Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman

Authors of How God Changes Your Brain

"Our beliefs serve myriad purposes: They help us to organize the world in meaningful ways… They can also connect us with the transcendent dimensions of experience, and give us inspiration and hope, essential tools for confronting those moments of confusion and doubt that are so often part of life."

"Our beliefs, therefore, are an assemblage of perceptual experiences, emotional evaluations, and cognitive abstractions that are blended with fantasy, imagination, and intuitive speculation."

"Human morality is composed of four interconnecting principles: a genetic predisposition toward survival, the neural development of the brain, a social imperative toward group cohesion, and a cognitive propensity to make distinctions between right and wrong and good and evil. Our moral continuum appears to be strongly influenced by the degrees of connectedness we feel with others; the more connected we feel, the more we act with generosity, compassion and fairness."

"In the end, we must always return to our beliefs. From the mundane to the mystical, they inform us about reality and they shape our future lives. And if the ultimate reality remains a mystery, so much the better, for it is the questions that give us meaning, that drive us forward and fill us with transcendent awe."

"Our brains create a holistic image of the world by putting all the pieces together to create something greater than the parts. Intuition allows us to comprehend what the senses cannot perceive."

"Transcendent, mystical, and spiritual experiences have a real biological component. The neurological changes that occur during meditation disrupt the normal processes of the brain – perceptually, emotionally, and linguistically – in ways that make the experience indescribable, awe-inspiring, unifying, and indelibly real. In fact, the intensity of such experiences often gives the practitioner a sense that a different or higher level of reality exists beyond our everyday perceptions of the world."

"The accumulated research pertaining to the accuracy of our memories and beliefs can be summarized as follows: All memories and beliefs are subject to change and distortion. Conscious beliefs and memory recall are highly dependent on language, emotion, and social interaction; as these variables change, so do our memories and beliefs. Children’s memories and beliefs distinguish poorly between fantasies and facts. The older a memory, the more difficult it is to ascertain accuracy."

"We tend to believe what we want to believe. Most people overestimate their personal abilities."

"Autobiographical memories are particularly prone to inaccuracy. Traumatic events embed memories in a powerful but somewhat fragmentary way. Neurological disorders and drugs can disrupt the brain’s ability to distinguish between true and false memories and beliefs. The brain perceives reality and transforms it into an extraordinary range of personal, ethical, and creative premises that we use to build meaning, value, spirituality, and truth into our lives."