A simultaneously grounded and inspiring approach to appreciating the benefits of both science and religion.



A holistic exploration of spiritual and religious practices through a scientific lens.

In this slim but dense and well-reasoned book, biologist Sheldrake (Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery, 2012, etc.) delves into seven common spiritual practices and relates the many healthy and transformative effects that can be attributed to each. The author offers a unique perspective as a well-regarded scientist with a profoundly grounded spiritual awareness. In the preface, he shares his particular path to enlightenment, from the secular and atheistic stance of his early scientific education to his eventual spiritual awakening through early experience with transcendental meditation and eventual travel to India, as well as his study of Hindu philosophy and Christian mysticism. Through all his studies, he has come to realize that “the old-fashioned opposition between science and religion is a false dichotomy. Open-minded scientific studies enhance our understanding of spiritual and religious practices.” Sheldrake devotes separate chapters to meditation; the flow of gratitude; connecting with nature; relating to plants; rituals and their relation to the past; singing, chanting, and the power of music; and pilgrimage and holy places. Throughout, he displays his vast knowledge of religious history and a broad range of scientific research, and he closes each chapter with at least two examples for practical applications. By the concluding chapter, the author establishes further reasons for maintaining a balanced awareness of both scientific and spiritual studies, and he feels that scientism extremists are imposing an unjustly rigid worldview. “I was disillusioned when I found that some people have made science into a kind of religion and are often exceptionally dogmatic,” he writes. “They accept the scientific worldview on faith, impressed by the authority and prestige of scientists, and imagine that they have arrived at this worldview by their own freethinking. I still believe in the ideal of open-minded science….In my own experience, believers in scientism are more dogmatic that most Christians.”

A simultaneously grounded and inspiring approach to appreciating the benefits of both science and religion.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64009-117-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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