The Biology of the Human SpiritBook - 2007
In recent years, a considerable body of evidence has been accumulating in both the physical and social sciences suggesting that our spiritual nature is real and not illusory, or that there is something there. This book provides an accessible inter-disciplinary study of recent scholarly work in human spirituality. Zoologist David Hay analyzes extensive research on contemporary attitudes drawn from surveys and polls; his investigative work with the late Oxford zoologist Alister Hardy, founder of the Religious Experience Research Unit; and more than thirty years of his own research experience. Evidence is presented in the context of Western cultural history, beginning with tracing a repression of spiritual awareness arising from the European Enlightenment view of God as the most remotely theoretical of all intellectual fantasies. Like Hardy, Hay believes spirituality is prior to religion and is a built-in, biologically structured dimension of the lives of all members of the human species. Spirituality has a biological context. Hay contends, through which religion can rise, but does not necessarily do so. To evaluate this hypothesis, he examines a lengthy research procedure in the 1990s and excerpts from a poll in which ordinary people talk about how they try to make sense of their spiritual lives. The findings conclusively show that, regardless of cultural influences and variations in beliefs about traditional religion, the most common phenomenon is an all-pervasive sense of something there. He points to evidence that spiritual awareness is rooted in our physiological make-up. He argues that this awareness is the underpinning of ethics, thus ignoring or repressing spirituality hasdamaging effects on Western society. He notes the current upsurge of interest in spirituality which he sees as both a symptom of the malaise and an opportunity to begin the reconstruction of a humane moral commonwealth. Hay uses the results of his research to consider ways of overcoming the negative image of the institution of religion. He sees recovery of contemplative prayer as one of the most important tasks of the church. He concludes that most people are already deeply interested in the search for ultimate meaning and long to repudiate our alienation from our human essence and to rebuild a relationship with the Creator.... This amounts to the prying open of a cultural valve long choked up, but never quite closed, because at some level people have always known that there is 'something there.'
Publisher: West Conshohocken, PA : Templeton Foundation Press, 2007.
Branch Call Number: 204
Characteristics: xiv, 316 p. ; 22 cm.