The Transcendent Brain: Spirituality
in the Age of Science

Professor Alan Lightman

The Transcendent Brain: Spirituality in the Age of Science, book cover and description.

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.

The Transcendent Brain: Spirituality in the Age of Science is available from your favorite bookseller & online internationally from Amazon.

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About The Author

Alan Lightman is a renowned, essayist, physicist, and educator. He has taught at Harvard and at MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities. He is currently Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Professor 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.

You can learn more about the groundbreaking work of Alan Lightman by visiting his MIT website and Wikipedia page.

Photo: © Michael Lionstar

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