Spiritual Evidence

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR's religion correspondent and the author of Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality, talks about what science has learned about spirituality.


Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Comments [30]


God exists because He has touched the lives of billions of people. Multitudes of people give testimony of having been touched by God's Spirit.

But, of course, athiests deny anything they don't experience and understand.
Atheism is selective reasoning based on biased evidence. For instance, they deny the existance of Jesus by misrepresenting history and historical evidence. When speaking with athiests, I see a lot of sceptical arguements and extreme biases. But not much balance in discussion. Not very scientific in their approach to gathering evidence and experience. Just fanatical denialism.

They can not see that which spiritually connected because they have turned away from using their spiritual senses in that regards. This is like trying to seeing infrared light having destroyed the night vision goggles that allowed them to see it in the first place.

Dec. 11 2010 01:09 PM
Mara5525 from East Coast

Ugh. Atheists are truly (truly!) just as obnoxious as people who are fanatical about their religious beliefs (helpful hint: being fanatical is not = to being a believer for a great many people).
#8 thinks it's great that "religious people [are] trying to reconcile their belief in religion with the facts of science, rather than just deny scientific realities". I think scientists are the truly arrogant ones, though. They are the ones who cannot "reconcile their belief [in their science] with religion. Scientists seem to be similar to the thought-patterns of #22, who puts *her* faith in the incredibly ignorant, biased belief that it's all just "mental aberration", if one believes in spirituality or hears voices (oh yes, and she informs us that science has proven that there is no god. Hooray. Yes, thanks for the tip, #22; glad that's all settled, then).
Such people are sickening in how close-minded they are.
Thank God that people like Barbara Bradley Hagarty exist, and write excellent books, such as her "Fingerprints of God".
Ms Hagarty admits to her beliefs, (and justifiably sees no shame in them) but Also keeps an open mind and stays humble to the great unknown in all of this. Her humbleness is something these arrogant know-it-alls could do well to incorporate into their own biased views and beliefs.

Jun. 03 2009 02:51 PM
Barry Leiba from Cortlandt Manor, NY

I like Ms Hagerty's comparison of a gene tending one toward belief in God to a gene tending one toward schizophrenia. I've long made that comparison myself, though not from a genetic angle. What we consider religious piety (say, visions of God, or imagined conversations with Jesus) would be thought symptoms of schizophrenia in other contexts (visions of Alexander the Great, or imagined conversations with Elvis).

I blogged about this some time ago, here:

Jun. 03 2009 02:11 PM

Maybe the genetic component is more complex that just a single "god gene."

For example, on a pretty basic level, maybe the capacity-for-abstract-thinking-gene (or set of genes) is weaker in those who believe in the literal Bible.

Jun. 02 2009 02:39 PM
hjs from 11211

i doubt renaissance painters knew any more about god than u do. i've been to catholic churches, i guess god wasn't there that day or i missed him if s/he was. maybe he stopped in briefly when i was in the bathroom??
or maybe he was at the easter bunny's tea party

Jun. 02 2009 01:41 PM
amanda from nj

Being a believer in God and experiencing the positive changes in my life because of my spiritual connection with him. I was very intrigued to hear Barbara on your show and excited about the science behind it.

That said, I was absolutely floored by her disregard for drug abuse and the lives it destroys. LSD and Mushrooms do not give a spiritual experience; they just alter your brain chemistry. Being a recovering drug and alcohol abuser I know this first hand. Also in the 1970’s Carl Jung and Bill Wilson’s experiments with LSD proved them to be obsolete for use in spiritual growth.

I think it, very dangerous to state drugs give you a spiritual experience. I am going to read her book. I would like to further hear her argument.

Coming from the side of drugs and alcohol having destroyed my life, health and my relationship with God, I am surprised there was no questioning of the spiritual bankruptcy drugs cause rather than the promotion of LSD as a way to reach God.

Thank you for your and the subjects it covers show keep it up!

Jun. 02 2009 12:25 PM
sam chesney smith from bkny

i don't believe the writer is saying that's this inquiry has concluded, end of story...her investigations remains open and rightfully so-all the nay sayers ought to pipe down a bit and try to remain 'empty'!

Jun. 02 2009 12:07 PM
Ed Helmrich from Larchmont, NY

Brian Lehrer seems to think that it doesn't matter if God exists or not: if one believes in Him, and acts better, what's the difference. He has a point, if the idea is better behavior.
But the other idea is that our behavior is important but not of utmost importance: it's our relationship with this Person, God. His existence is of course required for this. And if God is going to save us from death, in this world and eternally, He has to exist.
So many questions: I would be glad to introduce Him to you: please go into any Catholic Church, kneel before the tabernacle, and you will be speaking to God under the species of bread and wine.
No, I'm not saying this in the sense of Pascal's wager, we're talking real existence and real interaction.
Yes, God has a penis (he took on human nature): look at all those Renaissance paintings. What He does with it: you'll have to ask Him.

Jun. 02 2009 12:02 PM
Barbara Lifton from New York City (Where rational people live!)

Ms. Hagerty is a smart women. I think she might think about researching mental illnesses-especially those which cause people to hear voices in their heads.
Belief in magic or in supernatural phenomena is a mental aberration, not practiced by intelligent, educated people who understand the scientific method. Whether a 'god' exists outside the known universe who "controls" the world, and can be "contacted" by humans is an hypothesis which has been thoroughly researched by qualified scientists. (See, Victor Stenger.) The answer is "no."
If the NIH is funding research into a 'god gene' maybe Congress should re-examine its budget.

