About the book
Brain & Belief: An Exploration of the Human Soul came out in 2004. The book derives from my studies of human nature, “philosophical anthropology” as the subject is sometimes known. Though Brain & Belief was informed by a great deal of academic research, it is not an academic book; I wrote it for a wider audience. Here’s the blurb from the back cover:
Are we souls born to live forever or animals meant to pass a few decades upon this planet’s surface? Are we ‘angels to be’ or just beasts? The importance of the idea of the soul cannot be overstated. In this fascinating book the concept of the soul is thoroughly investigated. From its beginnings in prehistoric religion to its central importance in Western faith traditions, the soul has been a constant source of fascination and speculation. Brain & Belief seeks to understand humankind's obsession with life, death, and the afterlife. Exploring the latest insights from neuroscience, psychopharmacology, and existential psychology, McGraw exhaustively researches the various takes on the human soul and considers the meaning of the soul in a postmodern world. The ambitious scope of the book is balanced by a deeply personal voice whose sympathy for both science and religion is resonant.
Below are some of the early reviews of the book, many reader reviews can be found on amazon.com; they are not all good, of course, but many people seem to have appreciated the book so I feel like it was time well spent. I’ve followed up on many of these ideas ever since and will probably come out with a revised edition, or some other books along similar lines, in the future.
Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine
"...an important addition to the pantheon of popular science books... And it's a good read to boot!"
"A stimulating narrative...and an accessible pathway to the complex intersection of science, philosophy, psychology and religion."
"This substantially documented work is a philosophical quest to make sense of the myths and realities shrouding the human soul."
Science & Theology News
"McGraw’s work is especially noteworthy in that he combines comprehensive historical excavation with the most recent findings on brain functioning."
Daniel Liechty, author of Transference and Transcendence
"...McGraw covers an amazingly broad territory in this fine study."