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Invisible Forces and Powerful Beliefs, by the Chicago Social Brain Network

Reviewed by Fionnchú

Gravity’s an “invisible force” we believe in, and that’s about it on page one for what I hoped would be an extended analogy to the gods and minds of the subtitle. However, as I had just read elsewhere a debate where a scientist defended evolution as an unseen but valid “theory” as was electricity and gravity, that had made me wonder about those who also believe in God and, say, creationism as a valid “theory” too. So, that thought stayed with me when I found this new book.

It’s compact, with the U. of Chicago Social Brain Network of scholars who each contribute a chapter on their expertise. It’s accessible, for as a non-scientist I had no problem following their arguments. And, it’s relevant, for they seek to bridge the gap of disdain or condescension often dividing scholars from believers who trust in invisible forces along with the models of empathy, human nature, faith, and networks studied by professors and researchers. They may name them differently, and in that defining and understanding process, this book takes shape.

If scientists can chart gravity, then they can look for patterns in brains, behavior, and biology equally invisible. The social nature of our species, John T. Cacciopo argues, shows that the real test of our survival is not for us to reproduce, but for our offspring to do so, and to pass on our gene pool. This can be done only if the parents protect their children, and invest long-term in their care and protection. This develops over millennia into empathy and compassion for one’s children, and these qualities then extend altruistically to others in an intimate bond in a community.

Read the original article at: Blogtrotter

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