Book review: Why God Won’t Go Away

by Andrew Newberg, M.D., Eugene D’Aquili, M.D, Ph.D., and Vince Rause


A single quote from this book probably explains all we need to know about why God won’t go away:

So impressive are the health benefits of religion … that after reviewing more than a thousand studies on the impact of religion upon health, Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University Medical Center recently told The New Republic, that “Lack of religious involvement has an effect on mortality that is equivalent to forty years of smoking one pack of cigarettes per day.

What more evidence do we need that evolution has wired us for religion? The subtitle is Brain Science & The Biology of Belief, and the back cover copy promises, “This fascinating, eye-opening book dares to explore both the miracle and the biology of our enduring relationship with God.”

The book begins with a short overview of the brain; in particular, the orientation association area that defines the “self.” The authors believe this area is extremely important in the brain’s sense of mystical and religious experiences.

Religion is far from new. The graves and shrines of the Neanderthals are the earliest known evidence of religious behavior. As soon as hominids began to behave like human beings, they began to wonder and worry about the deepest mysteries of existence—and found resolutions for those mysteries in the stories we call myths. This observation is central to the authors’ quest for understanding our religious need. Why would the human mind compel us, in every culture and throughout time, to seek answers to our most troubling problems in myth?

The book next discusses ritual, mysticism, and the mind’s search for absolutes … for the “realer than real.” Our minds are drawn by the intuition of a deeper reality, an utter sense of oneness with the Absolute. God, say the authors, will not go away, so long as we are capable of sensing something more.
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