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Publisher's Summary

Is spiritual experience real or a delusion? Are there realities that we can experience but not easily measure? Does your consciousness depend entirely on your brain, or does it extend beyond?

In Fingerprints of God, award-winning journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty delves into the discoveries science is making about how faith and spirituality affect us physically and emotionally as it attempts to understand whether the ineffable place beyond this world can be rationally - even scientifically - explained. Hagerty interviews some of the world's top scientists to describe what their groundbreaking research reveals about our human spiritual experience.

From analyses of the brain functions of Buddhist monks and Carmelite nuns, to the possibilities of healing the sick through directed prayer, to what near-death experiences illuminate about the afterlife, Hagerty reaches beyond what we think we know to understand what happens to us when we believe in a higher power. \Paralleling the discoveries of science is Hagerty's own account of her spiritual evolution. Raised a Christian Scientist, she was a scrupulous adherent until a small moment as an adult triggered a reevaluation of her beliefs, which in turn led her to a new way of thinking about God and faith.

An insightful examination of what science is learning about how and why we believe, Fingerprints of God is also a moving story of one person's search for a communion with a higher power and what she discovered on that journey.

©2008 Barbara Hagerty (P)2009 Tantor

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  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Frisco, TX, USA
  • 06-13-09

Good Overview of "Spiritual Biology"

A very well done book presenting the science involved in how we have spiritual experiences. She talks about her own spiritual experience and how it drove her to find out more about how the brain works, how other experience a divine presence, etc. She also gives a good overview of the counter-arguments against these things being anything other than our brain firing in a unique way.

For those of a spiritual inclination, there are many, many stories of people encountering a divine force, and how they became important forces of change for that individual. For those not inclined, it's provides insights into why people feel the way they do, as well as a layman's view of how things happen.

The audio presentation is also well done. The reader does a good job with the material and is easy to understand.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Reston, VA, USA
  • 03-16-10

An Honest Examination, Some Beautiful Conclusions

I would have given the book 4.5 stars, because I do think it has its flaws, but I rounded up to 5 because it honestly was worth every penny I spent to listen to it.

As a person searching for God without sacrificing reason, my belief in the power of observation and the scientific method, or my honesty, I found Hagerty's book incredibly insightful. She surveys spiritual experience across many religions and through many people, emerging with some common denominators as to what mysticism may all be about.

The book has its slow chapters, and sometimes I got impatient with what I saw as repetitious points, but this is really nitpicking.

Overall, it was a fantastic book that changed my perception of spiritual experience - and God.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

god for anylitical thinkers

Excellent summation of some of the most provocative evidence for there being much more going on in the universe than our material paradigm insists. I want it in written form so I can follow up on her resources but was entranced by it in audio format. Two minor quibbles: the narrator keeps mispronouncing "psilocybin" (which I found mildly irritating) and it gets repetitive at the end, but definitely a fully engaging listen and very possibly an eye opener for the spiritually uninitiated.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • East Peoria, IL, United States
  • 07-26-10

Beautifully written

In the pop-psychology genre there aren't a lot of women authors. Women think differently from men in a good many ways; so the amazing thing about this book, in my opinion, is that only a woman could have written a book about this subject and have done it in such a beautiful way. The hard science behind God is obviously non-existent, but does that mean that he/she is non-existent. Well that is for each individual to decide for his or herself. I recommend listening to this book if you are interested in this question and a few others. This lady does a good analysis of this subject from a semi-scientific point of view and she uses a woman's natural empathy to write a splendid pop-psychology book.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Barbara B. Hagerty points out how to see God's touch in all different situations. It's amazing how much this book opened my eyes, so to speak, to the presence of God in many aspects of my everyday life.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • cynthia
  • Mississauga, ON, Canada
  • 11-18-09

How did she anticipate my every question?

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, a journalist and former Christian scientist, examines ongoing scientific research into the nature and significance of spiritual, paranormal, and near death experiences reported by people of diverse faith backgrounds. Unlike many books on such topics, I don't get the feeling that she is trying to sell me a particular viewpoint by deliberately filtering the information she presents. Rather, her examination of the topic is both broad and thorough, and she is honest about her own shifting perspective on God and on the particulars of her "mainstream Christian faith", at times expressing elation at her discoveries, and at others, disappointment.

What amazed me is that I have been asking these very questions for years, and not only was it satisfying to hear them all discussed in one well-written book, but I am also newly equipped with references and other resources to further support my own personal inquiries.

My only disappointment in this book was its conclusion: She ends with a rather insipid nod to Christianity that would satisfy neither a Christian reader nor a skeptic.

The ideas in this book are also informed by the author's ambivalent relationship with Christian Science, making for an interesting perspective not often represented in either scientific or popular faith-based literature.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Hagerty executes the nearly impossible task of reviewing a diverse array of topics with clarity and evenhandedness. Understand that this spans the current state of research and speculation about near death experiences to the influences of intention on remote subjects. It requires an exceptional mind as well as great discipline to pull this off, and Hagerty has both.

I do have two serious reservations, however, that keep this rating at four stars. First, Hagerty falls into the common scientific illiteracy of declaring human minds as somehow "wired." This inadequate description reduces reality in tune with the worst weaknesses of mainstream science, which otherwise does not fare well here.

My other objection is more serious. In her closing chapter, Hagerty struggles vainly, ignoring fact and history, to preserve Christianity. Christianity is a fine religion in many ways, but the writer's fluffy efforts to find a logical, scientific basis for retaining her beliefs is both personally slanted and objectively unconvincing.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Philip
  • montgomery, AL, USA
  • 06-06-09


I finish this book with more questions than I started. This is a complement to the author. The book reinforced many of my personal beliefs and it was wonderful to hear them explored with an open mind. Ms. Hagerty clearly did not have any other agenda than answers. I look forward to reading anything she writes in the future as she continues her search.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • Colorado Springs, CO, United States
  • 01-03-17

Soul Searching

This book chronicles a personal journey to understand spirituality. Told and written by a superlative journalist, but with personal candor and searching that's compelling. A wonderful listen and a beautiful story.

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I've always respected Ms. Hagerty's work and I really wanted to love this book, but in the end I found it lacking. I feel that her arguments were cherry picked to confirm the core of her Christian Science beliefs. The studies she sites were picked because they do just that. But what of studies that show the opposite? Were the studies she highlights peer reviewed,or repeatable? When she talks of "traditional" scientists she does so by denigrating their views as "reductionist", devaluing their perspective and exposing her bias.
I feel it was less an exploration of science and spirituality than a shoring up of her preconceived beliefs. The book is definitely a missed opportunity.