differently.

Dualism doesn’t fit Jeeves’ mindset at all. He presents mind and brain as two aspects of a single unity, and defines soul as a complete you-ness, never described in scripture as a spiritual being trapped within a physical body. Soul and body can no more be separated than mind and brain, and this position is biblical (I believe he’s right).

Thing is, it was Jeeves himself who eventually sold me on the book. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay a book is that it changed my mind about something … and this one did. It made me think. I do now see something different about humans from other primates, and I do have a different understanding of “soul” than before. The bottom line: I learned to trust Jeeves and his research. I cannot quite put my finger on how or why such an intellect came across in the pages of this book as a humble man. But his quiet faith in God is a strong witness, even as he realizes we do not have all the answers.

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