Jun. 02 2009 11:34 AM

Just saw "Drag Me to Hell," so wanted to ask:

Would the "God gene" be different from the "Hell gene?"

Jun. 02 2009 11:34 AM
Rob from The Bronx

Of course prayer works. You just need to be aware of certain things before to increase the effectiveness of your prayers.
1) Do not pray for anything that violates natural laws.
2) Do not pray for anything that violates the laws of probability.
3) After praying, work diligently to achieve that which you have prayed for.

If you observe these simple rules then your prayers will be answered.

To Ed from Larchmont: Are you alluding to Pascals wager?

Jun. 02 2009 11:31 AM
buster from brooklyn

Ed, you've seen Him?
So, does that mean God has a penis?
How odd that the Creator of the Universe would have one. What's He use it for??

Jun. 02 2009 11:28 AM
hjs from 11211

where did u see him? can u introduce him/her to me??

Jun. 02 2009 11:25 AM
Ed Helmrich from Larchmont, NY

We believe in God because we have seen Him.

Jun. 02 2009 11:20 AM
the truth from bkny

Neurotransmitters in the brain, agreed...that no human being has ever been able to replicate.

Jun. 02 2009 11:20 AM
Malcolm Addey from New York City

Why are you polluting our airwaves with such pseudo (non)-scientific rubbish.
Also why do you never (for balance !) have an atheist challenging such nonsense, the way you have a religious spokesperson when an atheist is on the air?

Jun. 02 2009 11:19 AM
buster from brooklyn

I live in a material universe.
Experience exists in 3 lbs. of goo in my skull.
My brain makes me think there is a supernatural, which doesn't mean there actually is anything that is supernatural.
You cannot coerce science into proving the supernatural.
See this site & the writings of Michael Shermer

Jun. 02 2009 11:19 AM
Julian from Manhattan

"Spirituality" as you are describing it is reducing a complex mental experience to the interplay of neurotransmitters and synaptic connections. It's high time that the rest of faith and religion was similarly viewed, so that we as a civilization can move on to greater things. To connect these findings to the notion that this phenomenon has been implanted by a higher being is to engage in the same tautological arguments which perpetuate belief without any evidence.

Jun. 02 2009 11:19 AM
Richard Bonomo from Yonkers

Tt can only be biochemistry. All of our experience is mediated by our neurotransmitters. Humans add meaning to the sensations that they experience. A transcendent experience is one where you notice that your feelings/beliefs/thoughts/etc. change. In fact, you've changed your mind.

God need not be invoked for any of this.

Jun. 02 2009 11:17 AM
Ed Helmrich from Larchmont, NY

It makes a lot of difference if God exists or not, for sure.

Jun. 02 2009 11:17 AM
eve from newark

I had a near death experience and what I experienced was very unusual, but I have chosen to remain an atheist as I was before. You should interview some people that had 'spiritual experiences' and did not change there ways afterward, to make your 'study' level.

Jun. 02 2009 11:16 AM
jay from queens

I was once terribly overwhelmed with worry,for a few horrible moments, and did not have anyone to share it with. I suddenly felt someone touch my shoulder and turned to see who it was. There was no one there, but my worries had been relieved! I suddenly realized someone is watching over me.

Jun. 02 2009 11:15 AM
CBrown from Brooklyn

This 'god gene' idea is silly, but it's nice to see religious people trying to reconcile their belief in religion with the facts of science, rather than just deny scientific realities.

Jun. 02 2009 11:15 AM
Evelyn Parr from Astoria

I friend of mine recently went through a difficult struggle and escaped to an ashram. When she came back, she was very different and I can't understand it. Is she escaping her problem or was she transcended over it by this ashram?

A truly concerned friend,

Jun. 02 2009 11:14 AM
the truth from bkny

All human beings have the "God" gene. Whether or not they know how to activate it is another segment.

Jun. 02 2009 11:14 AM
Laura from Nyack NY

Wasn't Dean Hamer, the guy behind the 'god gene', the same guy behind the 'gay gene'... a gay man himself whose research was pretty much thoroughly discounted? (Not because he was gay, but because it was bad research.)

Jun. 02 2009 11:12 AM
HC from brooklyn

Would the faith in the revelation of science (as the singular method for obtaining truth) also be considered a religious experience. Afterall science is also a sort of transcendence insofar as it reveals a truth which is other than what might be immediately experiencesd in day to day life and requires a faith in the reduction of truth to something quantifiable. So, would most scientists also have this gene?

Jun. 02 2009 11:12 AM
steds from chelsea.

unrelated to this show-

fundraiser drives always fall the week before i get paid! for those who get paid on a bi-weekly basis, they typically lay low until this friday. I always want to give, but miss the pledge drive deadline because it would hurt my cash flow. i imagine if you moved your drive by 1 week, you would see an increase in pledge members.

Jun. 02 2009 11:12 AM
hjs from 11211

god gene = gullible gene or follower gene.

Jun. 02 2009 11:10 AM
Laura from Nyack NY

Wasn't Dean Hamer, the guy behind the God Gene, the same guy who proposed the Gay Gene, a gay man himself whose research was pretty much totally discounted? (Not because he was gay, but because it was bad research.)

Jun. 02 2009 11:10 AM

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