The best books for uniting science & spirituality

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of three books about Ralph Waldo Emerson, in addition to other books, and host of the Living from the Soul podcast. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a compelling interest in the “battle” between science and religion. I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian church, which taught that the Earth was created in six days about 6,000 years ago and denied evolution. But I also loved dinosaurs and paleontology; the information I was exposed to often contradicted my faith. Today, I consider myself a Transcendentalist. I believe that mind, not matter, is fundamental; and that our individual minds are tiny portions of the Universal Mind, which could be called God.


I wrote...

Secrets of the Mind: Ralph Waldo Emerson's Keys to Expansive Mental Powers

By Sam Torode,

Book cover of Secrets of the Mind: Ralph Waldo Emerson's Keys to Expansive Mental Powers

What is my book about?

Ralph Waldo Emerson saw it as his life’s work to write the “Natural History of the Intellect.” By this, he meant the science of mind. This project was later carried on by his godson, William James, who is generally credited as the founder of American psychology (a title which I believe should actually belong to Emerson).

In Secrets of the Mind, I organize, condense, and paraphrase Emerson’s writings on the mind and its powers. Throughout the book, I’ve interspersed quotes from eminent scientists like Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, Eugene Wigner, and David Bohm, whose insights echo Emerson’s. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution

Sam Torode Why did I love this book?

Kenneth R. Miller is a professor of cell biology at Brown University who’s co-written several widely-used biology textbooks and contributed to journals including Nature, Cell, and Scientific American. 

In 2000, I attended a conference on Intelligent Design, with leading speakers both for and against. Miller was unique as a believing Catholic who opposed Intelligent Design in favor of Darwinian evolution. I was predisposed against him, but wound up being convinced by his arguments.

Finding Darwin's God is an excellent book for explaining why no outside “Designer” is necessary to explain the origin of species, and also why this shouldn’t cause anyone to lose their faith in God or conclude that life is meaningless.

By Kenneth R. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Darwin's God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Miller is a believer, but he is also certain that we evolved - and this book is about why the two are not mutually exclusive; in fact, the idea of each enriches the other. There is an enormous market out there for whom this issue is of real interest and import. Much of contemporary thought on evolution has centered on the mistaken assumption that evolution requires a strictly materialist view of the origins of all organisms - including human beings. This book will debunk that myth, arguing that the real world is less certain and far more interesting than either…


Book cover of The Purpose-Guided Universe: Believing in Einstein, Darwin, and God

Sam Torode Why did I love this book?

If you read only one book on this list, make it this one. Bernard Haisch is an astrophysicist who’s worked with NASA and published papers in Nature, Science, and the Astrophysical Journal (for which he served as scientific editor for a decade). 

In this slim, powerful volume, Haisch makes difficult concepts in quantum physics and astrophysics easy to grasp, then shows how they harmonize with the “Perennial Philosophy”—the sum of humanity’s mystical insights.

By Bernard Haisch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Purpose-Guided Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this engrossing new book, Dr. Bernard Haisch contends that there is a purpose and an underlying intelligence behind the Universe, one that is consistent with modern science, especially the Big Bang and evolution. It is based on recent discoveries that there are numerous coincidences and fine-tunings of the laws of nature that seem extraordinarily unlikely.

A more rational concept of God is called for. As astrophysicist Sir James Jeans wrote, "the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine."

Despite bestsellers by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris that have denounced the…


Book cover of Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery

Sam Torode Why did I love this book?

Rupert Sheldrake has degrees in Biology and Biochemistry from Cambridge, where he later served as Director of Studies in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, as well as a master’s in Philosophy from Harvard. 

After leaving academia, Sheldrake conducted studies and published research on psi phenomena, including “telephone telepathy” (the experience of thinking of someone right before they call you), the sense of being stared at, and dogs and cats who know when their owners are coming home (even at random times). 

Science Set Free (published in the UK as The Science Delusion, in rebuttal to Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion) is my favorite of his books. Sheldrake draws a line between science, which follows the evidence, and the dogma of “scientism,” which rejects certain evidence out-of-hand.

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Science Set Free as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home offers an intriguing new assessment of modern day science that will radically change the way we view what is possible.

In Science Set Free (originally published to acclaim in the UK as The Science Delusion), Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, shows the ways in which science is being constricted by assumptions that have, over the years, hardened into dogmas. Such dogmas are not only limiting, but dangerous for the future of humanity.
 
According to these principles, all of reality is material or…


Book cover of Science Ideated: The Fall of Matter and the Contours of the Next Mainstream Scientific Worldview

Sam Torode Why did I love this book?

Bernardo Kastrup has PhDs in Computer Engineering and Philosophy, and has worked for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Philips Research Laboratories. He’s today’s leading proponent of Idealism—the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others—which asserts that consciousness is the fundamental reality. 

I’ve read nearly all of Kastrup’s books, and found them difficult but rewarding. His most accessible work is this collection of essays (originally published in Scientific American and elsewhere), Science Ideated. 

Reading Kastrup can literally turn your worldview inside out, inducing a sort of mental vertigo. I’ve often had to set down a Kastrup book because my head is spinning!

By Bernardo Kastrup,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Science Ideated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leading-edge empirical observations are increasingly difficult to reconcile with 'scientific' materialism. Laboratory results in quantum mechanics, for instance, strongly indicate that there is no autonomous world of tables and chairs out there. Coupled with the inability of materialist neuroscience to explain consciousness, this is forcing both science and philosophy to contemplate alternative worldviews. Analytic idealism - the notion that reality, while equally amenable to scientific inquiry, is fundamentally mental - is a leading contender to replace 'scientific' materialism. In this book, the broad body of empirical evidence and reasoning in favor of analytic idealism is reviewed in an accessible manner.…


Book cover of One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters

Sam Torode Why did I love this book?

Larry Dossey was a practicing physician for many years, and chief of staff at Medical City Dallas Hospital. Based on both personal experience and the research of others, he’s written numerous books on topics such as the healing power of prayer.

One Mind is an excellent summation of his life’s work. Dossey examines phenomena like telepathy, premonitions, near-death experiences, autistic savants, spontaneous healing, and more, which are not explainable by physical mechanisms. He concludes that our minds are not confined to our brains, but transcend matter and are connected through a kind of internet of consciousness—the “One Mind.”

I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Dossey on my podcast,  Living from the Soul, in 2021. Our conversation is available online.

By Larry Dossey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked One Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 20th century, we were introduced to several subdivisions of the mind: the conscious, unconscious, subconscious, preconscious, and so on. But what we didn't know was that there was another level of consciousness, an all-encompassing, infinite dimension of shared intelligence: the One Mind. This universal consciousness connects all of us through space and time. Emerging studies have shown that the One Mind isn't just an idea; it's a reality. In this book, Larry Dossey shares compelling experiences and research that support the One Mind concept, such as: Shared thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations with a distant individual Communication between…


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Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


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