Authors & Events
Mar 14, 2023
| ISBN 9780593317419
Mar 14, 2023
| ISBN 9780593317426
Mar 14, 2023
| 330 Minutes
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Mar 14, 2023 | ISBN 9780593317419
Mar 14, 2023 | ISBN 9780593317426
Mar 14, 2023 | ISBN 9780593669150
From the acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams comes a fascinating investigation of “spiritual materialism”—transcendent experiences for the scientifically inclined.Modern science teaches us that all things can be explained in terms of atoms and molecules, including the inner workings of the brain. But certain personal experiences seem to challenge that rigid materialism. Gazing at the stars, falling in love, or listening to music, we sometimes feel a transcendent connection with a cosmic unity that is not easily understood by the reductionist methods of science. But according to acclaimed physicist and novelist Alan Lightman, we can embrace these spiritual experiences without letting go of our scientific worldview.Lightman draws on a rich intellectual history and on contemporary scientists to explore this fascinating intersection between religion and science. Eighteenth-century philosopher Moses Mendelssohn’s rational arguments for the soul foreground our thinking about non-materiality; Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius’ writings suggest how strict materialism might explain elusive phenomena; neuroscientist Christof Koch lays the foundation for the material basis of consciousness; and social psychologist Cynthia Frantz provides a scientific explanation for our deep connection to nature and to things larger than ourselves.Lightman weaves these ideas together to argue for a concept he calls “spiritual materialism”—the view that spiritual experiences are consistent with a scientific view of the world. And he suggests that various aspects of such experiences actually had survival benefits in our evolutionary history. Spirituality, in this sense, is not only compatible with a strictly scientific view but also remains at the core of what it means to be human.
ALAN LIGHTMAN is the author of six novels, including the international best seller Einstein’s Dreams and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award. He has taught at Harvard and at MIT, where he was the first person to… More about Alan Lightman
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