A New Biology of Religion
Spiritual Practice and the Life of the Body
by Michael Steinberg
July 2012, 221pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-0284-3
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-0285-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The conflict between science and religion seems to be no closer to resolution today than it was when Darwin published The Origin of Species in the late 19th century. This book finds a way out of that impasse, rejecting both religious doctrines and the model of the mind-as-a-computer that most contemporary critics of religion embrace. It finds common ground between religious practice and modern advances in science, and it presents a case for the centrality of religion as a human practice.

This study provides a fresh look at the debate between science and religion that documents how the experiences produced by spiritual practice are surprisingly consistent with the findings of modern biology, despite the difficulty in reconciling scientific theories and religious dogma.

This book is unique in its focus on bodily experience as an independent source of knowledge and insight, an important aspect of recent discoveries in neurology and psychology. By rethinking what it is to be human and what role self-consciousness plays, it finds striking points of intersection between science and religion and challenges readers to rediscover their spiritual connections to the physical world.

Combining scientific rigor with the spiritual quest, A New Biology of Religion: Spiritual Practice and the Life of the Body reframes the science-religion debate. This profound work examines how all things are connected—both scientifically and spiritually—and shows how religious practices mirror the biological processes of life.

Michael Steinberg is the author of The Fiction of a Thinkable World: Body, Meaning, and the Culture of Capitalism. He has taught at the University of Rochester and writes regularly on the philosophy of German Idealism. Steinberg is also an initiate at a major center for South Indian tantrism.


"Steinberg, an independent scholar and attorney, presents a lively case for revisioning one's conception of both religion and biology along non-Western (mainly Eastern) lines. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. General readers."—Choice, January 1, 2013

"This profound and truly groundbreaking book outlines a new approach to issues of faith and disbelief. It marks a highly promising departure from the familiar debate in which believers and atheists take a stand behind dogmatic barricades. Instead of focusing upon the monotheistic religions alone and upholding or denying the possibility of a revealed truth Michael Steinberg turns to various non-western traditions and suggests how and why body and mind appear to respond to their ritual practices and find fulfilment in them."—Michael Francis Gibson, Writer and Independent Scholar, Author of The Mill and the Cross

"This beautifully articulate book brings much needed insight and sanity to the current debate between followers of science and religion. Steinberg's warm, intelligent voice leads us gently but persuasively to the recognition of an embodied spirituality that vanquishes the illusion of self/object duality and provides the basis for a genuinely ethical life. This is an enjoyable, informative, and illuminating read."—Judith Blackstone, Author of The Empathic Ground, The Intimate Life, and The Enlightenment Process

"Steinberg offers a refutation of the claims of the ‘new atheists’ that the Darwinian paradigm of evolutionary biology precludes the truth of any religion by showing that biology, rightly understood, suggests that humans are not computing devices inserted into robotic machines, but living wholes where life animates the minutest parts, and where community and inclusion are the rule, not exclusion and control. Conversant with the whole range of world religions and up to the minute in its grasp of biology, Steinberg argues that the life of a religion and the liveliness of its practices are the proper measures of its truth." —Michael Vater, Retired Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University
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