Human religious experiences are remarkably uniform; many can be pharmacologically induced. Recent research into the neurology of religious experience has shown that, when worshipping or praying, a certain part of the brain, apparently dormant during other activities, becomes active. What does all this mean for those of faith and those with none? In this fascinating book barrister Charles Foster takes a survey of the evidence - from shamans to medieval mystics, to out-of-body experiences and epilepsy, via Jerusalem and middle-class Christianity - and assesses its significance. Written in short, accessible chapters, this is a fascinating tour of religious and mystical experiences and their relation to human physiology.
I'm a writer based in Oxford, UK. I teach at the University of Oxford, and am a Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford. Most of my books, in some way or other, are presumptuous and more or less unsuccessful attempts to work out what we are doing on this extraordinary planet. Those attempts have generated books on evolutionary biology, the physiology of spiritual experience, pilgrimage, Biblical archaeology, theology and ethics, as well as travel books.
I travel a lot, and have bled and left digits behind in some very unpleasant places. I'm a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and have a particular passion for camel expeditions.
I have a very long-suffering wife, Mary, and five wondrous, wild children: Lizzie, Sally, Tom, James and Rachel.
My website is www.charlesfoster.co.uk. It would be great if you could drop by there. If you'd like to email me to tell me how badly I've got things wrong in my books, I'm at email@example.com