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Religion is a cultural system which creates a long lasting and powerful meaning through creating symbols which relate to human values and beliefs. Many religions have been known to possess symbols, traditions, sacred histories and narratives which are aimed at giving meaning to life or explaining the origin of the universe and life. Most religions have therefore been known to derive ethics, religious laws or morality from their ideas about human nature and the cosmos.
The most important ideas which emerge in "The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright about religion or spirituality are the human nature. The book seeks to determine what we do out of our own free will and what is driven through deep genetic programming which existed before the human race came into force. Questions about human nature for centuries back were answered through religion and partly by philosophy which were the major players at the table. The book explains the relationship which existed between the human psyche and genetics through a scientific inquiry. "The Moral Animal" therefore was about the new science of evolutionary psychology which confirmed some older beliefs and dislodged others out of the water.
The author defends the evolutionary psychology as being right while he points out former theories as being wrong. As opposed to "BORN TO BELIEVE" and "ISLAND", which believe in God as the creator of the universe and human beings, this books seeks to convince the reader that the human brains have over the years been undergoing evolutionary psychology from stage to stage which has changed the reasoning of human beings about spirituality and religion. However, the book just like the others clearly explains how the human brains have greatly contributed towards the spirituality or religious diversity of human beings.
This new paradigm held the view that women and men were equal or the same and that free love existed without any consequences. The book therefore examines the genetic legacy of human beings through the society, ethics, family, friendship and human sexuality. "The Moral Animal" examines the habits and life of the Charles Darwin, the father of evolution by comparing human beings to other primates of high standing like the bonobos and chimpanzees who are man's closest cousins. However, the author of the book, Robert Wright is unable to make any direct connections between the DNA of human beings and their behavior. He believes that the minds of human beings are as a result of available multitudinous genetic interaction through knobs which can be tuned by our own awareness and the environment in which w live in. solutions towards religion, previous scientific theories have only succeeded partially because of the way evolutionary psychology has turned out to be the means to understand human nature.
The most important ideas which emerge in the "BORN TO BELIEVE" by MD, Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg about religion or spirituality are about Science, God and the origin of extraordinary and ordinary beliefs. The book explores the biological basis of belief because it offers a well documented hypothesis which is fascinating and essential for believers in religion and the non believers alike. The book best explains why spiritual activities like meditation, speaking in tongues and prayer share and how they differ. It also explains why some people embrace atheism while others believe in God. The mysteries of life are give meanings through ordinary and extra ordinary beliefs which motivate human beings and give human beings their individual uniqueness and eventual change the function and structure of their brains. The books spiritual and religious role are best explained through memories, superstitions, morals, beliefs and complex views which are created through the brains' neutral activities.
The above book clearly illustrates the diverse religious and spiritual beliefs in the American society. The American society is composed of people with varied religious beliefs and morals. Some people in the American society embrace atheism while some other individuals have a strong believe in God. The book therefore accounts well for the believers and non believers in the American society by comparing their spiritual beliefs. In all the texts, the psychology of religion that consists of the application of interpretive frameworks and psychological methods together with both religious and irreligious people is well described. The books attempt to describe accurately the origins, uses and details of religious behaviors and beliefs.
Even though the psychology of religion in the American society came as a self conscious discipline during the late 19th century, religion has a history which dates back many centuries before the 19th century. Spirituality and religion plays an important role in the lives of American people. However, it is very difficult to ascertain whether the roles of religion and spirituality lead to positive or negative outcomes. To have a greater understanding and benefit about spirituality and religion in the American society, then additional research about the outcomes and pathways which underlie the association between religion and spirituality will need additional research and continued dialogue.
The book explains how the spirituality of human beings is constructed through our fondest assumptions and deepest convictions about the reality and the world that surrounds us. Through the use of religion, psychology and science, the authors give recommendations which are aimed at exercising the brains so as to establish a more flexible range and life affirming attitudes. The way one looks at herself or himself and the world can be changed forever by understanding how the human brains builds value, meaning, truth and spirituality in one's life. The authors of the book strongly believe that our beliefs are formed through 4 spheres of influence namely cognition, social consensus, perception and emotional value which interact. The book further explores the spiritual beliefs and brains by discussing brain scans of an atheist, catholic nuns, monks, Pentecostals and catholic nuns. The book discusses the moral dilemma and explains the gap which exists between moral behavior and belief.
Even though many theories have existed which attempt to explain the sociological and psychological reason on why individuals nurture their spiritual beliefs but the real answer is found in neuroscience, the brains. The book therefore gives an overview of the contemporary brain research which is capable of creating a cerebral representation of various kinds of spiritual and religious experiences which even includes the rare scenario of an atheist who seriously meditates to God. According to the authors of this book, it is argued that at first, religious beliefs are mixed up with other concepts concerning the world and then eventually judged according to their social and personal wholesomeness and usefulness. The authors prefer open minded and well tolerant leaders to dogmatic and fanatic religious leaders who may influence people towards violence.
For instance Dalai Lama is praised for being an open minded and religious leader. But the big question arises as to whether there is a good reason or evidence for the Buddhists' idea of karma or rebirth adequately represents reality. Under this aspect, it does not count whether there is equal justification and similar representation in the brain when searching for truth. For Christians, the existence of Karma or rebirth cannot exist in their religious or spiritual belief at all because a Christian God is supposed to be almighty and benevolent as well. The book further acknowledges that contemporary scientists have no believe in God (p.242) because they lack good reasons to do so. The authors of book unfortunately, don't arrive at naturalistic point of view because perhaps, sociological and psychological explanations concerning religious beliefs are not readily replaceable and superfluous by neuroscience.
In all the three texts, there appears a striking parallel between the role of evolution of the human kind and religion. All the texts appear to provide security in a very marginal, insecure state of the existence of the human race. The books also point out the role that the brains play in determining the spirituality or religion of human beings. The texts therefore play a very constructive role in the evolution of human beings and by so doing facilitating the progress of opulence. The wide divergence in perspectives which emerge in the three texts about religion and the role it plays in social and person life is clearly highlighted. From these texts, it can be ascertained that religion is based on the belief that its principles are totally of a different order. Religion has been known to propose a spate level of understanding that is knowable via human reason. Religious practices and beliefs have therefore led to the production of unique human institutions. It is therefore with this in mind that the human generation has been known to be distinct from other animal species because of religion and language.
According to the "ISLAND" and other texts the role of religion is that it aims towards secularization holding the view that technology and science will take the place of religion. Secularization has been known to support the separation of religion and spirituality in the American society from psychology, ethics and politics. Secularization has also been known to deny divinity, rationality and transcendence in religious beliefs among the American society. In all the texts, religion and spirituality has been known to play the role of religious transformation because challenges towards secularization resulted in notable revisions which led to religious transformation. In this aspect, it has been ascertained that general trends aimed at social integration and individualism will lead to changes in transformation and therefore making religious beliefs and practices to be more spiritually focused and become more individualized in the American society. This will in turn lead to more spiritual seeking in the American society even though not exclusive towards American religious institutions.
The American society ha s remained to be one of the most religious societies in the whole world. The texts therefore explains clearly why the American society is composed of a population which engages itself into various organized religious practices while some others have preferred to engage in private spirituality. Reading all the three texts clearly portrays how religion plays a vital role in the American society and how a change in religious life of the American society will have a great impact on the personal morality, social climate and public life of individuals. There will therefore be a growing religious diversity in the American society for years to come following the continued research on religion and spirituality.