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The Brain & Spirituality

A remarkable discovery has emerged in astrophysics: key properties of the universe have just the right values to make life possible. Most scientists prefer to explain away this uniqueness, insisting that a number of unseen universes must therefore exist, each randomly different. Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch joined George Knapp in the first half of the show to propose the alternative—that the special properties of our universe reflect an underlying intelligent consciousness.

In the second half of the program, veteran journalist Chris Taylor talked about how the Star Wars franchise has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics, and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike.

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The Brain & Spirituality

Show Archive
Date: Sunday - December 5, 2004
Host: Art Bell
Guests: Matthew Alper

Mathew Alper, the author of The God Part of the Brain, discussed his theory that human beings are genetically hard wired to experience some form of spirituality. He suggested that over time humanity evolved in this direction as a way of coping with the inevitable knowledge of their deaths. Being compelled to believe "there's something out there," was developed in a region of the brain, he contends.

Alper noted that a recent Time Magazine cover story titled Is God in Our Genes? (reprinted here) referenced many of his original ideas, but credited them to author Dean Hamer, whose book on the subject recently came out (Alper's book was published years earlier).

Beyond the "god" part of the brain, Alper said there is mounting evidence for a "love" part of the brain. He cited studies that show women can release hormones such as oxytocin, that create a chemistry of bonding, such as with their newborn. He also asserted that criminal behavior can be traced to genetic defects or neurotransmitter imbalances, and that ultimately manipulating or reprogramming an offender's brain chemistry would be more useful than imprisonment.

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